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Students' life

Natalia Gonta, Miss VSE finalist, talks about beauty contests, studies at VSE and Czech sense of humour

Natalia Gonta, a GoStudy graduate, is one of the smartest students at the University of Economics, known in Czech as VSE. After completing a course with GoStudy, Natasha became a student at VSE Faculty of Management in the Czech town of Jindřichův Hradec. A year later she decided to move to Prague to study at the Faculty of Entrepreneurship.

At the beginning of her studies in Prague, Natasha took part in the Miss VSE contest and made it to the final. Natasha told our blog readers about the competition, which gave her the opportunity to complete a professional internship abroad and enhanced her study experience at VSE.

Okay, I’ll take a chance, I’ll move

As the process of getting a visa in Kazakhstan is very complicated, I joined the course in December instead of October. I had a chance to learn Czech for 5 months. To begin with, I was going to study law, but for various reasons, including SCIO tests and my insufficient knowledge of Czech at that time, it was not possible.

I received an offer from VSE Faculty of Management. When I applied, I did not realise that this faculty was not in Prague, but in a different town called Jindrichuv Hradec.

I went there to sit the entrance exams. I really liked the university and how they treat their students there. I thought that I will take a chance and move.

When I left, the whole city knew me

As a result, I spent a whole year in Jindrichuv. By the time I was leaving, everyone in town knew me. It is a very small place with a lot of students. Everyone knows each other, everyone helps each other. Professors know you personally. You walk around and everyone asks: Ahoj Natalko, jak se máš?

Town life was not for me. There was not much to do. The choices were pretty limited. Imagine always knowing what you will do that day. For example, there was a party in the same place every Tuesday.

I wrote a letter to the Dean with a request to transfer to Prague, but he told me that transfers between the faculties are not possible. However, they could make an exception for me. I had to submit an application (although the deadline by that time had already passed) and re-enrol. I sat all my course exams quickly and came to enrol in Prague. I passed my entrance exams.

I would do it all again

I enrolled in a course of Company Economics and Management at the Faculty of Company Economics. I just moved to Prague and the girls next door told me about Miss VSE contest. I went to have a look. I met Elizaveta, a Russian girl who became the first Vice-Miss of VSE last year. I thought that if she did it last year, then I can do it too. I learned that the contest was open to foreign students so I didn’t hesitate to sign up. I was told that the casting was taking place in the Zizkov Television Tower. I had never been there before and always wanted to go. I was killing two birds with one stone!

A total of 100 participants came to the casting, we all got to know each other pretty quickly. Everyone was very friendly. Each participant received tickets to the concert of a Czech band.

I came home after the casting, and about 20 minutes later I got a call to say that I was in the final. I was invited to pick a dress. There were five finalists in total. They took us to the showroom where we chose our dresses. We laughed so much, it was such good fun. I would do it every day if I could. They did our hair and makeup and took photos against the backdrop of Prague.

The most important thing for me was the opportunity of an internship abroad

Miss VSE is selected by judges of 15-20 people, including Monika Leova, Miss Czech Republic, the former Miss VSE, the Vice-Miss VSE, and the sponsors. The main prize was an exclusive use of a FIAT car for six months.

But the most important thing for me was the opportunity of an internship abroad. Last year, Miss VSE and Vice-Miss VSE went to Brussels for their internship. It is really important for me to get such experience while studying, to be able to work abroad, to improve my English.

Something is always happening at VSE

We always have someone new visiting with interesting lectures, plenty of additional courses are always on offer. I don’t even have time to keep track of everything. For example, I have just signed up for the Communication Skills course. I’m keen on psychology and I’m interested in this course. The teacher provides us with real life examples and is keen to share his knowledge.

VSE is also hosting the VSE Talent Search competition, but I probably won’t have enough time to take part! In her spare time Natalia teaches Russian to Czech children. Work and study take a lot of time. But in general, I really like that you can make your own schedule at Czech universities. So if you want to earn extra money or do sports, you have enough time for everything. And the university has everything you need to study.

Teachers are practitioners

Teachers share a lot of their practical experiences with us. They would say, “When I worked in England, there was such and such case, we solved it this way”. My favourite subject is entrepreneurship for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s not the teacher who teaches classes there, but us, the students. We prepare presentations, give examples of potential critical situations in companies and present the possible solutions. The aim is to make a plan and present it to everyone.

We always have tea, coffee, various tasty things in the classroom. The atmosphere is informal, but at the same time, it is the students themselves who mark each other’s work. Absolutely everything is taken into account: the way you look, whether or not your presentation is interesting, whether or not your classmates were able to learn something new, whether or not your examples were informative enough, and whether or not any of it has any use in the future. What is more, you have two make two presentations, one in Czech, and another one in English. Our teacher always says that you cannot do anything without English these days. All our teachers are constantly pushing us to improve, to go further, to learn new languages.

It was easy for me to integrate

It was not that difficult for me to integrate into the Czech society. Of course, it is hard to find friends among the Czechs. I didn’t really know where to find them, and there was also the language barrier as I was afraid to say something wrong or with an accent. But then you tell yourself that you need to overcome this and you just do it.

I am so grateful to my teachers, Mrs. Katerina and Mrs. Joanna, for teaching us not only how to write, but also how to speak the Czech language. In most cases when you speak Czech, the locals can easily hear that you are not from here. But it doesn’t really matter.

I think that the Czechs just pretend to be cold and uninterested, they are similar to us in many ways. The only thing left to get used to now is the Czech sense of humour. I do not always get it. It is quite different from ours.

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Alina Baeva 18 February 2021