"You´re lucky that you’re going to Slovakia – it’s a nice place and people are friendly. And more or less, it’s just like Poland." That’s what I heard when I told people that I’m moving to Košice. And the statement happened to be true, but with some exceptions.
My first impression of the town was different that I expected. I’ve arrived by car in the evening and when I unpacked my stuff I decided to take a walk to the old city. My host was in the center, so I just had to get out to be at the medieval street. I went to the main square and enjoyed a beautiful view of the cathedral and the theatre. At this point I was just like all the tourists around the world – taking pictures of great architecture. I walked around and enjoyed the views. But then I noticed something strange. It’s weekend, 10 pm and there are hardly any people in the streets! Košice is a big city (the second biggest in the country), so where did everybody go? Are people here going to bed so early? Maybe Slovakia is playing an important game and everybody is watching?
Next day the urbanHIST project started for real to me. Finally, I met people that I had only known from emails or Skype. The official introduction at the University, getting to know about the rules, a bit of administration, a bit more administration. And everybody is so welcoming and trying to help. So the statement at the beginning was right – Slovaks are friendly. Administration took a big part of my time in the following days – after all I had to move all my life here. And the best way to get to know the city is to look for the place to stay. During first weeks, while looking for a flat, I have been to most of the parts of Košice. And the bike is a good way of travel – it keeps you closer to urban space than the car. I can tell now that Košice is interesting and has the “potential” to me to be a nice place to live.
But there was also time to talk with people. When I’ve told them about empty streets in the first evening, it all became clear to me. In Slovakia Sunday is a day for family and everybody prefers to spend it together at home or somewhere out of town. That’s actually a nice tradition. So not all is “just like in Poland” and one can’t just look at everything from the perspective that he brought from home. That’s a good lesson for the beginning of life in a new city.
Author: Adam Górka
Photo: Adam Górka