When I was deciding where to study my Master’s degree, the decision process involved many lists of pros and cons for each possibility before me. The academic quality of the program, the size of the city, the number and diversity of the students, the taste of the local food, the cost of living, the yearly weather, the city’s art and music scene – all of these things were on the table. After going over them all and trying to envision myself in a few different countries, in many different courses, I ended up in the Conflict and Democracy Studies program at the Faculty of Social Studies of MUNI.
From this whole process of decision, I want to emphasize why the FSS is such an especially endearing choice for international students. There are plenty of reasons why a full degree abroad is enriching and exciting for anyone, but this experience is compounded by the nature of being a student of social sciences. My field is within political science, but this holds true for sociology, journalism, international relations, and others. In these subjects, so much learning happens both interpersonally and outside the classroom. Choosing to situate yourself in a diverse, active environment is one of the biggest favors you can do to make sure that this extra layer of learning happens, while also just growing as a person overall. For this, the community of international students in Brno is huge and very friendly.
In my cohort of CDS students, no two people are from the same country, and no two people have the same educational or professional background. We address every topic and assignment from different angles, and class discussions color our understandings of topics with these entirely new perspectives. Moreover, outside of class, we’re friends who cook each other different food, share different music, and argue about whose democracy is in the most danger at any given point in time.
So why MUNI instead of any foreign university with a big international student community? Well that’s obviously a personal choice in the end, but for me the diversity and presence of the students is a huge asset. Brno is a city but not a metropolis, so you can find and get to know people without getting lost yourself. It’s also friendly to foreign students without losing its Czech flair, so you will become acquainted with Czech culture and attitudes almost inevitably (+1 intercultural experience by default).
The courses I’ve taken at the FSS leave room for conversation, giving room to this perspective sharing and showing that the professors value it too. I took a course last semester called Conflict Management that was almost entirely debate, predicated on forcing us to embrace different perspectives and backgrounds in understanding conflict as fully as possible. I took another called Pluralism and Disagreement that contained exactly that – not only on paper in the syllabus but because every person in the class had a different idea of what democracy should be. This is just my experience, but the social sciences have much in common, and it’s certainly not unique.