My Olomouc Experience
To participate in the double degree in the 6th biggest city of the Czech Republic, Olomouc, was surely one of the best decisions I took during my Masters. Not only is Olomouc a great and affordable city for students, but it also offers numerous high-quality courses at the Palacky University, the 2nd oldest university in the country. Also, I was satisfied with the overall support I got from Salzburg as well as from the Olomouc side.
In comparison to Salzburg, Olomouc can boast about much more affordable housing (especially after getting the housing subsidy from the university), cheaper food and beer as well as less expensive cultural and leisure activities. Moreover, it constitutes a practical starting point for various trips by train, bus or car to many destinations all around Central Europe. One can easily organise a one-day trip to Prague (reachable within two hours by train) and Krakow or a weekend in Slovakia, Vienna or Budapest. Students in Czech Republic can automatically use all public trains and buses with a 75 % discount (!), which in practice means that you can cross the entire country for couple of Euros. Even Salzburg is easily reachable by train or bus from Olomouc.
Concerning the city itself, Olomouc is very student-friendly and it offers awesome atmosphere, beautiful hills nearby, great variety of student pubs, restaurants and clubs, many Erasmus and ESN events and shops that are, unlike in Salzburg, open even after 8 pm and on Sundays!
Speaking about the university (that is the actual reason why you all plan to go to Olomouc right?) – one should not miss the orientation week, which usually takes place in the first week of February. Furthermore, I would highly recommend to take free Czech language courses. Even though Czech does definitely not belong to the easiest languages at all, you will find it very useful to speak at least the basics of it once you leave the university since, honestly speaking, most Czechs do not really speak any foreign language. With regard to that, you should also consider taking Czech language courses already at the University of Salzburg during the winter term before your semester in Olomouc.
The study program at the Palacky University is generally not as EU-law focused as in Salzburg, so you will also gain new knowledge about international law and issues specifically related to Czech Republic and its political system. Besides that, I especially liked the course ‘Comparative Administrative Law’ that analyses various legal issues from the environmental perspective. Throughout the whole semester, one can profit from a very friendly support offered by Prof. Malacka, who coordinates the double degree program.
All in all, the double degree in Olomouc was an amazing experience, which I would repeat without any hesitation. Be prepared for lots of fun, travelling, partying and, of course, some studying in a pleasant university environment in one of the most beautiful and liveable cities in Czech Republic. Ahoj!
Olomouc report or: Why you should do your Double Degree in Olomouc
by Johanna, Bartosz and Elisabeth
Olomouc & Czech Republic
Czech Republic – is a land-locked country in the heart of Central Europe, neighbouring with Poland, Germany, Austria and Slovakia. The capital city of the Czech Republic is the two-million city of Prague. Other major cities are Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Plzen, Hradec Kralove, Liberec, Pardubice, and Olomouc. The Czech Republic consists of three historical regions: in the west Bohemia, in the east Moravia and in the North-East Silesia. Those three different regions compose an interesting and culturally diverse country, with a long, rich and impressive history. 1989 the Czech Republic underwent velvet revolution transforming itself from a communist state to a liberal democracy. Since 2004 it is a Member State of the European Union. The country is full of contradictions, on the one hand the post-communist after-effects are visible in the country – especially in Moravia – on the other hand the Habsburg monarchy is visible in many monuments and especially in Moravia there are many religious monuments and glorious cathedrals. This special mix makes Czech Republic, and especially the Olomouc region, that is a seat of Archdiocese of Olomouc and intriguing and magical place, with many nice places to discover. Olomouc is located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, in historical Moravia region on the crossroads to Slovakia, Poland and Austria. The city of Olomouc is quite small with about 100,000 inhabitants. However, since almost a third is students, the city is lively and full of events (unfortunately mostly in Czech).
Pros & cons:
As the city is not extremely bis, after some months, Olomouc can become a bit boring (especially if you stay longer than the semester lasts), therefore you should definitely travel around and discover other places in the region. Travelling is extremely cheap throughout the Czech Republic. As the public transport network is a relic of the communism, it is very wide, in time and extensive.
The “student dorm v own flat/room” causa: Finding a place to live was a little difficult. There is the possibility to move into one of the student residences directly at the campus, but normally for foreign students, there are mostly 3-bed rooms. The other option is to find another accommodation via facebook, Airbnb or other websites. If you don’t live in a hall of residence, you can get a housing subsidy from the university, which amounts around 50 euros. If you want to make a lot of contacts and play games or party in the common room every evening, you should move into one of the dormitories, because that’s where the whole Erasmus life takes place.
Travelling: Transportation companies in Czech Republic like Ceske Drahy (Czech Railways), Leoexpress, Flixbus, RegioJet offer special discounts (up to 50%) for students below 26 y/o. I would strongly recommend applying for an ISIC card. This will cover all train and bus journeys in the Czech Republic 75% cheaper. This means that you can then travel for travel to Prague for 60 czk (2,30€). Next to that, public transportation operators also provide significant discounts for the students below 26 y/o, especially if you purchase the quarter-year or semester-ticket.
Not everybody (especially older people in restaurants, museums or shops) speaks English in Olomouc (some do speak German, so if you speak German in public – be aware of that). Therefore, it makes absolutely sense to do a Czech course in advance at the Uni Salzburg. The teachers are super nice, and SCEUS students are always welcome.
University, Magistr Programme & Courses
The Palacky University is one of the oldest and most prestigious Universities in the Czech Republic. It is no Campus Uni, so you will find different Institutes, classrooms and University Buildings everywhere in the City. The library is quite in the centre of Olomouc, and a nice café is right next to it. You will study at the Faculty of Law, which is one of the bigger faculties and two buildings, which were partly renovated only a year ago. In order to fulfil the criteria for the Double Degree Programme five courses need to be passed: The Political System of the Czech Republic, Comparison of Constitutional law, International Environmental Law, International Public Law and The Law of International Organisation.
- The political System of the Czech Republic: In this course an overview about the Czech History and its political system is given. The professor demands an active debate in his seminar and gives a lot of information about the various topics. In the oral exam it is sufficient to study the PowerPoint slides in depth, which he will send you after the lectures.
- Comparison of Constitutional Law: This course takes place only a few times in the semester. Prof. Tomoszek gives this lecture only for the Salzburg students. He hands out some reading material for the various lectures, which will be discussed in depth, and therefore need to be read. There is no exam, but a presentation about the own national constitutions and a paper must be written.
- International Enviromental Law: This seminar deals with the Aarhus Convention. The professor shows how to solve cases in the context of this Convention. In the exam exactly this is the task: to solve a case. Furthermore, an active participation is required to pass the seminar.
- International Public Law: Malacka holds this seminar, and for him it is most important to participate in his course. If the participation during the seminar is sufficient, no exam or paper needs to be written. Otherwise, an oral exam needs to be passe.
- The Law of International Organisation: This seminar deals with several international organisations, such as the OSCE, UN or Red Cross. Prof Faix hands out a small booklet in the beginning of the semester, which needs to be study in depth in order to pass the exam. Additionally, a presentation about an International Organisation needs to be held.
Pros & cons:
The courses are all very interesting, and the most professors are super nice. Often, the courses are only attended by Erasmus Students, sometimes you also have courses with locals – both is great. Achieving good grades is not particularly difficult and the requirements were a bit lower than in Salzburg. The universities maintain a very good exchange, which influences the course structure. The University also sometimes has nice festivals and offers its student also some trips to cities or other nice places in the Czech Republic (approved & recommended!). The planning went very smoothly due to the very strict schedules of the partner universities. The coordinators in in Salzburg and Olomouc are very well prepared and experienced in the very bureaucratic process that a double degree programme entails. Through my personal application for Erasmus funding, I also had to deal with the International Offices at both universities. Ms Hamdanieh speaks very good English, and communication with her was always easy, quick and with satisfactory answers.
Just for your notice: The mensa of the university is sometimes good, sometimes it isn’t. But what could also be very interesting, is that you can also eat in the Mensa in the evening. The system works really well: there is an app and a portal where you can pre-order a dish.
Be aware that the University needs a Bachelor certificate in order to get you enrolled to their master’s programme. This certificate needs to be in English or a certified translation of the original certificate.
Attendance is very important at Palacky-Uni and you sometimes can even get points for attendance, so try to never to be absent. In the beginning, you can check out as many courses as you want, so that you are able to decide later which ones you would like to take. Unfortunately, this is only possible to a limited time, so be aware of that.
Olomouc is an incredibly beautiful city with many bars, restaurants and a very good theatre. Especially the musical events, from classical Dvorak concerts to Beatles evenings, are really good events. Moreover, almost every weekend, Olomouc offers festivals – from folklore to zero waste and from local breweries selling their beer to wine festivals – at the main square (Horní náměstí). In general, everything is within walking distance, as the old town makes up the city centre and is where all the life happens. The old town is surrounded by two parks, there is also a mini golf and a botanical garden – both worth seeing.
Behind the biggest and also kind of main road, there is a super nice parc, where you can chill, study, inline skate or ride your bike. Right next to that park, santovka, the shopping centre with a big cineplex (has also English films) is situated. There is one of the bigger supermarkets and many fashion shops as well. But the city centre and the old town are much more beautiful! There are also many independent shops from locals, cool cafés (list is to be found under hacks) and many student-alike-bars. And generally, as Olomouc is a Czech student city, almost every restaurant, every bar and café are kind of hipstery, studenty, independent places, where you can study (wifi everywhere, it’s insane), eat, have different drinks throughout the day and into the evening. There is always something new to discover, always some new places that just opened and everybody is happy to sell you a cold beer.
Question point bars and clubs: there are some clubs – you will get to know them in your first weeks; they are nothing too special, but rather comparable to the clubs you can find in Salzburg. The Erasmus community in Olomouc is quite large and the and the ESN members are very involved. There is at least one party every week, Events such as pub quizzes, language exchanges etc. take place every week. ESN also has a buddy programme, but the buddies are usually responsible for several students and are only really involved for the first few weeks. But for participation is nevertheless recommended for getting used to the programme. In general, doing Erasmus and participating at some events will automatically make you get new friends as everyone is super open.
Try to visit the museums that are in the old town. There is a super nice art gallery and the churches (especially the cathedral Katedrála svatého Václava is impressive and by the way the highest in Moravia).
Pros & cons:
Absolutely NO CONS about the city and the every-day life there. Almost two years later we would all want to go back to this easy, chill and inspiring time. Maybe watch out with the lunch offerings in the restaurants: They are often very cheap (about 4€ for a burger and an ice tea) and really really big, so maybe consider not to opt for such a lunch deal before a class.
Hack: Olomouc also invites you to travel, which is due to its special location and the cheap tickets. Brno, Ostrava, Prague, Krakow and Ausschwitz are also worth a visit. All of these destinations are only 1-2 hours away and are all worth seeing for worth visiting for different reasons.
Best restaurants, cafés, bars:
- Traditional Czech: hánácka hospoda, drapal,
- Fancy (but still affordable): long story short, new one, trouble café, codo-vietnamese
- Fast & lunch: spagetarna, sophies, konvikt, café jak lusk,
- Party: zkouska, letni kino, Vertigo, varna, irish pub
All in all, we would recommend anyone to give the Czech Republic and Moravia in particular a chance. The region is beautiful, bursting with history, life is affordable, the Czechs are super nice and also interested in sharing their perspective regarding the European Integration, you will have an inspiring time with cool professors, you will write papers about topics that you really care about, you will make new friends and you will – I swear you will – fall in love with this at first sight inconspicuous but at second sight unbelievably cool city, which you can then forever call your home.