Roye Mauthner, a fresh Masaryk university graduate who comes from Israel, spent six years at MU studying medicine. It was his Czech roots that brought him to Brno, and – as he says – he fell in love with the city right away. Roye has shared with us his view of the studies at MU and his plans for the immediate future.
What was your motivation to study at MU?
I have always had a more positive attitude to the Czech Republic than to any other country. My roots lie here – my grandfather was born in Prague. Besides, back then, when I decided to study here, there weren't many Israeli students in Brno; and I simply fancied the idea of being one of the pioneers. When I considered studying medicine, I took a trip to Brno – and I knew immediately that this is the place I will spend the upcoming six years.
What are your memories of the first days in the new country?
As a student coming from a different culture, I was facing a double challenge: Not only do you arrive in another town distinguished by different habits and culture, but you also need to put up with the fact that you are entering a brand new life phase. At the very beginning I feared both the unfamiliar city and the path I had chosen. Whether I would be a good student, whether I would make it all. The language was another barrier. It's quite tough to find your bearings in a common life when you don't speak Czech and you have to address people in English. But this has changed a lot during those six years. People are less and less reluctant to speak English or accept foreign students. And my Czech has improved.
English is not the only language of instruction for international students at the Faculty of Medicine?
Besides studies in English we also have eight semesters of Czech: one and a half hours a week. This is not much, but what we mainly learn medical terms. I am aware of the necessity to command the language, though – as doctors we simply need to communicate with patients, as the majority of them do not speak English and the only way to make each other understood is to communicate in Czech. But I like the Czech language. I keep trying my best; all the more so because of my ancestors. Plus I enjoy learning foreign languages. It's not easy, though, for example I still struggle with your “ř” sound. My medical Czech is still much better than the everyday one.
That sounds difficult. Do you have any time left for any other things, except for your studies?
If you have a good time management, there's no reason not to have time for other things, such as sports, partying with friends or after-school activities. I was a MIMSA member for one and a half years, and I also worked since my first year of studies. You just have to be disciplined if you want to succeed.
What are the major differences between Israel and Czech Republic?
Israel is a very warm country – not only in terms of weather but also temperament-wise. It was very interesting for me to face a “colder” and more formal culture. For instance, students have to be dressed more formally while taking an exam. The dress code in Israel is much more casual – you can sit an exam in shorts and flip-flops; we also call teachers their first names or surnames – no degrees are used. In Israel, we value people for who they are, not for their academic degrees. There is an immense respect towards professions in the Czech Republic. And the dissonance is high: people are cold on the surface but when you get to know them a little better, you'll find out they are very friendly. There is less bureaucracy in Israel as well. But I see things are improving.
What do you like most about Brno?
Brno is wonderful in every season. I love the European winter with snow – even though nowadays there isn's much of it here but it only takes one and a half hours to get to places you can go skiing. One can enjoy great wine and beer. The city is surrounded with nature, which is fantastic. I love the culture of sports, families and intercommunity which is so characteristic of your long weekends (we only have one free day a week in Israel). What I truly appreciate is that Brno is a real heart of Europe, you can quickly and easily get to other countries. I think we can all see that the cooperation with international students brings benefits to the development of the city. It is now much nicer – in terms of both people and infrastructure. It's becoming more colourful, which is exactly what I like so much about Brno. I love Brno, as well as the whole Czech Republic.
What have the studies at MU given to you?
It is about the overall experience of living in another culture. I truly believe that MU has equipped me very well for my future professional life. It is getting more and more obvious that people appreciate the reputation of our faculty and of its graduates. When I completed my third year of studies I considered returning to Israel. But in the end I stayed. In comparison with my previous studies in Tel Aviv, I valued local brand new facilities, laboratories, classroom and the overall student environment. That's why I fell in love with the new campus and decided to come here in the first place.
Where are you heading now that you have completed your studies?
There are more options I am considering right now: I would like to start my own practice in Great Britain but I'm still a little hesitant. I might go back to Israel; however, to do that I would need to get a licence confirming that my knowledge of medicine is sufficient. US Medical Licencing Exam is another option – that would open up the doors for me to both US and Israel. At the moment I'm staying in Brno and preparing for the American exam and for an English one. And then we shall see...