Exotic summer travels: from Hong Kong to Brno

Alvin Tsang came to Brno all the way from Hong Kong for one purpose: the three-week Summer School – Central Europe. The school focuses on the history of the region at the turn of the 20th century and is run by the MU Faculty of Arts. And Alvin cannot say enough nice things about his first trip to Europe, which he combined with getting to know more about a region that feels very exotic to him.

You would be wrong to think that a summer school means sitting at a school desk all day long while the sun shines outside. The participants hardly had time to catch their breath.

“Besides the lectures and the seminars, the school was also about trips around Brno, and there were a lot of those,” says Alvin. They visited the Moravian Karst, the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, and the Tugendhat Villa. They also visited three European capital cities: “From Prague, Budapest, and Vienna, I was most thrilled by Vienna – and also very surprised. Seeing how peaceful it looks today, it was hard to believe that it used to be the political centre of a large part of Europe,” he explains.

Laid-back Brno

Back in Hong Kong, Alvin is enrolled in Liberal Studies, which combines sociology, natural sciences, and geography, and he was looking for a summer school in line with his course. “I really wanted a programme that is primarily about history. And Brno was the only choice offered by my department that fitted the bill for me.”

In his own words, Alvin fell in love with the place, as he says with a smile: “Hong Kong is overcrowded. It looks like a small circle on the map, but in fact, it is home to seven million people. Half-empty streets, like the ones you can see here, are almost non-existent over there. So, really, the most enjoyable thing for me here is the more relaxed atmosphere.”

Incomparable relationships with teachers

To get the six credits for his summer school attendance, Alvin had to attend all the classes as well as meet various other requirements. “We were asked to complete a group project. My classmates and I worked on city ghettos and poor neighbourhoods and we focused on the Cejl area of Brno, which we had previously visited on a tour,” says Alvin, adding, “As a follow-up to the project, everybody also wrote an essay on their own.”

Besides the extensive lesson plan, which fully corresponded to his interests, Alvin was particularly happy about the excellent approach of the teachers: “At my Hong Kong university, it's almost impossible for teachers to pay attention to individual students. If I need help or an additional explanation, I need to actively seek out the teacher, wait until they have time to see me, and then go and meet them. But the summer school was different. All the teachers really went out of their way to share their knowledge with us and I could go and see them whenever I had a question.”

Alvin says he will certainly speak about his Brno study experience with his classmates when he returns: “I will definitely recommend Masaryk University to them. They should visit here as well.”

Masaryk university