Monday, 14 July 2014

What about Brno?

Why have you chosen MU? After graduating from my university in South Africa I started working full time. Life was pretty good, I got myself a nice car, long term relationship and a nice cosy little apartment. Most of the things that you are told that should be important once you grow up....but I did not seem quite satisfied with settling down just yet.
So my university back home suggested me to take a chance and apply for an exciting scholarship opportunity. It was the Erasmus Mundus action 2 South Africa program. This special program was an European Union initiative to help students from South Africa grow and develop by doing either an exchange or full degree at one of a select few European universities.
After some days spent looking through all the available degree programs that are presented by the different partner universities, I finally decided on taking Service Science, Management and Engineering. A new degree field combining the worlds of IT, management and business. It seemed the perfect fit and Masaryk University with their close collaboration with IBM Brno seemed the obvious choice. 
So I applied for the scholarship and was accepted to do my two year full degree at the faculty of informatics at MU. 

What surprised me here in a positive way? The culture! The differences between our Afrikaans culture and the Czech culture is quite vast. There was so many things I needed to learn and understand, it was truly a great and exciting journey. Not only was I able to learn and experience the immense differences between the Czech and South African cultures. But because of the great International Student Club or ISC with their great many events and functions for international students, I was also able to become a truly world wise person. Meeting and making lifelong friends from over 30 countries! 

What surprised me here in a negative way? The cold. Not only that of the weather, but also of the way Czech people interact. At the beginning it was very strange to me how everyone was very quiet and withdrawn, I just could not understand it. I remember, right after arriving in Brno my tutor picked me up. She took me to the Tesco to buy some basic necessities. Having just arrived I was walking up and down the Tesco greeting every person I would pass, as is custom where I'm from. When my tutor saw this she ran up to me and said, what are you doing!? Shocked I asked her, nothing why? I'm only greeting the people. She laughed at me and told me that I should not do that, as most people will think I am completely weird. 
This was a strange experience, living in such an individualistic country and culture after coming from a very open and collective one. However, after meeting a few great Czech friends and becoming really close I realized that Czech people are some of the truest friends you could have, once you passed their initial defenses that is. 

What advice would I give your one year younger self? Never miss a Vinarska party, never say no to dragon boat racing and always travel as much as possible. The end of these adventurers come so much faster than you would expect. 

5 things I enjoyed about Brno: 

  • Everest Indian restaurant at Veveři street 
  • Behind the mirror tea house with their endless board game nights 
  • Drinking a beer with friends at Petrov 
  • Pub Quiz on Monday nights at Clubwash 
  • Electro swing nights at Kabinet Múz  
  • Doing assignments in Veselá čajovna  
  • Snowball fights at Veveři 

One special memory that I will always remember about Brno: Ten minutes before the hour, every night, past midnight. When hlavni nadrazi is completely empty and silent, the peaceful atmosphere that hangs around the cold bare station. Then suddenly, from nowhere, five minutes before the hour, hundreds of people swarms out of their pubs, clubs and places of recreation. Running with their Burek, burgers and pizza slices into their respective busses. Then, Exactly on the hour, the busses all mumble jumble back to life and proceed to leave at the very same time in a perfectly harmonized, beautifully orchestrated, frenzy..... After which, the peace endures again, until the coming of the hour.

Aubrey Oosthuizen, a student of Faculty of Informatics 

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