It’s been about three months since I arrived in Slovakia. Actually, the 90 day mark was on Thanksgiving! I love living close the city center in Bratislava and being able to walk everywhere. It wasn’t hard to learn how to navigate the city and school on my own and I feel like I’ve definitely adjusted to life here in Slovakia.
My host family is incredible and I have a really good relationship with my host mom. She’s really good about helping me with Slovak and even though she’s busy with her job, she always takes the time to sit down and teach me every night. Honestly the language has been the hardest adjustment. Because Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, most people here speak English. But, I still try to speak as much Slovak with my classmates as possible. I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve learned, even when it’s really difficult to start with zero knowledge of the language.
Even so, everyone I’ve met is really patient and more than anything the locals appreciate it when you try - even my classmates agree think Slovak is difficult. Slovaks can be very reserved and sometimes hard to get to know. But from what I’ve seen, when you do, they’re very generous, kind, and family oriented. Oh and sarcastic. I’ve never met a more sarcastic bunch and I love it.
My host mom also really took it to heart when I expressed a wish to travel and see as much of the rest of Europe as possible. She’s taken me to many of the castles in Slovakia, and then I’ve also been to Vienna, Budapest, and Prague!
The most memorable trip I took to one of the highest peaks in Slovakia for a weekend of hiking. The peak is called Krivan, and if I’d known how hard it was going to be, I would never have gone. I definitely was not prepared at all - but I feel like a lot of exchange is like that. And, I did make it to to top. In fact, the two other students that I was with an I were the first students ever to hike that particular peak and make it all the way. I was really glad I went.
The weather has also been a big adjustment. Even now when, according to my classmates, it’s “barley starting to get chilly”, I show up to class in cashmere sweaters and Smartwool socks while they’re still in cotton short sleeve shirts.
When I arrived, I was also worried about eating so much heavy food. But I’ve realized that you need it to stay warm. Traditional Slovak food includes “bryndzova halusky”, which is kind of like potato noodles with sheep cheese (or we call it “Slovak mac n’ cheese”); then there’s “Kofola”, which is a licorice flavored soda (affectionately known by the exchange students as “communism coca-cola”); lastly there is “Horalky”, which is a chocolate hazelnut wafer snack (guaranteed I have at least one of them in my bag at all times).
Overall everything has been really great. Thanksgiving definitely made me miss my a family (and cat). But I really do like it here and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year!
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