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Tramping in Charles University

The Charles University is one of eldest in central Europe but it has just rebirth in 1989. There has been lot of development during past 15 years but the University still faces many challenges. The main problem in Czech universities is the lack of proper funding. Money comes from the government and there is not much to spend on education. That’s why the Charles University has not yet reached international standards in every level. I may only tell those experiences my friends and I had, so this cannot be generalized to all faculties.

Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, main building
Faculty of Mathematics and Physics

Faculty of Mathematics and Physics includes also Informatics. There are very few exchange students in this faculty, so there is not much teaching in English ether. It was nice that they had lot of flexibility to organize individually tailored ways of doing courses in English.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Most of exchange students come to the Charles University to study in faculty of Social Sciences. They have largest and best courses to offer from different faculties. Furthermore some courses appeared to be somewhat interesting. The level of the courses was good and some even enjoyed visiting lecturers from different universities. Those who are just on their way to learn English might find some native speakers hard to follow, so it takes more time from them.


It is not recommend studying history at department of history, which is of course pity because the country is full of interesting history. Department of history is under wings of Philosophic Faculty and I went there to get to know about the courses they have. There was an advertisement on the bulleting board of the faculty that told about meeting for exchange students in the coordinators office for next week. The same advertisement was also in the coordinators door. I wanted to make sure this was for me and I sent email to coordinator and she confirmed it was for me.

All seemed to go well. Next week I went to the meeting but I was half an hour late. That didn’t matter since one gentleman from Ireland had been there waiting outside the office already 45 minutes and hasn’t seen anyone and the door was locked. While we figured what to do the coordinator arrived. She had been drinking coffee with her colleague. Finally we got on business although I felt like she would have rather wanted to get rid of us.

Faculy of Arts and Philosophy, main building

The coordinator introduced to us an Internet page where was altogether one course in English that they could offer. She was amazed that we had not found this page before. Perhaps it had something to do with that everything was in Czech. That one course wasn’t quite what I was looking for, so that was that. On the way down I found CIEE advertisement from bulleting board and I took one of their course, which proved to be very good one.

Faculty of Education

Faculty of Social Sciences, Hollar

We mainly studied at Faculty of Education. As a future teacher I studied on the department of primary education. Courses at Faculty of Education were quite good but at primary education they had some rather interesting habits. Most of all we were enraged by the fact that we didn’t know how many credits were the courses worth of and no one else seemed to know ether, not even the teachers. I think this is quite hard violation of student right, since we are after all obligated to do certain amount of credits and these also tell us how many courses we are able to manage through the season. Luckily I was not in Prague because of credits. We were confused in our final meeting, when all of us got different amount of credits from the same course - very professional.

They had weird attitude in primary education department that we should only do their courses and only their module, which was not able to break apart to different courses. We on the other hand showed that it is possible and on the way also taught what concept of academic freedom means by taking courses where ever we wanted to. So that future students would know something about the courses I’m going to tell little about them.

About the courses

Czech language course: Learn to say ‘this is paper’ and that’s about it. Teacher is really nice but she has some troubles with her English and motivation. Surprisingly, most of the lessons were cancelled – could it be the motivation. Final test was to say the amount of credits in Czech that we wanted and that was the amount we got. Didn’t give much. 6-7 lessons and 6 ECTS.

Czech culture course: Wonderful way to get to know Czech culture better. Almost every lesson had different lecturer and most of them were professionals. Few lecturers didn’t speak English but then they had translator with them. It was nice to reflect those things that had aroused during time in Czech. About 15 lessons and two essays, other very short, formal exam, 6 ECTS.

Czech architecture: Short but rewarding course to glamorous architecture of Prague. After this course you look Prague through different eyes. One lesson and one walk and exam, 3 ECTS.

School of Informatics, Malostranske Namesti

Drama teaching: We played some games few times. Nice counterbalance to studying but very few things were new. Many lessons were cancelled. The teacher was nice and spoke English well. 3-5 playing hours, 6 ECTS.

Practical module: Visits to schools, one where we even got in action. Very rewarding visits, although some were without context. Seven all morning visits and probably voluntarily essay, 8 ECTS.

What is striking is the amount of credits. Bread and Circus. One can make following calculation from previous numbers. Normal lesson lasted about 1.5 hours and there were 29 of them and seven 3.5 hours visits, the conclusion is 68 hours. Essays took about two evenings, which is about 12 hours, so we did altogether about 80 hours of work for 29 credits.

Thus we worked 2.8 hours per each ECTS credits – not bad. And 29 ECTS is about 20 Finnish credits. So for every Finnish credit we made about 4 hours of work, which is pretty good, as in Finland we have to work 40 hours for each credit, so it took only about one tenth for us. We really should have come here to study our Masters degree. With this pattern we would have gotten our Masters degree in about 27 days, if we had not slept at all.