Helen Studying Overseas at Masaryk University – Czech Republic

My time on exchange at Masaryk University – Czech Republic has been an incredible life-changing experience so far. I have met so many amazing people from all different parts of the world. I have had to adapt to a new climate, new language and new culture.

I arrived part-way through winter… and to my utter excitement the streets were filled with snow, white forests and fields. I have never seen snow before so for me this beautiful sight was something so incredible. However, I was soon met with the bitter reality of a European winter… it was cold, very cold.  I got used to not being able to feel my nose, after coming from 36-degree heat and the ocean it took a while. I made snowmen, went ice skating and spent a lot of time admiring the outside from my bedroom window.

From the first week I have met so many amazing people. My roommate is Greek and I gave up trying to learn Greek after realising I couldn’t even pronounce ‘thank you’. Each week the International Students Club puts on events such as board games nights, quiz nights, parties and country presentations where students can share their cultures. Brno is an amazing student city and everything is at your fingertips (and a short walk away). Also a litre of beer is on average $2 at any bar, and the beer is GOOD. And now that the weather is warmer the beer gardens have opened so after a tiring day of study you can sit in the city square and drink a $2 beer. Although the cuisine consists of a lot of bread, fried things and meat. But you can go to any restaurant and only pay $5 for meal. I admit it will be hard coming back to Australia and having to hand over $20 for a meal.

Brno is perfectly situated in the middle of Europe which has made travelling very easy and cheap. I have been able to travel nearly every weekend to surrounding countries such as Austria, Poland, Germany and Slovakia.

The University is really wonderful too, I have been able to study subjects I am interested in and be taught by teachers who are highly experienced in their individual areas. And to my benefit, I am normally the only native English speaker so I have become a walking dictionary for most of the students. It has been so incredible to witness all these students from all different countries having to study in a second or even third language.

My most memorable moment so far would have to be Easter in a small Czech village called Sakvice. In small Czech villages they have a tradition where they take these rainbow whip like things and go around to each house in the village and whip the women to bring good luck and fertility, the men are then rewarded with food, beer and liquor at each house. Some friends and I were lucky enough to be able to walk around with a group of Czech boys in the village to witness the tradition in action. It was a day filled with many laughs, food and Czech folk songs.

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