Well, I’ve finally realized it. I can’t keep constant updates of my blog, or even every two weeks. I’m just getting worse and worse. However, I see this as an excellent sign; it means that I am so absorbed and involved with my Slovak life that keeping Americans up to date comes in second place. I don’t mean to be mean, and in no way does it mean that I’ve forgotten anyone, but I’m simply in my groove.
I was counting it up the other day and realized that I have only 25 weeks left here. And though writing it like that makes it seem unbearably short, I also take into account the fact that the 18.5 weeks I’ve been here thus far have seemed like a lifetime. Regardless of how long the first part may have seemed to me, it’s always my experience that the second half of anything you enjoy will always go faster. Just think—whatever happened to the second have of that ice cream sundae? Or the last lap on a go-kart track? They all disappear faster than Rick Santorum at a Gay Pride Parade.
I think it’s an excellent time to make a list of goals to accomplish before I return to the temporary residence of the Frost Giants (or Illinois, at it used to be called…), since I know that I’ll be forever chagrined if I fail to do so. In addition to achieving lifelong friendships and becoming conversant in another language, I’ve included some more quantitatively measurable goals. Among these are mostly travel goals, primarily being to go to Budapest, anywhere in Germany, and if possible, to Istanbul.
Speaking of making the most of everything I have…
I’d frequently berated myself for choosing to Slovakia to spend a year abroad; after all, what use will I find in a language with only five million native speakers? But recently, I’ve realized. It’s not necessarily the utility of the language (which I also underestimated, as Slovak makes it easy to understand the basics of all the other Slavic languages), but rather the process of learning it. I could have gone to a Spanish-speaking country and implemented my four years of preparation in that language, but I’d be missing out on a critical experience. I knew maybe ten words of Slovak when I walked off the plane, but now, even by conversing with people who don’t know any English with which to translate for me, I’ve learned the language. It’s remarkable, and gives me more confidence for throwing myself into new countries to learn languages with which I have no familiarity.
With the philosophy lesson out of the way, I’ll try to give a *cough * brief *cough * review of my activities for the past month or so. Primarily, they are Christmas/holiday related.
First of all, at a special holiday celebration in the auditorium on the last school day of the semester, the principal was giving out various awards to different students. I received an award for “best foreign student” (apparently, he missed the memo where I’m the only foreign student in my class, school, and city in general).
Second, I had some fantastic Christmas food. Here, it’s tradition to keep a live carp in the bathtub for a few days, and then kill and eat it on Christmas Eve. It was quite tasty, but I’ll admit it surprised me quite a lot when I found a fish in the tub. Luckily, I have the upstairs shower, so I didn’t have to share the soap with my piscine friend. Apart from that, there were lots of cookies and other meats and vegetables—all very hearty. I’ve probably gained several pounds.
As for gifts, I received some books with landscape photography of the Tatras, a book from my math teacher about travel, both in English and Slovak, a Christmas ornament, a CD of Slovak Christmas Carols, and a traditional hat from the Goralsky region (to the north of Poprad).
I stayed home with my host parents for the New Year, which they call “Silvester.” In fact, many days have anthropomorphized names because each day of the year has a name that goes along with it, and when your name matches that name, it’s like a minor birthday celebration. It’s not as much fun for people with uncommon names like “Quinn,” since there is no eponymous day. Anyways, here, anyone may purchase large fireworks, so the sky was lit up in many colors for a solid half hour after midnight and it sounded like there was an artillery attack.
While I did spend most of my time at home, shortly after the first of the year, my host parents took me to Zakopane in Poland (close to the border) to do some shopping. There were an incredible amount of tourists there, but Zakopane is known for its giant outdoor craft market, so it makes sense.
Aaaand that’s about it in terms of major events. Today, I started my first day of school for the spring semester, so I imagine my life will go back to normal levels of excitement. That is, apart from learning thermodynamics, thermochemistry, relativity, quantum mechanics, kinematics, calculus, German, Persian, and my other nerdy hobbies. Some things never change.