They say that Czechs are not very open to foreigners. Amir Samadian, a fresh graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, says that it is enough for a foreigner to respect the Czech culture to be accepted by Czechs. After six years of studies in Brno, he speaks good Czech and has many Czech friends.
He enjoyed his studies at Masaryk University and life in the student city of Brno so much that he wants to stay, even though he is a long way from home. A Persian originally from Iran, he arrived several years ago from the United Arab Emirates and is now headed to the University Hospital Brno, where he will begin work as a surgeon in September. According to Amir, being a doctor brings huge responsibility and his motto is to be the best in what he does.
The idea to study medicine abroad came from Amir's brother, who works as a paediatrician. “He met some Czech doctors at a conference in London and suggested that I could go and study in the Czech Republic. I looked up the university online and found that it had good rankings, low prices, and brand new equipment," says Amir about how it all began.
Even though his first encounter with Czechs was not particularly welcoming, as he had his money stolen at Brno central railway station as soon as he arrived, he found himself drawn to the city.
“It is a great place and has a lot to offer students. I stayed at the dormitories at Vinařská, which are full of people from all over the world. This international community is very friendly and the people helped me with everything I needed. We did a lot of things together. I like that Brno is small enough for you to get around and everything is easily accessible. I love the local public transport. And it's also cheap,” says the future doctor about his impressions.
Nevertheless, it took Amir a while to get used to his new environment. “It was a challenge. The study of medicine is highly competitive here. I had to study hard and be ambitious to keep up and I had to get used to an unfamiliar study system – and to the fact that the some of the older teachers don't speak such good English, which makes communication more difficult. But if you really want to be a doctor, you will find a way,” claims Amir and explains his approach to his studies:
“Some of my classmates were perfectionists and were always aiming for straight As. But grades don't define your skills. The most important thing is to set your mindset to ‘I want to learn this because one day I might have a patient who I can help with this knowledge’.”
He goes on to add: “It's a myth that med students have no free time. My time management skills improved every year and even though I didn't have quite as much free time as I'd like, I also found time for myself. I have a lot of Czech friends and I'd go with them to the gym or the pub and for camping trips or trips to a cottage.”
Even though Amir did not really experience any big culture shock, he thinks that the Czechs are more introverted and are shyer than the Persians. “They are unwilling to talk to foreigners, they don't open up. But once you get to know them, they are friendly. You need to understand and respect the local culture. Then you can become one of them. The main thing is to learn at least the basics of Czech. That's a friendly gesture and people appreciate it. I can't expect an elderly shop assistant to talk to me in English but I can talk to her in Czech,” explains Amir in English before seamlessly switching into Czech, which he mainly learned through talking to people.
He takes his future profession seriously: “Being a doctor is not a privilege, but a responsibility. You will be saving people’s lives. As soon as you can write that degree title after your name, they believe what you tell them. You need to be careful in your job. It doesn't matter what you do, but you need to be the best. If that's the case, people will need your help and you'll be able to earn some money and be happy.”