The beginning of the new academic year is fast approaching and so is your arrival at Masaryk University. Although many of you will likely be limited by your 20 kilos flight baggage allowance, there are some things that are worth taking with you to save the hassle, time and money that you would have to spend in shopping for them in Czechia. However, there is no need to despair if you find that they just won’t fit in the bag – most of them are easy to find in Brno city centre.
1. ID, passport photos and cash in Czech crowns
Anyone travelling to Brno from outside the European Union will need a passport to enter the Czech Republic. However, even EU citizens will do well to pack their passport as well as their ID card, as some Czech banks require two IDs to open an account (sometimes a copy of your passport will do). Besides, you will need your passport if you decide to visit Saint Petersburg or other more distant destinations outside the EU.
If you happen to have passport-size photographs, be sure to pack them too – you will need one for your student ID, another for your city transport pass etc. If you don’t have them, don’t worry, there are photo booths in the shopping malls in Brno that you can use.
Czech cash will come in handy when buying public transport tickets to get from the airport and to your dormitories. And while you are at it, add your ISIC card to your wallet as well to get student discounts in various places.
2. Flag and typical food for the International Dinner
If you are taking part in Orientation Week, there will be an international dinner on Thursday. Make sure to bring your national flag and any food or sweets typical for your country, such as chocolates, candy or cookies.
Students cook meals to represent their country at the international dinner, so if you are worried that some of the ingredients might be hard to get in Czechia, take some with you.
3. Warm clothes and shoes
While Brno is certainly not the North Pole, get ready for the weather to get cold from October to March. While winter temperatures are mostly around 0°C (32°F), they can occasionally fall to -5 or even -12°C (23 to 10°F). Hats, gloves, scarves, jumpers, warm coats and winter shoes are a must. If it does not get as cold where you come from and you don’t have any warm clothes, you will be able to buy affordable winter clothes in any number of shops in Brno.
4. Study necessities
When you are packing your bag, remember that you will be attending lectures and seminars, working on group projects and writing term papers and essays during your stay in Brno. You might want to bring your laptop, notebooks, pens and pencils, sticky notes for your to-do lists – in short, everything that you need during the semester and exam period in your country. However, you can obviously buy all of the above after you arrive in Brno.
5. Life in the dorms: kitchen utensils, power adapter and corkscrew
Most international students stay in the dorms with other international students. Do not forget to bring a corkscrew and bottle opener: both will come in very handy.
If the power outlets in your country differ from the Czech outlets, be sure to bring a power adapter and multi-socket plugs. It won’t hurt to add slippers and some common medicines for headaches, sore throats and stomach problems. It is easy enough to get these in Brno, except that it can sometimes be a bit complicated to make yourself understood at the pharmacy if you don’t speak Czech.
You will need some kitchen and eating utensils although you can get various pots, pans, plates and glasses at the ESN auction that takes place at the beginning of each semester to distribute items that other international students left behind. The second-hand shop takes place on the Sunday before Orientation Week and the money collected is donated to a children’s home. If you have space left in your luggage, you might want to bring your favourite cup or some cutlery.
6. Travel equipment
Brno is located in the heart of Europe and everything is nearby, whether you would like to visit Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, Warsaw, Paris or Amsterdam. And then there will be all those trips around the Czech Republic to see Krkonoše (aka the “Giant Mountains”), the Macocha Gorge and other sights. Get ready now and pack good walking shoes; scaling mountains in flip-flops is not recommended. Add an umbrella or a raincoat and a pair of sunglasses and you are good to go.
You might also want to consider taking a plastic container to take snacks or lunches with you, a camera, and a tent and a sleeping bag. And if your flight takes more than a couple of hours, you will certainly appreciate having an inflatable pillow, a blanket and an e-book reader on board.