Next international student in our series of interviews is Laura Salort Tomás. She came from Spain, her home university is University of Alicante. She likes sports, especially basketball. Does she enjoy studying at our faculty and living in Olomouc?
Why did you choose our university for your Erasmus study experience?
I chose the University in Olomouc mainly for two reasons. The first one was because my coordinator recommended it to me, since he had been there and told me that this university had a lot of prestige, and they had very good materials and facilities in terms of sport.
The second reason was that I was fortunate that there was an Erasmus student from Olomouc, in my class during the last course in Alicante. So one day I stayed with him and he told me all the information about the Czech Republic, about the city of Olomouc, the weather, prices... in short, about life in there. The truth is that I was very excited when he told me and everything seemed fabulous so I decided to go to Olomouc.
Also, this student was very nice to give me all the information he knew and he also offered help, if I had any problems over there. That reassured me a lot, knowing that I had already had a friend there before I even left.
Finally, I put Olomouc as my first choice, and so I was assigned this destination. And then the great Erasmus experience began!
Were your expectations different from the reality?
My expectations were totally different since my older sister has been on Erasmus but she had bad experience there and did not like anything. That's why I was a bit scared, thinking something bad would happen to me. But it has really been totally different, each person can live the Erasmus life in its own way, in a different way. And I did it my way, I have grown as a person, matured and improved my English, that these were one of the three reasons why I wanted to go to study abroad for the whole year. So I am more than happy that I could enjoy and do what I wanted. I was treated very well, made thousands of friends and visited many wonderful places. I even felt sorry to leave because loved the people around me - in the end it was like a big family.
Lots of partying, fun, and other things... But if you are a person who does not like all of that, you can do without it there and enjoy it your own way.
Can you compare your study experience in Olomouc with the experience from your home university?
Clearly, the level of studies cannot be compared because at your home university you are asked much more, you study much more, the syllabus is more extensive and difficult and you have works and final exams that are much harder. However, during the Erasmus, attendance and participation matter more. You can do some essays, power point presentation or final test, but nothing to compare with what you must do in your home university.
But it all makes sense since you cannot require the same performance and sacrifice with a language that you do not master at all, being away from your country, being alone without anyone's help ... Erasmus is more about making your English fluent (learn vocabulary, listen, speak, lose your fear), solve your problems without the help of your parents - that is, to mature and grow as a person, to become independent.
In conclusion, the Erasmus year is totally different from any year at your own university.
What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome as an Erasmus student?
One of the biggest challenges for me was living away from my family. I have always been very close to my family. On Sundays, we all go together to eat at our grandmother's house, help my father with the garden or my mother with household chores. At the beginning of my Erasmus, not being able to do that was a great shock and a strong blow for me. They were very far away and we could only see each other through Skype. Little by little, you become stronger and with the passage of time you realize that life goes on and that you will not always be able to have your family by your side. They are stages that happen, you grow and get older and someday you have to leave the nest.
I'm telling you the truth, I missed them too much and I had bad times but you start to live so I followed along and leaned on friends and colleagues who were going through the same as me, and I did not feel so alone.
How do you spend your free time?
In the first semester I trained with the team of the university, but since the card did not come to play, there were many players, the coach only spoke Czech,.... among many other things, I ended up leaving. So the second semester pointed me to the gym of the residence, and although it was small, I liked it.
As for the weekends, I travelled a lot, both on my own and taking part in organized trips. I visited Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Krakow, Warsawa, Brno and many charming little towns of the Czech Republic.
As for outdoor sports, I have done skiing, snowboarding, running, Nordic Walking, cycling ... I would like to do a lot more but time has not allowed me to. It was very cold, which I was not accustomed to, and I had to adapt to the conditions there. I also remember the cold evenings, drinking tea with friends, long conversations, watching movies...
What is the single most memorable experience you have had from your Erasmus life so far?
The most memorable experience I had in my Erasmus year was meeting Anna Vicarova, a senior I had the opportunity to meet in Donald's classes during the first semester. It consisted of a group of seniors coming to classes to do strength, balance and aerobic exercises and Erasmus students had to be with them, correct them, help them and take care of them.
Anna and I met there, and from that moment we became friends, she was like a mother or grandmother for me. With time, I had more and more affection for her, she introduced me to her circle of friends, her partner Brain, she gave me everything she could (the most importantly her time because she is a really busy person but she wanted to share many things with me).
Thanks to her, my stay in Olomouc was much easier, she showed me beautiful places that I would have never visited and most importantly, she made me feel at home. We shared many moments together that I will never forget and that I will always keep as a memory.
How lucky I was to be able to find her and to create that magnificent friendship.
Have you changed because of your Erasmus experience?
Personally, I have not changed my personality or my character, I think it remains the same. But I do have to say that I am much more mature and that I managed to correct things. Studying a year abroad makes you open your mind and your eyes and you realize many things that you never have done before.
I think that the same Laura comes to Spain, but a little older and more mature, more focused on what she wants. Also knowing the amount of things I can do for myself and with confidence, without fear or shame. Ready to eat the world and enjoy it in my way!
How can this experience benefit your future career?
Doing the Erasmus for a year away from home will benefit me a lot in the future, both for my studies and for my work.
For my studies, having the opportunity to have a year in the Czech Republic will open more doors to me. I also improved my English and now speak fluently. In addition, the different traditions and cultures, that is, to see the world and to have more knowledge of what surrounds us. Not only from Spain.
As for work, it will help me find it more easily, since if the bosses see that a person has been studying a year out, it will be very positive, for sure.
Would you recommend the study at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc to your friends? Why?
I will definitely recommend to all my friends to come and do the Erasmus in Olomouc. In fact, I am already helping one of my classmates that wants to go to Palacký University next year and I am sharing with him all the information possible.
I'm super happy about the decision I made about that, the day before I left and I regret nothing. Actually, I know I would choose that again.
It was very pleasant there, they treated me very well and I felt like at home. The sports facilities are very good; besides, I enjoyed the classes a lot. And I was delighted with the teachers, I didn’t have any problems with anyone. Personally, I feel that I have learned a lot, that the subjects were very varied, both theoretical and practical. Also, I must say that both Tereza and Zuzana helped us with everything we needed, if there were any problems and so on.
The studen's residence is great, with enough furnishings to live there and also right next to our faculty.
All prices were lower compared to Spain and everything there was beautiful, especially the square where the monument of the Holy Trinity is located.
In short, I am in love with Olomouc and, by all means, I would recommend this city to everyone.
If you had to describe your Erasmus experience in Olomouc using 5 adjectives, which ones would you use?
Excited, interesting, surprising, satisfying and awesome.