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Uruguay students will celebrate Christmas in winter for first time

For two students from Uruguay, Christmas this year will be different from what they know: lots of sun, 30 degrees, beaches full of people, and a big family barbecue outside in the garden. For the first time, thanks to studying abroad in the northern hemisphere, they will experience it in winter.

Agustina Molinari and Maria Fourmane study at the Faculty of Pharmacy.

For classmates Agustina Molinari and Maria Fourmane, who study pharmacy at Uruguay’s largest university in Montevideo, this autumn semester was the last chance they had to go abroad before completing their master’s degrees. For many months, they were unable to find a suitable university, but luckily, they finally found the MU Faculty of Pharmacy.

“We were looking for suitable courses at universities America because they are taught in English, and we also needed the semester to start and end similarly to ours. That was almost impossible. So, we started looking all over Europe until we came across MU, where we were attracted by the large international community and, most importantly, the affordable living, which was key for us, as we unfortunately don’t get any scholarships for our studies,” Agustina explains.

From winter to winter

So, in August they successfully completed the winter semester in Uruguay, enjoyed a month of holidays, and at the beginning of September flew to the Czech Republic, where the autumn semester was starting. Because of the move between the northern and southern hemispheres, they have had two winters in a row, but neither of them mind, especially since this year they can experience Christmas as they know it from typical Christmas movies –– full of winter, snow, and Christmas markets.

“In Uruguay we have Christmas in the middle of summer, and on Christmas Eve there are even big parties on the beach for thousands of people. But apart from the cold and snow, our Christmas is otherwise very similar. We also unwrap gifts and have a Christmas Eve dinner – well, more like an outdoor barbecue in shorts and dresses, where the whole family comes, including cousins, so there are usually about 30 of us. And we even have a tree. But it’s artificial. In our country there are not many conifers, and we do not like to cut down the trees,” says Maria.

They don’t mind that this Christmas will be in winter, and they are looking forward to seeing snow for the first time in their lives. It never snows in their country, where low temperatures hover around 10 degrees. So, they were quite surprised by the cold November weather and temperatures around zero. They even had to buy warmer clothes that they don’t need at home.

But the weeks before Christmas will be quite sad for them because their stay in the Czech Republic is slowly coming to an end and they will have to say goodbye to dozens of friends from all over the world they met in Brno. In February, they must be back in Montevideo, where they will start their mandatory internships in March before the end of their studies. Agustina will spend Christmas in Amsterdam with her cousin, and Maria plans to spend the Christmas holidays with her boyfriend somewhere in Europe, probably Germany.

“The semester in Brno went by so fast. When we arrived, we had quite a shock. We didn’t understand anyone, and we had to get used to the cultural differences. For example, that the Czechs have a different rhythm of life and that they have dinner around six o'clock while we have dinner around ten in the evening. But we still haven’t got used to the fact that restaurants close at 10 pm,” the students laugh.

Otherwise, they are enjoying their six-month stay in the Czech Republic and do not want to return to their school duties at home. “We are very happy that we finally managed to study abroad, even though we didn’t even hope that we would make it. The school was great. We had lots of interesting subjects, including 3D modelling in the pharmaceutical industry. And besides, we now also have a lot of friends from all over the world and unforgettable memories,” the students said, praising their time at MU.

Uruguayan students presented their country to international students at the Country Presentation Evening at the MU Faculty of Economics and Administration.

In the middle of December, students from Uruguay had a presentation about their country during the Country Presentation Evening which is organized every Wednesday by the Erasmus Students Network (ESN MUNI Brno) at the MU Faculty of Economics and Administration. If you would like to know more about s Agustina's and Maria's country, see their presentation about Uruguay.