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A student from Russia: The Czech Republic has changed me

Irina has became so accustomed to the local environment that she now works as a student ambassador.

Although it is not obvious at first sight, Irina Serdyukova has been through a lot in her life. This 26-year-old Russian woman moved to Brno from a remote place called Ufa where she graduated from a university focused on aviation. Now, in the Czech Republic, she is completing her studies at the Faculty of Informatics. And it seems that her stay in the country in the centre of Europe is not coming to an end any time soon.

It was her dream that brought Irina to Brno; a dream she and her friends had shared for years. Since their secondary school studies they desired to travel, to see the world outside their hometown. For Irina, it took a while to make it happen, though. “I entered the university in my hometown, like most people. My dad works as a pilot in the army, so I was looking for something close to his field,” she says, revealing her motivation to choose a discipline that is not so common for a woman.

Irina gained her engineering degree no later than at the age of 22 years and started to work. However, she only stayed a couple of months: her dream reappeared in its full intensity, and this time she managed to make it come true. Irina was so determined to try to live abroad that she won a grant and left to study in the Czech Republic.

And why Czech Republic? “A sister of one of my friends lived here, so I already knew the place a little bit. And I knew that I could become to like it here,” says a student who chose Masaryk University, besides other things because she had found an interesting field of study focused on research, management and innovation in informatics. By the way, one of the biggest surprises for Irina was a slightly different way of teaching than she was used to at home. “I remember coming to the first class, taking out pens and papers from my bag, and getting ready to do nothing but take notes as quickly as possible. I was the only one to do so. In fact, teachers upload class materials in the MU on-line information system – so all of a sudden I had time to listen to what is being said in classes. This was great.”

When Irina speaks about all she has been through in Brno and Masaryk University, it is evident that she has undergone a significant change. And she herself admits that Brno has changed her a lot. A shy girl, used to working on her own, has turned into an extrovert woman who has discovered the advantages of teamwork. The former has been revealed to her thanks to the international students' community she became part of, finding out that there is no problem they could not help her with. The latter, on the other hand, is a consequence of the teaching style characteristic of a field that simply cannot do without teamwork and good soft skills.

“I like it here; I appreciate how relaxed the Czechs are, the way they get together for a beer and stuff,” says Irina who has became so accustomed to the local environment that she now works as a student ambassador, assisting newly coming students to adapt as well as she did. The new home country has also influenced Irina's wardrobe: “Russian women are very competitive, it is somehow encoded in our genes – that's why we tend to wear high heels and showy jewellery. Among others in class I looked as if I was going to a theatre, so I had to change my dress code a bit,” she laughs.

Now that she has graduated, despite her persisting desire to travel, it seems that Irina's travel's starting point will remain in the Czech Republic. She has found both a job and a boyfriend in Brno, and is not intending to return to Russia any time soon.