Moving to Czech Republic
Hey there! I'm moving to the czech republic to study medicine at the first faculty of medicine at charles university.
I am required to speak a level of czech where I'm able to communicate with patients at my 4th year, do you all think it is manageable as I'll be living in prague and do have czech classes at my university?
As a student at that faculty (in Czech), I can tell you this:
Your Czech classes are gonna be a joke, the teachers are not too good. And almost noone cares, noone studies Czech in the spare time, I have never met a single student from the English parallel actually speaking Czech with a patient. The faculty doesn't care, it doesn't even care too much about your medicine knowledge, the most important part is your money. The czech universities are so badly financed that the education of the czech students would be impossible without your money. Those foreigners, who really want to get the medical education, those learn Czech (there are very intensive immersive preparation programs organised by the university) and study with us. It is hard but they are awesome. I know natives of Spanish,Arabic, Russian, Moldavian, Albanian and other languages, who have learnt Czech to high level and fulfill all the requirements the czech students do. Very few students in the English parallel are actually good at the exams (but I have seen two such exceptions, so they exist) or with the patients and they get away with stuff we never could. A part of the issue with worse quality of teaching and lower expectations at the exams is the English level of a part of the teachers. Very intelligent and great people suddenly struggle to lecture in English. The oldest examiners usually happen to be the strictest and most of them can't speak English, so you won't get them. And so on.
So, that is probably good news for you. You don't have to learn it, just you and your teachers will pretend you'll have learnt it up to B1 and with the medical language.
If you actually want to learn Czech as part of your experience, it won't be easy for you. The English speaking students are almost completely separated from us, so there is very little natural mixing. It is like having two different faculties with one address. The Czech classes are not too good, from what I've heard, and you cannot learn a language just with the classes anyways. Neither your classmates nor your actual medicine studies will be too supportive of your language learning efforts. I have met some of the foreign students (and what is worse, I've met their erasmus classmates back in their home countries, who think the whole faculty is like the English parallel, it really damages our reputation), and they just expect everyone to switch language for them (but many of the patients are old people who cannot speak any English, and even many younger ones don't feel like speaking a foreign language while suffering). The very few Czech attempts I have seen lead nowhere. And I have heard from one nurse about a case of the foreign students harming a patient, because they were unable to understand a simple instruction.
You can do it, if you want to. If you do so, you will have my admiration, and you will certainly take from your studies much more than the others. A lot of stuff is far from great at our faculty (but most people paying for the English degree are not looking primarily for awesome education, I'd say, they are mostly people who couldn't study in their country either due to really low capacity of the universities or to their failure. And Prague being much cheaper than the real anglophone countries and universities is an important factor too), but you can learn a lot with enough self study and your own iniciative to learn something practical.
But in such a case, you will need much more than Duolingo. The Czech course is actually very well made, the team took their time and used it well, it is better than the courses for some of the large languages. But it is just the beginning. Dive into it, and later look for more ways to learn. It can certainly help you on your journey.
Sorry to crush the PR image of the faculty for you. But there are positive aspects to it. You can enjoy several years of studying (even though you will probably think you have it hard, because you'll have no way to compare your studies and ours), you will find great friends because the foreigners really stick together, as they are far from their families and original friends. You will get the degree, unless you really mess up. And with that degree, you'll get open doors everywhere (even though with various conditions depending on the country), because there is a global lack of doctors and you will have gained your education in English (while those of us studying in Czech and still able to do the job in a foreign language or two are rather rare). And Prague is a nice place for living.
Hey! Thankyou for this detailed reply, I originate from Pakistan and currently it isn't the best of places to study which is why I have chosen to pursue my degree in the CR, I believe I can improvise as a student and I hope I will be able to change the impression of the English language course. I love learning about different cultures and I'm already trilingual so I really hope I can immerse myself into the czech culture by learning the language and getting along with the locals.
It's good to hear that the degree is well recognized and I'm glad to meet someone who is in the same place as me.
Would love to keep in touch with you if you somehow can, is there any private message system on this website, please let me know
Yes, that is one of the better motivations to arrive. I wish you to enjoy your student life in Prague.
I am not sure you can change the "impression" of the English language course. You can definitely become a bright exception and I wish you to succeed. But this "impression" is something hundreds of people have been creating for years. It is not my impression, I have yet to meet anyone without this impression :-D Even though they won't usually tell you of course.
Sure, you can immerse yourself, but it won't be easy. You won't have time for lots of the usual immersion stuff. And you will get along with locals usually in English, I'm afraid. Unless you really go out of your way.
Learning before your arrival is an excellent decision!
The number one advice for anyone studying abroad (mostly student exchanges) tends to be getting rid of English as much as possible. And that's exactly what you cannot do, while studying medicine in English. But you can choose how to use the small amount of non English time you'll have.
I don't think there is any private messaging system. I'd like to keep in touch but you will have lots of other contacts soon anyways. Your new classmates and friends and your teachers will give you all the info you need to study at your faculty.
The degree is widely recognized, but you still need to fulfill other requirements to work in various countries, local exams, and sometimes more. One piece of advice: think well about where do you want to work. In which country. And prepare for their requirements and expectations while studying in Prague.
I will add that any Czech you learn before arrival in the event you do take an immersion 6 week course or similar they will place you in a course of your peers or czech learners of the same level as you... I am an english speaker and have taken the czech immersion course at charles university.
It is doable. Depends on your motivation and commitment though. Also, what do you expect of yourself? Saying a few sentences and then switching to English or being reasonably fluent? Do you want to practice medicine in Czechia or not? So many questions to ask yourself...
Don't expect the university to teach you everything. Look for other resources and teach yourself. Look for language tandem learning. Immerse yourself in the language and the environment.
And I'd suggest getting familiar with the langugage before your school year starts. Finishing this course might help.
Most probably, they expect getting the degree as the main goal and purpose of their stay. And that will be in English.
Obviously, they now expect to be able to take medical history and communicate during the physical examination with a patient in Czech (most patients won't be good at English) from the third year on. Not that long after starting their studies, the foreign students usually expect others to either speak English or not to hold their lack of Czech skills against them.
No, they most probably don't want to practice medicine in the Czech Republic. Most czechs are not thrilled about the idea either and a lot of doctors leave every year.
I wholeheartedly agree little can be expected from the university. There is actually one attempt by the faculty to organise language exchanges, but that is faaaaaaar from sufficient. Immersion is almost impossible for the students studying medicine in English in Prague. Few opportunities to mix with us, and majority of their time spent in classes taught in English, with their English speaking classmates, and their English textbooks. Immersion would be possible, but complicated.
Of course the OP can do it, if they really want. But it will require exceptional dedication.