How are international medical students conquering Brno

Do you think that foreign students are just irresponsible party lovers who do not know what studying is? If so, you are terribly wrong. Ten people from Great Britain, Israel, Portugal and the USA, the board members of Masaryk International Medical Students Association (MIMSA), are constantly showing us that the aforementioned words are just prejudices.

Taking blood pressure at Majales Fair by MIMSA board member. Foto: MIMSA’s archive

Jonathan, Rita, Stuart, Margarida, Adriano, Veronika, Bhavin, Devangna, Cyrillo and Roye – come from different countries; yet, they have a common sense of humour, interesting roots and the fact that they all study  at the Faculty of Medicine at MU and make a good team for MIMSA. “The main goal is to make everything about the student’s life here better. It

The last event of the welcoming events was the Cocktail party at Hansen restaurant. Foto: MIMSA's archive

The last event of the welcoming events was the Cocktail party at Hansen restaurant. Foto: MIMSA’s archive

is difficult for international students to join sports or other events in Brno because they don’t speak Czech,” explains the president Jonathan Phillips. The proof that his words are not just words but rather successful work hidden behind them, is the given fact that the concept of MIMSA MU is being copied by other universities.

Educational activities contain plenty of sessions and seminars to complement and enhance the educational experience of students. The medical studies are one of the reasons why the educational events such as Anatomy Sessions and Clinical lectures are included in the vibrant program of MIMSA. There are also meetings where students explain how exams are formatted and how to orientate oneself in the faculty system. “We’re also supporting others during the exam period with notes and recommended textbooks. The aim is to make people feel comfortable in Brno and at the Faculty of Medicine,” a smiling Bhavin Doshi comments, as he is responsible for MIMSA education programing. As medical students they are not studying all the time, MIMSA offers its member’s activities such as parties, cultural and sporting events. The newest activity for the following semester being planned now is a snow trip.

Have you ever been to the party in one of the clubs in Brno? If so, you have probably heard songs played by a MIMSA DJ even if you have not been to one of their own parties. One of the most successful events to be held is a pub quiz and the annual MIMSA Cup, which is a wildly popular football tournament. “It’s not true that during MIMSA’s football tournament the teams are only male. Girls do not have to look at just guy’s legs only. We have our team as well,” says MIMSA Vice-President Rita Matos, in loud support of other girls who are present.

The tour round Anatomy department of Medical Faculty University Kampus. Foto: MIMSA's archive

The tour round Anatomy department of Medical Faculty University Kampus. Foto: MIMSA’s archive

According to the board the biggest problem of international students is the language barrier. “Imagine that you are in a foreign country and don’t speak even a word in its language and try to get to different places, it is really difficult,” saying Veronika Sykorova responsible for social agenda. This is one of the reasons why MIMSA is keeping the effort to integrate their members with Czechs. The language program and Monday’s Anatomy sessions starting in the beginning of March should help with this aim. “Sessions are mainly for foreigners but Czech students are interested as well, as they want to know the English terminology we are using” adds Devangna Bhatia who is responsible for education. In order to achieve acclimatization to the Czech society, cooperation with International Students Club MU and Spolek mediků exists as well as the IFMSA. It does not matter to which student’s society the student belongs, the memberships are mostly interchangeable.

Orientation week, the biggest event of the last year which was done for the first time officially by MIMSA; took place in September after the enrolling new students. MIMSA organized plenty of events starting with a Treasure hunt around the city, going bowling and a pool night, finishing with a cocktail party for the first year students. The welcoming barbeque was run by the University; the rest was organized by MIMSA. “The point of the week is to mix the newbies up. We did a really good job showing that international students can also organize something other  than party. The University was really impressed by us,” added Adriano Mendes who is responsible for social agenda as well.

Welcoming barbeque with the Vice-Deans and freshers. Foto: MIMSA's archive

Welcoming barbeque with the Vice-Deans and freshers. Foto: MIMSA’s archive

The organization started to work during 2007 and since then has grown a lot, connecting and representing the vast majority of foreign full-time medical students. The current number of members is around 400 made up of 31 different nationalities. MIMSA is not only an association which is trying to fill its member’s social calendar; it is a channel for communication between students and the Faculty and visa versa.

When I asked board members to describe MIMSA in five words they came up with these which I put to the sentence:  MIMSA is an awesome organization which supports education with fun. I can totally confirm that these people are like that. If you would like to find out more or join in with the events please refer to the official official website.

Anna Matušinová