One thing you don’t necessarily come across frequently when hearing about studying abroad experiences is the actual classes. Yes, we travel, try new foods, gain new experiences, and lose lots of sleep, but a big part of studying abroad is the actual studying! Going to school in a new country offers the experience to take classes that offer a different perspective on topics you may have previously studied with professors of diverse backgrounds.
One popular class to take among students at NYU Prague is Advertising and Society, taught by Salim Murad. The class surrounds the role of advertising in different societies and cultures around the world, and how the role of advertising has shifted throughout history. The class is a Media, Culture, and Communication elective and is popular among MCC majors as well as Stern students.
In the first couple weeks of class, we covered the topics of globalization, Americanization, and McDonaldization. These terms are all related to the interconnectivity of the world and the effects of American capitalism and high-efficiency on global culture and commerce. Our professor encouraged us to get up out of our seats during the three-hour lecture to go on a scavenger hunt around Old Town Square and find examples of these three concepts. Eagerly, our class of approximately 20 went out and found irony in the Starbucks, KFC, and other American brands that were located in this historic Czech square.
Another topic we covered was Czech shopping malls and their development during and after the Communist regime. We went on a small field trip to two vastly different Czech malls- Kotva and Palladium. We were all taken by surprise when seeing how Kotva, the once popular mall in the Soviet Era, was now nearly empty- how could a mall that seemed so abandoned still even be running?! The opposite was the case right across the street at the newer Palladium mall. Even on a Tuesday night, the shopping center was buzzing with locals and tourists stopping in and out of American and European stores and food chains.
Later in the semester, Professor Murad led us on a trip to an exclusive photo exhibit surrounding the Velvet Revolution across Vltava River. We strolled amongst original photographs of Czech students, citizens, and daily life nearly 40 years ago. At NYU Prague, we are lucky enough to have some of the most renowned dissidents of the Velvet Revolution, such as Jan Urban, be speakers and professors. Many of the professors have grown up in the Czech Republic or Europe, and they offer stories and perspectives on normal life that provide a contrast to the lives of most NYU students. It was especially enlightening to hear the impact of the revolution on Professor Murad and his family since he was a student during this period of history.
Overall, Advertising and Society is a great class to take if you are interested in the intersection of consumerism and culture; a passionate professor and unique outside-the-classroom experiences make this class a favorite among NYU Prague students.