There's a lot to do; do the important ones but remember to get your stuff together too.
When people told me that Study Abroad would be best time of my life, I was skeptical. Going to school in New York is already a study abroad; I was already having so much not studying in New York I couldn't imagine anything more
fun. Well four and a half months in Europe later, I realized how wrong I was - I could have a lot more fun.
Future (and still considering) Prague Study Abroad students, NYU Prague is a decision you will not regret. Of course, as with any experience, it is what you make of it; but Prague in and of itself is such a rich location that whatever you make of it will be awesome anyway. Before I leave this beautiful fairytale dreamland of Prague (and Czech Republic/ Central Europe), let me give all you fresh blood some tips:
1. Pay attention during the 3 day intensive Czech class
You have no idea how crucial that class was to my experience here. Being able to speak and understand SUPER basic Czech has been so useful. Master the numbers and food names.
2. Go on as many NYU trips as possible
They're free. 'Nuff said.
But for real though, actually make it to the NYU trips. I know so many people who give up their spots and end up not exploring the Czech Republic at all. This country is beautiful. Go see it. It's also a great way to make new friends (with other people in the program, and RAs), instead of traveling with familiar faces all the time. NYU Prague organizes a volunteering trip every semester, and if you're into non-normative experiences, this trip (and the other homestay trips that NYU organizes) are great options. My tip is to pick those that aren't simple sightseeing trips, which you could easily do by yourself.
3. Map out your must-travels and it's okay to leave some weekends free
You don't have to cover all of Europe. You'll probably be back some day. Also, you're in Prague, in the Czech Republic - it's tempting to travel West, Central, East Europe - but you're in Prague. Enjoy Prague, and all that the Czech Republic has to offer. Spending a weekend camping at Bohemia-Switzerland or chilling in Brno is not any less valuable than hitting up major locations like Paris, or Dublin.
4. Plan to do your work
And like, actually do it. I've had a problem of thinking the semester was going to be easy so I planned all my trips and booked plane tickets without considering the fact that I would need time to prepare for presentations or do my readings or complete my essays.
5. Plan rest time
Traveling is so tiring. You need to rest. Don't think that your body can handle all the partying (if you do), late nights, being on various modes of transport, school and massive socializing without almost* breaking down. I have a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing out) and I wanted to do everything - drink, club, travel, hang out with friends - while doing school and … survive. It is hard. Towards the end of the semester I felt so tired and burnt out. Pace yourself.
6. Make local friends
You'll hear this from everyone, but actually make an effort to. It'll be very rewarding. Do an internship, teach English to children, teach English to students, volunteer at an organization, keep in contact with a Czech friend you made at a party - whatever it takes for you to form a relationship with a local - try. Czech people may seem a little standoffish at the beginning, but once they open up you'll see that you can actually be friends with them. RAs are also a great to start making friends.
I admit, you'll probably not see these local friends until many many years later, if at all, and it's easier to stay in the NYU bubble because you see the same people every day and you'll see them again once in New York - don't get me wrong, definitely make lasting friendships here, too - but all the more you have to make an effort. Don't be afraid to commit.
But you know what, whatever happens, you'll have fun. I'm sure of it.
(Look at what I did on the Jested and Liberec trip!)