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

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