The first European student in Karaganda Economic University
Meet Lukáš and his Kazakh adventurous studies in Asia: “I’m the first European student here in Karaganda Economic University.“
Bilateral agreements are a very good tool for students from Mendel University in Brno to travel to the whole world. Lukáš Kejík did not hesitate and took part. Karaganda Economic University of Kazpotrebsouz became his alma mater for a few months. Read about his experience being the very first European student there and all the pros and cons.
- Hi, Lukáš, I am thrilled to know more about your experience from Kazakhstan! To start, could you shortly introduce yourself together with basic information about your studies abroad?
Hi, my name is Lukáš and I’m a student at Mendel University in Brno, Faculty of Regional Development and International Studies. Now I’m in 4th year of my bachelor studies. My bachelor studies are extended due to participation in Erasmus+ program in the 3rd year and Kazakhstan study exchange, where I am now, using the possibility of so-called bilateral agreements between my Czech university and the University of Kazpotrebsouz in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. And apparently, I’m the first European student here in Karaganda Economic University!
- How did you choose to go to Kazakhstan?
It was quite an easy decision for me. Here in Karaganda, they have a department of international relations and so many courses are the same as in Brno. Another fact is, that they allowed me to study just for 2 months which was the most important thing for me because I need to finish my thesis till December. Apart from this, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and travel.
- Can you shortly describe the application process? How was it?
From Mendelu side application process is generally the same as for Erasmus+ program and because I already have experience with this application it was really easy for me. Karaganda University just required motivation letter and transcript of records. After that, they sent me a confirmation letter.
- What do you like the most/the least about Kazakhstan?
I will start with what I really don’t like here. It is the system in dormitories, schools, and administration. Many things work still like “in communism” or just are too complicated. On the other hand, food is absolutely amazing and fresh. I guess all products go directly from farms to markets. It’s a big difference between Europe. Quality of the meat in Kazakhstan is like from some bio market or special butcher in Czech. Vegetable and fruit are full of taste and super fresh. Honestly, I never had better meat or grapes than in Kazakhstan. Prices are also very friendly. And one special category is people. I never had a problem here, it doesn’t matter if you are in a village or in a city, they try to help you even they don’t know a single word in English. And especially in the university all of my friends they helped me a lot with many things like translations, transport, school. I’m very grateful for all what they did for me.
- What are the biggest differences you see between the university experience there and at Mendel university?
Studies at Mendel University are much harder. Level of education is higher in Czech. But to be honest, most of us know, that study abroad on the east is mostly easier than in Czech. Next fact is I have a different and individual schedule than other students because I’m the only international student here.
- Which courses do you attend? Is there anything you like or don’t like?
I have 4 courses. Theory of International Relations, International Negotiations, International Terrorism, and the Russian language. I love the Russian language course because the teacher doesn’t know English, so these lessons are always intensive.
- What do you do in your spare time?
My most often the activity is eating here. As I told you before, it really makes you happy just go to big market which we have here (it’s like Zelný Trh but maybe 15 times bigger) and eat all fresh tasty food. You can buy really everything from horse meat (really!), milk or to all kinds of dry fruits. In this market, there are also many bistros or barbecue places where you can get nice and delicious meat. Other activities are sport or smoking shisha which is very popular here. I also must mention that many friends visited me here (I am really happy about this) so I traveled with them a lot, maybe 2 and a half of the week together. We visited places like Almaty or Burabay park. Nature there is magnificent here.
- Has your experience here helped you gain an appreciation for how the world is interconnected on all levels (environmental, socio-cultural, and geopolitical)? If so, can you cite specific examples?
Yes and no. Because I travel a lot I am used to this. What I experienced here is a different culture with different values. It’s hard to explain but they have a president which is an old member of a communist party. They are next to China and Russia which is an important fact and at the end, I feel the effort to be more Europe state than Central Asian. Also, history is connected with Islam, therefore Kazakhstan is a mix of cultures, with strong traditions, strange communist history and with potential be one of the richest countries in the world.
- What is one part of Kazakhstan culture that you are excited to experience?
This week I will be part of a very strong and important village tradition – killing horse or sheep for winter. I don’t know how exactly it will work but I will see. It really honors me that my friend invited me to this family event. And by the way, horse meat is actually really good and tasty.
- Has your experience there helped you learn to respect cultural differences? If so, can you cite specific examples?
To be honest it helped me a lot. In Kazakhstan, there are many Muslims or people with strong traditions. For me as an atheist and very open person, it was shocking. I had to manage my behavior here and respect their rules. These things are mostly connected with food, drinking, and personal relationships. I have to notice that these cultural ‘’rules’’ are different in Karaganda and in Almaty. And specific example is that they shake hands every time and everywhere. Hugging is not so popular though. And students life as we know is not working here, no Wednesday parties, no festivals which we have (Majáles, Půlení s AU).
- Last but not least, can you give one advice to our students about going abroad?
My advice is: Just go abroad right now! Why? So why are do you study international relations if you are not participating in international study or internship programs? That’s the question who should everyone ask themselves. I spent 11 months studying abroad. One of the best 11 months of my life. I gain so much experience, make friends in whole Europe and traveled more than 11 countries just because of study abroad. I know many friends who told me how they were stupid and scary study abroad, now they are sad because they missed the chance.
- I got an information that you will be part of the 6th World Talks happening in November. Now you have a chance to invite our students to your talk!
Yes, I will be part of 6th Word talks. I would like to invite everyone who is interested about studying abroad, how life in Kazakhstan is working, why to visit this lovely country or how I got there because I used a train from Moscow, which turned to be 3 days long nice unexpectable trip. The presentation as itself will be held in Czech language, but if you are interested as foreign come and I will tell you all about my experience on the bar with beer! See you there!