I knew perfectly well that I would be here. The only thing I didn’t know was your name – Ostrava.
For the whole year, my dear professor at my „home university“ BGKU in Kyiv kept telling me, „Ira, it’s time to look for grants!“, „Ira, it’s time for you to fly somewhere,“ „Ira, come on, have you learned English yet?“
And I pondered and did not understand who is Ira? Although I did well at my university, there were many fears about the international exchange program. The biggest was the fear of the language barrier.
But when I saw that a competition had opened for the University of Ostrava, my desire beat my fear. I knew that sooner or later the standard of living I wanted would push me to challenge myself. And here it is! Gathering a few documents, getting a visa, one day on the bus – I’m here!
The more I immerse myself in the history of the Czech Republic, the more I am glad that my path of international learning began here. The Czech Republic and Ukraine have much in common in history and language. For example, when I forget a word in English – I say it in Ukrainian – my Czech friends understand me very well.
The Czech Republic is in the heart of Europe, and it is incredible for me that in about 5 hours from Ostrava you can get to Prague, Vienna, Warsaw, or Bratislava. The whole story is in front of you and in you.
Yes, we are similar. But at the same time Ostrava is very original and honourable. These symbols – „!!!“ that you see everywhere – are about the character of the locals. Yes, there is really tasty beer, unforgettable slivovice. Coca-Cola will not be poured into your rum here at the bar, but rather Kofola. Don’t forget to eat it all with fried cheese – extremely good! Yes, this is the Czech Republic. Yes, everything here is original.
The Czech Republic is in the heart of Europe, and it is incredible for me that in about 5 hours from Ostrava you can get to Prague, Vienna, Warsaw, or Bratislava. The whole story is in front of you and in you. The city of Ostrava itself is small for me compared to my Kyiv, and I am very happy to be able to walk to the University across the path with beautiful views. I feel protected here, wrapped in the Beskydy (which is also nearby), tied by the river Ostravice. My favorite tram here is number 8. It takes people from the Hlavní nádraží (teleport to all corners of the world), to the Poruba district, where VSB’s Vrtule night parties are so cool.
I am most in love, of course, with people. By concluding, „don’t hesitate to contact me“, the coordinator from our Faculty, Michaela, really helped me to be less afraid to contact people and ask questions. And in general, very much helped me to feel here „my“. I try to travel with my student friends. In Ostrava you do not have to download Tinder to meet Czechs! Seriously, the whole world has gathered here! My first match was with a guy from Portugal, as I did not try to meet the locals!
At a joint meeting with the teachers of our Faculty of Social Studies, one of the teachers appeared with her young child and the other with a dog. She just came with the dog to the auditorium and mystically left, saying: „It’s time for us to take a walk in the park.“ I thought, „it’s so friendly, it’s so simple and warm. In my home university it is still impossible.“
And I am grateful that right here in Ostrava, a small Czech town with theaters and hockey matches, scrap yards and a beautiful town hall, where the word „stop“ sounds like „zastávka“, I fell in love with Europe.
The Beskydy are forever the first mountains I have ever seen in my life. I was glad that the subjects to study can be chosen independently. My friends chose „History of the USA“ and even „Badminton“, and I liked „Introduction to Gender Studies“ because it is related to my interests. Life here smells of lightness, simplicity, support. And I am grateful that right here in Ostrava, a small Czech town with theaters and hockey matches, scrap yards and a beautiful town hall, where the word „stop“ sounds like „zastávka“, I fell in love with Europe. Yes, this is my stop. I feel accepted here. I want to continue my studies here and then return and develop my country. Someday I will show my children Ostrava on the map as a place of my youth (who knows, maybe they will have time to be born here!).
I will say to all those who are still hesitant: „It’s time to find this grant, it’s time to fly!“, This is our zastávka!
P.S. I joked about children, but the statistics of pregnancies during Erasmus are impressive! Be sure to read!