Studying in a smaller city as a foreign student

Seakling Duong
Seakling Duong
Student community
12 May 2021

For many people, living or studying in a bigger or in a capital city seems to be more fascinating due to the enriching city atmosphere and its variety of shopping options and other opportunities. However, in this blog, I am sharing my personal experience on how it is like to study as a foreign student in a smaller city. In 2017, I studied the Czech language in a small town of Poděbrady (33.7km2) and from 2018 onward, I have been studying at the University of Hradec Králové in Hradec Králové city (106km2). After these four years, I have to admit that I love every part of both cities.

So, what exactly are the benefits of staying in a smaller town or city?

  1. More friendly environment for academics: With less busy traffic, fewer people (fewer tourists compared to the capital city), less noise, less pollution, and more nature, life indeed gets much easier with fewer distractions. My dormitory (Palachova dormitory) is around 15mins (by bus) far from the city centre. Behind the dorm buildings, there are roads to a hill and further lead to another part of the city. In every season, except for the winter, the trees change their colours from green to pink and white while the flowers are blooming, and to yellow as their leaves fall in autumn. My studying atmosphere and surroundings have always been so lively and lovely. For students who prefer a calm and peaceful environment for studying, a smaller city sure is an excellent choice.

  1. Immersing in local life and cultures: I usually go biking on the weekend, exploring new places in the further parts of the city. I would ride along some small roads in between the forests, the rivers, or the green and yellow flower fields and sometimes into villages where there are many small houses and the elders working in their gardens. People smile as they see me ride across. Back in 2017 when I was in Poděbrady, I get to know a Czech family, who live across the street. From times to times, they invited me for a dessert, introduced me to their traditions, and even taught me the Czech language. In summer, we went biking together. These pictures of a typical life here have brought me closer to the city and the country itself. I get to experience how the locals live while improving my language skill and connections with them. The closer I get to them, the more I feel like home.

  1. Lower expenses: I believe that as a student, one of the main things we consider when moving abroad is the living cost. Living in a smaller city is often more affordable while you also have chances to try homemade and authentic products.

Everyone has their own preferences. While people like me find living in a smaller city interesting, others may find it boring. If you are a foreigner living in a small city, and you want to work during your studies, keep in mind that almost every job requires you to speak the Czech language. It may be hard to find, for example, an English-speaking job. Communication with the locals is usually also in the Czech language. Moreover, there could be also fewer shopping options if you are looking for something really specific. For example, whenever I happen to be in Prague, I usually also go for some Asian ingredients shopping J, which I cannot find in my city.

To sum up, both choices come with pros and cons to consider. So, will you study in a big or a small city? You tell me J!