#LifeInCzechia I am currently a senior at Pennsylvania State University as a Telecommunications Major with a Digital Media Trends and Analytics Minor through the Bellisario College of Communications. I grew up the daughter of a Marine and had the opportunity to travel to twenty countries, more than half of the United States, and I lived in Okinawa, Japan for two and a half years. During this final Summer before I graduate in December I decided to intern with Foreigners.cz in Brno. I studied abroad last Summer in Brno for six weeks and in that time fell in love with the city, culture, and people. Through that experience I realized that I want to work and live outside of the United States after I graduate.
Who Am I?
My name is Jazmine Scharfenberg. I’m 21 years old and a student at Pennsylvania State University. I’ve been traveling around the world since I was an infant. The first time I was outside of the United States was at the age of 3 to Okinawa Japan. Since then I’ve moved 8 times before graduating high school due to my father being in the military. I was around 11 years old when we moved to Okinawa, Japan for two and a half years. During this time my father was an avid traveler and gave our family the unique opportunity to experience a multitude of countries and states. I’ve been to:
- Costa Rica
- The Netherlands
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
If you were to ask me, “Which country was my favorite?” I’d tell you, “I don’t know.” I love so many things about each place that I can’t choose a favorite. I’m sure that if I had to choose one I’d eventually pick something however, I don’t want to choose. I do know why I love Czechia. I love Czechia because of the experiences and friends I made during my time studying.
Originally I planned to study abroad in Greece during the Summer of 2022 but the program I wanted was full so I was given other options and one just so happened to be Brno, Czechia through the Czechmates program at Masaryk University. There was just one problem, the only city I had heard of in Czechia was Prague so I didn’t know what to expect.
Before arriving in Brno all I could picture was a small town, cobblestone everywhere, and barely any English speakers. However, after I arrived I was pleasantly surprised. I was greeted with a city the size of a college town that had beautiful architecture, lots of things to discover, much better transportation than back home, and many more English speakers than I realized. Although I wasn’t wrong about the cobblestone.
I quickly adapted to studying at Masaryk University after my arrival in Brno while also going on weekend trips to historical sites and UNESCO sites. During my stay I got to see Schönbrunn Palace and Prater Park in Vienna, Austria, the Central Market Hall and Parliament Building in Budapest, Hungary, and St. Mary’s Basilica and Auschwitz in Krakow, Poland. However, I also traveled within Czechia and visited Telč, Třebíč, Plzeň, Český Budějovice, and Český Krumlov.
Even though I lived through all these trips it’s still hard to believe that it all happened in only six weeks. It also changed my view on Czechia. I had the unique opportunity to explore cities within Czechia that most people haven’t heard of and I feel like it strengthened my love for the country. When speaking to family, friends, or even strangers about Czechia and the cities I visited they never know what I’m talking about. I’m always greeted with, “Cesky what? Where is that? Isn’t Prague there?” It makes me wish that more people would explore the lesser known cities because there’s so much to see and learn.
Český Krumlov is my favorite place in Czechia after Brno. This castle town is located in the South Bohemia region of Czechia and has some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. It’s only located 3-5 hours from Brno depending on your form of transportation and is a must visit in my book. When visiting you’ll find that the Vltava River passes through town which makes it a popular spot for those who love kayaking or rafting.
In my opinion rafting on the Vltava River is one of my favorite memories from my time studying abroad. The views from the castle are beautiful as you’re looking over the town. It is a bit of a hike to get to the top but it’s well worth the trouble. At the top of the castle you can explore the beautiful gardens. I believe the gardens look like something out of a fairy tale or historical novel. Although my biggest suggestion is to explore. You’ll only find your favorite memories by exploring.
In most cases you don’t know what to expect when arriving in a new country, especially as a student. The routine you have at home is drastically changed as you’re thrown into a new area. Which is why it’s important to explore and create a little schedule for yourself. While studying in Brno I created a schedule for myself.
Wake up in the Masaryk dorms, make my way by tram to Ceska, grab an ice coffee from the Koffee Koffee cart and some breakfast from a bakery, then get to class. After class I would have the day free and get to explore Brno on my own, with the other people in my class, or with the student assistants from Masaryk. I played laser game at Sport Balkan, drank coffee at Cafe Podnebi (my favorite cafe), went on strolls and read in the many parks around Brno. The life I found in Brno changed who I was and shaped me in ways I hadn’t expected.
Why come back?
When my professor, during my time at Masaryk, came to visit Penn State just two months after coming back to the United States I immediately asked him if there was any way I could come back. At the time he was shocked because he had believed that I hated my time in Brno. After reassuring him that that was not the case he worked with me and helped me find an internship with Foreigner.cz.
I realized after my time in Brno that I wanted to find a job abroad so that I could live and work in a different country. I love experiencing new cultures and people so I wanted to test what working in a different country would be like and Foreigner.cz is giving me that opportunity. This time instead of only staying six weeks like last Summer, this Summer I’m staying for twelve weeks, mid-May to the end of July.
Reunion with our study abroad professor and some of the students from Summer 2022
I haven’t been back in Brno for long but I’ve already noticed so many changes. The tram I used to take isn’t currently running so I’ve had to find a new route. The construction at Mendlovo Náměstí is finished and the area is much more beautiful than it was. Instead of the warm weather I was expecting it’s colder and there’s been more rain. There will probably be more things I find different as I explore my old spaces but I also plan to expand my reach. What haven’t I discovered? Where else can I explore? All of this is why I choose to come back to Brno.
I’m back in Brno to dive deeper into who I am before I graduate. I want to know what working in another country would be like. Would I like it? What could I expect? How would it work? Since Foreigner.cz works with expats they have so many resources to explore. During my time with them I plan to learn as much as I can, continue to explore Brno, and contribute as much as I can with the experiences that I have.