After a break, which was caused by the beginning of the semester and new students settling in, we are back with the interviews with the international students studying at our faculty. Since most of our exchange students come from Spain, we will start with Antonio Jesús Ortigosa Melero from the University of Granada where he is studying Sports Science and Physical Education.
Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?
I chose Palacký University Olomouc mainly because my sister studied here 7 years ago and she spoke very well of this destination in every way. Another of the main reasons was that I could recognize many of the topics here at my home University (UGR), without affecting the additional years at the university, and that the city is so inexpensive compared to other destinations, plus it is very well located to make many trips through Central Europe.
Were your expectations different from the reality?
Five years ago, I had visited my sister here in Olomouc, so I already had an idea of the facilities and the surroundings. But honestly, I could not imagine how I would manage here day after day before I actually arrived.
Once here, everything has gone very well from the beginning, both the professors and the coordinators of the university treat Erasmus students very well and they are very close to us. On the other hand, the residence surprised me because all Erasmus students are staying together, which facilitates the adaptation at the beginning.
Reality was better than expectations, which were already high.
Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?
The main difference is with regard to the number of students in class, in my local university there are approximately 60 people in the theoretical classes and 30 in the practices, while here in all classes we are from 5 to 10 students, which facilitates good relationships with teachers and learning. The difference in the quality of teaching is huge especially regarding personal treatment, here you are treated as a person, while at my university you are a simple number.
On the other hand, with respect to the requirements in the classes, it is more difficult at my home university because I had more class hours and more homework, while in Olomouc we have few hours of class and few duties. But I must say that the classes here are more effective and of better quality due to the small number of students.
What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?
The biggest challenges we have had to overcome as Erasmus students have been the language, the change in the eating schedule, the food and the sunset.
Regarding the language, whenever you want something, you are forced to speak in English, so at the beginning it is a challenge. But later your hearing will get used to it and this helps you to acquire a good level of English.
On the other hand, meals are eaten 2 hours earlier than in Spain, they have lunch at 12:00 and dinner around 20:00, which is something that is hard for Spaniards.
Another big change is the food. When we go to buy food, everything is in Czech and it is not the same as in Spain, so you have to adapt.
And finally, it gets dark at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, which gives the feeling of the day ending, you get sleepy and you do not take advantage of the time you have, although you actually have many hours of the day left.
How did you spend your free time?
I take advantage of the free time by going out with friends, taking a walk around the city centre, drinking beers and playing games, playing football with friends, going for a run around the residence (beautiful routes) or going to the gym. For example, now that Christmas is here, we usually go ice-skating to an ice rink.
Last but not least, we take advantage of the weekends to travel and get to know all the countries around the Czech Republic.
What is the single most memorable experience you have from your Erasmus life?
I believe that during all the days of the Erasmus stay you can have memorable experiences thanks to the great amount of plans and experiences that you live each day.
But if I have to choose just one, I would mention one of the first trips. We went to Budapest and that's where we started to get to know each other better and form our friendships.
Another memorable experience has undoubtedly been the reunion with my colleagues from my home university who are also Erasmus and we travelled together.
Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?
Of course, I think that everyone who leaves Erasmus changes. I have totally left my comfort zone - something I was embarrassed about or afraid to do before, now I simply do it, because you face so many new situations and challenges in the day to day that you adapt and new challenges do not scare you anymore. For example, I was embarrassed to speak in English before and now I do it without problem in any situation. It is true that I fail sometimes, but that is how you learn.
I have also opened my mind more; I have met people from many countries and from all parts of Spain. This makes you more flexible, more open-minded, ignorant of the stereotypes and you enjoy the differences.
How can this experience benefit your future career?
I think there are many benefits that Erasmus can bring you. The first and most important is improving English. I think that living abroad is the best way to learn English, something that is fundamental for any job today. And on the other hand, the independence you acquire, because as I said in the day to day of an Erasmus student, there are many new situations and challenges to overcome, so you have to think about how to overcome those situations and find solutions. From my point of view, this makes you more independent and can help you a lot in your future work, where you will also be exposed to new situations every day.
Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?
Of course. In fact, I have already recommended it to many of the University of Granada students. I recommend it absolutely for many reasons, which I explain below.
In the university, both teachers and coordinators treat you very well and are very close, facilitating learning and Erasmus stay. With respect to the subjects, many of them are different from those that are usually seen in Spain, which is interesting because I would not be able to study this content in my country.
The facilities are great, within a radius of 100 m you have the residence, the faculty and the gym; and in 10 minutes you can be in the centre of the city if you take a tram.
With regard to the city, it is great, a small but very beautiful city, where you do not lack anything and any plan that you can think of is within your reach. And without a doubt, the best of all is the location of the city. It is perfect to do a lot of travel around central Europe.
If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?
Enriching, intense, necessary, unforgettable and exciting.