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Don’t Be Afraid to See the World

Five NMSTU students have completed a semester of study at the Institute of Technology and Business in České Budějovice, Czech Republic.

Below you will find extracts from the interview with Anna Vasilieva, a student of civil engineering:

– We all travelled to České Budějovice, a beautiful old town in the south of the Czech Republic.

Green lawns in front of the university, nicely organized classrooms, libraries and lecture rooms available 24 hours a day… One can study there at any time of the day as long as one has a student card to access the facility. They do check if you are present at the class but the teachers don’t really care if you are attending or not. What matters is that you prepare a good term paper and successfully pass the final test.

What was the biggest challenge when you travelled abroad?

– The language barrier. And it doesn’t matter how well you can speak the language. The problem is that you get paralysed because now you should not only know what to say but you also need to understand the question. It took me a week and a half to get used to the new language environment. And then you have a choice: either you keep silent or you start speaking English. I ended up speaking.

Is there a difference between how they teach here and there?

– Of course. In Russia they give us more theoretical knowledge whereas over there the focus is on practical application. For example, at NMSTU they tell us how to properly design a building, and at the Czech university they use models to show students what can happen if the design norms are not observed.

How was your examination period organized?

– There we didn’t have to take any tests during the actual semester but a final examination in the end. The exam was similar to that in Russia. The difference is that in Russia they teach theory and check your knowledge at every class and the student is forced to memorize the material. When you study abroad, you are expected to find and study theoretical material on your own.

Did you have to do any term papers?

– We were given a task to design a two-level detached house and make a presentation. One of the main difficulties was related to defining the living area. It appeared they understood “large area” differently in Russia and in the Czech Republic. There they tend to design tall rather than wide buildings, and garden allotments are quite small. So when I finalized my design paper, for which I used the area of the detached house where I live in Magnitogorsk, and showed it to my tutor, he gave me a look of bewilderment and asked me if I was trying to design a royal palace.

Were the studies demanding?

– Quite so. A lot you have to find and do yourself. On the other hand, I believe such approach really works better because when you have to work for it, you learn more than when you are constantly given instructions by the teacher which you immediately forget.

What advice would you give to those who will follow in your steps?

– When you come to Europe even for a short stay, you wish you could stay there. And when you are a student, it gives you a great deal of new experience and new knowledge, new acquaintances and a fantastic enjoyment with support from two sides – the NMSTU international office and the receiving institution. One shouldn’t be afraid but rather use every opportunity to see the world!

Author of the original article: Irina Portnova

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