Studying at small universities is fun as well
Silesian University in Opava is a school that might not be so internationally known but it certainly offers some very interesting study programmes such as archaeology or astrophysics. I asked Alena S., a Master graduate student, to share her experience. She currently teaches English at a secondary school in Opava.
You studied English philology and history. Why did you choose such a combination?
Those were the subjects I enjoyed the most at my secondary school. You need to speak German if you want to study history and I learnt German at grammar school so I could pursue my passion. Thankfully, you don’t need to know any Latin. Some people studied history and German which makes sense considering some historical texts are in German but I simply enjoy English more. I could already speak it fluently because I was always reading books and watching TV shows in English.
Most people who studied Bachelor programmes in two fields dropped one when they continued to their Master’s. Two unrelated study fields are in my opinion too much and most people decide to specialise after three years. On the other hand, if you study teaching, you can choose a Master programme in two fields right away. I didn’t go for it because I thought that it wasn’t sufficient—I like details.
Did the school prepare you well for your future career?
Yes, but I didn’t end up to be a historian as I switched to English philology only when I finished my Bachelor degree and continued studying for my Master’s. I found some history teachers rather disagreeable and they put me off to be honest, but most English teachers were knowledgeable and enthusiastic, especially those from the English literature department.
University studies weren’t actually about knowledge that much but about the ability to manage all the tasks. Although I didn’t study how to be a teacher, I had no problem to become one when I finished my studies. I believe English is only a tool how to broaden your horizons and this is something I still use today.
To be a successful university student, you need to become quite proficient at time management, writing essays, preparing presentations, working under pressure and think innovatively which are the skills that I use as an English teacher.
Did you have some foreign classmates?
Yes, SLU takes part in the Erasmus programme. We had many Slovak and Polish students as Opava is near the borders. We also had one student from China and we became good friends. Sadly, when he returned home, we lost contact. They aren’t allowed to use Facebook in China.
What was the best about studying in Opava? Who would you recommend this city to?
Definitely to people who hate big, noisy, overcrowded cities and prefer a beautiful historical town with lots of parks. You don’t even need to pay for public transport if you have free time and like walking. There’re also many cafés, restaurants (even vegetarian ones), clubs, historical monuments and compared to Prague it’s much cheaper here.
Is there something you’d change about your studies?
Some teachers were very arrogant and there were also some scandals concerning university politics. They should also offer a better variety of subjects because often it was hard to get credits and you couldn’t really sign up for what you like. The university library used to be very small but I heard they built a new one. In my opinion, there weren’t enough student facilities.
What did you enjoy the most about studying at university?
I loved university life. You can finally be autonomous so there’s a lot of freedom. I enjoyed attending lectures and then going to cafés with my classmates. Some teachers were really nice to talk to, encouraged students to be creative and even sent us to conferences if we showed interest.
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What would you say to students who are considering applying to SLU?
SLU is undervalued but I believe it’s a good university especially in some fields of study. For example, it’s one of a few places where you can study archaeology. It definitely offers good education and you can enjoy your student life without going bankrupt.