OSTRAVA!!!, screams nearly every piece of merchandise you can get in the city. Honestly? A big mood. I want to go out and start screaming at the top of my lungs, yell out the name into the world – and I’m known to have an extremely loud voice. And nice hair. And an easy-to-remember face. And a lot of other things, not always nice.
Author: Adrian Olejniczak
Whenever somebody calls the Erasmus+ exchange an experience, all I can think is that one TV series which tackled the so-called “immersive experiences” in theatrical plays. Where you don’t know what to expect and whom to expect it from because the person sitting in the audience right next to you may just be a part of that immersion. And it is what the exchange is. I’m the star of the night and people around me are either the supporting actors or the immersive members of the audience. The regular audience are made of family and friends – the people I left behind for the time being. Being the main character I only realize that I missed every rehearsal. That I missed 20 years of living in Czechia, the 20 years I need to experience in just a few months. And everyone around me has some cathing up to do. We’re all just losing ourselves in this new world.
OSTRAVA!!!, again, and I’m imagining a flash mob with thousands of (mostly) Czech people screaming. I hear them all, I am one of them, I love all of them. They’re awesome – they don’t judge others, they mind their own business and nobody really cares about your background. What’s important is now. Also, how gay positive everybody seems to be. That’s what got me the most. Thinking about everything I realize that there are no love songs about cities. The only one that comes to my mind is “Varsovie” by a great Polish singer Brodka. And sure, the title means Warsaw but it is just representative. “I fell in love with a city”, she sings and there is nothing gayer than being in love with a city. “I could cheat on you with every city but they all make love just the same”, she later says and it is what it is. No need to explain that.
Why I love the city so much, though? Because it’s clean. I adore Czechs for being so polite and not turning the place into a total mess. Because it’s gay positive. There is just always a gay thing, everywhere, everytime. And a lot of gay bars, I hear. Because it never sleeps. Some basics say that about NYC or LA or some other American dump. But this city is an ongoing, beautiful party. Because I feel free. I can go out and be myself. And I never worry about a thing, because I made this city mine and the city made me hers (hers cause, you know, every city is kind of like a person and not a thing). Also, you cannot get fined for drinking beer in public places! Something I, unfortunately, have an experience with. What happens in Ostrava stays in Ostrava. Yet another slogan you can get on some merch. That, for me, is more of an Erasmus thing. I want to tell everyone about the wonders of the city, perhaps make some of them jealous. Especially those I have beef with. But whatever happens to me while I’m with other Erasmus people or at an ESN-organised event is just my business. Mine and the city’s. And she can keep a secret well.
How much I got to experience love, hate, heartbreak and whatnot. The food. The food. The food. My all-time favourite – smažený sýr. I love cheese, I always have and it was the most exciting thing I looked forward to, no doubt. The sandwiches from Crocodile or whatever the company is called – how do you put chicken nuggets in a sandwich??? I love you guys, honestly. Kofola – I mean, Pepsi who? I don’t know her. I feel really sorry for other people who’ve never tried Kofola. And for all Erasmus people who will go back home to the other side of the world and not have a chance for more Kofola. (After all, I live less than 10km from the Czech border, yasss hunty!) Birell – what proper iced green tea should taste like. Not too much sugar, just the tea. And THAT is the tea. One thing I am critical of is the lack of flavoured beer. As if I’m capable of enjoying the bitter taste of regular beer. And yogurt – how can you not have normal yogurt? I’m not risking it with the weird whatevers. Also, meat is of lower quality and higher price than I’ve come to know but that I can forgive. I’m still a McDonald’s chicken nuggets addict. And coffee, proper coffee, not that 3in1 mess but the actual ground coffee. It is just terrible. Everyone always tells me how 3 spoons of ground coffee for a mug is too much and I need to use 5 spoons of coffee bought in Czechia for it to even taste like coffee. Disgusting. It should be illegal to sell such a mess and call it coffee. It’s Britney, bitch!, says the queen of the gays, Britney Spears, on “Gimme More”. Again, a big mood. I’ve always been a confident person but never have I ever been so cocky. I slay and I know it. And Ostrava knows it. We’re BFFs already, I am sure of that. I walk around like I own the place. Okay, like I rent it, actually. I’m a millennial, after all, and I can’t afford anything. Too busy buying avocados.
There is so much more I would talk about. But these are things beyond my imagination, too big to be put into words. All I have to say is: THANK YOU. To my university in Poland and Ostravská for choosing me for the exchange. ESN crew for the amazing events, cool merch and help, if needed. Every Erasmus person I spent time with for being one of the very few people to treat me with kindness. OSTRAVA!!! for being the most amazing city and friend and the love of my life. Czech Republic for just being the country that makes it all happen. Friends and family for supporting me. I thank myself for having the courage to do this. Lastly, I thank the universe for giving me this amazing life. For the person I am, for the talents you gave me. For making me this rainbow bad bitch capable of helping others. For gifting me with such empathy and sensitivity. I can’t wait to see what you have prepared for me. See you in the next life. I love you always.