CGIS Advisors regularly meet with returning CGIS alumni to ensure our programs align with student needs and to gain insight into the student experience abroad. If you are curious about what it’s like to be a student on the This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Computer Science and Tech Career Accelerator in Prague, Czech Republic program, then you’re in the right place! Continue reading for insight from College of Literature, Science, and the Arts student and Computer Science major Yiran Yang.

Photos in this post are from CGIS’ Senior Intercultural Programs Advisor Callie Rouse, who recently returned from a site visit to the Czech Republic to ensure that our programs are the best they can be! 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Callie Rouse: Why did you choose this particular program?

Yiran Yang: I wanted to study computer science because I'm a computer science major, and I also wanted to get credit for studying computer science–and this was one of the programs that offered some classes that could transfer credits to our school. And also, I personally have never been to Europe, so I wanted to have a chance to see how Europe is and that's why I chose this program.

CR: Very cool. What is something that you took away from the experience?

YY: I had a small program–within the program there were only eight of us–and I really enjoyed it. I personally grew up in China and my classes were always huge. And when I attend college here, and I study computer science, it’s also huge. But there are just eight of us there and we took most of our classes together and we lived together, too. There are only like, four girls and six guys… and the girls’ apartments were just a floor above the guys and we got to see each other almost every day. And then on the weekend, sometimes we traveled together through Europe. I guess I never had, you know, just a small group of friends who are also my classmates, and we study together, live together, and travel together. I think that's something… it's just, it's something so valuable to me. I went into the program not knowing anybody and now I’m friends with everyone, so I think that is really nice.

CR: Of the people that were in the program, were most of them from the University of Michigan, or from other locations?

YY: Out of eight of us in this program, I think there were three of us, including me, there from the University of Michigan. There were two from the University of Maryland… and I do not remember the rest. *laughs*

CR: That’s so cool. Yeah, the program is much smaller in the Fall term than in the Winter term–it blooms in the winter.

YY: Yeah, I heard there are 60 people.

CR: Yeah! There are 60 people from Michigan.

YY: From Michigan? I thought it was like 60 people in general!

The 27 tram speeds by next to the Vltava River, which runs through the heart of Prague.

CR: We're sending 27 this winter [from the CGIS office]. So that's such a huge number difference, but it's really cool to have that kind of tight-knit cohort. Where did you guys live?

YY: It is like a 20 minute walk from the classroom, and if you take the tram it’s also 20 minutes, because it's a few tram stops from the downtown, and then the classroom is in the park area.

CR: Gotcha. And so it's still pretty accessible to the downtown area, and things like that?

YY: Yeah, I think it's nicer that we're not, like, in the downtown area because it feels more like we're in Prague. It's really convenient that they have a grocery store and like everything around there, too.

CR: The program also allows internships - how was your internship?

YY: It was an interesting experience. I was placed in a startup company, and I've never worked with any startup company. The company focused on AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) which was something also new to me at the time. It was interesting to see how they formed the company, as the company was in the very beginning stage, I would say, and then just to see what they do every day…It was quite interesting.

Students study CS topics, taught in English, during a class Callie attended while visiting Prague on a site visit.

CR: What do you feel like you've gained more from: the classes, the internships, or broad different elements?

YY: I would say I’ve gained more during the class, just because I spend a lot of time in class. As a CS student, I did learn AI and ML, which is important for me, personally, because those are very popular topics out there. Especially as a CS student, I sometimes think about what's the next concentration I should focus on–and I had thought about studying AI and ML, so it was nice to take the introductory course and learn about those topics. I also really loved my architecture class, which was the first architecture class I've ever taken, and I love how the class was structured. At the beginning, we reflected a little bit about the buildings we saw during the weekend, and then we had a short presentation about one style of architecture. Then we actually went on field trips to see the architecture, and Prague is one of those places that has all sorts of architecture styles, because it's preserved pretty well throughout the years and throughout the wars. So yeah, that was really nice–when we were on the trip, we would guess what kind of architecture stuff we saw–so it was really fun.

CR: Does Prague feel safer or less safe than Ann Arbor?

YY: I would say Prague feels just as safe as Ann Arbor. I guess compared to bigger cities, in the United States, it feels safer. Yeah, Prague is… it's big, but not as huge as New York, but you do feel really safe in Prague. And, I would say it's more convenient in Prague because the public transportation is really good.

CR: What do you think you'll remember most about your experience abroad in 20 years?

YY: *in an incredulous tone* In 20 years?

CR: *laughs* Yeah, I know–it’s a very long time.

YY: Hmm… I guess we'll go back to what I mentioned earlier, about the time that I spent with everybody in the program: We had a Student Experience Coordinator who hosted all kinds of events for us, and she also helped us connect with local students as buddies. We did, like, a cooking class together, and learned about how to cook Czech food, which was so fun. And then we also traveled a little bit around Prague–we went to a small town called Český Krumlov, and it was really beautiful, and we just got to spend time together. I think I will always remember that. And, I would love to go back to Prague sometime in the future.

CR: In comparison to taking computer science classes at the University of Michigan, what did you feel was different? Did you feel like the classes compare with the level of education and such?

YY: I would say it's definitely different–I feel like in the States and most of the CS classes I took at U-M, we have weekly assignments or have projects like every two or three weeks, but with the course I took in Prague, we have a big final project and we have different checkpoints throughout the semester–we didn’t have small assignments like we have in the United States. And, I guess this is specific for our program, since we had a small program, but we wouldn’t necessarily have office hours–we just asked the professor whenever he’s there and we have time; we just asked. We didn’t have a TA or GSI or anything like that, because there were just eight of us–so that was different. In some sense, I feel like the workload is less than what we have at U-M because we don't have weekly assignments, but everything else feels similar–like, the lectures are the same.

Have questions for Yiran about her experiences with the Computer Science and Tech Career Accelerator in Prague, Czech Republic? Contact her at!