Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Missed Opportunity

The show was here in Prešov on September 6th, so I just missed it. It received at least one rave review.

Luckily for me, other opportunities are popping up all the time...

Thursday, October 20, 2005


The city I live in, Prešov, is in the Northeastern part of Slovakia. It is four hours from Budapest, six hours from Krakow, eight hours from Vienna and a two hour bus-ride to the Ukrainiann border. It is a great city, with very friendly people, and I have been really enjoyed being here for the last month.

To begin to understand what makes Prešov tick, I will refer you to their official web-site...

Do not be frightened by the man's moustache when you click on the link. Moustaches in Slovakia, unlike in the U.S., are harmless and even fashionable in some regions.

Another important thing to know about Prešov is how to pronounce it. It is pronounced "Presh-ov", because in Slovak, the language spoken in Slovakia, the letter š sounds like "sh". Slovak is a very interesting language, somewhat similar to Russian, Ukrainian and Serbian, and very similar to Czech, or so I have been told. It would make my life much easier here if I spoke Russian, Polish, German, Czech or Slovak, which are all spoken in various parts of the country, but I don't, as far as I know.

I would like to write more about how challenging it is to communicate, but I can tell that you are getting antsy and want to see some pictures. So OK. Here is the street I live on:

And here is my building:

And finally, the front door!

In Slovak, the name of the type of neighborhood I live in, which in England they call a housing estate, is a Sidlisko. My Grandfather's name was Sidney L****w. While this may be just a coincidence, it would be nice to think that Gramps is looking out for me, protecting me from malicious, flu-infected chickens.

Also, there are three Sidliskos in Prešov, and mine is called Sidlisko Secow, which is pronounced "sex-show". Early in my stay someone asked me if I lived in Secow, but I couldn't really understand the question and ended up telling most of an embarrassingssing story about my visit to Amsterdam in college before someone kindly stopped me.

I have many more pictures to show, and stories to tell, but this blogging thing is exhausting. For now, I would just like to share a couple of jokes that I have been told. The first was from a Frenchwoman, and it is about Belgians, who I guess are the butt of many French jokes. Here goes:

Why did the Belgian go to sleep with a full glass of water and an empty glass next to his bed?
-Because he wasn't sure if we was going to be thirsty in the middle of the night.

You know in Annie Hall, when Woody Allen sums up the whole movie with the joke about the guy whose brother thinks he is a chicken? A guy here told me a classic Slovak joke recently, which I think sums up my experience here so far:

Q: What kind of soup will be served today?
A: Bean soup!

I hope everyone is doing well at home, and I will write more soon.

A Little More Bratislava

I wanted to add a few other pictures that I couldn't fit into the last post. These are some examples of American influences in Bratislava, and I have put them in order of general cultural unhealthiness, with the least diabetes-inducing/tax-avoiding ones at the top. Of course, as this is only one person's opinion, you may arrange them in whatever order you like:

There are still, however, many things in Bratislava that are untouched by American influence, like this folk musician who serenaded us at lunch:

You may assume, from the woman's expression in the picture (who was one of the program directors), that the music was a bit screechy. But in fact it was very good, and his instrument sounded a lot like that aboriginal pipe thing that was featured so heavily in the outback scenes of "Crocodile Dundee 2-Now That's a Knife" or whatever it was called.

I would also be remiss if I didn't include a picture of the Ambassador's wife, who was nice enough to let us hang out at her house and hooked us up with a very nice dinner, including some little duck liver things on crackers, which I should really have taken a picture of...

So anyway, after a nice stay in Bratislava I hopped on the wrong train, and after many directional changes and attempted conversations in English with people who spoke no English, I finally ended up in Presov, my new home.


As many of the people reading this know, our friend Emily passed away last weekend. She was one of the kindest people I've ever met, and she was always looking out for us law students during our most difficult times. She was also a true connoisseur of condiments. I wish I had something more than a stupid blog to dedicate to her memory, but for now it will have to do. She deserves quite a bit more.

Here's a picture of us when she taught me how to ski, and one of her with a Kazakh celebrity. She was that rare person who you know you will never forget, even when she is gone.

If you would like, feel free to post a comment with a memory of Emily that you have, or anything else. For instance, she always made fun of me because I liked the movie "Solaris" staring George Clooney and the woman with the gigantic eyes. She also told me that she knew of a guy named Soupdick Poonjesticle, but I never received proof. I wish we could watch Solaris together again.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bratislava Continued

We spent the next day checking out Bratislava. The old part of the city, which the Germans called Pressburg, has many historical attractions, and is quite beautiful. Of course, while I went through that part of the city, I didn’t have my camera, so I will refer you to this...

One thing I really regret not getting a picture of is the “Cage of Shame”, where women who had done things that they should have been ashamed of were put in order to maximize their shaming. Here is a picture of a typical Cage of Shame.

I couldn't find a picture of the Cage of Shame in Bratislava. Shame on you, Internets!

There are many nice parts of Bratislava that I actually did take pictures of, here is a small selection.

Later, we went to the Museum of Folk Costumes, which was very interesting. Each small region has their distinctive folk costumes, which were illustrated by this poster:

Afterwards, we went out for an authentic Slovakian meal (for tourists).
Here, I had my first experience with halusky, the Slovak national dish. It is basically squiggly potato pasta, tossed in a (non-pasteurized) sheep’s cheese cream sauce, and topped with bacon.

Although it looked like it had already been eaten, it was great, and tasted a lot like Kraft Mac and Cheese (for the stove, not the Velveeta version for the microwave) topped with bacon. Which, if you think about it, is a great idea. Here is a link to the recipe, try it at home.

I also had a goulash quesadilla, but it really didn’t do anything for me.

After that, I went to the train station, and hopped onto what I thought was the train to Presov, my new home for a year. Did I make it? Well, obviously, but I’m trying to add a little suspense as a literary device…

Thursday, October 06, 2005

So I've never had a blog before. I know blogs are mostly for angsty teenage girls who want to talk about the mall, but this is much easier than sending out group e-mails, and it benefits you because you won't have to receive group e-mails you don't want. So here goes nothing.

When I arrived in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, they put me up in an nice hotel. I sort of made a mess, but I was experiencing culture shock.

Speaking of culture, to understand Slovakian culture you need to understand Slovakia itself. For that, here is a handy link to some great info on Slovakia.

While I was there, I got to meet the other people on the program. They were all very nice, and looked like this:

If you're wondering why we are so dressed up, it is because we were visiting the home of the American Ambassador. Here is some info on him.

We had a very nice meal of little quiches, and the Ambassador gave a speech about current events. Here's a pic:

I got the chance to speak with the Ambassador about ice hockey, which was a lot of fun. He was a True American.

The next day we had the opportunity to check out the city. I put a bunch of pictures here but the thingy ate them. More soon, when my battery isn't dead...