Settling in a new place during a pandemic?!
by Anna, Ostrava Expat Centre Intern
Hi, this is Anna, nice to meet you! I am a university student from Italy, and I am the current Intern at the Expat Centre.
Over the course of the last few years, I have been enjoying travelling around Europe, together with a couple of study-abroad experiences, so as the end of my bachelor’s was approaching, I felt it was only right to embark on a new adventure and apply for an internship abroad! And so, at the
beginning of March I arrived in Ostrava.
Today I wanted to look back at my arrival in the city and how it was like to settle in during the lockdown.
As many of you probably know, moving to and getting started in a new, unknown country can be a difficult process, but doing so during a pandemic is even more difficult! For example, even just the idea of travelling, which would usually involve feelings of excitement and anticipation, transformed into a weird feeling of discomfort. As I left home to catch the train, my mind was telling me that something weird was going on. And of course, the almost empty trains and train stations contributed to making the experience somewhat gloomy.
I was then greeted by an empty city, and when I moved my first steps around town – mostly just to go to the supermarket – I could see that everything was closed: the city felt deserted. At that time, I felt a bit disconnected. I truly believe that one of the best ways to get to know a place is to see how people live and interact on a normal day. I love seeing the small interactions in shops and cafes, noticing the small habits of local people. But with everything being closed, I had no chance of experiencing what life in Ostrava really is. And most importantly, I was missing out on the most important part: food. To me, food is a very important part of culture, and I was a bit sad for not being able to go out and enjoy a typical Czech meal. Of course, I could order some food from a delivery app, but I did not want to miss out on the full experience of going to the restaurant.
In this sense, the pandemic has really had an impact on how I, a foreigner, got to know this country and got acquainted with the city of Ostrava.
At the same time, I have been very lucky: I was welcomed at the Expat Centre, which helped in making me feel more connected with the city and with the community. Working here is the best way to gain some insights on how this city lives and grows, which is truly fascinating in my opinion. Most importantly, I was encouraged to make the most of the situation: the empty city, which seemed a bit scary at first, presented itself as the perfect context for me to roam freely and to explore.
It was an opportunity for me to get acquainted with the environment at my own pace. This enabled me to grow at ease with the city, to get comfortable and to start feeling a little bit more at home.
But after more than two months since my arrival, things finally seem to be much better now. I am very happy to see the city slowly going back to normality! So now excuse me while I go and enjoy a nice, cold beer – Radegast, of course!
Stay safe and enjoy the sun!