Michiel Nanninga from Netherlands studies dual- master degree study program and he has been in Brno for two semesters now. What surprised him, who is he living with and what does he have for lunch? Read on!
First, very obvious, but of course necessary question: Why Czech republic, why Brno? Have you been here before?
The choice for Brno was easier made than expected. That’s because I am doing a dual-master with its first year in either Brno or Konstanz (Germany) and the second year in Utrecht in the Netherlands. The subjects of the courses in Brno seemed more interesting to me than the ones in Konstanz. Also the fact that Brno is a Czech city was a decisive factor. Although I have been in the Czech Republic twice before (to Prague and the Bohemian Paradise), I really did not know the country that well and I wanted to know more about it.
What surprised you? Did your expectation meet the reality?
I was happily surprised about the amount of beautiful women in Brno (laughs). Actually I did not really have expectations because I did not want to set the stakes to high. Therefore Brno is better than expected on all fronts. Maybe the two things which surprised me the most are the good public transport system and the amount of decent sporting facilities.
Is it possible to compare your school at home with the one in Brno? What are the biggest differences? Are you satisfied with the education you’re getting here?
The biggest difference is that I am doing a master and not a bachelor anymore. So it is a smaller group of students, the number of obligatory readings per week is larger and deadlines are less strict because it is your own responsibility now. The biggest difference compared to Utrecht University is the year schedule. Back in the Netherlands they work with a system of four blocks containing two courses each. That means you have exams after every 7th week of education on a fixed date. Therefor it really surprised me that you can choose your own examination date here and do even a second resit if you fail the first one. With a good planning you can have a free month in between your semester that way.
Are you in touch with some Czech people? How do you feel about them? What are, in your opinion, the biggest differences?
Yes, I live together with three Czech flatmates, I have contact with some Czech students via ESN and there is one Czech girl in my class and they are all really nice.
Especially the eating pattern is a cultural difference. As a real Dutchie I prefer my sandwich with cheese during lunchtime, while most of the Czech people “dinner” during lunchtime, often in town. Also the ‘sitting‘ culture in the bars is different than back home, because most bars in the Netherlands also have a dance area.
Are you in touch with some people from your own country? How do you enjoy meeting people from another countries?
Quite a lot, because half of the students in the program are Dutch. I really like to meet people from other countries, but sometimes it is nice to be able to speak in your mothertongue again and make certain (word) jokes which are only able in Dutch.
Do you tend to take part in ISC activities? How do you like them?
So far I have participated in some quiz nights, visited a couple of country presentations, been swimming, doing some language courses and joined the dancing workshop before the ball and attended some parties of course. I think the languages courses are, not only really fun, but also really important and that is sometimes a bit underestimated. The parties are the most fun activity for sure.
What places have you visited in Czech Republic yet? Have you been to the neighbouring countries?
I have been to, among others, the cave region north of Brno, Prague and Olomouc. Outside the CR I have been to Bratislava, the High Tatra’s, Vienna, Krakau and Lviv. All of them are beautiful. If you want to party, the clubs in Krakau centre and bars in the Kazimierz district are a lot of fun. Lviv deserves a special recommendable. The Lviv people are sincerely kind and really have this Slavic hospitality. There are a lot of nice theme bars and restaurants in the centre and all the churches have extraordinary interiors.
Do you think that studying abroad has had a major impact on you? In which way?
Yes. It sounds cliché, but it is so true; studying abroad is a live changing experience!
The confrontation with so many new nice/strange/surprising/adventurous things is unforgettable. It is great to make international friends and see that enjoying the good things of life is not bound to any national border. A second funny thing is breaking and confirming prejudices about cultures, especially your own. Dutchies can be a bit straightforward and skimp but at the same time open-minded and well organised. Also studying itself with internationals is a valuable experience. It can be an eye-opener to see things, for instance foreign political situations, from another perspective.
Would you recommend coming to Brno to another students?:)
Written by: Nikola Krišteková