I’ve been in Brno for a few days already, and my first impression of it is quite complex.
It is not an extremely beautiful city—the walls are often cracked, the landscape is not rich with flowers, and graffiti and broken windows are not an unfamiliar sight. The signs of stores are simple and unlovely, and the trams found throughout the city are not quaint—they are merely functional. Given what little I’ve seen of the sites, I am not impressed, for the beauty of churches and tourist attractions in other countries possess a much stronger impact. The center of the city square is attractive, but not breathtaking. It is at its best when it is early evening, because the sun sets quite late here and the light at that moment is the most forgiving. Modern buildings are built alongside old ones.
The people, on the other hand, are often quite beautiful, but their attire is not cosmopolitan—fashion is dead here. Jeans, a t-shirt and a simple jacket are the norm, though some people wear things as casual as slippers while others wear stilettos. Makeup is worn as often as it is not. Some people, surprisingly old people, dye their hair orange or some other angry colors.
But already I cannot help but feel as if it is possible that I can belong to it—and I feel that within a month, I will love Brno. I will not be in love with it, passionately and noisily, as I was with San Sebastian and Brugge, but I will be comfortable here.
I have already started being accustomed to the people, and I think that this is where Brno and I are like-minded. They are reserved, but accommodating, which I find surprising. They do not smile often, but if a healthy curiosity is offered, or a Czech word, a small glint appears in their eyes that shows a sense of positivity that is subtler. I think that if I frequent certain places, I may become friends with individuals, for the Czechs appreciate a foreigner attempting to speak their language.
And I dearly want to learn. Two people have already complimented my Czech accent, and much to my surprise, these small encouragements have rendered me determined. How different it is from the Philippines where I am often sneered at for my attempts to speak Tagalog, with how people condescend to call my tries “nosebleed”! How different it is from France where my accent is misread for being too American.
AIESEC is a joy. The people there actively seek out friendship, and go out for dinner and drinks often. The Czech girl who showed me around on my first and second day, Barbora, really made things easier for me. She and her roommate also said they were determined to teach me how to cook, especially since I seemed eager to learn how to cook Czech food. Barbora is my age, but she is just a graduating freshman in her university. She is lively and outgoing, which she says is not common among Czech people. She plays the piano, flute, saxophone and organ—and was going to be a concert pianist before deciding to take up business. She is deeply religious, and used to play the organ at her church. I was actually rather surprised at this, since I read that most Czech people are not religious at all, due to their communist history. I guess that Barbora is really different from most.
The trams, even though they are inconsistent in their modernity, are convenient. How odd, though, that they infrequently use the airconditioning! The sweat level right now is probably on-par to that of the Philippines on an average day, but the lack of fans or aircons is a pain.
Brno lacks the persistent and aggressive beauty of Pau, with its flower covered view and mountain range, but I like it in a different way. It is as if—how can I put this delicately? I feel as if I am not overawed by it—that I may face this city as an equal, and therefore as a person who may be part of it.
This place has renewed my sense of vigor. It is as if I want to create here, to be someone more—productive, charming and interesting.
What is my first impression?
I think I am going to love Brno.