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Aruuke Asylbekova

Bachelor’s in International Relations and European Politics, graduated in 2023

Coming from Kyrgyzstan, currently working at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek in the International Department as a PR assistant

interviewed by Michaela Nespěchalová, January 2024


1.Can you share some highlights of your time at the Faculty of Social Studies? What aspects of the program or specific courses had a significant impact on you?

The field of International Relations and European Politics itself encompasses different areas and is quite extensive. I definitely enjoyed the variety of courses in our program, since I could delve into politics, diplomacy, culture, and society across continents, from the US and Europe to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. There were also subjects covering specific countries which explored unique political landscapes and were focused on foreign policies of Turkey, Hungary, Israel or German-speaking countries. Considering the peculiarities of our direction which requires to be up to date with the issues happening in the world, such variability helped to broaden my horizons twice or three times more and undoubtedly took my education to the next level.

In fact, it is difficult to choose only a few courses that somehow influenced me and my learning experience because every subject was unique in its own way. However, if I can highlight one of them it is “How do they see us? The Czech Republic and its European Partners” which aimed at introducing students to the field of international diplomacy and diplomatic service in interactive and participative way. There were series of regular meetings with serving diplomats from European embassies and consulates. I remember taking this subject during my second semester when it was first launched. Unfortunately, there were restrictions due to pandemic and the course was held online but the overall experience was still enriching, we were able to ask questions and have various discussions. I would like to thank our professors Monika Brusenbauch Meislová and Petr Suchý for conducting this course. As far as I know, these days the sessions are held offline which makes it more fascinating. Beyond that specific course, subjects like International Security, International Organizations and Diplomacy have also shaped my learning journey. Moreover, we had an opportunity to take courses from other faculties, learn languages, and even get involved in sports. I spent two semesters diving into Spanish, and I'm definitely not stopping there!

2. How did your academic experiences at the faculty prepare you for your current career or further studies?

As previously said, a wide range of additional academic disciplines are included in my field of study, such as law, journalism, public administration, public affairs, sociology, conflict studies, diplomacy and more. I gained a great deal of theoretical information throughout the studies, which helped me to get a well-rounded understanding of politics. Currently, I am working as a public relations assistant and preparing to get a master’s degree. My goal is to continue my studies in a field that is more practically oriented and has a narrower scope. My interests in journalism, media, public affairs, and communications in general have grown over the course of the program.

3. Were there any specific professors or mentors who influenced your academic and professional journey? How did they contribute to your development?

The program thrives thanks to its dedicated professors, each an expert in their field. Jana Urbanovská and Martin Chovančík , our study advisors, deserve special mention for making the learning journey smoother and less stressful. They've been pillars of support for many international students in our English-taught program, always available to answer questions and offer guidance.

Personally, I would also like to express my gratitude to Klára Němečková. Her help with the visa application and arrival process was invaluable, especially during the pandemic when things were slower than usual. I really appreciate her patience and guidance throughout that whole process.

4. Can you discuss any extracurricular activities, internships, or research opportunities you participated in during your time at the faculty? How did these experiences enhance your education?

My studies in Brno unlocked a treasure trove of experiences that helped me grow personally and professionally. Some of the key experiences is my Erasmus+ exchange in Sciences Po, Rennes, France which was for one semester and I am extremely grateful to our faculty for such opportunities. This semester abroad was a game-changer not only in terms of education but also in terms of my personal growth, I still have a very close bond with people I met during that time.

In addition, I had a working experience in NGO called AIESEC which helped me to integrate more in local community. My visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, stepping into the heart of European democracy together with my groupmates from IREP was both educational and inspiring. Gaining firsthand experience in the media world while undergoing an internship at RFE/RL, one of the media organizations that broadcasts and reports news, was also an incredible opportunity to learn from the pros and develop your skills. And these are just a few highlights! Brno itself, with its vibrant student scene and welcoming atmosphere, offered countless opportunities to learn, connect, and grow.

5. What advice do you have for prospective students considering the Faculty of Social Studies? Are there specific skills or mindsets they should cultivate during their studies?

I believe that our faculty as well as the Masaryk University as whole have plenty of opportunities but the key to unlocking them lies in proactive exploration and engagement. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and seize the day. Your time here will fly by, so make the most of it. Brno is located in the center of Europe for a reason and is one of the best student cities, you need to take full advantage of this and cling to all possible chances. Embrace the local language too. Learning Czech isn't just about cultural immersion; it's a practical investment. It opens doors to meaningful connections with locals and boosts your employability with future career prospects.

6. How did the faculty foster a sense of community among students? Did you find a strong support network during your time there?

In addition to group discussions that we had during classes, the faculty fostered a sense of community via international BBQ gatherings, hiking outdoor activities where students built friendships and memories that lasted beyond the semester. I had the amazing opportunity to meet people from all over the world, formed close friendships with some of them, and we still have a strong connection – we know we can always count on each other. Coming from a small country in Central Asia, it was also meaningful to share my culture with others and let other people know about my country. We had a constant cultural exchange, learning about each other's traditions and customs. I still remember the delicious dishes we brought to international dinners – it was a true celebration of diversity!

7. Can you share any challenges you faced during your academic journey and how you overcame them? What lessons did you learn from those experiences?

Challenges during my academic journey were probably the workload and amount of self-study sessions. I have learnt how to prioritize the tasks and that time-management is extremely crucial especially if you are also working at the same time or attending/doing extracurricular activities besides studying. However, the key is not to study more but to learn better, to comprehend the subject matter as well as topics raised during the lecture, to assimilate the readings and be able to give examples. This deeper understanding will stay with you long after the exams are over.

Everyone learns differently. It is important to find for yourself in which environment it is easier and more comfortable for you to study. Some people thrive in the quiet solitude of the library, while others prefer the buzz of a coffee shop. Experiment and see what environment works best for you. Maybe it's a cozy corner in your dorm room, a study group with friends (for me it was the faculty of Economics since it was the closest to my dorm😊). Don’t forget to take breaks, it is essential for maintaining focus and preventing burnout. Proper sleep and regular meals are significant as well. When all of these factors are in balance I believe that one can navigate studies with confidence and success.

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