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Exchange Semester: Sofia Chernysheva at Masaryk University

Second-year student on the programme 'Applied and Interdisciplinary History. Usable Pasts' Sofia Chernysheva shares her experience of spending an exchange semester at the Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic).

An exchange semester abroad was an incredible experience. It was very productive and rewarding, and I will never forget the time spent at the university named after Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovak Republic. 

Masaryk University is located in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic after Prague. Compared to St Petersburg, Brno is rather small – approximately 400,000 inhabitants. However, this city has a rich cultural heritage and vibrant yet cozy feel.

Each semester about 600 international students come to Masaryk University through exchange programmes, mostly by the Erasmus programme. I got used to the city very quickly thanks to the events of orientation week. A mini-course in the Czech language was also included in the orientation week, and I decided to continue this course during the whole semester. After completing the course, I even received a certificate in Czech language proficiency according to my level.

The courses I chose to attend at the University were very interesting. Most classes were held in lecture format. There were not many assignments during the semester, but the exams were more difficult than I expected. Of course, I passed them all.

While getting my Master's degree entitled 'Management of UNESCO Sites: the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and the Historic Centre of Prague' ready, I took the courses: 

  • Visual Arts of the Early Modern Period in Bohemia and Moravia;
  • Contemporary Cultural Sociology;
  • Czech Life and Culture.

I benefited from the courses 'European Union Public Policy' and 'Impacts of the Transformation on the Regional Development in the Czech Republic' as they helped me to learn the cultural aspects and governmental institutions activity in the heritage conservation alongisde with the law. I was deeply involved in the 'Transformation Affecting the Regioanal Development of the Czech Republic' course which aquainted me with social, demographic, territorial, and economic consequesnces of the Czechoslovakia collapse. Moreover, I enhanced my knowledge of the European Union as a whole by choosing the additional 'EU State Policy' course, as well as Intercultural Communication and International Nationalism to broaden the mind.

I received many bright impressions, and experienced great moments and events during my exchange semester, which I will remember for a long period of time even after my return to Russia.

The semester passed at the same pace, so I simply had no time to miss my home. The ESN Club (Erasmus Student Network) at Masaryk University organised events almost every day: country presentations, tasting of national food, visits to swimming pools, hockey games, flag parades, different competitions and parties, and trips to neighboring EU countries.

The location of the Czech Republic in the center of Europe is a huge advantage. It is not only one hour by bus from Brno to Vienna, and a bit more to Bratislava – 1,5 hours, bu also 3 hours to Prague, 4 hours to Budapest, Warsaw, Krakow and many other cities. On the weekends, I always travelled to a new place.

I found that the Czech culture is very close to me. People are very open and calm. Life in Brno is comfortable and pleasant.

HSE University St. Petersburg opens call for International Mobility programmes 2018/2019 fall semester from February 1 till March 1, 2018. To participate, contact dzima@hse.ru, and come to see and ask us for further details.