Going on a student exchange comes with its fair share of hassle and there is always lots to do, both before you leave and after you arrive at Masaryk University. And this is where our Erasmus Student Network (ESN MUNI Brno) and its Buddy Programme step in to save the day. Volunteers from among the local students will help you get from the train station to your dormitories, enrol in classes in the university Information System (IS) and get travel passes for public transport.
“Around 700 international students arrive at Masaryk University at the beginning of each academic year. Very few of them speak any Czech at all, know where the student canteens are, which tram line takes you to the city centre or your dormitory, how to register in your faculty library and where to find a doctor who speaks English,” says Kateřina Smrčková, the coordinator of the Buddy Programme.
The Buddy Programme has been designed to help international students overcome these initial hurdles and feel at home in the new city. The programme is here to make sure you never get lost at Masaryk University.
However, your buddy is not just a local student who can help you when you need it – he or she can also become a good friend, who can show you around the local pubs or go see a movie with you. Most “buddies” used to be exchange students themselves and are happy to be in contact with international students from all over the world.
The Buddy Programme is just one of the many activities of ESN, which will provide many opportunities to meet your buddy outside the faculty hallways and lecture rooms.
ESN organises many events for international and local students every week: parties, pub quizzes, trips in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries, language café meetings, country presentations given by international students and various sports competitions.
“We have been focusing lately on activities that help a good cause – we organise events for children’s homes and first aid courses, volunteer at the zoo and help walk the dogs in local shelters. These are all events where you can meet others during the whole semester, rather than just after you arrive in Brno,” says ESN president Adéla Smejkalová.
Around 300 local student volunteers take part each year in the ESN Buddy Programme and help newcomers from other countries settle in Brno. “Our students enjoy spending time with international students and are enthusiastic about their work. They are happiest when they see that their help is appreciated,” says Smrčková.