#LifeInCzechia Sometimes you can feel stuck in your comfort zone. If you surround yourself with visionaries, inspiring books, and movies, you suddenly jump to the place where the magic happens. I found myself in Brno as an Erasmus exchange student from Istanbul while I was doing my Ph.D. four years ago. Now I am back in the city as an intern at the Foreigners agency. I would like to share my experiences and also what made me come back to this beautiful place? So let’s dive right in!
Me at the Brno Reservoir in 2018
Breaking the circle
Before we start, I want to share a metaphor that came to my mind after reading a book that I think defines what I see in people who choose to live the expat lifestyle. I am an architect and sometimes I can’t stop myself from interpreting things in architectural ways. In our discipline, the basic design unit is a line. In terms of my life, one could say that I am a square. Yes, a square.
When I think about my life, I see a square living inside of a circle. So what can happen if a square wants to evolve and change? It starts to get bigger and bigger. As it grows, its corners begin to touch the inner surface of the circle and put pressure on that circle. From the square’s perspective, life becomes too tight living inside of this circle. Before I went abroad, this is exactly how I had felt.
Going abroad, being an expat in Brno, living in a different culture – all of these things helped my square grow and evolve as a person. I believe that the people who choose to become an expat at least once in their lives break the circles and boundaries that contain them.
The square and the circle
I was an Erasmus exchange student at the Brno University of Technology in 2018. There are many aspects of the life I experienced in Brno that stay with me to this day. I’ll put it to you this way!
Living in a student city
Brno is undoubtedly a student city with 13 universities. The most recognized ones are Masaryk University and Mendel University, which were founded in 1919, and the Brno University of Technology which was founded in 1899.
Brno University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture
Location and culture
If you are a travel lover and want to explore different countries, then Brno is a great city for you with its location. Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, and Dresden are some of the cities that you can visit just by taking the bus from Brno. I traveled by Regiojet and Flixbus bus operating companies. It’s easy to go even if you work full time – why not be a digital nomad just for the weekends?
In Kolejni, our dorm was full of students from all around the world. My roommate was from Mongolia. I also had neighbors from France, Jordan, and Slovenia. Every day was a new chance to share our cultures and learn from one another. We had a common kitchen in our dorm and that space became an intersection of cultures from across the globe.
When I was in Brno, I realized how a public transportation system can enhance people’s lives. In Brno, many people ride trams and they call them šalinas. I can say that I love šalinas. As a person who lives in a very large city where everything happens at high speed, šalina is, for me, a symbol of a decreasing speed, of slowing down a bit. While traveling in šalina, I was able to watch the streets, see the sky, enjoy the sunshine and views of the city.
Another great experience was that of the Tram Party. The party was the absolute manifestation of what life is like in a “student” city. The three big university students’ parties at the tram stops allowed for all of these students to meet, mix and build new relationships.
I want to share my favorite spot in Brno. It’s Lužánky Park. Lužánky Park was declared a National Monument in 1849. More than one hundred years later, in 1958, it was declared a Czech Cultural Monument. This park, like most, has its own soul. Maybe it’s because of the age and size of the trees, but you feel like you are literally walking through a historical building.
Lužánky Park in the fall
When I was there, I felt like I was in a parallel universe. Peace is everywhere and visitors are free. They socialize, read books, do yoga, picnic, play tennis, and anything else that comes to their minds. It’s truly a special place from my time in Brno.
What am I doing now?
Now, I am no longer here as a student, it’s time to experience Brno as a working individual. I am a new intern at Foreigners. I also get to live in the residential complex Domeq, which has been really easy, because everyone speaks English there.
I am so happy that I have the chance to be at Foreigners, working with influential and friendly colleagues in a visionary environment. As I have been in Brno for one month, I have to say that my internship will not only enhance my knowledge, it will be an extraordinary life experience.
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Source Photo: wikipedia