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Cheng-Wei Lee (20) is attending Summer School of Czech language in Brno, second largest city in Czech Republic. How come Taiwanese student decided to learn Czech, how he likes Brno and why he doesn’t go drink beer with schoolmates? You can read more in this interview. As a bonus, you can watch video interview conducted with him in Czech language.
Cheng-Wei, having competed first two weeks of intensive Czech language class, are you still alive?
Yes, I am alive! Not always I understand what the teacher is staying, but I like the class. Compared the other schoolmates, my grammar is better but I know much less vocabulary then them. You know in my courses Taiwan, we do not practice the conversation enough.
How does your normal day in Brno look like?
I have Czech class in the morning (usually from 9 am to 1 pm), in the afternoon I visit the city. In the evening I do the homework – the teachers make us really busy! Nevertheless, other students usually go to have party and drink beer all the night. That’s nothing for me, I don’t really like the beer.
Wait, you don’t like the Czech beer or beer in general?
Almost any beer. The taste of beer is somehow disgusting for me. I prefer the cocktail.
How come you decided to start learning such an uncommon language?
I study at the Department of Slavic languages, majoring in Russian. I really liked one of the teachers – Melissa- who turned out to be also teacher of Czech. So, when I had to choose the second language, it was clear what I will go for.
You study Czech since one year. What motivates you to continue?
Well, unfortunately there isn’t many opportunities to use Czech in Taiwan. Also, it is very, very difficult language. Nevertheless, I like Czech, especially the sound of it.
I liked the Freedom square, this pace really saved my life. For the first three days of my stay, I could not reach Internet (there is no connection in my dorms), so I would always come to that place and use the connection from McDonalds or such places around Freedom square. It helped me out to keep the connection with my Czech teacher Melissa and with my mother. Now I have Czech SIM card already, so I can connect from anywhere.
How much did you know about this city before you came?
There is not much information on Brno in Taiwanese guide books, so I didn’t even bring any map. Every day, I keep walking around and exploring the city and sometimes I get to talk with locals. The kindest person I met was some old grandmother. She started to talk with me in the church, complaining that there are no young people going to church. She asked me whether I was waiting for the Mass.
And were you….?
No (laughing). Actually I just wanted to relax, I was out to send postcards. That is the crazy thing we Taiwanese do abroad is –sending loots of postcards to family and friends. I have already send like 10 but I think I will send like 30 or 40 in total.
What is the biggest difference between Brno and Taipei where you study?
In Brno, the car do let the people to cross. That is something what would never happen in Taiwan. Also, there are no scooters in Brno. So, as the result, the streets in Brno are much safer. Also, Taipei is more a commercial city…and somehow a bit ugly. I like Brno more.
Do you plan to come back to Czech Republic in future?
If I have the choice, of course. I really love this place.
Bonus: Video interview with Cheng-Wei in Czech language