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European theses are much shorter, says surprised Colombian student

For Colombian student Laura Catalina Sanchez Florez, her student exchange in the Czech Republic was a turning point. She was only supposed to stay in Czechia for a semester, but meeting her current boyfriend pushed her to fulfill her dream of living abroad. She has also completely changed her career plans and started studying English for Teachers.

Colombian student Laura Catalina Sanchez Florez studies at Masaryk University’s Faculty of Education

Although the twenty-two-year-old woman from Colombia completed her undergraduate degree in anthropology at her home university in Bogotá two years ago, she began studying again in the English Language for Education bachelor’s programme at Masaryk University’s Faculty of Education. She found that she enjoyed working with young children and that it gave her great joy to see their progress in a foreign language. So, she decided to make a significant career change.

“In my home country, a bachelor’s degree takes four to five years, and my major was specifically designed for four years. And a master’s degree takes another two years, so it wasn’t an easy decision for me to start all over again. But I’m so glad I did. I am really enjoying my studies and I am very attracted to the idea of becoming an English teacher one day,” says the student.

She has already completed three semesters at Masaryk University and she enjoys her studies so far. The teachers are great, and she admires them not only for their excellent level of English but also for their friendly and extraordinary approach to teaching. “Even though the classes have become increasingly difficult, I look forward to every lesson and learning something new,” says the student.

She was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that she has three attempts to complete each exam and two more if she repeats the course. In Colombian universities, this is very different and if a student fails the exam once, they have to repeat the whole course. She was even happier to find out that the required length of theses at Masaryk University is not as long as in her home country, where the minimum length of a bachelor’s thesis is at least sixty pages. Her bachelor’s thesis was even over one ninety pages because of the research every student has to do. She is looking forward to writing her thesis at MU, and she plans to focus on the use of English in intercultural education.

With English and Spanish, she can teach anywhere in the world

She is also looking forward to the mandatory work placement that is part of her course. She does not have any significant experience teaching English; she has only experienced what it is like to teach young children once, thanks to her sister, and it was from that moment that she began to think about a career change. But she does have some experience of teaching. For the past seven months, she has been teaching people Spanish – she has a beginner from Poland and a 16-year-old Czech student who has an excellent level of Spanish, so she enjoys teaching them together.

“I simply found myself in my work as a teacher. I enjoy it. I also never realised how much of an advantage I have because my native language is Spanish. I was surprised by how much interest there is in it, not only in the Czech Republic but elsewhere as well. Combined with English, I am in a great position to work anywhere and teach both languages,” says Florez with a smile.

However, she adds that she plans to stay in the Czech Republic after her studies, perhaps moving to Prague. She says she likes the Czech Republic in general, the countryside, the beautiful historic towns and the calm and non-confrontational nature of the Czech people. She could imagine living in the countryside. And she also appreciates that the Czech Republic is close to everywhere thanks to its geographic position in the heart of Europe. She has travelled to several countries, including Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia. But there are still many places in Europe she would like to visit in the future.