Author: Andrius Toločka
Dear colleagues, I`m Andrius – geography bachelor student from Lithuania. When I started looking for a place for my first Erasmus in 2017, Ostrava became an entirely random choice. Our Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences had a bilateral agreement with University of Ostrava, some students came back from that place with good experience, so it was very simple and fast decision to write OSU as a first priority in the application form… And now I am finishing here my studies! How did this happen? Sometimes even I don`t know. This is my second year in this city of mining, metallurgy and railways, now I feel here like at home. In fact, I spent ½ of my studies in OSU. This time is one of the most interesting periods of life with new academic challenges, communication, daily routine.
Firstly, of course, we should talk about the main reason why we are here – studies. In Ostrava university people can choose courses they want to learn during semester. This is very very good, because you can create your own programme, usually it is impossible in the standard studies. Most lecturers here speak English very well, and it really helps to improve personal language skills. Moreover they usually speak in more than one language, so it is always possible to find common language. Organization of courses and examinations here is quite good comparing to my home university, but I see some major problems here. It is permanent timetable conflict. Every time I had to remove some courses from my learning agreement because they were taught at the time, although some of them were even recommended to study together. Of course if we want to have liberal education system, we always will face with this problem. Generally, here we have quite strong research basis and professors often publish their scientific articles. It is important because people are not only educators but work with real science too. I need to mention that this experience is only from Faculty of Science, I don`t know if it is the same at other faculties.
Erasmus is created by people, so now about them. The first person, who I met thanks to this project, is my good friend from Lithuania – Tauras. Both of us studied geography, lived in one dormitory in Lithuania but actually I knew him only when we arrived to Ostrava. We had the best trips together to very unusual and interesting places. He helped me explore this country. I must mention our faculty coordinator Mr. Lukas, without the fact that he is one of the most professional lecturers and also always helps us with horrible documentation procedures. Very big thanks to him that I was able to extend my Erasmus for the second time! There are many people, who made every semester unique, but the saddest thing is that at the end of each semester we had to say goodbye to most of them forever. All friends promise to meet, travel to our home country, but the real life and the lack of free time do not allow it usually… Let`s answer to some ESN questions:
What is different here in comparison to your country? Actually, Czechia and Lithuania have a lot of common features, but the main differences are in the nature. This country has much more natural resources and that is the reason why life style here is a bit different. People work in mining, metallurgy, machinery construction, mountain tourism field. In Lithuania most of people work in the service sector. The laws here are less restrictive, and the people themselves are much more open, liberal.
Will you visit our country in the future, after you’re done studying? Yes, because still there are many places I want to see in Czechia, and if it will be possible I would like to do my Master or Ph.D. here.
Were you afraid when you stepped out of a train? First impression was unusual, I felt that strange smell from factories at Hlavní Nádraží. The landscape of Mexiko and Muglinov districts was doubtful during first trip by trolley to dormitory, but only after few hours I understood that this city is interesting and colorful in all ways.
What complications did you have to overcome here? Actually travel from my home city – Kaunas to Ostrava is simple and relatively cheap, only one change in capital of Poland. We didn`t have big problems, but first time when we went from Warszawa to Ostrava we missed the bus, only because we didn’t find the exact stop. Now I am thinking that it is really stupid, we could just check info in the internet. Strange that all the people who we met were claiming that we are standing at the right stop.
Would you recommend Erasmus and Ostrava for coursemates? No, because colleagues from my course are boring persons who love to sit in one place and do nothing. If they would go anywhere, including Ostrava, they would be unhappy here. Okay, I am joking, but really – I miss their motivation to travel, which is necessary for geographers.
Is it difficult for you to study in a different country? It very depends from specialty, but in my case studies were not so difficult.
What is the most beautiful place in Czechia in your opinion? Natural place: Jeseníky Mountains; Antropogenic place: Vyšehrad in Praha
What other places have you visited in Czechia? I can recommend some places around Ostrava. If someone likes nature and non-touristic directions it should be useful. Zálučí and surroundings (especially in winter), Palkovické hůrky, Orlova mining places and Sovinec tericon, Cziesyn, Štramberk, Vápencový lom v lese (Brno), Národný park Veľká Fatra (Slovakia), Hałda Szarlota (Poland)… We understood that usually all the best places are without links and signs, so you have to explore your own way to it.
What is your favorite brand of beer? Velkopopovický Kozel Černý!!!
What is your favorite pub in Ostrava? I can`t choose only one, because Vrtule in VŠB, Desperado and Ačko are equally important. They are real traditional places.
In summary, I could say that it is a successful Erasmus. It can always be better, but now most aspects of life here really good.