1 WELCOME FROM THE RECTOR OF PALACKÝ UNIVERSITY Since its foundation in 1573, the university in Olomouc has always recruited students and academics from many European countries. Given the large number

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1 WELCOME FROM THE RECTOR OF PALACKÝ UNIVERSITY Since its foundation in 1573, the university in Olomouc has always recruited students and academics from many European countries. Given the large number of foreign students we receive, our university has gradually evolved into a genuinely multilingual academy with Latin, German and Czech being the dominant tongues. Despite the challenges of history and dramatic discontinuities of the past, our university still believes in the twenty-first century that internationalization renders endless potential to enhance scientific excellence as well as the quality of research and academic training. Under my guidance, Palacký University has strong ambition to become the most international academy in Central Europe in terms of cutting-edge research collaboration, joint- and double-degree study programs and in the number of foreign students. However, internationalization does not only involve headhunting and recruiting students across the globe. In doing so, we also receive important side benefits, namely cultural diversity, plurality of judgments and, above all, much needed dialogue and tolerance. I very much hope that in Palacký University you will find a friendly institution, supportive tutors and an intellectually stimulating academic environment. Jaroslav Miller, Rector of Palacký University 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Welcome from the Rector of Palacký University... 2 PART 1: CZECH REPUBLIC, OLOMOUC, PALACKÝ UNIVERSITY... 6 Introduction the Czech Republic... 7 Culture shock Czech Republic blame it all on the culture Must watch and must read Why Olomouc? Palacký University Olomouc PART 2: PRACTICAL INFO BEFORE YOU ARRIVE Applications, deadlines, programmes Visas Health insurance PART 3: PRACTICAL INFO UPON ARRIVAL FIRST STEPS Arrival Transport in Olomouc Accommodation The International Relations Office (IRO), Orientation Week (OW) Visa and Foreign Police Palacký University ID card Student grants Banks, opening an account Canteen (MENZA) Medical care PART 4: STUDYING AT PALACKÝ UNIVERSITY The International Relations Office Palacký University Portal STAG Managing your studies Organization of study PART 5: UNIVERSITY FACILITIES AND SERVICES Access to the Internet UP Library Zbrojnice Counselling at Palacký University Learning Czech and other languages at Palacký University Sports Media at Palacký University PART 6: STUDENT LIFE, CULTURE, LEISURE Student organizations Religion Culture and social life Shopping PART 7: PLACES TO VISIT Around Olomouc Around the Czech Republic PART 8: HOLIDAYS AND TRADITIONS Glossary A few tips and rules that will come in handy at Palacký University Acknowledgements 6 INTRODUCTION THE CZECH REPUBLIC Welcome to the Czech Republic, a country with a rich history and a place that is often referred to as the heart of Europe. You may have heard that the Czech Republic is the land of beer or that it has plenty of castles and chateaux and one of the best national ice-hockey teams worldwide. While all that is definitely true, there is a lot more In the following pages you will find basic and useful information about your new home country. As this booklet is by no means intended to be a textbook of history or geography, we recommend looking up the information you might be interested in on these internet sources: The official website of the Czech Republic: The official website of Czech tourism: A site brimming with practical info about various aspects of life in the Czech Republic: Basic information Facts about the Czech Republic Location: Area: Bordering on (length of border): Time: Official language: Currency: Central Europe 78,866 km2 Germany (646 km), Austria (362 km), Poland (658 km), Slovakia (215 km) Central European Time GMT+1, Central European Summer Time GMT+2 Czech (Slavic language) Czech crown (International code: CZK; 7 Czech code: Kč) Population: 10.5 million Major cities (population): Praha/Prague (1,240,000), Brno (380,000), Ostrava (300,000), Plzeň/Pilsen (167,000), Liberec (100,000), Olomouc (100,000) Political system: Parliamentary republic European Union: Czech Republic joined the EU on 1 May 2004 Member of: NATO, IMF, WB, WTO, OECD, OSCE Climate Generally speaking, the weather in the Czech Republic is mild. There are four seasons, each about three months long. Spring can be cold with fast weather changes, while autumn is mostly foggy and rainy, except for a few sunny and cold days when you can fully enjoy the beautiful autumn colours in the trees. Nevertheless, summers can get very warm and winters very cold. Summer temperatures range from 23 C (73 F) to 30 C (86 F) and there is usually a lot of sunshine. Winter temperatures tend to be between -10 C (14 F) and 0 C (32 F). There is usually quite a lot of snow in the winter. If you are arriving for the winter semester, remember to bring a winter jacket and warm boots. You can check the weather forecast at: 8 Prices Although the Czech Republic is rapidly catching up with the Western standard of living in many ways, it is still cheaper to live here than in Western Europe. To give you an example: a lunch special in a restaurant = 4 6 EUR / 5 8 USD a standard meal = 5 10 EUR / 7 13 USD a dish at a high-end restaurant = EUR / USD the average price of beer = 1 EUR / 1.3 USD a ticket to the movies = 6 EUR / 8 USD As for Olomouc prices: a month s rent at student dormitories is about 100 EUR / 135 USD a tram ticket about 0.5 EUR / 0.7 USD a loaf of bread about 1 EUR / 1.5 USD 1kg of chicken is 2.7 EUR / 3.5 USD 1 litre of milk 0.8 EUR / 1 USD a coffee to go 1.5 EUR / 2 USD Generally, as a student you can live here comfortably for as little as 8,000 CZK (approximately 300 EUR) per month. For exchange rates, visit for example the XE Currency website: You will need a little more if you plan to rent a car, take weekend trips or travel. Be careful not to carry around large amounts of cash. Bring some extra money for the first few days of your stay, e.g. for the university accommodation deposit, to get your UP ID 9 card, to charge up your UP ID card so that you can buy meals in the uni s canteens, to make copies, etc. Electricity The voltage power in the Czech Republic is 230 V / 50 Hz. Plug sockets are Type F sockets compatible with those used in the majority of European countries (but different than in the UK, for example). If a different voltage is used in your country (i.e. 110 V), you will need a voltage converter. Mobile phones Czech Republic international calling code: or +420 The Czech Republic is densely covered by a GSM mobile phone network. If you have activated roaming service with your home operator, you should be able to use your mobile phone without problems. If you are from the USA or Canada, please check that your mobile device supports 900 MHz/1800 MHz GSM networks. A cheaper alternative than to using roaming is to use the services of one of the local operators. In the Czech Republic we currently have three major mobile phone operators. Check their websites for details (all of them have English versions available). Operator Websites Olomouc location O2 Riegrova 4, Galerie Šantovka and Olomouc CITY T-Mobile Galerie Šantovka or OC Haná center Vodafone Ostružnická 15, Galerie Šantovka and Olomouc CITY 10 Emergency Numbers European central emergency number (guaranteed assistance in English) 112 Emergency road service , 1240 CULTURE SHOCK While staying abroad for a longer period of time almost everyone experiences culture shock to some degree. It is quite normal, but temporary. Culture shock is the term used to describe the disorientation and frustration many people feel when they enter a culture different from their own. The unfamiliar environment, new people, foreign language and dealing with all of this on your own (without friends or family close) can prove difficult for some people. Symptoms of culture shock can be both physical and psychological, such as: feelings of sadness, loneliness, physical aches and pains, insomnia or the desire to sleep a lot, feeling vulnerable, angry, etc. People who are experiencing culture shock complain about all aspects of life - the food, the weather, the people, and idealize their own home country. The process of personal adaptation to a new environment has distinct stages which last a different length of time for each of us. It starts with Excitement (sometimes called the Honeymoon period) when everything is new and exciting. You find everything interesting and people seem to be friendly. Then comes the Crisis. Everything is difficult and confusing. You feel homesick and isolated and complain about the new country. This is the stage we hear referred to as culture shock. But after every crisis comes better days. This period is called the Adjustment (turning point). You feel more confident and relaxed. Customs and traditions become clearer; the culture in general seems more familiar. In the end, you get to the point of 11 Integration. You have recognized that the new culture has much to offer. You find the differences valuable and important. You are able to function in both cultures with confidence. To deal with culture shock, try to obtain as much information about the country, people, and culture as possible. Keep in touch with your family and friends. Have familiar things around you that have personal meaning. For example, bring pictures of your closest family and friends. Make friends with local students and other international students. Talk to people in your department and faculty. Contact local student organizations. Do not give up your hobbies; you can make new friends while doing sports, arts or whatever you are interested in. And relax, it will all get better. People often do not fully understand culture shock until they return home to their country, when they are surprised to see their own country with new eyes. Be aware that after your study stay is over, culture shock may strike you even harder when you come back to your home country. Some even say that it is easier to leave than to come back. If you feel constant psychological or physical discomfort, do not be afraid to ask for help. At Palacký University, you can turn to the Career Counselling Centre or to psychological assistance at UP. The Centre offers consulting and aid to all international students. Contact them if you encounter situations which you cannot tackle yourself or if you have any academic or other practical problems with which you need assistance. They are there for you, so do not hesitate. Contact: Career Counselling Centre, Faculty of Arts, tř. Svobody 26, Olomouc., Tel , 12 CZECH REPUBLIC - BLAME IT ALL ON THE CULTURE This section should give you an idea of what to expect and why in the Czech Republic which will help you understand the reactions you may come across. In no way are we saying this is the definitive or all-encompassing description of Czech people. We must never forget that each person is a unique being. Czech culture is markedly influenced by the neighbouring Slavic and Germanic peoples and by the long rule of the authoritarian communist regime. For most of its history, the Czech Republic has (voluntarily or involuntarily) been exposed to political and economic influences of neighbouring nations, having to fight not only for survival, but also to maintain its own identity. The ever-changing conditions of existence in the heart of Europe have taught Czechs to improvise and adapt to almost anything. Czech society tends to be individualistic, where people care mostly about themselves and their loved ones. In comparison with the southern nations, Czechs at first glance may seem stand-offish and reserved towards strangers and foreigners in general. They carefully protect their privacy and friendships take a long time to develop. Additionally, it is quite hard to enter a close network of friends and family. At first, they will be cautious and, compared with other cultures, a Czech needs much longer to open up to a stranger. Modesty is desirable, while exaggerated and openly professed confidence will not meet with a positive response. Czechs hate open conflicts and do their best to avoid them. Similarly, it is hard for them to give and accept criticism. Instead of open confrontation, they prefer to complain in private (mainly in the pub) and then say there is nothing they could do about it anyway. Scepticism and complaining are unfortunately dominant features of Czech culture. 13 Additionally, Czechs are inordinately afraid of making a mistake and looking ridiculous. On the other hand, Czechs greatly value a sense of autonomy and independence. They are very creative and skilful, as evidenced by the typically Czech do-it-yourself attitude. They have a knack for unconventional solutions and are open and tolerant to new ideas and opinions. They excel at learning new things, adapting to new circumstances and improvising. Thanks to this and much more, Czechs make brilliant scientists and entrepreneurs. Due to the German influence, Czechs place a considerable emphasis on order and on following the rules. At the same time, though, they are characterized by a remarkable adaptability and flexibility once they find out that it is more convenient and practical to get around the rules. Although they are organized and plan ahead, they do not always stick to their plans. The majority of work is done at the last minute. Once the initial coldness passes, Czechs become very warm and caring, always ready to help and advise the person they have decided to consider as one of them. Friends and family play an extremely important role for Czechs. They emphasize a positive social climate, good interpersonal relationships, mutual trust, and generally pleasant interpersonal communication. A completely separate chapter is the Czech sense of humour, full of double meaning, irony, and sarcasm, which stems from a strong communication context. Communication is often brimming with hints, allusions, ambiguities and references to the wider context. What does that all mean for you? Do not expect to be actively welcomed by your Czech colleagues. That does not mean they are uninterested or unfriendly, instead that the first step is usually up to you. Do not hesitate to reach out in a lecture to the first person who seems nice; the mere fact that they smile at you at the beginning is a good sign. Do not give up if the first 14 attempt fails as you may have come across someone who is unsure when communicating in a foreign language or you may simply have reached out to an unpleasant person, which can happen anywhere. Do not take it personally when a shop assistant or waitress is not acting their friendliest. It is still not common for Czechs to encounter foreigners on a daily basis; the older generation does not speak foreign languages well and so, unfortunately, people may sometimes act with hostility when required to do what they cannot. Join student organizations or sports activities that is the easiest way to make new Czech friends who will gladly explain the intricacies of the Czech culture to you. Once you get invited for a beer, you are in the home stretch. And most importantly: be on time! For more information on this topic, see e.g. Czech Republic (Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs & Etiquette) by Tim Nollen or Czechs and Balances: A Nation s Survival Kit by Benjamin Kuras (this one is pretty harsh on Czechs, but true and fun at the same time). Both of them are available in the UP library in English. The foreign community in Prague have created where you can find some useful tips for Prague as well as a Survival Guide to Czech culture. Also check out and just for fun, try googling How to annoy a Czech. 15 MUST WATCH AND MUST READ Movies Cinematography is based on the history of the nation, reflecting its characteristics and approach to life. Czech cinema has a lot to offer and will hopefully help you understand the Czech temperament. The following movies, which are in chronological order based on the historical period they are set in, provide an insight into the modern history of the Czech Republic: Hand (1965), Jiří Menzel s Oscar-winning film based on Bohumil Hrabalʼs novel Closely Watched Trains (1966), Ear (1970), Elementary School (1991), Thanks for Every New Morning (1994), Wonderful Years That Sucked (1997), All My Loved Ones (1999), Cosy Dens (1999), Divided We Fall (2000), Dark Blue World (2001), Identity Card (2010), In the Shadow (2012), and The Burning Bush (2013). If we were to pick only one film, it would have to be Cosy Dens, which Czechs simply adore. Czech comedies that are worth seeing include Little Village (1985), Kolya (1996), Loners (2000), Saturnin (1994), The Return of the Idiot (1999), Pupendo (2003), and Tales of Ordinary Madness (2005). We must point out that what Czechs consider a comedy may sometimes make an uninformed audience sad. Expect a generous dose of sarcasm, irony, black humour, and an overall bittersweet atmosphere. Soothing, for a change, are Czech fairy-tale films, such as Three Nuts for Cinderella (1973), Give the Devil His Due (1985) or Kooky (2010). The above-mentioned films are definitely available online, some dubbed and some with subtitles, and if with neither, at least you can practice your Czech. For more about Czech movies, go to: 16 Literature Franz Kafka, Václav Havel, Jaroslav Seifert (Nobel Prize for literature), Milan Kundera, and many other great writers come from the Czech Republic. Selected works again may help you understand your temporary home. The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hašek, Saturnin by Zdeněk Jirotka or Stories by Karel Čapek are outstanding examples of Czech humour. Serious themes of Czech history are discussed by, for instance, Bohumil Hrabal in his book Closely Watched Trains or by Milan Kundera in his novel The Joke. For more details, summaries and links to translations, go to: By the way, you cannot leave without learning about the greatest scientist, writer, traveller, philosopher, and researcher Jára Cimrman (see one of his plays at the Žižkov Prague theatre ) and having a good laugh with Little Mole, a highly popular Czech cartoon. 17 WHY OLOMOUC? There are cities you visit and the memories go away within a few weeks. There are several destinations where you d like to go back to. And then there are places that you fall for immediately that will not let you go. Olomouc is one of these places, a city that captivates with its unique atmosphere. Olomouc is more than a thousand years old and currently the fifth largest city in the Czech Republic. It is situated in Central Moravia on the rivers Morava and Bystřice. It has been an important centre during different historical periods, was the capital of Moravia until The Thirty Years War and has been an archbishop s seat since Nowadays Olomouc is an important industrial town, transport crossroads and centre of education. Thanks to its rich history, there is wonderfully complex display of historical memorials, ancient churches, fountains, and romantic streets accompanied by the gorgeous scenery of the city parks. There are simply a lot of beautiful places in Olomouc which you must see. The highlight is definitely the historical city centre, which has the status of an architecture conservation area and is the second most important one after Prague. The Holy Trinity Column on Horní náměstí (Upper Square) has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000 and it is the highest column in the Czech Republic. You can admire a lot of churches and cathedrals throughout the entire downtown area, for example St Michael s Church, St Wenceslas Cathedral or St Moritz Church with a nice view from its tower. A good idea is to make a trip to Svatý Kopeček (The Holy Hill) as well there is a convenient bus connection. The place provides a charming view of the whole city and is home to the wonderful Basilica of Virgin Mary from the
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