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.