Meet Jack Wilcox
Jack Wilcox is a student of Industrial Design at NC State College of Design in his junior year. Jack was one of the 16 students to brave the pandemic and travel to Prague for a study abroad semester. In this interview, Jack relates how he experienced living and studying in Prague. Jack took four courses, Design in a Business Context, Product/Furniture Design, Drawing, Czech Culture & Language. He did some fantastic work in both design courses and got a special mention by Industrial Design instructor Matej Chabera.
What was your motivation to come to study in Prague during the pandemic?
The obvious answer, to me, is to escape home (laugh)! During the fall semester, classes were online, and I live four hours away from Raleigh. I felt disconnected from the campus life and was away from all my friends and what makes NC State fun and really exciting. Prague was an opportunity to have in-person classes. The tuition was also an incentive. As an out-of-state student, the program fee was the same as an in-state student would pay. This is not negligible. The final reason is the timing. I would not have been able to come any other semester. Due to the pandemic, our experience of Prague abroad is unique and memorable.
What is the difference between studying here and back at NC State?
Apart from the “no Friday classes,” studio work would be the biggest difference. On campus, we are usually a large class of students making up a network where one can bounce off ideas. In Prague, being just two students on the course has been interesting. I felt I had more responsibility, and I had to develop the ideas almost all by myself. It felt more real in some ways. On campus, an instructor has to divide the time between up to 18 students in a normal class. In Prague, we spent one and half hours with the instructor. It felt exclusive.
When at home, usually getting back to your house means that you stay there. In Prague, however, you do not want to stay stuck inside at home. You want to explore. The walk back to the housing from the Center is awesome just by itself. Even if most things were closed because of the lockdown, you feel like you have to be out and about.
What is your favorite course and why?
I like all of them. I like the Czech Culture and Language class in particular because not only was it helpful to learn the local language, but as we moved on to the culture part of the course, I felt I had a deeper understanding of my surroundings. It made up for some of the experiences we could not have due to the pandemic. I also enjoyed the drawing class. I was expecting a class dedicated to mostly architecture sketching. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. The class reminded me of my high school drawing class. It was a great way for me to check how I have grown since. As part of the class, we do get some architecture drawing lessons and other techniques such as etching, charcoal, and more.
What are the biggest challenges you had to face/are facing now during your semester in Prague?
What seems like the biggest challenge during this unusual semester is to know where our bounds and our limits were. The local regulations and restrictions kept changing, and you had to be aware of them. To me, it created a sense of excitement.
What is your favorite place in Prague?
I feel I have seen most of Prague. There are probably a few cool spots that I missed. I enjoyed observing how a place grows in meaning since the first time I saw it. Also, adding the cultural and historical facts from the course, one is fascinated. For example, we watched the Marvel show Falcon and Winter Soldier, and most of it is filmed in Prague. Even though they are not in Prague as such, you can recognize some streets and squares. It is a great feeling to go there and say: “Oh, that’s where the guy fought and died.”
What is your biggest takeaway from this past semester?
I am glad I went for it, even though I was a little more of a risk and the unknown factor was higher. I think if I had not done it, there would not have been another time for me. The experience was special and unique in its own way.
Photo Credit: Lara Rabinowitz
This post was originally published in NC State European Center in Prague.