When asked about the Czech Republic, foreigners usually recall Prague, maybe Český Krumlov. There is, however, a place called Brno: a treasure a little out of the spotlight of travel agencies, whose magic lies in its superb student atmosphere, rather than in tourist attractions. If you are still in two minds about whether Masaryk University is the right choice for you, and you need some icing on the cake to convince yourself – it is the city itself.
Brno is kind of a big village where everyone knows everyone – and at the same it could be labelled as a smallish Central European metropolis bursting with student atmosphere and cosmopolitan way of life.
During the first weeks of their life in Brno, while getting acquainted with the town, foreigners find a great help in the brilliant Use-it Map: it will help you discover secluded places of the city, best pubs, cheap-and-tasty snack bars or cafés you can drop by for a coffee after class. Naturally, in English.
More tips on where to go can be found (also in English) on www.brnonow.com – a website created by a local journalist Michal Kašpárek. Besides a range of practical advice and tips on cafés, sweet shops and bistros, it presents a selection of nice little shops, galleries and other places of interest.
Coffee lovers especially can't be disappointed by Brno: the local coffee-life has been on the increase for several years and low-key cafés, hidden around the city, offer the best selection of coffee from all around the world. E.g. the elegant Industra Coffee, concealed in an industrial zone behind the railway station, or the traditional students' Falk café in the vicinity of the Faculty of Arts, are worth a visit. Renown Brno student pubs should not be left out either.
Practical assets for everyone
Public transport is one of the indisputable benefits of Brno. Local trams (which Brno citizens have a unique expression for, used solely in this part of country – “shalina”) run continuously to all directions, so you can get anywhere within the broader centre within a few minutes. Students are entitled to a cut-price season ticket valid in all types of public transport, including buses and trolley buses. Night bus service is extremely popular, too: throughout the whole night, special bus lines run every half an hour from the centre to all parts of town.
Riding a bike is also becoming more and more popular in Brno. The cycle track network is expanding each year and cyclists have become common road users. If you do not wish to buy a bike, you can e.g. rent a pink “Rekolo”, belonging to the system of shared bicycles that will allow you to move easily and cheaply around the city.
In comparison with other European towns of a similar size, Brno is rather inexpensive not only transport-wise. Cheap and reasonable food is served in university canteens (around 1,5 euro for a lunch) but also in restaurants offering lunch menus (below 3,5 euros). Many foreign students stay in dormitories; however, if you are more demanding, private accommodation near the city centre is relatively accessible. The offer is wide, and you can easily find a nice room in a shared flat for around 150 euros per month.
Students are the soul of the city
Providing evidence for the statement is easy: it is the infinite number of student events organised in Brno each year. The autumn semester is rounded off with a Brno universities hockey match, regularly visited by thousands of fans. The greatest event of the spring semester, on the other hand, is Majales, a students' celebration of the upcoming spring.
The student life is not only composed of fun and parties, though; above all, it requires enthusiasm and ardour. Students participate in the public life of Brno, e.g. by organising various marches, demonstrations, but also joint picnics, flea markets, charitable collections, cultural events etc. In short – being a student in Brno primarily means being active and tempted to change the world around you for the better. There are more than enough opportunities here for everyone!