I am sitting at my desk and trying to evaluate my 5 months that I already spent in Cincinnati. Before coming here I didn’t even know where Cincinnati was. After looking at the map I realized that it’s not in the wild wild west as people at home (I am from Slovakia) would expect but it’s just in the Midwest. (I don’t know why but Ohio sounds very exotic and pretty west-ish to me.) Now, I don’t understand why it’s called Midwest when we are still in the East, but anyway, I got here after 2 cancelled flights in Canada and a fancy night in the expensive airport hotel. (Yes, the airport paid for my stay thanks to Cincinnati’s storm.) I told myself that in the end of the day I was very lucky since I could spend a night in a luxurious inn at least once in my life. One thing on my bucket list done.
When I finally got here, Cincinnati surprised me by its history and by the fact that Kentucky is just across the river. I think that I was the most excited person ever to cross the bridge and go to Kentucky. For me it really meant a lot to “travel” to another state, and Kentucky sounds so “country” and American that I was proud of myself when I was telling my family that I was in Kentucky. What an adventure!
The first time I went to Kentucky, I think it was the day after I got here, I walked there from our house. That day I walked around 6 miles, because I was so over-motivated to walk (since I am used to walking at home) – poor American guy who accompanied me. (A few days later he moved to another town – I think that he didn’t want to see me again, the crazy walking Slovakian 🙂 ) Then I realized that Americans (in general) don’t walk as much as we do. When I walk in the streets here, sometimes I am alone or sometimes there are 3 people on the sidewalk with me. The sidewalks are so empty that you can even ride a bike on them (I know, I know, it’s illegal). This was totally new for me and one of the biggest challenges – to get somewhere without a car. Everything is far, almost nothing is in a walkable distance. I have been saying that I’ve become a professional biker since I came here ( I don’t know why I still don’t have leg muscles 🙂 ).
Anyway, what surprised me the most (except the fact that people drive everywhere) was how people are nice. Americans are in general known for their kindness, politeness and smiling all the time and now I can tell that it’s true. People here are very friendly, even if my English is not perfect and sometimes I don’t understand their accents, they greet me in the streets and ask how I am. They also shout at me when they see me riding a bike because they like that it’s purple and retro (they even shout from cars when they’re stopped at traffic lights.) Once somebody was trying to buy my bike – the girl/buyer was walking behind me and my bike and shouting out offers like “40 bucks” and “50 bucks” to buy it. It makes me laugh.
Another thing that people are always asking me about is food. There are some American things that are strange to me like having a sandwich for lunch (it’s a breakfast meal for me, but I am always saying that I am becoming American, because I started to eat a sandwich for a lunch 🙂 ), or eating chips or pretzels as a part of a meal, having cheese in everything. Also the thing that you can eat everything with everything (Tommy) or water with too much ice that is so cold that I am still afraid to get a throat ache 🙂
I don’t want to be too long, I just wanted to say that this experience has been awesome so far. I like Cincinnati. I really do. Even when I gained weight here. Even when I don’t like ice, don’t drive, and coffee shops close at 4 pm. Even when I am not German, can’t find our national Slovakian cheese in Jungle Jim’s, and kielbasa doesn’t taste the same as at home… Yes, I really do. And one last thing. Cincinnati is not boring. 🙂
Betka Limanekova is a native of Slovakia. In order to get around, she has become a proficient city biker, and likes to bike to church and different coffee shops. She loves soup and couscous, and hates movies about space, monsters, or robots. Betka will frequently ask others if they decide to like her that day, but due to her great accent, it is impossible to say no. At work you can find Betka in social services wearing floral skirts and sassing everyone around her.