The Czech Republic is a country in Central Europe that used to be married to Slovakia before the end of the Cold War. Three years ago, I decided to move here, to leave my hometown, my country, my family and friends, basically everything I admire and love. I chose the Czech Republic where I found a university in Brno offering very unique study courses suiting me absolutely. I was 19 at the time, young, a bit wild, a bit scared and with head full of ideas and fears about the environment I was going to move to. “Am I going to fit in? Will I make some friends? How am I going to spend my free time? With whom? How are the Czechs going to treat me? Me – a foreign student!” Today I know that moving was the best decision I have ever made, so for those of you thinking about studying in the Czech Republic, I would like to share my experiences and give you some personal pieces of advice for a successful start.
Accommodation is the first problem you need to solve. It’s not a problem to find a nice place for a reasonable price in the Czech Republic. Bigger universities usually (and especially for foreigners) offer the option to live in dorms but the capacity is limited and the demand is huge. So dorms are usually full at the beginning of September - even before the start of the semester. All over the country there are many real estate agencies, a few of them are student-orientated. They’ll find you a room or a place in a student-occupied house or a place of your own. In addition - the fee for the service is smaller than you would usually expect to pay to a realty agency. All you have to do is fill out a form and a questionnaire; I used this service to find my first flat – a week after filling them out I got the place I wanted. I got a room in a 7-room duplex with 6 other mates, all English speaking and 4 of them attending the same school as I was about to start. After that, I moved three times, using the same service. Every time satisfied.
Friends and mates. On average the young Czechs have very solid knowledge level of foreign languages, they are very open minded and interested in foreigners, so I fit in very quickly. First months of every semester are just full of housewarming parties and events where you can find friends. Every university organizes many events in pubs like beer festivals, holiday parties, laser games and university balls.
It is very easy to find a topic for discussion, Czech people love to read so there is a wide spectrum of topics to discuss. They are quite proud of their country, so try to praise everything you like, especially beer, girls, history and the potential Czechs have in the areas of economics and politics. Czechs appreciate when foreigners try to speak Czech. Avoid associating Czech Republic with Eastern Europe, Russia or Czechoslovakia and I guarantee that you’ll fit in perfectly.
Hobbies. At the beginning you are very likely to have a load of spare time and the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, relieve the tension after stressful day, or spend time with a beloved one. Czech Republic offers wide selection of possible ways to spend your free time. Sport clubs of all categories recruit newcomers. Czechs like exhibitions so much, almost every month there’s a new one open and in every major city there is definitely a theatre. If you are highly interested and passionate about something whether its sports, music, art, theatre etc. you just need to check the web or any kind of university newsletter and you will undoubtedly find what you are looking for. It’s a great way of finding new friends and expanding your social circle in a new country.
These are just very quick tips and advice about what is best to do for a great start. As mentioned before – moving to Czech Republic was the best thing I’ve ever done, make sure it the same for you.