Mirek Houdek, a twenty-one-year-old student at MU’s Faculty of Economics and Administration, might have a typical Czech name, but he was born and grew up in Ecuador. He always wanted to go to university abroad after completing high school; he ended up choosing the Czech Republic, the land of his ancestors.
What mainly attracted him to the Czech Republic was his desire to learn more about his roots: his grandfather originally came from a village near Prague. During World War I he fled to Venezuela and then spent the rest of his life in Ecuador, where he established a farm on which his family still produces milk and other dairy products.
“My grandfather was my hero, and he always told me incredible stories. I was his biggest fan, and I wanted to learn more about the country where he lived and where me and my father come from. Moving to the Czech Republic to study for a few years was the best way to get to know the country,” explains Mirek.
His first steps in the Czech Republic, however, did not lead him immediately to MU – he initially completed an eight-month-long Czech course in Poděbrady because he did not speak the language very well even though he has been a Czech citizen since birth. He then studied for a bit at Charles University and at the University of Defence in Brno, because ever since he was little, he wanted to join the army and become a pilot. In the end though, he found the military school to be too competitive and decided to leave.
“Fortunately, I had a plan B. I always liked working on my parents’ farm, and I had lots of ideas about how to expand it, for example, connecting it with tourism. So, I also considered studying business. When I saw that I could study this subject at Masaryk University, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I had heard about the university since I was a child. My grandfather studied here.”
MU’s international community will impress you
In September, Mirek enrolled in his first year of the Business Management and Finance bachelor’s programme, which is taught in English. So far, he is really enjoying the programme. He loves the faculty building, which he says is one of the most beautiful buildings at MU. He also has great things to say about the well-equipped classrooms and the faculty’s app-operated water vending machine.
He is also impressed by the simple, easy-to-use Information System and the beautiful library, where he often goes to study. He really enjoys his classes. He says he has great teachers and interesting lectures. Because he has been managing to do all his schoolwork, he found a job at a popular Mexican restaurant in Brno, where he works alongside his best friends from Mexico.
“It’s great that I can combine studying at MU with work. But the best thing about the university is the international community. It’s simply incredible how many international students, including Latin Americans, study here and how many Erasmus students come to Brno every semester. I’m only in my second semester here, but I already have friends from around the world who I can go visit whenever I want,” he says.
In fact, he likes what he has seen about the Erasmus programme so much that he signed up for a semester in autumn in Ankara. Of all the countries he could study in, it was Turkey that most attracted him. He wants to learn more about Eastern culture. He already knows Europe quite well, having travelled to Hungary, Austria, Germany, Cyprus, and Croatia, and the countries of southern Europe are not so unfamiliar to him due to the similar language and culture.
“When I was thinking about where to go study, for a while I considered Quito and Miami. In the end, I am very glad that I chose MU. As a student here, you’re not just another number. On top of that, studying and living in Brno is about three times less expensive, but the quality is much better. Sure, my family might be on the other side of the world, but I have relatives here, and I’m getting to know them. I feel like I’m at home. And I can’t decide which country I like better. It’s like being in love with two women,” Mirek says, laughing.