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Tuesday 20 July 2004
Working abroad: Jess Rudkin - Week 1
Written by Jess Rudkin, AIESEC member
AIESEC members greet Jess (centre) on arrival
AIESEC members greet Jess (centre) on arrival

Jess Rudkin is working in the Czech Republic this summer.

She's on a placement with the AIESEC student organisation, and she's writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.


Stevie Cameron
Stevie's in The Philippines.
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Profile of the country from BBC News.

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Population: 1 billion
(UN, 2003)
Capital: New Delhi
Major languages: Hindi, English and 17 other official languages
Major religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism
Monetary unit: 1 Indian Rupee = 100 paise
Exports: Agricultural products, textiles, gems and jewellery, software and technology, engineering goods, chemicals, leather


AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

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My first Week in Ostrava, Czech Republic is over, and it has been very tiring. My preconceptions have been challenged and my ability to adapt has been tested but it's going well!

Dirty and polluted?

After my travels in the UK, I took off from London Gatwick on Sunday evening and I arrived in Prague an hour and a half later. After staying overnight in Prague I then faced a six-hour train journey to Ostrava! On a positive note, it was chance to see the countryside of the Czech Republic.

The travel guides I read before I arrived in Ostrava described the area as dirty, industrial, polluted and scarred by mining! Although the picture I formed in my mind of smoking chimneys, factories, deserted mines and black smoke everywhere was quite quickly dispelled when I arrived, evidence of the industrial past of the city could be seen outside of the city centre.

Drinking - beer and tea!

The AIESECers here have been really understanding and helpful. After moving into the hotel where I am living, they took me to meet some other people living and working here and of course the other AIESECers.

In the teahouse
In the teahouse

They also arranged a welcome party for me on the world famous Stodolni Street - much beer and Czech karaoke! Stodolni Street is in the Guiness Book of World Records for the highest concentration of bars and clubs on one street (there are around 45) and every different taste is catered for!

I have discovered that the Czech people consider it their right to drink beer and I have been trying the local specialties, not being a beer drinker at home this has been an education! You can't escape it here and I'm actually getting used to it! For a more relaxed evening, it is popular to go to the Cajovna (tea house) where there a large selection of tea is available.

Biggest pool in Europe

At Vrestina pool
At Vrestina pool

Another attraction in Ostrava is the outdoor swimming pool - Vrestina. It's the biggest pool in central Europe, it's more like a man-made lake! Since the weather had finally picked up at the end of the week we decided to spend Saturday at the pool, this turned out to be an excellent choice as it was the hottest day so far.

Dul Anselm mining museum

I decided to continue my sightseeing on Sunday too and a group of us visited a mining museum (Dul Anselm) which is a World Heritage Site.

At the mining museum
At the mining museum

Although all mining in Ostrava ceased in 1994, it is still very much a part of the city and some mining still continues in neighbouring towns such as Karvina.

The museum was interesting, the only difficulty being that it was mainly in Czech but one of the trainees, Alena, translated for us. It was an opportunity to go into the mines and see what the conditions for miner as well as gain a greater understanding of one of the industries Ostrava is known for.

Language barrier

Some things here are very similar to the UK but others are very different, for example it is normal for business people to start work at 7am and finish at 4pm as opposed to the usual 9-5 we are used to!

The language has proved to be a real barrier in day-to-day life but people have been very patient with me and my mixed attempts at Czech, sign language and English explanations!

I still find it strange that people do not smile casually in the street and I have had some funny looks, but that is not to say the people are cold or rude, the opposite in fact, in general people are very polite always offering to help and giving up their seats on public transport.

Relying on others

Jess with AIESECers in the Czech office
In the AIESEC office

My time here has proved to be a real challenge at times but I am getting used to life in Ostrava and learning new things about the people, city and culture every day.

Losing my independence and relying on other people more than I am used to can sometimes be frustrating but each day it's easier and I can do more for myself and I have found it is a case of taking things into my own hands and just having a go!

Next diary »

Written by Jess Rudkin

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