After completing her bachelor’s studies, Masoumeh taught for five years at various language institutes in her home country. She had planned on continuing her studies in Canada or Great Britain. She eventually changed her mind about studying in either country – they were both too far away and expensive. She ended up deciding to go to the Czech Republic, about which she knew very little.
“MU’s teacher education in the English language programme caught my eye, and the tuition fees weren’t so high, so I decided to find out more information about the Czech Republic, the people here, and the weather. And thanks to good reviews and recommendations from other Iranians studying in Brno, this university won out in the end,” she explains.
She is now in her fifth semester at the Faculty of Education and is very satisfied with her decision. One of the things she likes most about her studies is the opportunity to compare different educational systems. For example, oral exams, a typical part of Czech university life, were unknown to her; she finds them very stressful. But she is also grateful for the fact that students can retake normal course exams; in Iran, in contrast, there is only one possible exam date.
She also appreciates the fact that at MU she has had the opportunity to meet with more international students than at the University of Tehran, the largest and oldest such institute in Iran, where most people come from China, Turkey, Azerbaijan, or Afghanistan to study. Studying in the Czech Republic, she has met students not only from all over Europe, but also from Mexico, Vietnam, and Japan.
Masoumeh has been financing her studies in Brno using her savings. She also makes money teaching English to Czechs and Slovaks at a language school. She has mostly advanced students, and like teaching Czech children, it can sometimes be quite challenging because she doesn’t speak Czech. But this makes it all the more interesting for her. Here, she is teaching foreigners for the first time in her life. Before, she taught only Iranians.
As part of her studies, she gained experience at elementary schools teaching Czech children English. “It was a very interesting experience, especially the first classes when the children had to guess where I am from. They guessed various countries, like the USA or Spain, but not Iran. When they found out where I’m from, they would keep asking me questions. For them, Iran is not a well-known country. It’s too bad that they don’t know our country well and think it’s just a desert, when we have wonderful nature, high mountains, and other great places worth seeing,” she says.
In Iran we all love the Czechoslovak cartoon Pat and Mat
Masoumeh will graduate from MU in January, after which she would like to stay in the Czech Republic for at least a year. She says she has not been able to see all the parts of the country she would like to, and she wants to gain more experience teaching foreigners. She is even considering taking international English teacher training courses at MU that would allow her to teach anywhere in the world.
“Over the past two years, the Czech Republic has grown on me. Before, the only thing I knew about this small country in the middle of Europe is that there used to be a place called Czechoslovakia. But I eventually found out that one nice thing joins the Iranians and the Czechs: the Czech cartoon Pat and Mat, which is loved by all children in my country. In Iran, this show is so popular that we even have a phrase in Persian that is literally translated as ‘to do something like Pat and Mat,’” says the student, laughing.