Experience of International Students

Canada

Cassidy Stromberg

Each semester, we have a chance to welcome some exchange students from outside the EU, such as Canada. There are currently three students from this North American country and Cassidy Stromberg from Canada is one of them. Her home university is the University of Alberta in Edmonton and she is studying Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology at the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport & Recreation.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

To be honest, our faculty has an exchange agreement with Palacký University and I have always wanted to do an international exchange. The location and affordability is why I picked Olomouc but I discovered so many more reasons once I came here.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

I didn’t have many expectations coming here. However, I was surprised at the laid-back atmosphere of the city.  People are usually out and about socializing and recreating. I love this atmosphere and it is in contrast to many Canadian cities where people are often just rushing to get to places.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

I was not expecting the teaching/learning style to be so different from my University. At Palacký, I know all of my professors and the classes are very practical. I still learn a lot in the classes because I am enjoying myself and want to learn more. It’s nice to be able to study what I enjoy doing without the constant stress.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

The biggest challenge for me was maintaining healthy habits and some normalcy that I have from home. It is hard to uphold these things when you are not familiar with the city or services. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges was actually getting the visa to come here though!

How did you spend your free time?

I have spent a lot of my free time travelling in Czech and to neighbouring countries. In Olomouc, I mostly hang out with other Erasmus students. Often eating in menza, going walking and running, playing sports and going out to eat.

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

That is a very hard question... I’d say the ski alpinism course is one of the best experiences I’ve had from Erasmus. It is something I have always wanted to try and it was so amazing to have the opportunity to learn how to backcountry ski safely.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

Yes, I think I have learned not to focus so much on working really hard at one thing. Most people I’ve met do a variety of activities for no reason other than to enjoy them. I think I could learn a lot from this as I often get caught up in only focusing on grades and training.  Meeting so many people from different cultures and countries has also changed my perceptions of places and given me a whole host of friends to go and visit!

How can this experience benefit your future career?

I think this experience will benefit my future career because it will show that I was able to adapt to different circumstances. Completing this exchange despite being unfamiliar with Czech culture or education could be a testament to character. Also, the skills I’ve learned from respecting and communicating with other people will certainly serve me throughout my career.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

Absolutely! It is such a great experience for meeting new friends from around the world, experiencing a different education style and getting to travel inexpensively to other places. I think this experience could only benefit you as a student.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 words, which ones would you use?

Eye-opening, social, opportunities, travel, freedom.

Monika Riechers & Karen Wisheu

You might have already read about the experience of Cassidy from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Now we are bringing you an interview with two of her classmates, Monika Riechers (M), and Karen Wisheu (K) who are studying Science in Kinesiology and Kinesiology respectively at their home university in Canada.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

Palacký University was one of three faculty exchanges offered to students at our home university.

M: I chose it because I have close family friends from the Czech Republic and was interested in learning and experiencing the country and culture. I also must admit that the centrality of Olomouc also played a factor in my decision because it allows for traveling around Europe.

K: I didn’t have family friends in the country, but otherwise my motives were similar. Additionally, I thought Czech was more exciting and different than the UK and cheaper than Norway (our other two options).

Were your expectations different from the reality?

M: Slightly, I expected the weather to be a bit warmer than it was but in comparison to home, it was still really warm. I was also expecting to be interacting with Czech students more than I did.

K: My expectations were completely different. I was told the classes were styled differently than in Canada, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so different. Honestly, I came into the exchange a bit blind, so for most aspects of the exchange I either had no idea what to expect or was completely wrong about what to expect going in. Now this didn’t really have a detrimental effect on my exchange as a whole, but it made the first week or so incredibly stressful. I highly recommend future exchange students talk to people who’ve gone previously or read a bunch of interviews (neither of which I did), so they go into the program with a better understanding.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

M: My courses were a lot smaller here than at home, and a lot more hands on. We had to apply knowledge that we had learnt to real life scenarios and there were a lot more presentations.

K: Back home you were taught things more directly (i.e. teacher reading off a PowerPoint), while in Olomouc it wasn’t uncommon to have to figure things out on your own as well. In one class, for example, we had to prepare two presentations (one short, one quite long) on two different topics. In both cases we were expected to teach ourselves about our selected topics on our own. This process was challenging and stressful at times, but it was incredibly rewarding once we presented.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

M: Getting used to presenting. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to presenting so it was pretty stressful for me to have to do so many for classes. Also, getting used to not always understanding what is around me. At home everything is either in English or French, so I am able to understand everything; from what people are saying to the small things such as advertisements. It was definitely a strange experience and took a while to adjust to.

K: In addition to the language barrier, it was really challenging to learn to live on my own. I still live with my parents back home so simple things like cooking and getting into a regular schedule for groceries and laundry took some getting used to.

How did you spend your free time?

K: I’m not going to lie, I can be kind of an introvert. I spent more nights than I should have bundled up in my dorm room watching YouTube videos or TV shows, but I made a lot of friends and as the semester went on I spent more and more time with them. It wasn’t just partying or weekend trips either, sometimes they’d come over to watch movies on my laptop or we’d go out to a café for lunch. It was often super mundane things like getting groceries together or hanging out working on papers until 2am (not because they were hard, so much as because we procrastinated or forgot about them).  I did do a fair amount of traveling at the weekends, but mostly it was just hanging out in my dorm or casually with friends.

M: We also spent a decent amount of time attending the local sport matches with my (Karen’s adopted) buddy.

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

K: There was one trip I had been planning even before I got to the Czech Republic that really stands out. It was a trip to London where I got to attend a Premiere League football match and a video game conference where I got to go to a meet and greet with some people I’m huge fans of. It was probably one of the best weekends of my life. In terms of my time in Olomouc specifically, however, the most memorable moment is near the end of my time here. One night at 2am, I went over to my friend’s room and we watched game seven of the eastern conference final (NHL). We stayed up until 5am cracking jokes about Don Cherry and the game itself even though I had to be up at 7am the next morning and he had a flight to catch. The next morning, we went out to a café with a couple other friends and I remember being surprised at how awake he was because the only thing keeping me conscious was my cup of coffee.

M: One of my most memorable experiences was when I got to attend an Olomouc ice hockey game with friends. It was really amusing to watch the game with my buddy Kate and our British friends who had never seen a game before. The Olomouc fans are very passionate about the game, and a lot more vocal about their opinions then the fans back home. It was also awesome to see Olomouc win and the player celebrations after the game (thank you Kate for making sure we stayed after the game :-) ).

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

K: I feel like the exchange has really helped to make me more independent. There were a lot of things I had to do while abroad that I would normally avoid doing back home. The classes themselves also helped me improve my independence because the style the teachers used relied more heavily upon independent learning and active participation in class. The more frequent use of applying knowledge over memorization also helped me in that department (which was really helpful since I’m a lot better at memorizing than applying knowledge).

M: I believe that this experience has helped me become more independent. Along with regular everyday things, the teaching style here is reliant on the students wanting to learn more and coming to classes with an understanding of the course material so that they can participate. This experience has also helped to me to find my passions and what I am interested in.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

K: I feel the answer to this is pretty similar to what I said above. The independence I gained is probably the biggest advantage I’ve gained here. The ability to talk to new people (regardless of the differences in our backgrounds) is something I feel I’ve really improved on. I’m still kind of awkward, but I used to be much worse. Additionally, I’ve gotten a lot better at working with and around language barriers.

M: This experience has given me valuable insight into how people feel when they immigrate into a new country. This is incredibly valuable because living in a country such as Canada, there are so many immigrants and people from different backgrounds. It also, has given me an idea of specific areas of the field that I would like to further explore.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

K: The first week that I was here, during orientation, I was told that I would fall in love with this town and I absolutely have. Olomouc is a small town which makes it so walkable and easy to familiarize yourself with. Whenever I returned from traveling, I was always excited to be back. I can’t entirely describe it, but I really can’t recommend this town highly enough.

M: I would definitely recommend coming to Palacký, the teachers within this faculty are enthusiastic about their fields, are always willing to lend a hand, and are very personable. Along with the amazing teachers, you also get to meet many interesting and unique people.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 words, which ones would you use?

K: New, challenging, rewarding, friendships, natural.

M: Adventure, exciting, humbling, fun, friendships.

China

Fan Gaosheng

For the past couple of years, our faculty has had the pleasure to welcome students from Chinese universities to teach martial arts to both our students and staff. This year is no exception, with Fan Gaosheng coming to the Faculty of Physical Culture for a year as a teacher of Chinese martial arts. Fan comes from Beijing Sports University and apart from teaching, he also attends some classes as a student to broaden his horizons. He loves Chinese martial arts, basketball, skiing and travelling. Let´s see what he thinks about living and teaching in Olomouc...

Why did you choose our university for your teaching experience?

There were eight martial arts teachers at my university and six countries to choose from. All of them chose Denmark and Norway. I did not want to do the same thing they did so I checked some information about the Czech Republic online and compared to other countries, it seemed more suitable for living. Therefore, I chose to come here. Prague is a world-famous tourist spot, the scenery is beautiful, which was also one of the reasons that attracted me. And as we all know, the Palacký University is very famous in the Czech Republic and many famous people graduated from this university. The Palacký University has established a cooperation with my university in China, which is also one of the reasons why I came here. I would like to promote Chinese culture and health exercises Taichi and Qigong in the Czech Republic.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

There are some differences. The schools here are not the same as those in China. We have a lot of training venues while at the faculty here in Olomouc, there are very few places to exercise. Olomouc is also a relatively small city and some things are hard to buy. Some Asian food can only be bought in Prague. However, the stuff is very cheap and one can have a very comfortable life here.

When I first came here, I missed the Chinese food very much. I really like spicy food, but I can not get spicy peppers here. A lot of food here is very sweet and really different from that in China. Before I came here, I thought of Europe as of a continent of brilliant buildings, polite and enthusiastic people but Olomouc is a student city, therefore it looks a bit different from what I expected. But when you stay here for some time, you will enjoy the life here, although not everyone is very friendly, but I think it is the same in every country. I like it here now, it’s very peaceful and my heart feels more quiet.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

The English classes left me with a deep impression. The lessons are very interactive, and the students can communicate a lot. The teachers give students enough space to express their thoughts. I attend my classes with international exchange students and I enjoy discussing various topics with them.

The teachers here are friendlier and the atmosphere in the classroom is better than at my university. Many of the classes are very practice-oriented and I can improve in various sports. There are only a few students in one class, while in China there are about 100 students in one class.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as a teacher of martial arts?

First of all, students here do not understand Chinese culture and do not know much about Tai Chi. Secondly, because of the cultural differences, classes are different and students have different attitudes toward their teachers. For example, when we have different opinions on some matter, I will solve it in a Chinese manner which might differ from the Czech way of dealing with problems. However, it doesn't really matter, we always get along very well and I am very glad I get along with all my Czech students. Also, there is a language barrier because my English is still not that good. When teaching Chinese martial arts, we use some professional terminology which when translated into English often loses its original meaning. I am trying my best to improve my English and I think it has already improved a lot which makes me very happy.

How do you spend your free time?

I have only a few Tai Chi classes here, so I have a lot of free time. I often attend some courses of my interest to learn more about teaching methods, different ideas and concepts. I occasionally go swimming or have dinner with my colleagues. I travel to the surrounding cities at the weekends and enjoy the feeling of cycling on the country roads. During our winter vacation I went to the Northern Europe to get to know their culture better. We also planned some trips together with my students here who also became my best friends. I learnt a lot from them about the Czech culture. One of them lent me a bike so I will be able to ride it around and enjoy the spring time in Europe.

What is the single most memorable experience you have had from your life here so far?

During Christmas, my student invited me to spend time with her family. It was a very memorable Christmas and I felt great. I cooked Christmas dishes with her family and we went to the church. We decorated the Christmas tree together in the evening and gave gifts to each other. Her family is very passionate, very kind and explained to me the Christmas-related stories. Another great experience was learning skiing with my friend and I think I became quite good at it! We do not have snow in my hometown and I never tried any winter sports. The first time I went skiing, I fell in love with the sport. Both of my friends are my Tai Chi students. I am very glad I could meet them, they changed my life and thanks to them I can explore more about the European culture. I would like to say to them: Thank you all so much!

Have you changed because of your experience?

I have been living here for more than six months now and it changed me a lot. Life here is very good, regardless of poverty or wealth. Houses here look ordinary from the outside, but it is very beautiful inside. I have changed a lot in my thinking. There are many places worth visiting and many things worth learning. People here love to learn. My students' parents are almost 50 years old and just started to learn English, which I really admire. I really learnt a lot and I love this feeling! Being able to learn more about different cultures makes me really very happy and gives me a feeling of fulfillment.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

I tell myself that no matter how old I am, I cannot stop studying. Whether poor or rich, I should love my life and keep a young heart. When I become older, I can tell my children about my travels in Europe which changed my life. I also became more confident and I can think more comprehensively and calmly when facing various problems. My teaching ability has also improved a lot. I can communicate with foreigners better and my English proficiency has also improved greatly. I think that thanks to my progress in English, I can be more competitive when looking for a job in China after my graduation.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

I would recommend it because there are many great teachers and friendly people from all around the world and you can also gain access to new knowledge here.

If you had to describe your experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?

Beautiful, friendly, peaceful, harmonious, happy.

Hungary

Patrik Horváth

Next international student in our series of interviews is Patrik Horváth from Hungary. He came from Department of Sports Management and Theory, Faculty of Sciences, University of Pécs and he likes travelling, table tennis, reading and touring. Does he also enjoy studying at our faculty?

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

I visited the Czech Republic in 2014 and it was love at first sight for me. During my trip, I decided that I would return to the country as soon as I have the chance. I heard about the Erasmus+ programme in my university. At first, I was not interested in it but when my teacher started to list the possible countries, my feelings changed because of the possibility to go to Prague and Olomouc. I came here with one of my friends and in Prague there was just place for one student, so it was obvious that our destination would be Olomouc. I registered right after the introduction. Later I googled the city and the university and I became a true fan of the Palacký University.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

Yes. When I came here, I realized everyone is so kind to us. I thought that maybe it would not be the same forever because usually everyone tries to be kind to the “guests” at the start but all of the teachers, students and even the non-academic staff of the Palacký University have always been so nice to us. When my new teachers ask about me or my Erasmus mates, they don’t do so just to ask some questions but they really want to get to know us deeply. I have a very good relationship with my teachers and with a lot of Erasmus and non-Erasmus students. I never expected better atmosphere during my Erasmus!

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

In Hungary, I’m a student of the faculty of sciences which includes all of the sport studies. But mine is closer to business than is usual here. In Olomouc, I can study several kinds of sport studies like recreation, biomechanics, travel & tourism or even wheelchair sports. Most of my subjects are practical, however, it’s different at my home university where a lot of business subjects are theoretical. I like my classes here, they are so useful. English language is one of the most useful courses, while still being so interesting. It will be difficult when my Erasmus ends because teaching methods as well as the language of the teaching are different in Hungary. Anyway, I enjoy being taught in English.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

I had to overcome some difficulties, for example using English. It wasn’t the first time I needed to use it but with everyone and all the time… it was strange for me, though it’s better now. And the tiny everyday things were also complicated, like cooking and doing laundry by myself. Doing Erasmus is a perfect way to improve the skills for my everyday life!

How do you spend your free time?

I love traveling! I did it before Erasmus but I took some trips while living in the Czech Republic. Because of its location, the country is a perfect place for traveling either within the country, or outside. Also, I played table tennis in Hungary and I’m lucky because I got to know some Czech players and that´s why I could continue my trainings here. When I have some free time, I just open the map of Europe - sometimes not just Europe - on the internet and I start planning a trip somewhere. There are so many places I would like to visit. Some of them are closer to the Czech Republic than to Hungary so I should explore them now, during my Erasmus.

What is the single most memorable experience you have had from your Erasmus life so far?

It’s a difficult question because I have a lot of good memories that I will remember forever! Maybe my best Erasmus experience is my first couch-surfing experience with Portuguese friends of mine, Carolina and Leonor. We spent fantastic four days in Munich, Germany. We walked around the entire city and because it was my second time in there, it was not totally new for me, but this was still the most enjoyable trip. It was our first couch-surfing experience and everything was perfect. I think this kind of trips can make friendships forever.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

Of course! I think every one of us have changed somehow during Erasmus. I have changed also as I have tried living without my family and friends. I guess that´s the most difficult for me now – at first, I never felt homesick but now it´s changing and this feeling is getting stronger and stronger. For me, living with several students from different countries, having different cultures and religions, can be eye-opening. I learned a lot from other foreign students, for example to respect other cultures more. I made some really deep friendships with the other Erasmus students, which, I hope, will survive my return back home.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

I guess that I can understand different cultures and religions. In my opinion, it is very important not to be too conservative and judgemental. Everyone should be opened-minded when interacting with others, that’s one of the main purposes of the Erasmus programme, I think. I hope my Erasmus experience has changed me for good and I will continue having this view for the rest of my life!

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

Of course! I really enjoy my time here and I can’t complain about anything. I think that all the services of the faculty are perfect for the Erasmus students. Even the city itself is awesome, I really enjoy being part of Olomouc! When I was in Hungary at Christmas, I met one of my professors and he asked me if I could participate in an Erasmus meeting next year whose goal will be to popularize the Erasmus+ programme among our students. I happily agreed and I honestly can’t wait. It will be honour to promote the Palacký University and the city of Olomouc!

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using five adjectives, which ones would you use?

Perfect, instructive, unrepeatable, memorable, unforgettable!

Italy

Marco Picco

Marco Picco is a PE-and-Sport-Science student from the University of Turin in Italy and he has been with us for the second semester already. In his own words, he loves “sports (of course), movies that nobody else likes, meeting people from different cultural backgrounds, travelling the world, cooking, always looking for new food, seeking for alternative ways of living life, always moving, never staying in one place…” And now let´s find out what he loves about Olomouc.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

For many different reasons: the great position in central Europe, it´s perfect for cheap travelling, the fact that the university offered cheap accommodation in the dorms, the kindness and availability the university employees showed towards me (especially Zuzana Hanelová), the fact that Olomouc is a true university city and everything is student friendly, the fact that the city is not small but not chaotic either, and also the interesting offer of classes taught in English.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

It seems hard to believe but I came to this country with no expectations at all, ready to accept every experience that would come to me. Also, I did a lot of research about Olomouc and the university in particular, this way I already had at least an idea about what I was going to find here.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

The classes at Palacký University, at least the ones I attended, are held for no more than 20 people most of the times. This small amount of students makes for a more active class, in contrast with the frontal lectures typical of my university in Turin, attended by up to 250 students at a time. Here the relationship with the teachers is better in my opinion, both for the small classes but most of all because of their attitude which is way more laid-back. Here the discussion of topics in class is something that we do on a daily basis, while in Italy I never experienced that. The active participation in class is always taken into account for attribution of grades at the end of the semester. One last thing is that in Italy classes are more based on the theory and on studying while here subjects are approached more on the application of what you learn in class, making it feel like you are learning less, regarding the amount of information, but also feeling like the things learned are immediately applicable in real life situations.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

For me, coming here was a big change because not only it was my first time living abroad but also the first time living on my own, since back in Italy I was living with my parents. I have to admit that moving here was not a challenge at all. What scared me most initially was that I was not going to be able to build friendship with the people here like the ones I have back home but then I found some amazing people here with whom I had unforgettable experiences. The dorm life was not a challenge ether.  I got used to sharing spaces and things really fast and my roommate became one of my closest friends, the person I can always count on.

How did you spend your free time?

Being used to Turin, one of the most important cities in Italy regarding nightclubs and electronic music, I was a bit underwhelmed about the club scene of Olomouc, which is quite poor. On the other hand, I was surprised by the amount of pubs, cafes and restaurants where you can just go with a few friends, have a couple of beers and a good chat. There are also quite a few English friendly events like stand up comedy shows, small independent movie festivals and theatre plays. Many pubs also have live music or just people bringing their guitar so that all of the people there can just start singing along. Most of these things take place during weekdays since the local students leave town already on Thursdays to go back home for the weekends, leaving the city quite empty and with not much to do. Therefore, during these days of the week people rather relax, for example by taking walks in the many beautiful parks that surround the centre of the city, or take trips out of town, usually visiting the neighbouring countries.

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

It has to be my second trip to Prague that I had with the people that later became my closest friends here (Riccardo, Chiara, Mattia and Matteo). From the start, we immediately knew that we all connected and we were on the same page all the time. For me that was probably the most fun trip of the semester and probably also the luckiest since everything from the start till the end just fell into place.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

This is one thing that only people back home will be able to judge. On my side, I can say that this experience made me grow a lot, now I feel stronger and more able to face life, I am aware of what I’m able to do. Erasmus makes you understand that a lot more than you think is possible and boundaries don’t exist. Being alone in a foreign country puts you to test. You have to face hundreds of challenges without friends and family there to support you.  You experience things that only in these special conditions are possible and you have to be aware that sadly only the people that shared the same reality will understand. Here the time passes extremely fast but at the same time small portions of it feel like a lifetime.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

Erasmus made me face with an international environment, so stimulating that in the future I will try to seek for something similar also for a job career. The social skills and the level acquired in the English language will help me be competitive in every field of my life, not only in a possible future career.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

I would definitely recommend this faculty to each one of my friends. The practical classes offer is better in my opinion than the one back in Italy, with classes like outdoor sports, climbing and martial arts that are not found in the offer of any Italian university, I guess. I would suggest, though, taking the big theoretical subjects (anatomy, physiology, psychology) back in Italy where the quality of teaching these is higher, I think.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?

Meaningful, unforgettable, Intense, unexpected, life-changing.

Francesco Serra

In our series of interviews, we are also introducing some international students who are studying at our faculty this semester. First of them is Francesco Serra. He came from the Faculty of Physical Culture, University of Turin in Italy and his study programme is Adapted physical activity. He has been with us for the second semester and he likes sport, travelling and art.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

I chose to do my Erasmus at this university because last year there was a Slovak girl on Erasmus in my class coming from Palacký University of Olomouc and she talked very nicely about the city and the university in general. I wanted to choose an Erasmus destination different from Spain, which is the most common for Italian students, and try to have a different experience.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

Yes indeed, I did not imagine that the faculty would have such cutting-edge tools and facilities.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

I think there are many differences in the relationships with the teachers which is totally different from what I have in Italy. The courses are made up of fewer students and thus the atmosphere in the classrooms is more intimate and I find generally much willingness and desire to help in general. The teachers can be helpful if the issues are not understood or in case of any problem. In addition, there is a good balance between the theoretical lectures and the practical classes where you can try what you have studied. In Olomouc, there are more tasks and projects to do each week and also the class attendance and participation matter. In Italy, on the other hand, we do fewer projects and our attendance is not always obligatory in all the courses. However, the exams in my home university are more complex and require much more material to study from.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

The coexistence in the dormitory. It is not always easy because you find yourself living with guys you do not know and it can be hard in a very restricted environment such as the dormitory. If you are not used to living with other boys, it can be complicated. It is also tough to follow lessons entirely in English and carry out projects and tasks in the foreign language.

How do you spend your free time?

I am used to spending my free time doing sports so I go to the gym or swimming pool, besides doing household chores such as doing the laundry, cleaning and cooking. :)

What is the single most memorable experience you have had from your Erasmus life so far?

There were many beautiful experiences, for example at the end of the Successful Ageing and Physical Culture course where we did physical activity with a group of seniors. We did a project that had been created with some of them where we became an important part of their weekly routine and we had to overcome the initial difficulties since we did not speak Czech. I remember the trips organized with their colleagues and the good relationships that we established with some of them. And also the winter camp where for the first time I took a ski course entirely in Czech and learned how to teach children with different disabilities.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

I think I became more tolerant of many things, I got involved in activities and improved my presentation skills and spoken English. But above all, I guess I learned a different way to look at things, to find new solutions and be more open-minded.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

I believe that this experience has given me the opportunity to get to know a lot of young people like me from all over the world and also to confront ideas and different ways of thinking that have helped me grow as a person and to change the way I see various situations. I tried many things in the practical field and I think this will help me in my future career.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

I would recommend it because the university has a lot of facilities and new equipment to practice and learn. The courses are well-organized with not only theoretical classes but also practical seminars. The city is very beautiful, not too big and you can easily find your way here and move around.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using five adjectives, which ones would you use?

Interesting, unique, fun, useful, educational.

Japan

Kirara Iwasa

Next international student in our series of interviews is Kirara Iwasa. She came from Japan, from Faculty of Sport Science, Nippon Sport Science University. She likes travelling, watching movies, cooking, foreign language learning, puzzles or learning about new cultures. Does she enjoy studying in Olomouc?

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

First of all, my university in Japan and Palacký University have a study partnership. I was interested in the differences in the classes between Japan and the Czech Republic and also, since I had never been to Europe before, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try new things and then I wanted to contribute to my home university with this study abroad experience.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

There weren’t such big differences. However, I had some difficulties because of the language, which was harder than I expected. Also, I was surprised that each faculty of the Palacký University is situated in a different building.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

The biggest difference is the number of international students and that for Erasmus students, there are classes taught in English. Also, I don’t have to take a tram when I need to go to the stadium. The classes at Palacký University are mainly organized in small groups which means there are many opportunities to actively participate during the class by doing couple or group work. Compared to my Japanese university, where I had a lot of exams, I have more assignments rather than exams here.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

To adapt to a completely new situation and the fact that almost all of the environment around me has changed. I had to make new friends from the very beginning and I had difficulties with not only English but also with Czech. Moreover, it was hard for me not to keep in touch with my family because of the 7-8hour time difference.

How do you spend your free time?

I often sleep because I like to do it. I also go on trips with my friends from time to time and talk on Skype with my family or friends in Japan.

What is the single most memorable experience you have had from your Erasmus life so far?

The day when I had to say goodbye to my friends. Even though we spent just a few months being together, it was so sad and difficult because they were like a family for me.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

Of course, I think that all my experience throughout this Erasmus stay has changed me a lot.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

I can’t say exactly at the moment but I am sure that I will definitely use this experience in the future.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

Yes of course, that’s why I was chosen to study at Palacký University in the first place. :-)

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 words, which ones would you use?

Grateful / Proud/ Satisfied/ Trouble/ LOVE.

Pakistan

Shaheera Ajmal

Besides two master programmes taught in English (Adapted Physical Activity and Physical Activity and Active Living), the Faculty of Physical Culture also offers one PhD programme for international students, Kinanthropology. There are currently four students studying this programme full-time and two more students decided to enrol in the combined form. Today we bring you an interview with Shaheera Ajmal from Pakistan, who is a second year student of Kinanthropology.

Why did you decide to study a doctoral programme at Palacký University Olomouc?

I was at Palacký University first as an Erasmus student from Belgium (editor´s note: Shaheera studied International Master in Adapted Physical Activity in Leuven which is a programme in partnership between the KU Leuven and Palacký University Olomouc) and I liked everything here. After that, I got an offer to do a PhD here, so it was a great opportunity for me and I decided to apply. I interacted with some professors and faculty members of the university while I was on the exchange programme and all of them were so supportive, which made me decide to come here.

Did you find it difficult to go through the admission procedure?

Not at all. I think it was the easiest application procedure and the coordinators made it even more easier. Everything was clearly explained on the university website and there were not very strict requirements for application, unlike some other universities.

Can you describe the first months of your study at the Faculty of Physical Culture? What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome? What surprised you most?

I still remember the time when I was preparing to come here. I was a bit worried but once I reached Olomouc, everything was great. My coordinator helped me with everything, from getting a tram pass to opening a bank account. I think the only challenge that I have to face here is the language barrier. Most people don´t want to speak in English even if they know the language. They are too shy to speak.

Are you satisfied with the study?

Yes, I am. Everything is planned in the programme and there is also some flexibility to choose the courses for each year of study.

Are the teachers and other staff helpful?

Very much.  Everyone is so supportive and helpful, they are always willing to help me whenever I have any issue. And the professors are really smart and intelligent.

Are you happy with the facilities and the library?

The atmosphere at the faculty is very pleasant and the labs are very advanced, equipped with new technology and devices. I can find almost all the books related to my research field in the faculty library. For some of the physical activities, there is a separate building, AC Baluo, and we can use these facilities with a student membership. I really like the swimming pool and gym there.

How do you like living in the dormitories? What do you think about the campus and the canteen? 

I really love Neředín dorms, I feel like at home there. And the great thing is that it’s just next to my faculty, so I don’t have to use any kind of public transport to get to the faculty every day. The dorms are new and they are cleaned by the cleaners regularly. The food in the canteen is tasty and very cheap so mostly I don’t cook lunch because I like to have lunch in menza (university canteen).

Do you get any financial support from the faculty?

Yes, I am receiving a monthly scholarship (J. L. Fischer Grant) which covers my tuition fees.

Do you consider Olomouc a good place to live and study? Is it safe? What about the costs?

I think Olomouc is the best place to live, it’s very safe and peaceful. It’s can also get very lively during the week but at the weekends, it´s mostly quiet because most of the Czech students go back to their homes. I really like going for a walk in the centre and enjoying the environment when it’s quiet.

Overall, the Czech Republic is cheap and Olomouc, because it’s not a big city, is even cheaper. Nothing is expensive here, like food, rent, public transport...

Would you recommend the Faculty of Physical Culture to future students? Why?

Obviously, it’s a good choice if someone wants to continue in the research field. The faculty is well developed and it is developing more and more thanks to new devices, advanced technology and interesting research ideas.

If you had to describe your experience with studying at the Faculty of Physical Culture in Olomouc using five words, which ones would you use?

Peaceful, positive, enlightening, fun, friends/memories.

Poland

Monika Zawilska

For today´s interview, we have questioned Monika Zawilska, a physiotherapy student from Poznań University of Physical Education in Poland. She loves water sports, adores all animals and, apparently, she is fond of Olomouc too…

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

I chose studying at Palacký University, as I have honestly never heard of Olomouc before. I thought it would be exciting to move for one semester to a completely new place and to discover and explore it on my own, without any previous experience or recommendations from my friends. The study programme has offered completely different classes than my home university, so I took it as an opportunity to learn something new.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

Actually not really. Olomouc and the university turned out to be exactly as I imagined. Polish and Czech cultures, languages and cuisine are very similar, so I felt at home. All teachers were very welcoming and helpful and that’s how I imagined and hoped my semester abroad would look like. I was surprised how close all facilities and faculty buildings were. It was a pleasant experience not to be stuck in the traffic jam everyday! I was also positively surprised with the quality of service and food at Menza in Neředín - the staff was really friendly and the food was delicious, making the students feel like it’s a one big family meal that we are sharing. I didn’t expect it to be so good, as I had bad experiences with canteens overall.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

The Palacký University itself reminds me a lot of my home university. The architecture, the infrastructure weren’t much different from where I study in Poznań. However, as I already mentioned, the study program was absolutely different. Back home, my courses are only focused on physiotherapy, whereas here, apart from doing the clinical practice at the RRR Centrum and learning different kinesiotherapeutic techniques, I got the opportunity to try out some new things like climbing, artistic gymnastics, rafting, slacklining and many, many more. It was amazing to be able to gain all these skills together with the people from all around the globe. It surely broadened my horizons and helped me see the world from a different perspective.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

I think the biggest challenge was getting used to living in the dormitory and sharing the flat with six other people. I have never had to live in the dorm before as Poznań, the city where I currently study, is also a city where I originally come from, therefore there was no need to move out to a shared flat. I really value my privacy, silence and tidiness and unfortunately those values not always come together with living with a bunch of other people. I think that was the biggest challenge I had to face when I moved to Olomouc. But they say – have you really been a student if you haven’t lived in a dorm at least once in your life?

How did you spend your free time?

I tried my best to spend the free time in the most active way as possible. I went on hikes with friends, we played laser tag, practiced yoga in the park or went to relax by the lake. On the days when I felt like I need a moment for myself away from the crowds, I would just let my legs guide me wherever they wanted to go, among those cozy streets of Olomouc Old Town - I found it really relaxing to be able to discover tiny cafes, romantic parks, architectural gems and just get lost for a moment. Then in the evenings I would go grab dinner with my friends and enjoy the city at night.

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

I think the most memorable experience was Orientation Week and all social activities that came with it. Some of them required a team work like PubCrawl and it was amazing to do it with a bunch of people from all around the world who I have just met, learn their names and make friends and work hard to make the best memories. Orientation week was memorable as it was a mixture of „the unknown”, excitement, fun, people and freedom.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

I stopped drinking coffee, as surprisingly I was getting enough sleep! It definitely changed me when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle. I was exercising a lot, trying different sport disciplines. I think it changed my mindset and showed me how important is the balance between school, work and social life. I will try to apply this lifestyle to my life back home.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

One of the Erasmus moments that will definitely benefit my future career is taking part in the Hippotherapy class thanks to being a physio student at the Faculty of Physical Culture. We spent the whole day at Ryzáček - the hippotherapy centre nearby Olomouc, learning the therapeutic techniques with the use of a horse. It taught me a lot and reassured me even more that I would like to help the patients in the future by working with animals. I also got to perform a lot of presentations and gave a lecture at the Students’ Minisymposium - I think this experience has a positive influence on improving public speaking skills, which are useful in the researchers’ work.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

I would definitely recommend Palacký University to those of my friends who would like to study abroad but at the same time not far from home. Studying in Olomouc means studying in the modern but cozy environment, with the English speaking teachers who are eager to teach us something new and share their Olomouc life. It means studying in a city, where every fourth person you meet on the street also represents Palacký University and everything within a walking distance, so the whole city becomes your home of which you know every corner. It means being able to improve the language skills, make friends for life and being a part of unique experience.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?

Adventurous, beneficial, multicultural, smooth, inexpensive.

Spain

Juan Martinez Visa

Our popular series of interviews with Erasmus students studying at the Faculty of Physical Culture is back. If you have ever wondered what makes our international students prolong their stay at our faculty, Juan Martinez Visa from Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain, has answers for you.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

When I had to choose my Erasmus destination, I didn't know anything about any university or town. However, I found a website called "Erasmusu" where I could get some information about all the places where I could go as an exchange student. There you could find stories about Erasmus experience written by people who had done Erasmus in different cities and universities.
I read that Olomouc was a great place because it was in Central Europe (so you can travel to many countries), it was so cheap and the Erasmus community was amazing there. Moreover, I wanted a place with cold weather in order to experience different sensations, so I chose Olomouc as my first option.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

Before going to Olomouc, I didn't know what I would find there. However, since the first day I arrived, I have enjoyed every moment and every person I have met. I couldn't imagine that I would feel this city is my second home.
My expectations were high before arriving in Olomouc, but the reality has completely surpassed them. I have arranged an extension of my Erasmus period and I still don't know how I will be able to say goodbye to this wonderful and magic city in June.
Another thing that has exceeded my expectations is people I have met during my Erasmus. You would never imagine that unknown people would be as important for you as your family within just a few months. In fact, when you come back to Spain for Christmas, you find it too difficult to live without them.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

The first thing you expect when you are going to do Erasmus experience is that the classes and the exams will be so easy. It is true that the university in Olomouc is easier than my home university, but you have to take into account that you will have the classes in English, which represents extra difficulty.
The education system is different at both universities. In Olomouc, the classes are more practical and the teachers are closer than in my home university. You don't feel as much pressure with the exams as in your home institution because the teachers value attendance, diary homework and the knowledge that you learn more.
I would also like to point out that you don't lose an academic year during your Erasmus, as many people usually say. I have learned things in Olomouc that I had never discovered in my home university. Moreover, I speak from my own experience that the university in Olomouc has great teachers who try to help you in order to pass on all their knowledge.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

The first thing you need to know as an Erasmus student is that you will use English language every day. It will be so helpful for you because most people speak Czech language in Olomouc. However, you will be with Erasmus students most of the time, so you will always speak in English.
Another big challenge was the weather. In my home city, there is hot weather almost for the whole year. In Olomouc, the weather is so cold in winter that you will experience many new things: different type of clothes, customs, food… I personally prefer this weather instead of the hot weather, but it's up to you!
The most difficult challenge was related to the nightfall. Here, you will get used to seeing it at 4 or 5 p.m., which can be unusual for you in the beginning. However, you will find plenty of things to do with your friends in order to enjoy it.
Many people missed their families in the beginning of their Erasmus. Most of them had never lived without them, so they needed some time to adapt. However, I live in a different city than my parents in Spain, so this wasn't such a big challenge for me.

How did you spend your free time?

In Olomouc I had plenty of free time so I could do a lot of things. I usually did sport (gym, running…) and went out with my friends to a pub. One of the best things about Erasmus is the amount of people that you meet. If you feel bored, you have many people to drink a coffee or speak with. I love getting to know different cultures, languages, customs… I tried to meet people from many countries in order to open my mind. When you explore different countries, you start to understand why people from each country have a different behaviour.
To be honest, the best thing I have done in my free time in Olomouc is travelling. You will be surprised to find cheap prices here and the big amount of cities and countries that you could visit anytime.

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

If I had to choose one experience from my Erasmus, I couldn't do it. All the trips were incredible and amazing and each one has given me magic memories with my second family in Olomouc. We have been in rooms with 16 people, slept at airports and on buses, eaten in the strangest restaurants you can imagine… It's been wonderful to have these experiences and I will continue doing it in Spain for sure!

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

After my Erasmus experience, I can say for sure that I have changed completely. I have opened my mind in such different ways that it would be impossible to explain. Meeting such different people has helped me learn to tolerate all cultures and customs and it has helped me change my thoughts about some topics or stereotypes.
In addition, I have incredible maturity because of the experiences that I have had here. When your family and friends are so far away, you learn to be more independent by yourself and to organize your life without help from anyone. I have had some wonderful experiences during my Erasmus, but I have also had bad moments. When you have to fight with the last ones by yourself, you really mature and learn to be stronger.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

Nowadays, it is said that many companies prefer having workers who have spent one year abroad as for example Erasmus students. They consider this kind of experience to give you an enormous grade of maturity.
Moreover, I have improved my English a lot as a positive consequence of my Erasmus. You need to show interest and study hard if you want to improve all aspects of English language, but if you do it, you will speak English almost like your mother tongue after your Erasmus experience.
Finally, thanks to Erasmus you learn to manage difficult situations and control your whole life by yourself, something that will let you deal with unpredictable situations in your future job.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

I would absolutely recommend this university to the future Erasmus students because it gives you the opportunity to attend classes taught by excellent teachers. They will always help you as much as they can in order to make your learning easier and you will experience different teaching methods.
In addition, this university is very popular for its education system and modern techniques. If you show curiosity and work hard, you will acquire an incredible amount of knowledge.
Regarding the administrative area, this university has an excellent department and the formalities are easier than in my home university. The faculty coordinator is so kind and effective which makes you less stresses and worried.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?

Amazing, magic, enriching, intense and unforgettable.

Lara Carrascosa Agustina & Alba Martinez Zorrilla

In second part of our series about international students at our faculty we introduce you two girls from Catholic University San Vicente Martir of Valencia – Lara and Alba. Both have been here since September.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

L:  I chose Palacky University to do my Erasmus because I was very interested in coming to the Czech Republic. At the beginning, I didn't know why, but now I believe that I chose this country because of its location in the centre of Europe and also because I thought Czech people can speak English, but that is not true. Those are the reasons why I chose this country but talking about this university, well, when my university told me that I could go to the Czech Republic, I was destined to Ostrava, but then my coordinator told me that I could go to Olomouc and I decided to come here.

A: First I wanted the Czech Republic because it is cheap to spend my whole academic year and it's in the centre of Europe and I can travel a lot. Ostrava was my first option also but I searched for some information about both cities and I decided to change my decision because I saw that Olomouc is smaller and more beautiful than Ostrava and there are different activities for students. Also, I knew that here I would have to speak in English and I needed to improve it.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

L: I think that the only thing I thought would be different is, as I said before, that I was pretty sure that almost every Czech person knows how to speak English, but in my opinion it is not like that. When I go to some restaurants, bars or supermarkets, I usually need help from waiters or cashiers and they don't know how to answer me.

A: I thought that Czech people would be friendlier and they would speak English very well but it's not true. There are exceptions but not too many. Anyway, normally I am with Erasmus people. About the weather, I thought that it would be cold but not like this. It's too cold.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

L: My life here is completely different from my life back home. In Spain, I need 30 minutes to go by car to my university, because I live in a village and the university is in the city while here I am living one minute from my faculty so I can wake up twenty minutes before the lesson and I don’t have to drive anywhere. Also, in my home university, I have classes only during the morning and almost without a break while here I have classes maybe two hours in the morning and one in the evening, or just in the morning or just in the evening. And I usually have half-an-hour break between the classes so I can come home and have a snack. Also, in Spain, I have to do homework for every class, like here, but at my university we have to work in groups.

A: It's very different. At my university, I study in my language and it's easier to understand the teachers and then study. About the classes, I do much more practice here than at my home university and I love it. I think that I needed it, it's another way of learning. Another important thing for me is the homework. At my home university, we always work in pairs or in groups but never alone and now, studying in Olomouc, I have improved the way I do my homework a great deal.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

L: I think the only challenge I had to face was to speak English. Before Erasmus, I have never spoken any English apart from the English classes, and to communicate, solve problems, meet people etc., speaking another language was a real challenge for me.

A: I agree. For me, English was also the biggest challenge. When I first arrived, I found it very difficult to understand the teachers, do the homework and also communicate with other Erasmus people.

How do you spend your free time?

L: I usually do sport, either alone or with my friends in my free time. We play football, go to the gym, running, swimming, hiking or climbing. Also, I watch English series and films to improve my English or I go out for beers or a snack with friends and to parties too. I also do my homework and I study English but I like to spend most of my free time with friends.

A: Normally during week, I do exercise, sometimes in the gym, some days I go running, it depends on the day. And I watch TV series in Spanish and in English. I try to watch them mostly in English but it's a little hard for me. Once or twice a week, I go to a party with my friends and we drink beer coz we like Czech beer. At the weekends, I often go on a trip with Erasmus people or if we don't have any trip planned, we go skiing or snowboarding if we can.

What is the single most memorable experience you have had from your Erasmus life so far?

L: My best experience was when we went hiking for a day in the Jeseníky Mountains. We knew that we were going to do a route, but we took a bus without knowing which one or where to start. We met one guy on the bus who told us that there was a path at the next stop and it went to the Jeseníky, so we decided to go. We started walking up and we were walking and walking for a long time and being higher and higher, there was more snow and finally we arrived to the top of the mountain. There was a restaurant which looked closed because it was covered with snow. It was -7 °C and we weren't prepared for that cold. After eating something and warming ourselves, we started walking back and it was amazing because I have never walked in a place like that, it was full of snow. For me, it was like being in Santa’s house in the North Pole. Finally, we arrived to the Jeseník town and we took our bus back to Olomouc.

A: I think the trips in general because we decided where we wanted to go on Tuesday and on Thursday we went. I have never slept in a hostel with maybe 12 people in the same room. Normally I travel with my parents to a city with a hotel and a guide and it is all organized but here nothing is organized and it is always like an adventure for me when we travel.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

L: In my opinion, I haven't changed much. Here, I do the housework but it is because I must do it. In my house, I don't need to. Maybe I am more mature, but I believe I am still more or less the same person.

A: I wouldn't change anything that I have done.  I have been able to do what I want here, though maybe I would like to spend more time with people who aren´t Spanish but coming from other countries. I am trying to change that this semester.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

L: This experience will be very beneficial for me because I am sharing my daily life with flatmates and friends from different countries and I must learn how to do it. I am learning how to take care of myself far away from my home. Also, I am learning so much about different cultures which could be very useful in the future. Another important thing is that in our lessons here, we study in different ways from what I am used to and I believe that knowing different teaching methods is very useful for me because I want to become a PE teacher.

A: I think that doing Erasmus is very beneficial for our future because we are learning another language. I live with my parents in Valencia and in Olomouc, I have to do everything on my own and live with people from different countries and it's very interesting because every day, I learn something new. You can expand you mind and this experience helps you become more responsible.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

L: Yes, if someone tells me that they want to do Erasmus, I will recommend this place. I think this is a good opportunity to travel around Europe because you are in the centre of it. Also, this faculty offers many different courses in different fields of sport that you can choose and create your own timetable and if you have a problem, they help you solve it easily. On top of that, they have a good Erasmus system - we are separate from Czech students to have classes in English but if Czech students want, they can join us, though we also have our own Erasmus subjects.

A: Of course I would because here it’s different from my university and that's great because here you do more practice. The way you learn the theory is pretty much the same I think, but when you mix theory and practice in the same subject, you can learn much more. Another advantage is that you attend your classes in English with other Erasmus people and it´s great because you improve your English and you are with your friends.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?

L: Funny, friendly, diverse, enriching, unique.

A: Surprising, cheerful, funny, intense, family.

Pablo González Pérez

Pablo comes from Pablo De Olavide University in Seville (Spain) and he has been in Olomouc since September. He does triathlon and loves indie music, playing the saxophone, hiking, climbing, skiing and in fact everything related to sport.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

When I had to choose the receiving institution, I didn't know anything about the Palacký University Olomouc. I chose this because it was in one city which was in the centre of Europe, it was a cheap city and very different from Spain. Now that I know about the university, I am very happy with my decision because I consider it a great university, with good teachers and facilities.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

The days before coming to Olomouc I was a little scared. I did not know what was going to wait for me here, and I was worried that not everything would go well. But from the first moment here I have felt like at home. I did not expect that it would be so good and I would not miss my real home, family and friends and that my biggest concern will be that my Erasmus will end one day.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

I think that the study experience is very different. Here there are much fewer people in a class and I think that it is very important because this makes the classes more interactive, you have to talk and think during the classes, not just listen as we did in Spain. Also, the evaluations are very different, here you do not study only to pass an exam because the teachers take account of the work that you do every day, you have to do many tasks, homework and presentations and I think this is the best way to learn.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

The biggest challenge was to live a different life, here you have to use a different language, live with different culture, eat different food and the people are also different, although it is true that in less than a week I was adapted and very comfortable. Another big challenge was the weather, which is very different here; winter was hard for me… very cold and few hours of sunlight.

How did you spend your free time?

I am always with my friends, we are all the day together walking, going for a drink or to eat, traveling and of course going out. Also I train or go to the gym, meet new people and learn about their cultures, likes and opinions. It's great to be able to say that I've never been bored in my free time.

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

If I had to choose just one experience from my Erasmus, I couldn't do it, there are so many... With each person I've met, I shared so many great moments, on every trip - running not to miss a flight, being lost in the middle of a city at night, whole days of laughter, and thousands of other adventures.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

After my Erasmus experience, I can say for sure that I have changed completely. Living in such a different place, traveling and having the opportunity to meet so many people make you see different things, you open your mind a lot, you see how other people think, you are more independent, and you set new goals because you realize that you can go out of your comfort zone. You also get new tastes; here I have tried new sports and different foods that I had never eaten before.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

I think that at a curricular level, having been in a foreign country is very good, many companies are looking for this. Also, I have had some practical experience that is very important for my future, such as teaching seniors or teaching disabled people skiing, abbot which I have learned a lot.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

Of course I would do this, because here, you can have a lot of practical classes in which you learn more, you can find some very good teachers, very new facilities, some fantastic classmates. Also this faculty does many interesting activities and everyone tries to make you feel very comfortable here. The international coordinator of the faculty always solves all the problems with her best smile, and does a great job so that you do not have any problem.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?

Fantastic, intense, enriching, unforgettable and unique.

Turkey

Sevim Güllü

Sevim Güllü is a PhD student and a research assistant from the Faculty of Sport Sciences at Istanbul University in Turkey and she spent last winter semester at the Faculty of Physical Culture as an Erasmus student, attending some classes but mainly working on her dissertation thesis under the supervision of Dr. Donald Roberson. Her specialization is Sport management, but you could also see her giving classes during the International Teaching week in November on the topic of fair play.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

When I read the Palacký University website, I noticed that there is an excellent support system for Erasmus students. I am a PhD student and I also work as a Research Assistant at Istanbul University, Faculty of Sport Sciences. I had to choose the university carefully because I wanted to learn about different teaching methods for my future. I thought that I could learn the methods and get some knowledge and then I could combine it with my country’s methodology.

There are a lot of good activities for Erasmus Students at Palacký University. Some of my students came here before and they said that they had amazing experiences from Olomouc.

Also, before coming here, I had written some emails to Zuzana Hanelová who is the faculty Erasmus coordinator. She was very kind, friendly and helpful for both me and for other international students. I had a lot questions and she answered them all patiently. It was very important for me because this was my first long-term experience abroad. And she always made me relax with her answers.

I am a PhD student and I study for my dissertation; I hope to graduate in June. My topic is about Sports Management. Before coming to Olomouc, I asked the Erasmus coordinator to find me a mentor, which she did and that was crucial for me.

Last but not least, the Czech Republic is cheaper than some other countries like France, Spain or Italy. Also, it is in Central Europe and I like to travel so much so I did not hesitate when choosing my host university.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

Not really because I heard lot of stories from my students. I also read many things about the place.

But I want to say that there is such a great Erasmus system at Palacký University! The faculty coordinator, Zuzana Hanelová, is one the most hardworking and responsible people I have ever met in my life. Besides, my teachers Dr. Kudláček, Ms. Kučerová, Mr. Hobza, Dr. Ješina or Dr. Voráčová are very kind and responsible people and I learned many new things from them. I mustn’t forget my advisor Donald Roberson, who helped me with my dissertation. He is a native English speaker so I could also improve my English thanks to him.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

They are similar to each other. But at Palacký University, there are a lot teachers who can speak English well which is important for international students.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

The dormitory life was difficult for me as usually there was a lot of noise. I chose five courses and I was writing my thesis too so it was obvious that I needed some sleep at night. But every night some friends were having parties so I could not sleep well most of the time. It made me angry sometimes.

How did you spend your free time?

At the weekends, I usually travelled. During the semester, I visited Prague, Lednice, Kutná Hora, Terezín, Pardubice, Krakow, Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, Ostrava, Auschwitz, Hostýn, Zagreb, Italy, Ljubljana and Berlin. I also studied for my thesis, was meeting friends, reading something etc.

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

Even though I complained about the dormitory life, it was the most enjoyable experience, which I will never forget because I had many good friends and we had such a good time.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

I have not changed but I feel more relax and patient. I realized that I could live and work anywhere in the world.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

I can compare the system of Palacký University and my institution. After finishing my PhD, I will be a teacher at Istanbul University and now I have some recommendations for my students and colleagues.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

Of course! It is one of the most important and useful experiences in my life. Every university student as well as academic should live abroad for at least three months. Thanks to Erasmus, we can make friends from all around the world, we can learn about different cultures, improve our English. And also if you have time and if you are interested in it, you can learn the local language a little.

I was so sad when leaving Olomouc. I am missing the town, the faculty, my friends and the Czech Republic.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using five words, which ones would you use?

Czech Republic, courses, English, travel, friends.

Ukraine

Bohdan Kostenko

For this week´s interview, we questioned a Ukrainian student Bohdan Kostenko who came from Vincent Pol University in Lublin, Poland. Bohdan is a physiotherapy student and when asked about his Erasmus experience, he is most grateful for having improved his English and making lots of new friends from all over the world.

Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?

I chose Palacký University Olomouc because it is located not far from my home University in Poland and it is one of the biggest universities in the Czech Republic. The culture and language is very similar for me. Also, not many universities offer English programmes for physiotherapists.

Were your expectations different from the reality?

My expectations were different from the reality. I really practised English so much, during the whole semester we had so many meetings, events called “National presentation’’, ‘’Language Café’’… it was great.

Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?

Yes, I can compare my study experience in Olomouc with the experience from my home university. In Olomouc I practised English more, there were so many classes related to sports, different teaching methods… It was new for me. At my university I did not have the internet system ‘’STAG’’ to check my schedule and other useful information, but I think they should create something like this. There were so many international students from all over the world – at my home university, I do not normally meet them, only Ukrainian and Polish people. I think that is all.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?

Biggest challenges? I do not think so! The teachers at the university were very kind and so were the international and Czech students. The Neředín dormitories were comfortable for me and located near the faculty. Olomouc is a small student city and I like it.

How did you spend your free time?

In my free time I went to the gym or walked to the city centre with my friends. I visited the Aqua Park in Olomouc, played laser tag game and saw other interesting places in the city. And of course, so much travelling! From Olomouc I travelled to Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Brno, Katowice… and all my travels were by bus or train, very cheap and fast (not longer than four hours). If you want to do Erasmus programme, you must travel!

What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?

The most memorable experience in my Erasmus life would be connected to my new friends from all over the world. I experienced a great deal of funny situations with them and it was the best experience for me.

Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?

Yes. I became more friendly because I learned about many other cultures that I was not familiar with before.

How can this experience benefit your future career?

It can help me find a good job because the employer will realize that I am sociable, I know English at a good level and I have knowledge that is not yet available or not used in my country. And of course it can help me to open my own private practice.

Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?

Yes, I will do it because it is a very good place to learn the language, to have good experiences, a place where you can meet a lot of new people and get to know their culture.

If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?

I would use friendly, helpful, successful, lively, cheerful.