Alen, 19, Student, Prague, Czech Republic
“I am a fighter, I do not like to give up and give in, even in the most difficult situation. Getting accepted into a Czech university wasn’t an easy thing and did not work from the first attempt, but it did not stop me.”
Koshpendiler: Hi, Alen! Could you please tell us about yourself?
Alen: Hi, I’m 19 years old. I am a student at the Graduate School of Chemical Technology (GSCT) in Prague. I am studying biotechnology and biochemistry. I’ve just started my first year.
I am a fighter, I do not like to give up and give in, even in the most difficult situation. Getting accepted into a Czech university wasn’t an easy thing and did not work from the first attempt, but it did not stop me. This is partly I’ve always taken a great interest in active sports, such as martial arts. Most of all I prefer boxing. In my spare time, in addition to sports, I like go to the movies and study in the library.
Koshpendiler: Where do you come from Kazakhstan, tell us something about your city?
Alen: I was born in Taraz, but most of my life I spent in Almaty. Taraz is a small southern town with a small population and it can be bypassed in one hour.
Koshpendiler: How long have you been gone?
Alen: I left in 2013. Already three years here.
Koshpendiler: Why did you choose this country and this city?
Alen: Before I got to know about educational opportunities in the Czech Republic, I was thinking about studying in England. And then my family went on vacation in Karlovy Vary, and they really liked it, and advised me to study in the Czech Republic. They argued that the level of education in my field – physics, biology, chemistry – was very high here. At the same time you can get an education of the same quality as in England, but for free.
After finishing the 11th grade in Almaty, I went on preparatory courses to a school in Marienbad sponsored by the Charles University. The school was very strong and there since there was not much choice of entertainment in this small town, I was able to fully devote myself to my studies. The main objective of these courses was to study Czech, which I mastered just in three months to the intermediate level. By the end of the school year I obtained the highest possible language certificate for a student. Let me explain what that means – in the Czech Republic, students are eligible to receive a certificate for a maximum of B2 level (upper intermediate level). But if you want to obtain a certificate of a higher level, you must either study languages professionally or to apply for citizenship. At the same time, the school has given little attention to other subjects, such as physics and biology, required for the admission at the university I chose.
As I got rejected on my first attempt, I went on yet another course and focussed on the study of the core subjects. In the end, I got accepted to GSCT in the Czech branch and is now studying for free just as Czechs.
Koshpendiler: What do you do you like most about your life in Prague or the Czech Republic?
Alen: I enjoy the local culture – everyone here is very friendly. Also in Prague I really like public transportation, which works like a clock, and you can quickly and easily reach any part of the city without a personal car. Most parts of Prague are very safe, although there are criminal areas too. In addition, I like the architecture in Prague, from time to time I see new objects pleasing to the eye. Living in the capital and in the center of Europe, in Prague you can get anything you want, for example, the newest sports items (boxing gloves, shoes, clothes, etc.). Plus, while living in Prague I became more independent and mature.
Koshpendiler: What kind of advice can you give to prospective students? How much does a student life cost in Prague?
Alen: I advise everyone to take care of accommodation in advance, if you want a good room. Do your research before you arrive here. Each school / university offers a specific range of student accommodations for different prices. The average cost of accommodation varies from $200-300 per month, all bills included.
There are several types of travel passes, but the best one to my minds is the so-called Open Card. To get it you need to contact the local office of the company and submit the relevant documents (the completed form and a photo). This card costs about $11 per month and allows unlimited travel on all means of transport, except for river types. If you are a student, you can buy it for a few months at once. Non-students need to update it on a monthly basis in the underground areas.
I cook myself, because it is more economic and healthy. Many students eat lots of fast food, which you can find on every corner in Prague, therefore destroying their stomach. A cost of groceries per week on average is just $15. This is as much as it costs to eat once in an average restaurant.
Lastly my advice about student IDs. They, too, differ in types and in the number of benefits. For example, the ISIC card gives me admission to the city library, a discount to the movies and sports halls, and even in some restaurants.
Overall, a student life in Prague costs about $350-400 a month
Koshpendiler: How and for what reasons our readers may contact you?
Alen: You can contact me via VK.com and Facebook, I can give advice on student issues and admission to higher education institutions, as well as pick you a good gym and a coach, if you are fond of boxing.