THE JOURNEY FROM GHANA TO CZECH REPUBLIC
After all preparations, it was time to fly over to Czech Republic, (Czechia) the land of Beer. Geographically located in the heart of Europe with many Castles, and also known for its Beer production. I was very eager to explore and experience a new environment, culture and education system.
On the 8th of September, the journey begun when I left Kotoka International Airport for Praha Airport. I arrived in Praha on Saturday 9th September, 2017 where my other colleague Sophia and I were picked up by our buddy (Jana) at the airport.
By 4:00 pm in the afternoon, we had already arrived at hall of residents (Palachova). Our buddy took us to the reception for us to do all the necessary registrations at the dormitory after which we went to the Futurum (forex bureau) to change our Euros into Crowns so we could buy some provisions. In the shop, I had to buy a career bag to put the items in. That I found strange as that was not the practice in the country.
The next night, most of the International students converged at the popular Matys Bar. It was an interesting time for me as I got to meet a lot of people from different parts of the world.
One main thing I observed on my way from Praha to Hradec Kralove was the beautiful land scape. There are a lot of green grasses, trees and also well thought out plans giving the country a well spatially organized geography. On the 15th of September, the buddy booked for an appointment for me to open my bank account in order to receive my scholarship from the university. Three days afterwards, there was a party organized for all the International students and I was present too. It was a great event especially the moment I found awkward was when we all formed two circles facing each other. Then the music plays and when it stops, each person talks to the one in front of you, hahaha. It was full of fun.
On the 19th of the same month, we had our academic registration then Czech presentation and another party. My life was beginning to experience “party blood” in it. Every single day in the dormitory, students attended parties and pubs. Whilst planning my stay in Hradec, I was also looking for some part-time job opportunities which I actually got through one Emeka, a Nigerian who is a student at the University and at the faculty of Philosophy.
On the 25th of September, I had my first lecture but prior to that I attended a conference in the main school. It was very educative but surprisingly I met very few international students. Lectures continued and I had quite a number of presentations which is not common in my home University and therefore saw it as a good opportunity to improve my public speaking skills and confidence. I also enjoyed the teaching style and also the fact that the lecturers give the students the necessary reading materials and sites to get them. The small class sizes is something I really admired too. I also had the chance to teach some of my culture during many programs organized by the Faculty and also during the country presentation which was very useful to many students. I thought my Ghanaian culture to the other students from other countries.
In the month of November, I started to tour other parts of Europe together with some of friends. We visited Vienna and Bratislava in November. During our tour to these countries, I made some observations in the transportation and infrastructure of these countries and Czechia. The architectural works is almost the same especially in Bratislava as we (I and my friends) at a point were thinking we were still in Hradec Kralove. We continued our trips after the Christmas break in December and toured some Western Europe countries such as Germany, Holland and France.
After all my trips, I started to prepare for my end of semester exams. With regards to the exams, I really had the first time experience of having an interactive oral exam in UHK. The ability of the student to select the times favorable to him or her for the exams is something not common in my home University. The time allocated for each exams too in my opinion is very good except some courses which some students thought the time wasn’t enough. It was averagely one hour for each exam.
One very important thing I observed is the way the Lecturers and Staff of the University were always ready help and assist the students making the students feel at home.
Generally, my stay in Hradec Kralove was very great as I got good friends, Lecturers and Supervisors. Also the good infrastructural facilities both in the School, dormitory or outside the school made things very simple for me. The transportation system is also very efficient and drivers in Hradec (Czechia) are very patient and law abiding. One funny thing I also observed is the fact that you meet people standing in the buses whilst there are empty seats. I always saw it strange.
With respect to social life, I observed that a lot of people in Hradec Kralove are friendly and welcoming even though language is the main problem in getting in touch with a lot of people.
Also, generally racism is something that is rare in Hradec Kralove as a lot of people relate with foreigners well without discriminating. Smoking in public is one thing I never liked throughout my stay in Hradec Kralove. It is common to see people smoking everywhere and for someone like me who does not smoke it was kind of worrying but I had to manage tho.
The country also has a very good and stable economy, low cost of living and seeking for job is much easier to get as compared to many other countries including my country.
Hradec Kralove is a place I would recommend for anyone at any time due to the good economy, law enforcement, good educational system, transportation, security, sociable people, minimal racism and very good geography and not crowded with a lot of people.
There must measure in place to ensure adequate interaction between exchange students and the local students in order to help both sides create and build a network for the future. Network creation can help both international and local students and will help in University’s popularity around the world. Fixing of Exchange students on Hall, SRC and Department Week celebrations would be very useful.
There must be adequate infrastructure (both lecture halls and halls of residence) and security available for students as it influences a person’s perception about a country or place.
With the issue of teaching and learning, there must be more space provided for interactive studies through class presentations, academic debates, seminars and colloquiums. These practices should be part of the schools curricular to help in the capacity building of students.
There must also be some space provided on the University’s schedules for students to interact with the Cooperate world and the experts in each field. This gives students some kind of motivation and get to interact with the experts in respective fields directly in the classroom.
Story by Nathaniel Nyarko-Debrah