Life in the Czech Republic as an International Student

What is it like to be an exchange student in the Czech Republic? I will share with you my experience last semester and write a few posts. In this blog I’m going to describe the country and Zlin, the city where the university is located, and share with you about the Czechs and the budget. Let’s start!

What is the attitude of Czechs' to Russians? Actually, the question is not easy to answer, as the history of our relationship is pretty complicated. The Prague Spring changed a lot. People in Prague do still remember the spring of 1968. It means that you can find yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable situation just because you are Russian, as Russia is inevitably associated with the Soviet Union’s political actions. I visited Prague twice before my exchange semester and several times I faced slight hostility from the Czechs. As a result, I expected the worst and hoped for the best. Fortunately, my worries did not come true. Zlin did not see the Prague Spring. The only Russians in Zlin are a few Erasmus students, so folks are warm and friendly. I speak Czech, however, I was shy about using it, expecting my Russian accent could have a negative effect on my communication with the local people. Our languages do not differ much, so we make the same mistakes speaking English and have similar accents. It means that speaking English with Czechs was kind of cheating, because they needed time to understand where I came from. During the first days teachers could start speaking Czech to me during classes. When other international students asked what was going on, the teachers answered: "Sorry guys, we have similar languages and I forgot the English word. I tried to say it in Czech, because I hoped the Russian girl could understand". When teachers found out that I could speak Czech, every session was like this. It was always so funny for everyone! People in Prague would never do that! Just believe me!

Most of the houses in Zlín are orange. It makes this city completely different from other Czech cities.

Zlin is a small nice city with the most famous resident Tomas Bata who is famous for creating a footwear empire "Bata' in the last century. Almost everything in the city is named after him. I am not even sure if there is something in Zlin named after another person.You can find Tomas Bata Hospital, Tomas Bata street and square, his quotes on houses (I'm not joking), his statues and, of course, Tomas Bata University. 13% of the city’s population are university students, so Zlin is really full of young people. There are a lot of bike paths, really cool playgrounds, trees, lawns and flowers everywhere. Zlin is a great example of efficient and rational arrangement of the urban environment and facilities. In April, all trees are in amazing bloom and it is really fabulous. I just can't find the words to describe how beautiful the city was!

If to talk about costs and prices, living in Zlin is not expensive.However, I did my best to save money. I spent 100 EUR on the dorm and 70 EUR on food per month. All the money I managed to save I spent on travelling in Europe. I will tell you about my trips in my next blogs.

Now I would like to say a couple of words about the dormitory. My dorm was really good. I had never lived in a dormitory before, so I did not know what type of dorm I had to choose. I chose a room type in the city center, then it appeared to be cheaper than other options. Later I found out that in my dormitory there was one kitchen, toilet and shower on each floor. I was afraid they could be always occupied. The best thing was that everyone wanted to live in an apartment type, so my dormitory was almost empty. It was amazing! (By the way, you can take a closer look at the dorm in Google maps).

I think I have to tell you about concierges. They are nice old ladies who do not speak English. Don’t even try, they do not know a single word in English! However, this does not prevent them from helping foreign students with all the services in the dormitory. I think these lovely women have learned to understand foreigners without words. If you do not speak Czech, do not get scared, because people will always help you in this country.

As you can see, my experience was really great and I’ve got a lot to share with you. It was only an introductory part, so stay tuned!

Third year Bachelor's student