Enchanting Prague a paradise for scholars, bookworms

LETTERS: HERE were many factors which prompted several final-year UiTM Shah Alam publishing students to opt for a field trip to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, for their project.

We wanted to admire the European architectural masterpieces up close, explore Prague Castle and visit Charles Bridge.

Mostly, we wanted to spend time with friends we had made in class. The memories will surely last us a lifetime and an overseas trip with our peers is a great way to say goodbye before heading off to internship.

Prague city certainly caught us off guard.

Upon arrival on Oct 29 at Václav Havel Airport Prague, the chilly October breeze brought us out of our post-flight fatigue.

We spent our first night shopping and sightseeing in the city.

On Oct 31, we were guests of Anglo-American University (AAU), Prague’s oldest private university. AAU student representative Rebecca Newhouse cheerfully gave us a tour of the picturesque campus.

We visited the astounding AAU Library, which houses a vast collection of English language books. We also attended a top grade class session by Dr Turnau and grabbed the opportunity to stroll through the enchanting Vojan Gardens.

On Nov 1, we visited Prague Castle, a Unesco site with a
history of more than a millennium. Some students paid 200 Czech Koruna and climbed up 287 steps for an unparalleled view of the historic city.

Next day, the group paid a morning visit to the iconic Nationale-Nederlanden building, Dancing House.

Designed in 1996, it is stunningly situated by the Vtalva River and was initially called Fred and Ginger.

On the morning of Oct 3, we visited the Municipal Library in Mariánské námestí. It was timely that our field trip coincided with the admission-free FRAME: Prague Comics Art Festival.

The two-day festival was organised by No Ordinary Heroes and Centrala, with the endorsement of the Czech Literary Centre, and was aimed at bridging the local and international associations of writers with the Czech readership.

Czechs are Europe’s bookworms. In fact, the Czech Republic has the biggest number of libraries — some 6,000 —in Europe.

Czechs hold dialogues on literature in high regard as well as reading and learning.

They are also very enthusiastic in debating topics of publishing and correlating programmes to sustain their book craft.

Children’s books are especially low priced and available in every nook and cranny of Prague.

Books are still valued highly by the Czechs. It is remarkable that their publishing industry is well-developed for a relatively small European nation.

We were filled with amazement and felt encouraged to apply the Czechs’ approach to Malaysia’s publishing industry.

The skills and practical knowledge acquired from travelling 9,538km from Kuala Lumpur to Prague offered lifelong personal benefits and a leg-up in the professional sphere.

It was daunting from time to time, but we learnt to connect with people despite differences in colour and religion, and enhanced our ability to navigate foreign territories.

We also learnt to embrace any discomfort.

A culturally sensitive disposition is a requisite in the global publishing scene.


Universiti Teknologi Mara,
Shah Alam, Selangor

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits