I left Brisbane airport at the beginning of February to pursue a dream of mine that I’ve had since I was in school – to study overseas. I was heading to Brno, Czech Republic, which all together including stopovers took me a long 50 hours to get to. I had never heard of Brno before and never really thought about studying specifically in the Czech Republic.
I was always interested in Europe and major cities but I’m beyond grateful I ended up in Brno. Brno is the student central and the second biggest city in the Czech Republic, but compared to Australia it was more like a small town full of students. They have an amazing transport system, a small city centre, beer is cheaper then water and you can eat out for less then $5. Connections to other countries are awesome, and probably the best thing is that it isn’t a tourist destination, so there are no crowds or tourist traps!
I want to help anyone that is going to Brno in the future because I wish I had someone to answer all my questions and ease the stress of exchange, but I did it all myself! Dorms at first seem intimidating, but it’s the best way to meet new people and be surrounded by friends all the time. The best dorm in my opinion is Vinarska A1 (it’s renovated unlike the other blocks). Definitely try to connect with people online who might have similar interests as you, and then simply ask to share a room together which can minimise the chances of you ending up someone you might not get along with. Another tip is get your visa done before you leave Australia! It was the biggest hassle to report my entry into Czech Republic during the craziness of O-week, so save yourself the stress and do it before hand.
Other tip is that things don’t always go smoothly, remember your in a different country that has different values and culture to you, so locals can be rude and sometimes make you feel alienated – BUT exchange is the best thing you can do to grow and learn as a person. So far I’ve travelled to Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Salzburg, Munich, Krakow, Nice in France, Slovakia and done multiple road trips with friends I’ve met from all over the world here. Now, I will travel for 2 months over the summer holiday and go to too many countries to even name. The study side of exchange is very different to Australia and in all honesty is very chilled and laid back giving you more opportunity to travel!
If your contemplating doing exchange, do not stress about the money, government grants are more then enough. If your nervous about going alone once O-week starts, you wil instantly make friends. Even if studying overseas adds time on your degree, I think it’s an amazing opportunity and you’ll have memories for life. I couldn’t thank USC enough for giving me this opportunity to study overseas.
– Anna Howard