After arriving back in Brno from Prague, a lot of us took the opportunity to relax and unwind. We then began our normal routine on the Monday with class starting at 9:30am. After class and lunch (of course), we all settled down in cafes or our apartments with the intention of studying for the upcoming test on Tuesday morning. Dinner that night was quiet with us all grabbing something close by, after inhaling our brain food, we once again settled down in order to study a little bit further.
Our test began at 9:30am on the Tuesday morning. Tensions were high and after finishing, relief set in and our normal class began. That afternoon we visited the Supreme Administrative Court where one of our lecturers, Pavel, sits as a judge. After giving us the grand tour and introducing us to the concept of ‘career judges’, we said our goodbyes with plans to catch up during our goodbye dinner. To celebrate our short 30mins test we were given the chance to choose between either going swing dancing at a super close by restaurant or to battle it out over foosball tables. I was in the group that headed to the foosball place, which is super hidden and is literally a room with 5 foosball tables and a bunch of booths. We have noticed the Czech are very quiet people and us Aussies make a large impression wherever we go, merely for the fact that there are a lot of us and we are loud. After making a ruckus and enjoying each other’s company we headed back home for a good night sleep.
Wednesday went along as per normal, with the afternoon concluding with a visit to the Constitutional Court with an intriguing tour by Ladislav Vyhnanek, another one of our lecturers. Afterwards, to our pleasure the team organised for us to have complete access to a skating rink for an hour. After much laughter and a couple of falls and impressive moves from a couple of us, we each went onwards to explore Brno and locate places for dinner.
After class of Thursday, there was a workshop with Amnesty International. During the workshop we were introduced to the ‘Living Library’, which consists of real time interactions with select individuals, the ‘Human Books’, who discussed themselves and their extraordinary life stories. The project is specifically designed to inform students about migration, discrimination and prejudice issues that are happening and the truth about such issues. The open dialogue that was experienced between the individual and the group was every real, raw and eye-opening.
Friday morning meant that it was time to explore Europe again. This weekend we headed out of the Czech Republic and over to Budapest in Hungary. Shortly after getting into Budapest, we arrived at the United Nation Refugee Agency, the Central Europe Regional Office. Here we were walked through the aim of the regional agency in general and also the work being done all around Europe by the UN Refugee Agencies. After a checking in at the Wombats Hostel and lunch, we visited the European Roma Rights Centre. During the insightful workshop, the history, past and current issues of the Roma population were explained to us.
That night the majority of us indulged in a 3-course meal and the celebration of a birthday and afterwards we headed off to the Rudas Baths. If Budapest were to be known for anything, it would be for its thermals baths. The temperatures in the baths ranged from 26 degrees up to 42 degrees, and many of us embraced the opportunity to sit in the open roof top thermal bath, which was heated to 36 degrees from here, there was an undisturbed view of Budapest. We spent a few hours here, and did not return to the hostel until after midnight.
The following morning, Martin, the program coordinator of our program and history buff, kindly offered to take us for a walking tour of Budapest. During this tour he enlightened us all with the history of Budapest and Hungary. He also organised a tour of the Parliament that ended at the Holocaust Memorial. Our weekend concluded with free time with many of us choosing to visit the largest Synagogue in Europe.