A viral TikTok video is bringing planeloads of Americans to study in Prague

Liza Miezejeski's 2020 post has become an ongoing source of admissions for Prague-based Anglo-American University.

Nina Frame

Written by Nina Frame Published on 09.12.2021 11:21 (updated on 09.12.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Liza Miezejeski wakes up to catch the sun around six in the morning. She likes to record a few videos before breakfast, giving advice to student travelers or capturing a morning walk along the empty streets of whatever city she’s currently visiting. Afterward, she answers emails, direct messages, and performs some maintenance on her TikTok, Instagram (@lizaajean), and personal blog.

In March 2020, Miezejeski's first video went viral. The 22-year-old is now a full-time influencer who started her career as a content creator while studying humanities at Anglo-American University in Prague. Miezejeski began making TikToks under the handle @shlyyzz and became an unlikely driving force behind AAU admissions as well as an unofficial advocate for European higher education.

Previous AAU first-years like Miezejeski may have found the university on Google or through friends, but for today's students, TikTok has become an unlikely resource for researching study abroad options. The platform, which allows users to make and create short videos, is today’s fastest-growing social media platform. Created in 2016, the application now reaches one billion users and 150 countries.

“If you put all of the first-years into a room and asked them how they found out about AAU, absolutely most of them would say Liza’s TikToks,” says Jean Frances, a former ballerina and second-year International Relations student at AAU who was inspired by Miezejeski to develop her own online presence.

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Frances' and Miezejeski's target audience is all ears and eyes, apparently. American international students that watch their videos make up the largest percentage of Americans ever to attend AAU for the Fall 2021 semester. 

AAU Main Campus at Letenská 5, Prague
AAU Main Campus at Letenská 5, photo via Anna Marie Nemcova (Wikipedia AAU CC BY-SA 4.0 )

AAU figures into part of a growing trend that's seeing international student numbers increasing in the Czech Republic, despite the pandemic. While fewer Czechs studied abroad in 2020, the number of international degree-seeking students grew by at least eight percent.

Jakub Tesař, the head of the Higher Education and Lifelong Learning Division at the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research attributes the growth in international admissions during the pandemic to an easier admissions process which allowed students to start online, avoid extensive visa paperwork, and arrive later in the year.

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Lindsey Sipplen, a first-year student at AAU was just one of the students who decided to study in Prague thanks to a Miezejeski TikTok which tipped off viewers to an organization called Beyond the States that helps American students study abroad.

Sipplen recalls feeling slightly starstruck the first time she saw Miezejeski in real life. Sitting in the library with another first-year friend (who also credits Miezejeski with her decision to come to Prague), Sipplen watched Miezejeski film a video before introducing herself and thanking her for inspiring her to study in Prague.

Liza photo via
Liza Miezejeski, via liza-jean.com

Both Miezejeski and Frances say the interaction with viewers drives their passion for social media. The impact flatters both women, who fondly recall stories of students thanking them for sparking the life-changing decision to go to Prague.

“A lot of people will message me like, ‘You inspired me to just take that leap and make that change.’ For me it doesn’t matter if maybe you go abroad, maybe you go to AAU, maybe you do something and take your career abroad, or just take a trip or do a little solo travel,” says Miezejeski.

“I really like to see people take a risk. I want them to see that it’s not impossible to do these sorts of things.”   

For AAU, the first Prague university endorsed by a U.S. accrediting body, the "American" part of its name rings particularly true these days as the real-world impact of social media comes more clearly into focus.

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