September 12, 2019

Study Away Spotlight - Abdul Almohawes

Abdul Almohawes is a student in the MS Tourism Management. This summer, he participated in two study away trips with the Tisch Center, in Prague and Berlin. He shares his impressions with us in this story.

How would you describe your study away experience in Prague and Berlin?

I had a wonderful time doing the study away programs in Prague and Berlin. I had been to both cities before but never in an educational setting like this. Both programs had detailed and thorough itineraries so not a moment felt wasted. Our schedules were a mix of doing exciting activities and meeting interesting guest speakers. During the day, we would explore different parts of the city with our guides, while in the evening we’ll sometimes have group dinners or have free time to explore further on our own. Our guides were very knowledgeable and informative. We got to meet a lot of interesting people and businesses in the tourism industry and share their different perspectives, as well as explore some of the remarkable attractions in both cities. 

What were some of the most important impressions you take away from the trips? 

Both cities were under the communist regime for several decades. We got to experience how the Czechs used to live under the communist regime in Czechoslovakia prior to the Velvet Revolution, and how Berliners used to live in a city divided into two sides before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was interesting to see how people came to terms with the changes and used them to their advantage to attract visitors from all over the world.

Were there any challenges that you came across? 

There weren’t really any challenges that are worth mentioning. The only challenges that I came across where the same challenges that everyone faces when traveling to a new city: navigating the city, understanding how the public transport system works, or managing the new currency.

Additionally, our program was in June of 2019 which was one of the hottest months on record that Europe has ever experienced. That made some of our touring and exploring a bit uncomfortable in the heat and blaring sun.

Is there a favorite memory or moment that you experienced that sticks out to you? 

My experience was filled with great memories. A couple stick out.

I loved meeting the director of NYU Prague, Dr. Jiri Pehe, and hearing his life story. It was fascinating to hear how he survived the communist regime by escaping to the US and later returning as the right-hand man of the first elected Czech president.

Our last group dinner in Prague was very memorable. We had dinner in the terrace of a restaurant, which our guide has recommended, that is located on a hill and overlooks the entire city of Prague. It was the perfect ending to our week-long trip in Prague. We shared great conversations and reflected on our trip over sunset.

Similarly, we had an amazing formal three course group dinner in Berlin as well. This dinner was located in Charlottenburg Palace and was followed by a beautiful classical performance of selections from Bach, Mozart, and more by the Berlin Residence Orchestra. 

What did you gain from studying away in Prague and Berlin? 

In Prague, it was interesting to witness the effects of overtourism. Overtourism has been a major issue for Prague and has affected its landmarks, attractions, and the quality of life for its citizens. We had a meeting with the tourism office in Prague and they explained to us the solutions they are trying to implement to protect the city of Prague.

In Berlin, the NYU dorms were located in the Kreuzberg neighborhood in the heart of Berlin, which is one of the most culturally diverse areas in Berlin. It was admirable to see how people from different backgrounds live in harmony, overcoming the tragic past filled with prejudice that happened in the very same place. 

Lastly, and most importantly, it was the lessons we learned, the people we met, and the friendships we made that made this an enriching, unforgettable experience. 

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