Some might think we are taking our praise a little too far, but it’s actually true: you could not have chosen a better place to study than Brno. If you’re heading for the regional capital of South Moravia, then read on to find out what Brno has in store for you.
Kometa Brno, our local ice-hockey club, won the Czech ExtraLiga (the highest level ice-hockey league in the Czech Republic) this year for the first time in 51 years. The club has recently undergone nothing short of a resurrection – a couple of years ago, games were only attended by a few hundred die-hard fans.
The City of Brno itself has also experienced something similar. From a drab city full of dying businesses, it has been transformed into a city bursting with life and promise. A major part of this transformation has been down to the city’s students and you too can get involved! That’s because:
Brno is full of action
Once you become acquainted with the city, you’ll soon find out that you have a problem: there’s simply too much going on. There are always places and events to go to and your friends will keep inviting you to more. Even the university has its own cinema, the University Cinema Scala.
The calendar is packed with concerts, theatre performances, and sporting events. Various talks are held every day where you can find out more about your topic of interest and ask questions in a pleasant café and pub environment.
As soon as you overcome this initial obstacle, you realise that the reason it’s so brilliant is that not only can you visit all these great events as a spectator, but you can also get involved in organising them. Do you have something you feel strongly about and want to win over others to your way of thinking? If so, then you’re in exactly the right place. And the experience will come in handy one day. Take Monika Hanych, for example.
For the first three years of her studies, she was enrolled at two Masaryk University faculties. At the same time, she needed a source of income so she taught at a language school, worked in the media, as a tourist guide, and later as a freelance copywriter. On top of all of that, she helped organise events such as the One World film festival and the friendly and inspirational TEDx conference.
“All my jobs earned me the money that I needed, but at the same time I wanted to earn it in a fun way,” says Monika, who is now a PhD student at the Faculty of Law and has also managed to squeeze in three study visits abroad.
What did she take away from all of that? “A lot! A whole lot of experiences, good – and also some bad – work habits, and maybe a slightly broader perspective and the realisation that there is more to life than just work – and that it’s best if you do something that you find meaningful,” adds Monika. She really took advantage of almost everything that Brno and Masaryk University had to offer.
Brno is innovative
Do you know Kiwi? The flight search engine, which is now an international hit, was founded in Brno just a few years ago and plans to hire several hundred new employees this year alone. Kiwi is a perfect example of the rapid pace of Brno’s development.
Local politicians have been implementing a strategy supporting innovative businesses for several years and when you factor in the universities, which keep attracting new talent, to the equation, you get the perfect environment for starting a business or moving an existing company to Brno. For example, IT specialists are in very high demand despite the fact that there are two faculties that produce IT graduates. In short, if you’re an IT student in Brno, you’re in a good place. But it’s not only the IT students that have it so good.
“If you look back ten or fifteen years ago, you can see great progress. This has been made possible by the political support and also by the type of people that are attracted to Brno. And now there are so many of them that they are trying to help those who have followed in their footsteps” explains Vojtěch Krmíček, a Masaryk University graduate who works at the South Moravian Innovation Centre, where he helps start-ups take off. Helping hands are never hard to find.
Innovations are a profitable business thanks to the number of research institutions that have been created in Brno in recent years. This means that every student has the opportunity to play either a large or small role in major projects before they even earn their degrees. Just a few weeks ago, the South Moravian Innovation Centre opened FabLab, a workshop for contemporary DIY fans and developers, which provides everyone with access to a 3D printer, a laser cutter, and a cutting plotter.
Brno is friendly
Nobody needs to tell the locals that Brno is a great place to live although the city’s fame is now beginning to spread far beyond its borders. This year, Quacquarelli Symonds put together a list of the ten best student cities, where Brno is ranked fourth in the world. The New York Times has also featured Brno several times recently. The subheading of an article from last year read: “Unexpected cuisine and nightlife in an architectural mecca”.
Vojtech Kubát is a former editor of the daily newspaper Hospodářské noviny and a graduate of Masaryk University who has long been interested in urban planning and the things cities offer or should offer their citizens. He sums up the main advantages of Brno as follows: “Brno is the perfect city to live in. The size is a big factor. It is big enough to offer all kinds of services but small enough so that they are within walkable or bikeable distance.”
Brno can also pride itself on having great cafés, bistros, and restaurants that won’t make a hole in your pocket. It has many unique pubs and wine bars that can transform an everyday chat over a beer into a whole new experience. And then there is the superb public transport network, which will get you home from a party that finishes in the small hours and which isn’t remotely fazed by the occasional additional ten thousand or so music fans attending a festival or the crowds at the famous Ignis Brunensis local firework show.
Brno is international
Growing companies, universities, new research centres, and the all round pleasant atmosphere make Brno a city that caters to foreigners more than any other. Moreover, the airports in Prague, Vienna, or Bratislava are just a stone’s throw away.
“International students usually say that Brno was recommended to them by their teachers or other students who had been here. They like the fact that it has something for everyone. Brno really is a student city through and through. It’s not too big and overcrowded with tourists, but it’s big enough to make sure students won’t get bored,” says Andrea Zlámalová, the president of the International Student Club (ISC) at Masaryk University.
Her organisation serves as a link between local and international students and helps those arriving from other countries find their way around the city and the university. Regular events include board game sessions, quiz nights, presentations of various countries and national cuisines, sporting events, language classes, and tram and boat parties.
Many foreigners have now created their own communities and organise events that are often open to the public and announced on social media.
Brno is not Prague
It integrates the advantages of a big city with those of a smaller town: it provides many opportunities without being overwhelmingly busy.