Çağrı BERMANT comes from Turkey, where he studied the English language teaching in Çanakkale 18 Mart University. He first came to Ostrava in 2018 as a second-year student to the Faculty of Education. Now he lectures to second grade students of English language teaching and works at the primary school “ZŠ generála Zdeňka Škarvady”. He is also an enthusiastic traveler, enjoys discovering new cultures, playing volleyball and is interested in sports events.

What made you decide to come to the Czech Republic for Erasmus for the very first time? 

When I applied for the Erasmus programme for the first time, I was looking for a place where I can travel to other places easily and since the Czech Republic is in the middle of Europe, its geographical position suited my wishes well. Not to mention that the Czech Republic has a lot of incredible stuff to offer such as culture, cities and natural beauty.

Can you tell us what makes the city so appealing to you, that you decided to return?

I think that Ostrava is a well-balanced city. If you know what you are looking for, you will always find it. Personally, I don’t like big crowded cities and Ostrava’s city centre and its population is acceptable for me. The city itself has a lot of shopping malls, cafes, pubs and parks which keep you busy and you never get bored. You can enjoy the nightlife, if you want, or you can simply enjoy the nature – there are hiking or green areas where I can just wander around. Plus, if you want something and you don’t have it here, you can travel easily to bigger cities. I think Ostrava is a great place to live in.

Did you encounter any major obstacles during your studies in Ostrava?

I can’t say that I did. I think I was a lucky person because my coordinator and lecturers in the faculty were exceptionally friendly and always willing to help. Therefore, I didn’t have any problems with my studies or the internship. In my social life, sometimes I struggle with communication with Czech people who do not speak English. Some are still willing to help with the body language, etc., and some just don’t want to deal with you at all. It is heartbreaking to see when someone really doesn’t want to be bothered with you, because when they do want to help you, we always work things out easily.

What kind of reception did you receive from your teachers and peers? 

I think that in my faculty my lecturers were exceptionally welcoming. When I was with them, they always welcomed me and made me feel like I was home. They tried their best to make us feel comfortable. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about my peers. Communicating with Czech students have always been hard, because their schedule is quite busy and they don’t have much time, so they are not interested in human relationships, especially with non-Czech speakers.

And how did you deal with the language barrier? Was there ever any misunderstanding? 

When I arrived to Ostrava for the first time, it was quite challenging, because the Czech language did not sound like any other language I had encountered with. But in time I learnt some daily words and phrases that I needed. Usually, I could get by easily just using some words such as “good morning, hello, thank you, please” and now, I don’t have any problems in my daily life. Sometimes, when we asked people for something, they replied in Czech and we were trying to say the same exact thing in English and everyone was just looking at each other and repeating and after a while, when we understood that we were talking about the same thing, we just started laughing and I quite enjoyed when it happened and things worked out.

What did you enjoy about studying at the University of Ostrava?

The things that I enjoyed the most were my coordinators and lecturers’ attitude towards their students. We always enjoyed their company and they always found a way to make everything more enjoyable and easier to cope with. Also, there were so many meetings, small events or excursions happening throughout the whole semester, so I didn’t feel like I was just overwhelmed with university work.

How is studying here different from studying in your country? 

The Turkish and Czech education systems are different and it effects the university. Here, the students only have finals but in Turkey, we have mid-terms and finals which makes everything more stressful. I think, studying in Turkey is quite troublesome. In the Czech Republic, I think that when students are done with their university tasks, they have more opportunities to enjoy their free time and socialize with other people and I think that it is really important.

Can you think of anything else that is different in the Czech Republic? Is it a difference for better or worse? 

It would be unfair to say better or worse, but of course, we have our own differences. I can say that people here are more relaxed and official works take more time and people in general, are a bit distant to others. On the other hand, being a student here is easier, especially in financial aspect.

How do you enjoy the student life in Ostrava?

I quite enjoy the student life here in Ostrava. Like I have mentioned earlier, we have a lot of events and it isn’t just about having lectures, so the student life is more enjoyable. Also, here as students we have a lot of discounts, we can travel easily and enjoy exploring other cities, countries and cultures.

Do you know other international students? 

I have met a lot of international students since I came to Ostrava in 2018 and I am still in contact with them. I talk with them on regular basis and now that I am back in Ostrava, we have been talking about the good times we spent all together as the Erasmus students.

Which places in the Czech Republic have you visited during your stay and how did you like them? And which are you still going to visit?

I have visited a lot of cities and small towns actually, but there are some that I really don’t remember the names of, but I do remember Prague, Olomouc, Brno, Karviná, Přerov, Český Těšín and Velké Karlovice. I often go to Prague because it is a magical place to visit. So far, every city or town that I visited had something to offer, so I can easily say that I am extremely pleased that I was able to visit all of them. If the Covid situation allows me, I would like to visit Karlovy Vary and České Budějovice.

Would you like to stay in Ostrava permanently?

Of course, I would like to stay in Ostrava permanently, all of my friends have been puzzled when I say I really enjoy being in Ostrava, because they are all complaining about Ostrava, being a small city, not having a lot of places to go and hang out, but I totally disagree. Personally, I don’t like big crowded cities so Ostrava really suits my requirements. It is a calm city with chill people in it.

Edited by Monika Šmídlová for OU@live