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Meet Rheanna Murray

A photo of a student with Český Krumlov in the background


Spring Classic, 2023


Graphic Design, College of Design

Rheanna’s passion for design and eagerness to study abroad to keep up with the family tradition has taken her all the way to Prague for her whole semester, where she studied European Design History, Illustration, and Graphic Design studio. Fun fact – Rheanna also designed our super cute stickers that encapsulate her unique humor and make her study abroad experience unforgettable. Rheanna’s spotlight shines with brilliant insights and invaluable tips on how to make the most of your study abroad experience. But wait, there’s more! When she’s not busy designing, Rheanna is a proud NC State’s Club Beach Volleyball team member.

Prague sticker pack made by a student

Why did you choose to study abroad?

All three of my older siblings studied abroad in some capacity. My brother went to China in high school and college, my sister went to Thailand, and my other brother went to Spain. Ever since I learned about their amazing experiences abroad, I have wanted to study abroad, which is one of the big factors I consider when deciding on colleges. While I have some prior experience traveling, I was always reliant on my family, so going abroad alone was a chance for me to become more independent and learn about new cultures and ways of living. I knew nothing about the Czech Republic, but that was what was so exciting about it, especially since it was in a perfect central location to travel to other European countries!

Group photo of NCstate students

How long did it take you to settle in and acclimate to the program/Prague?

During our first week there, before classes began, we had an orientation where we took a Czech culture and language crash course. We learned about the local transportation system, basic Czech phrases, and social norms that we should follow. This was extremely helpful in getting accustomed to this new environment where people are more reserved, quiet, and kept to themselves. Being the excited and loud American tourist, we definitely stood out, but it didn’t take long for me to get used to their way of living and feel like I fit in. I think being a part of a group program that was mainly NC State students helped make the transition easier as we could rely on each other, and it felt like we always had a piece of home with us.

Tell us about one or more friendships you made during your Prague program.

The program is about 40 people with at least one connection, and we go to NC State. The great thing about that is whatever friendships you make abroad, you can see them back home on campus too. The dorm living style and the group activities like cooking classes and excursions made it super easy to get close to unexpected people very quickly. I knew five people from my major were going in, but we had never gotten the chance to become more than just classmates. Being abroad together gave us this special bond and an opportunity for us to get close and become some of my best friends. So, I am forever grateful for Prague and the memories I made and shared with my amazing friends.

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?

It feels really rewarding once you get accustomed to the routines and feel like you’re blending in with the locals, but make sure you don’t fall into the headspace that it’s ‘normal’. Because, in reality, it’s not normal but an incredibly special one-of-a-kind experience. You should treat every day as an adventure, a chance to experience something new, even if it’s as small as trying a new restaurant or randomly exploring. Keep in mind, though, that it’s perfectly okay to have periods of rest, a chance to recharge and reset by being lazy and doing nothing. You shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting a break because otherwise, you’ll burn out and not truly enjoy those experiences. Here are some extra little bits of advice: Have some idea of what countries you might want to travel to or a ranked list of musts to give you a starting point. Finally, do not wait until the last month to get Prague souvenirs, thinking by then you’ll know what to get or know all the cheapest places, trust me it’s better to get those out of the way!

Tell us about one of your favorite memories from your time abroad.

I have a particular moment that has become a core memory for me because it was so fun and magical. It was our second day in Český Krumlov, the in-country excursion the program brings us to. It had just snowed and the buildings and ground were pure white. I am from Massachusetts, so I am used to the snow, but there was something extra magical about the town, especially the fresh blanket of snow. We had just finished going through the museum in the castle when we went back outside. Suddenly, a chaotic, straight-out-of-a-movie snowball fight started. People from the castle balcony throw snowballs at those on the grounds and vice versa. Our hands were frozen, but it didn’t make us stop. We had only known each other for a week, but this unique experience truly brought many of us together. It was such a light-hearted and simple moment, but we did it on the castle grounds, acting like we were six years old, which made it so special and memorable.

This post was originally published in NC State European Center in Prague.