Sunday, November 16, 2008

A post with gravitas

Apparently I spent the first quarter of the school year in some sort of blog hole, or Eastern-block hole, or some other pun which indicates I was not blogging our adventures here in Slovakia. Not out of any sort of reticence, just, that first month is a doozy. And once you're a month behind, where do you start, right?

At any rate, the slight lull of the new quarter has given me the opportunity to put off grading and take up blogging for today, at least. Tomorrow is a holiday, Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, the anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution, so I can catch up then.

I realize anyone I haven't had the chance to call or write probably doesn't really know what I'm doing here. (Actually, some days at school I get the distinct impression that I don't really know what I'm doing, too.) At any rate, I'm gradually learning to be a teacher of British Literature, Mathematics, and Informatics (which is metric for Computer Science) at the Evangelical Lyceum. The Americans at the Lyceum teach in the bilingual program, a sort of 5-year high school taught in English and Slovak. My Informatics students are basically Freshmen; they've been speaking English at the grade school for a few years and are quite good, but their comfort levels still vary widely. The 3rd year Math students and 4th year English students are really strong speakers, though.

Some folks have asked how we're adjusting or what the weirdest thing we've encountered here has been. I've mostly been so busy adjusting to the more immediate needs of being a teacher that I haven't really noticed adjusting to living in Slovakia as much. For the most part, as long as I don't step foot outside of the apartment or the classroom (some weeks this has been true) I could forget I'm not in the US. Mostly things aren't difficult or scarce or "foreign," just different.

  • Metric: Okay, I usually just make jokes about the metric system and 10-day weeks and stuff, but I noticed the other day that eggs come in packs of 10. Spooky!

  • Television: There are a handful of English channels, actually: I've never watched so much MTV, CNN or VH1. (Top 10 Simply Red videos?!) And on top of that, there's no end of USian programming, it's just dubbed into Slovak or German. The worst tease is the international Discovery channel, where I catch the first three words of every sentence Sig Hansen (Captain of the Northwestern) or the Mythbusters say before the translation comes in.

  • Laundry: I'm not talking about going down to the Dunaj with a washboard, here. Everbody has a washing machine. Our apartment is an oddity though, with a dryer. We've been cautioned it's probably safer to treat it as a purely decorative item. The washers are designed for this, though, with a really extensive and exhaustive spin cycle. So that means we have a clothesline and drying rack in the spare room and use plenty of liquid fabric softener. The radiators are helpful, too, particularly the towel rack in the bathroom. Mmm... toasty towels!

Well, those are the big things I can think of that have required some adjustment on my part. Oh, and the foreign language. Right.

No comments: