How was my summer internship in OEC

by Lilla, Ostrava Expat Centre Intern

Hi, I’m Lilla, a student from Slovakia, who is just about to finish a 2-month summer internship at the Ostrava Expat Centre. Coming close to the finish line I decided to look back on my experience here.

When searching for a meaningful and exciting way of how to spend my summer, I came across the proposal to be an intern at the Expat Centre. The offer instantly caught my eye for many reasons. I have been fascinated with the work of organisations helping foreigners to settle in ever since I tried to integrate into a foreign environment myself, when I moved to Ireland and then to France for Erasmus+ study semesters. Without the help of the various student associations and the university’s office for foreign students I surely would have felt lost, and the process of settling in would have taken a lot longer.

During those months I learnt the importance of guidance and the value of a welcoming hand that is reaching out to help. Coming to Ostrava Expat Centre I found the same mentality that is helping to forge a community with a strong sense of belonging, and to create an environment that lets the individual flourish and create a home away from home. Expats arriving to Ostrava may have different plans, dreams and backgrounds, but trying to settle in can be a scary process for each of us, with a lot of uncertainty waiting on every corner. However, you never feel lost or alone if you get the chance to meet people who are in the same boat as you.

I am glad I had the opportunity to do an internship at such a forward-looking and dynamic organisation, with people who are kind and passionate about their job. I also had the chance to see how much work, organising and compassion goes into operating the Expat Centre, and I could take a small slice of the work. During my internship here I could try myself out in various tasks, participate in the centre’s events including Fiesta Latina in August, and be part of a community.

When it comes to the city of Ostrava, I was lucky enough to have a glance at its colourful, changing face. Coming here after the end of the lockdown I was able to experience a lot of what the city has to offer. The culture here is lively and evolving, and I got to know Ostrava as a fun city that is gradually shedding its industrial past, and is transforming into a leader in many areas. Apart from visiting the main attractions like the Bolt Tower, Lower Vítkovice or the City Hall Viewing Tower, it was also fun to just walk around in the less known areas.

For anyone out there who is considering becoming an expat, maybe in Ostrava or at some other wonderful destination, I wish them a lot of luck and courage for taking the leap. One thing I know for sure is that for those who come to Ostrava, the Expat Centre will be here to help with settling in, and by the end all the new faces and new places will slowly become familiar and heart-warming to look at.

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