“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”Mark Twain
On Friday, I took my last two classes as part of the Czech Language and Culture crash course. My analysis: Czech is incredibly difficult. It took all week for me to simply be able to properly say “goodbye”. In between my two classes, I had some spare time. I took off on a walk along the Ostravice River, which runs through the center of the city. After a while, I reached a massive park, called Komenského sady. It had beautiful paths, trees, and fields. I am excited to see what it looks like when everything starts to bloom.
Saturday I set off to do some exploring by myself. I walked through the city streets and reached the bottom of the Halda Ema slag heap. It was built in the early 1900’s from tons of extracted dredge from the mines in and near Ostrava. Because there are exothermic reactions happening deep under the surface, the mountain produces its own heat.
There are places where you can see steam coming from the ground and the vegetation differs from the rest of Ostrava because it has thermophilic flora and, in some places, a subtropical climate. I climbed to the top fairly easily, struggling only with the icy and muddy trail. The top presented a nice view of the surrounding forest and of Ostrava. Again, I hope to return once things begin to bloom and the sun appears.
In the evening I went ice skating with a couple friends. Ice skating is essentially the same here as at home, and I am equally awkward and terrible as back home. The complete opposite of graceful, I struggled to stay upright while my friends gently floated atop the ice.
Sunday I joined the ESN (international student) club for an excursion into the old industrial region of Ostrava, called Viktovice. We walked through the city and I was shocked and amazed by how much I enjoyed the trip.
The old factories and machinery were astounding and I was impressed by how complicated and intricate the workings of the factories were. We also got to go to the top of Bolt Tower, where we had an excellent view of the city. It was a fun day during which I spent time with friends and got to see some of the historical parts of Ostrava.
Let me take a moment to talk about the people here in Czechia. Collectively, they are the most laid-back people I have ever met. People arrive places in their own time, ignore small issues, and lead the world in average beer consumption. For someone who is known to certain loved ones (lovingly, I hope) as a “psycho planner”, you can imagine it is taking time for me to adjust to life here.
That being said, Monday arrived, bringing the first day of term with it. What it did not bring, however, was communication from professors, a class schedule, or even a finalized list of the classes I’d be taking. When I asked advisors and teachers for help figuring it out, the response was fairly relaxed and nonchalant, saying, “Everything will come together later”. I was baffled because, in fact, the semester had ALREADY STARTED. Alas, I waited, and Tuesday brought a vague idea of some classes I should attend, so I went to “Czech for Foreigners” in the morning, and a biology seminar in the afternoon. After class, I decided to join my friends at a hockey match, where University of Ostrava played Charles University from Prague. I enjoyed it, despite knowing little about hockey and not particularly caring about the outcome. I laughed with my friends, tried to chant along in Czech with those around me, and joined the mob mentality.
Today finally brought more information about classes, and I think I got a schedule figured out. I only have classes on Tuesday, so I should have plenty of time during the week to go adventuring. Today I spent some time with a friend doing a walking tour around Ostrava. We got to see some nice historical sights and some beautiful nature.
I’m adjusting to my new life here. I’m greatly looking forward to warming temperatures, blooming trees, and sunshine. I am loving getting to know people from around the world and have already made some close friends. My classes are interesting, but not terribly difficult (woohoo!). Although I still miss home, I am getting accustomed to things here and feel optimistic about the coming months. I love the small cafes I find in the city. I love the coffee and the baked goods. I love my growing friendships and my broadening knowledge. Life here in Ostrava is pretty great.
Thank you for reading, and I will write again soon. You can find more pictures in the “Gallery” tab above.