Monday, 23 June 2014

Ignis Brunensis 2014

This year's Ignis Brunensis fireworks were spectacular. These fireworks are part of Brno - City in the Centre of Europe festival. According to official pages1 333 500 visitors chose to attend various events of this festival. Quite a nice number, isn't it? 

For those of you who didn't manage to see them, and for those of you who did as well, we made some nice pictures to browse through and remember this special event! 

All pictures made by Lýdia Rezničáková. All rights reserved.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Interview with Gulnar Asgarova

I, student myself, interviewed Gulnar Asgarova, a student of English Language and Literature, who tells about her experience with study at Masaryk University and her life in Brno. 

For many years Masaryk University has been one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in Central Europe. What convinced you to join our university?
Besides Masaryk, I had several more options, yet Masaryk was the only one that satisfied my expectations. The fact that the official website had an answer to all the questions I had expressed how organized Masaryk staff was. In addition, the coordinators were well-qualified in their work and would do their best to reply to our e-mails as fast as they could, whereas I heard some grantees having been accepted to other universities were waiting for information for weeks. Finally, the last reason was a large number of extra-curricular activities held by International Student Club like Language Exchange, field trips, visits to children shelters and so on.

Are you satisfied with your study at Masaryk University in general?
The education system here totally met my expectations despite the fact it is completely different from what I was used to back in Azerbaijan.

Information system: Masaryk University has a modern information system that allows you to organise your studies over the internet, without needles paperwork, queues, and extra tips.  Are you satisfied with the Information System of Masaryk University (IS)?
The Information System is of great help as we can sign up for the finals, learn our results, contact our professors and classmates and get to know Czech Educational System better, but the only thing I dislike is some information is only available in Czech, so even if you switch the language to English, you will see it in Czech.

As far as your studies at The Department of English and American Studies are concerned, are you satisfied with the range of subjects you can attend? Do you think that professors are professionals in their fields?
I cannot deny the fact that there is a wide range of subjects for us to choose either seminars or lectured related to our major. However, sometimes it is hard to get an exceptional acceptance to enroll in certain subjects since we international students have not taken the prerequisites earlier at Masaryk rather at our home university. And the professors whose classes I have taken so far are specialized in their field. The only drawback would be lack of activities in language classes like Russian and Czech.

Do you find professors' attitude towards assessing your work objective?
I have never experienced a case of a teacher assessing my work unfairly.

There has been a growing interest on the part of international students, whose numbers doubled in recent years. (They made up 15% of its 45,000 students in 2013). Would you recommend Masaryk University to another potential international student?
I would recommend Masaryk University with a great pleasure.

What are the positive aspects of studying at Masaryk University as an international student? Are there any negative sides?
What I love most about Masaryk is no matter how hard classes you attend, you never feel any burden you, by which I mean if you do your work regularly, the efforts you put will be appreciated. I personally understood the real meaning of education here at Masaryk and can surely say every international student will be amazed by how responsible and qualified the teachers are! A negative side would be clash of class times, which means you may want to take 2 classes that are both on the same day and at the same time, so you have to cancel one of them. In my opinion, Masaryk can work on this issue and find a solution.

Now, let’s turn to life in Brno. Do you like the city?
Brno, former Moravian capital and 2nd biggest city in Czech Republic, is a historical city with 400 000 inhabitants, most of which are students. It is thus called "The City of Students". You can spend time in nature, woods, lake, parks, castles and cathedrals dating back to medieval centuries. Moreover, you have access to modern life.

Any favourite restaurants or pubs?  
Vytopna is my most favourite restaurant in Brno because it serves drinks that come on trains. Stopkova is another fabulous restaurant where you taste typical Czech food for a reasonable price. In "Sunset" you can see the whole city.

Do you find Brno’s cultural life diverse and sufficient? Did you recently attend some cultural event you enjoyed and want to recommend it?
In May I attended the biggest festival of the year Majales where there were 21 000 people. Different boutiques selling traditional food, most famous bands from Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria and fireworks were what made it special. Besides, I attended the food festival in Spilberk castle and the Firework Show over Brno's lake both of which added so much joy to my stay here in Brno. 

What was your best experience, or the funniest moment in Brno?
It is hard to pick the funniest moment out of a million, but I gotta do it :) A few months ago I tried rafting in Brno's river with my international friends.

Lýdia Rezničáková

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Brno Experience

For eight months now, I have been a student at Masaryk University. My masterprogramme is European governance, a double-degree programme of which the second year will be in the city that I am from, Utrecht.
smiling at Špilberk food festival
As the end of the Masaryk year is nearing for me, now is a good time to evaluate these eight months of living and studying in Brno.  

Whilst studying here, I have tried to integrate in the Czech society with mixed results. The reason for the mixed results is basically a matter of language. Trust me, I have tried.. and I actually thought I was going somewhere, but the confused looks from waiters, cashiers and inhabitants I get when I think I am successfully pronouncing Czech words have genuinely made me question my lingual skills. Some words I have managed to pick up, but some of the pronunciations and especially the ř sound have proved to be impossible to learn for Dutch people like me. Luckily, we have had a tutor helping us and some improvised words and hand signals helped in times of misunderstanding. In the end, Brno is enough of a student city for non-Czech speaking people to get around just fine.

MUNI vs. VUT hockey match
Besides this, I feel that integration has been a lot more successful in terms of sports fanaticism here; and by sports I mean ice hockey. We (my fellow Dutch students and I) have been to a couple of Kometa matches and experienced the feeling of being good at another Olympic sport than speed skating when we watched the Olympic games at a bar. Oh, and we also watched Masaryk University beat VUT! What a great atmosphere and what an awesome sport! I found myself cheering (read: humming something that sounds remotely like Czech) for the hoši of Kometa as though I was in a Dutch stadium, cheering for my own football team.

Kofi Kofi = great coffee
As for the college life here, it is very vibrant and nice here! It is nice to meet so many students from all over Europe and beyond, this is what makes studying abroad so interesting. The culture is similar to that in Utrecht (however breaks during lectures would be nice ;)) ..except for the library. I have seen people watch McDreamy save a newborn child, on their laptops, or people taking of their shoes and taking a break in the form of an uncomfortable nap lying with their heads on the tables. This is new to me, but I guess you could consider it a good thing if the library becomes your second home ;). Anyway, I have spent quite a few hours there this year with the occasional lunch or coffee break. These really are a part of my Czech life here that I will miss in the Netherlands. All these restaurants that have a daily offer of good warm meals around noon and Kofi Kofi with their great service and great coffee were definitely part of a daily routine here.

At night, the student life continues in all the bars and clubs which offer shots of absinthe and slivovice. I can be short about this: good atmosphere, cheap drinks; like!

Brno reservoir

I could write a lot more about living and studying here, but to keep it short: I have really enjoyed my time in Brno. Even though I am happy to be going back home to the Netherlands, I will leave here with a lot of great memories!

Margot Koenders, international student of European Governance