Jana-Aletta Thiele from Germany, a postgraduate student of the Medical Faculty in Pilsen, Charles University.
When I made the decision to leave Germany and take on the challenge of starting my PhD in the Czech Republic, I did not know much about Charles University, Prague or the Czech Republic itself. My language skills were limited to my native language and English, but I was looking forward to the change.
Right from my first interview with Dr. Králíčková at the Institute of Histology & Embryology I knew that I would be taken care of. Everyone at the faculty was open, helpful and supportive, and I was offered a language course to enable a smooth transition and communication in the new university. As the first English-speaking PhD student in the medical faculty in Pilsen, I was expecting many challenges regarding classes, lectures and exams, but I was given great support by teachers, staff and my fellow students. My Czech classes started right away, ensuring that I found it easier to communicate every day while running errands. The exams I had to sit were translated into English to allow me to take part. Online tests and lectures were translated as well and the procedures I had to follow were described to me in person. All the staff I had to interact with, for example the people in human resources or student affairs, speak English. The same applies to all my colleagues, creating a relaxed, cosmopolitan working environment. The research facilities provided in the Biomedical Center in Pilsen are of the highest standard and I was impressed with the space, equipment and offices available. After working in German, American and Swedish laboratories, I have some experience, this Biomedical Center is providing the perfect working environment. I was assigned a pleasant office space in a room I share with only two colleagues, giving me a quiet, luxurious setting for study, reading, writing papers and planning experiments.
My original reason for joining the medical faculty in Pilsen was for a collaboration with a laboratory in Los Angeles (USA). This collaboration involves study in the field of cancer research, within a methodically specialized framework that is a perfect fit for my experience and interests. However, now that I have been studying in Pilsen for more than a year, I have realized that networks here and partners enable me to participate in new projects and maintain my work output. The close relationship with surgeons and oncologists in the neighboring hospital and social events with research groups from other Universities make collaboration easy and allow new projects and ideas to grow and flourish.
Everyday laboratory practice, including the use of equipment, ordering of supplies, growing of cell lines and receipt of clinical samples is well-organized and hassle-free. Additionally, I was offered advanced training in European training facilities right after starting; funding for travelling to and attending this course was provided.
Having been a PhD student of Charles University in Prague for nearly two years now, I can only say that I am really happy with my decision to come here. I would do it again without hesitation. Living in the Czech Republic is a great experience, with friendly people, beautiful cities full of history, amazing food, a variety of sports facilities and a countryside inviting you to hike, swim or go on a road trip around all the villages and cities. Learning the language definitely helps in everyday life and isn’t too hard when you practice at school and work. So “děkuji” for reading and hope to see you soon in Prague!