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Studying at Masaryk has been a thrill, say Belarusian students

Belarusian students Aryna Rabtsava and Uladzislau Zybrykau first met while studying medicine in Vitebsk. In January they moved to Brno to study thanks to a special scholarship programme.

Aryna Rabtsava and Uladzislau Zybrykau.

The scholarship provided by Masaryk University covers nearly all living and studying expenses these Belarusian students have in the Czech Republic. Masaryk University also waived the tuition fees that foreign students usually pay for studying in English-language programmes.

“We are extremely grateful that the university has given us such an opportunity; it is greatly appreciated. We are already in our second semester in Brno, and we are really excited about our studies. We didn’t expect anything like this. The modern facilities at the Faculty of Medicine, the entire campus really, surprised us. So did the quality of our courses and our wonderful teachers, who are always willing to help us,” says Aryna.

But an even bigger surprise for them was the Simulation Centre of the Faculty of Medicine (SIMU). This training hospital simulates a real hospital environment, where students can practice medical procedures and experience crisis scenarios. “So far, we have had just a few hours of instruction there, and we’ve seen only a handful of manikins, but still SIMU has made quite an impression on us. All we can say is ‘Wow!’” says Uladzislau.

The Simulation Centre of the Faculty of Medicine (SIMU) has really made an impression on Belorusian students.

Even though these two students are enthusiastic about their studies, transferring from their university in Belarus to MU was not easy. They jumped right into their fifth year of studies in Brno. And on top of that they arrived in the middle of a pandemic. MU recognized most of the courses they had taken at home, awarding credits for them. However, in addition to their normal classes, they also had to take extra courses to make up for the differences between study programmes.

But catching up on coursework wasn’t the only obstacle they faced in Brno. Improving their English was critical. They quickly honed their language skills and learned medical terminology that they had previously known only in Russian. Today, both students can communicate easily in English, and even in Czech – they need to know the local language to do internships at hospitals, where they must speak with Czech patients.

“We had our first in-hospital experience in the spring semester, when we still didn’t know Czech at all. The patients were nice to us and seemed to like talking to foreigners, so at least we could practice. And because our languages are related, we picked up Czech pretty quickly. Fortunately, for us Czech and its seven grammatical cases aren’t so difficult. But a lot of our other non-Slavic foreign classmates sometimes don’t understand how we could learn so quickly,” says Aryna, laughing.

Both medical students plan on completing their studies in the upcoming academic year and are now thinking about what field of medicine they would like to specialize in. Aryna is most interested in becoming a surgeon, partly because her mother worked as a surgical nurse. “I am considering becoming an oncologist, a psychiatrist, or perhaps even a GP. But I’m still not sure. It’s hard to decide,” says Uladzislau.

In the nine months they have spent here, Brno has grown close to their hearts. They have their favourite cafes and made friends with other foreign students from Belarus. “It is wonderful here. We had no idea that we would like it so much in Brno. We can imagine staying here after graduation. Everything is so close, Czechs are great people, and the Czech Republic is a beautiful country full of interesting places,” adds Aryna.