Marianne is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Sociology at the Masaryk University. She found the programme and enrolled via Studyportals. We asked Marianne about her experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
My name is Marianne, I am 23 years old and from the Netherlands. In September 2013 I started studying my Master’s in Sociology at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Last summer I graduated in this two-years programme. I have great memories regarding studying abroad and I would like to share some of them with you so that you get enthusiastic too!
Thanks to my Erasmus experience in Maribor (Slovenia) during my Bachelor’s study I got interested in meeting people from all over the world and discover new places on my own. It gives an enormous kick to successfully pass your studies, make new friends, become familiar with places where only locals come, develop your language skills, and much more.
As I used to live with my parents back home in the Netherlands, studying abroad also made me independent and personally stronger. After my Erasmus period, I was convinced to see more of the world in a way differently than a tourist would see. I started searching for Master studies in the field of social sciences, which would be a good follow-up of my Bachelor’s in human resource management.
Among others, I came across the website of Studyportals which offered me a clear overview of English-taught Master programmes worldwide. My preference for choosing a smaller city in a country in Central or Eastern Europe brought me to Brno in the Czech Republic. The positive reviews, the study programmes which gave space for personal choices, and my desire for adventure made me actually enrol in Masaryk University.
I had also considered other universities but often times they didn’t offer programmes fully taught in English or the available courses weren’t really in my interest. As I didn’t want to be surrounded by tourists all the time, I preferred a smaller city. That made the range of choices a lot smaller and in the end quite easy to sign up for Masaryk University.
The application procedure required some bureaucratic obstacles (such as diploma recognition, translation of the transcript of records, motivation letter), but luckily the coordinator responded fast to my emails and tried to help me in the best way possible. As soon as I got the confirmation that I was accepted, I found proper accommodation quickly afterward.
For two years I rented a private flat which was only a ten minutes walking distance away from the city centre. This was particularly ideal since the Faculty of Social Studies is seated centrally too. Compared to the Netherlands, the prices of private flats in Brno are reasonable, though not extremely cheap. Sharing a flat or living in one of the student dorms is cheaper for sure. For me, Brno appeared to be the right place to study with its good public transportation system, with relatively low prices for living, and direct low-budget flight connection with the Netherlands.
During my studies, I got lectures from professional teachers who spoke English fluently. The sociology programme demands a lot of self-study. There is not much focus on group projects and having only three lectures per week is average. I can, therefore, recommend it to people who don’t mind to study on their own and who can efficiently schedule their time.
The good thing about that is that you are able to enjoy a great freedom, but don’t forget that deadlines are strict and that you are expected to read many, many pages of literature each week. However, if you face any problems the staff of the university is willing to help you. Especially in the beginning, when you have to make sure you can deal with the level of studies, it’s really nice to get some support from teachers and supervisors.
Regarding finances, I was paying my studies myself without getting any scholarship. I only received some housing allowance (approximately 120 EUR) every semester from the Czech government. Overall, I think my costs would not have been much different compared to studying for two years in the Netherlands. However, in case you can get a scholarship, that will of course make it easier to cover your costs for accommodation and living.
Whoever thinks about studying abroad, I can truly recommend it for those who are motivated to study (that is the main reason why you are there, after all…), who like to meet people with diverse cultural backgrounds, and who don’t get homesick quickly. The university and student organizations in Brno will help you make a success out of your stay, so make use of their services and actively participate in events. Of course, it won’t be always fun; studies can be hard and not everyone in the city is friendly and willing to talk to you in English. But hey, that’s life containing its ups and downs.
If I have to rate my experiences on a scale from 0 to 10, I would definitely give it 8 points. I am satisfied with the contents of the study programme, teachers, supervision, and the city of Brno. If I had to choose again, I would make the same decision.
I am mostly thankful for the great bunch of international friends I have now. In my case, it went all quite positive and there are absolutely no regrets. I hope you make the right choice too and have the time of your life!