Samantha Skorstad: ‘Every time I came back to Prague I became more impressed with how beautiful it is’


As part of our series introducing expats living in Prague we interviewed Samantha Skorstad, a history major from the USA, who studied in Prague for a semester as well as completing an internship at our Expat Center. During her stay here, Samantha traveled all around Europe. In this interview, we sit down and talk about what makes Prague unique to her as a history student and an experienced traveler.

1. What drew you to study in Prague? Were you considering other places? I had always heard positive things about Prague, so it had been on my radar for a few years already. When I started looking at potential programs, I realized that I wanted to prioritize doing an internship. There were only a few programs that offered an internship and Prague was the only one that assisted me in finding an internship. The other program I was considering was in Utrecht, Netherlands. They also had internships but I would have had to arrange everything myself (paperwork as a foreigner included).

2. Did you have any cultural shock moments here? Not really! I had been to Europe before and I have traveled quite a bit so nothing really shocked me in a significant way.

3. What has been your favourite place you discovered here? There was a little place around the corner from my apartment that served authentic Chai tea. It was fantastic. I liked to bring my laptop there to study.

4. What did you think of the university you attended? How did it compare to your university in the USA? My program was based out of a small building in Vyšehrad. I didn’t attend Charles university or any other big universities while here. In comparison to my experience back home, it was very convenient having all of my classes in one building. UCSD (University of California San Diego) has a very large campus and I have to consider the distance between them when I make my schedule each quarter. My program encouraged field trips in our classes which was an amazing way to discover new things in Prague with our professors who grew up here. I would love to have field trips back home. Other than that, everything else was pretty similar, I think they try to keep it as similar to a U.S. model as possible because all of the students are from the U.S..

5. What was your most memorable experience in Prague? I could say one of the nights I went clubbing with my friends but I think my most memorable experience was showing my dad the city when he came to visit. It felt so great to show him all of the famous buildings (and actually know something about them). He was very lucky to get his own private tour. ** 6. What didn’t you like about Prague? Is there anything you struggled with?** I felt like there were a lot of areas that I tried to avoid because of heavy crowds and over tourism. I wouldn’t say that I struggled with it but it was frustrating at times. ** 7. You’re a history major, what was your favourite historical landmark to see here?** I am a big fan of the defenestrations of Prague. I learned about them when I was 16 years old in my history class in high school and I have never forgotten them. Somebody pointed out the sites of one of the defenestrations to me in the first few weeks that I was here, and I was filled with pure joy.

8. You’ve been travelling a lot this past year, how do the other large European cities you visited compare to Prague? I did travel quite a bit while I was here. I visited Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, Istanbul, London, Dresden, and Budapest. I felt like Prague was prettier and had better public transportation than every other city I visited. Some places had better food and some had other exciting things but every time I came back to Prague I became more impressed with how beautiful it is. In my opinion, the architecture just doesn’t compare, it’s the perfect size to walk everywhere or take a short tram ride, it’s affordable, and the nightlife is fantastic.

9. If you were to show your friends who have never been to Prague, what would you show them? I actually got to do this a couple of times! I had a few people visit. I would start at Vyšehrad where we would appreciate the view, then we would walk up along the river past Dancing House and the National Theater. Then we would cut in to see the Franz Kafka Head. Next, we would walk to Old Town Square and see the Astronomical Clock and maybe walk to the top of the clock tower. After that we would walk across Charles Bridge and see the Lennon Wall. The next day we would go to Prague Castle and then walk around that area to shop in the stores. We would finish the day at Letná Park (probably in the beer garden) for sunset. If we have time, we would also go to Petřín and go to the top of the tower for the view.

10. Are you planning to come back to Prague in the future? I would love to come back to Prague in the future. I don’t know when but I will definitely be back!

At the end of our interview, I asked Samantha how she would rate her stay in Prague and what tips she would give to people considering staying in Prague for a longer period of time. Her rating of her stay was 9.5, nearly perfect, as “there’s still a 10/10 in the world that I haven’t come across yet”. When it comes to tips, we both agree that the best way to discover Prague is walking around and exploring as there is always a charming hidden space to discover or new friends to find.

Author: Eliška Unzeitigová