Erasmus in Brno: “To Find Your Comfort and Friends Here Is Truly Rewarding”
Organizations like ESN are part of why Brno is such an attractive destination for students. Credit: ESN MUNI.
Not only is Brno the most thriving student city in the Czech Republic, but it is also becoming an increasingly popular destination for international university applicants.
For a little more than three decades, as part of the joint efforts of European countries to come closer together, students from all across the European Union have been enjoying the opportunity to study abroad for a semester. Many Czech cities are now used to hosting young people from different countries; however, Brno is the place to be when it comes to experiencing being an international student in the heart of Europe.
Each of the city’s three biggest universities have their own chapter of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). It is these organizations, along with the supporting administrative efforts of the EU, MUNI, VUT and Mendel University, who are behind the remarkable job of making Brno such an attractive destination. Brno Daily spoke to some of the people within ESN in charge of welcoming exchange students, as well as some Erasmus+ students who spent a semester, or a full year, in Moravia’s largest city.
Denisa Drappanová, events manager for ESN MUNI, explained how things work. According to their sources, around 700 international students arrived in Brno for this semester. Since MUNI is a very big university, their committee also handles events for students of some other smaller universities, such as the Defence University, the Janacek Performing Arts Academy (JAMU), and the veterinary school.
Drappanová said that the ESN deals mostly with social, cultural, and integration matters. Foreign students are firstly encouraged to connect with a buddy through the Fiesta system, a platform where locals “adopt” newcomers. These buddies usually meet students when they first arrive and take care of them by picking them up from the train station and showing them around, but they also recommend spots in town and provide useful tips on everyday life, including what to do and what not to do in Brno.
Events such as sport competitions, hikes, day-trips, second-hand shopping, boat and tram parties and pub crawls, are accompanied by other more regular activities, including various language courses, bachata lessons, karaoke and quiz nights, parties, and international presentations which include dinner. Access to all of these is student budget-friendly thanks to the ESN card, which grants its holder with discounts for Erasmus related purchases.
Along with this card, universities in Brno give their students an ISIC card, which ensures the famous studentská sleva, a discount for museums, parks, transportation tickets, and even some street food places.
Speaking of money, the Czech Republic is a very convenient option for young people because of its affordable cost of living, of approximately €600 per month, according to the Erasmusplay website. What’s more, some of the reasons students choose to come here include its affordability, its privileged location, extremely good connections to major cities like Prague, Budapest and Vienna, its safety, and of course, its beer culture.
Drappanová is convinced Erasmus+ participants have a comfortable and fun experience in Brno, despite being far from home. And speaking of distance, Brno is not only a destination for European exchange students, as there are many other study-abroad programmes working with Brno’s universities. Some of these also facilitate the stay of people from every continent for the purpose of studies and internships. But how do the students themselves see their experience?
Bulgarian master student Ivalina Daneva did her Erasmus back in Spring 2021, during the times of pandemic, but she said she has no regrets over taking the risk. “I chose my Erasmus city long before that,” she said. “As a Czech language and literature student in Sofia University, I was looking forward to my semester abroad, because it is a unique opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and experience life in a multicultural environment. I was willing to practice my Czech and Brno was the best choice, firstly, because of the quality and diversity of educational programs and secondly, because of the student spirit in the city. In my opinion, Brno is a bit underrated and only after you spend some time there, will you be able to feel the safety and warmness of this place. It really does feel like a home: to hear the trams every day, to relax in Lužanky park, to glance at the cathedral at sunset… to find your comfort and friends here is truly rewarding.”
Spanish student Lucia Blanco finds many of the same things to love about Brno. “My uni there was very well equipped with modern facilities, and many courses taught in English are offered, which is good for international students,” she said. “Also the city is not that big, so it is easier for us to adapt to it, and the public transport works very well. It is well connected with other European cities so it is easy to travel as well. These reasons are why I enjoyed my year in Brno as an Erasmus student and why I think it is a good destination to choose.”
Joaco Fernández from Uruguay mentioned feeling pleasantly surprised by what he found studying in Brno, specifically “a great international community in a city that works smoothly.”
Based on conversations with these people, and from what I’ve seen myself wandering around the city and attending some of the ESN events, I’m confident to say that Brno is a cosy option for students, even in the colder months, and a fun place to be if you want to try a new place without too many money concerns, while encountering a multicultural and English-friendly temporary new home.