It is not safe to assume (especially while teaching a second language)

I have had many lost in translation moments since arriving in Slovakia, especially while teaching.

Last week during one of my first-year classes, I discovered something. It was a puzzle that I could not figure out the entire first three weeks of the school year. At the beginning of a lot of my classes, I’ve put a writing prompt (just a five-minute beginning activity) on the board that begins with “Respond to the following in [...] Continue Reading…

Safety first

Today after school, I had to go with the rest of the new teachers to a safety meeting. I had heard humorous things about this meeting from returning teachers, but I was not fully prepared.

“Oh yea, that meeting lasts five minutes and all they tell you is not to stand on boxes at school,” someone told me. A pretty funny formality, but painless.

Our meeting, however, lasted for more than an hour, and hilarity (at [...] Continue Reading…

Fifteen minutes of fame in Slovakia?

I am attending a live dance show tonight with a few of the other American teachers as a kind of mid-week ladies night.

It’s called “Just Dance,” but that’s all I really know, because the rest of the website is in Slovak. And when my roommate called to make the ticket reservations, the person on the other end spoke very little English. So, when we get there, we may not even have seats.

In the meantime, check [...] Continue Reading…

Staff meetings ‘in the dark’

Yesterday we attended our second staff meeting with all the teachers — also our second meeting conducted entirely in Slovak.

It lasted more than an hour, and this is what I got from it: A fire drill is scheduled for tomorrow, and regular Wednesday chapel begins tomorrow. Chapel, normally held in the cafeteria (which is now under construction), will be in the gym.

A meeting that lasted more than an hour, and that’s all they discussed? Well, [...] Continue Reading…

Feeling purple and at home (after a fight with a duvet cover)

So, I’ve been in Bratislava for about a month, and I have finally made my room look like, well, me.


My new duvet cover, which started the new purple theme of my room. I’ve never used a duvet before, but I found it to be embarrassingly challenging. Whoever thought to make a sock for a comforter?

When I first moved into my flat, I tidied up a bit, but I pretty much [...] Continue Reading…

A different type of patriotism

My cousin, who moved to Indonesia to teach English shortly before I came here, recently updated his Facebook status to something that captured a thought I had but couldn’t quite articulate.

“Registered for an absentee ballot; there is something oddly patriotic about living in another nation.”

I don’t know quite what it is about living in a different country that gives me an intensified sense of patriotism, but I feel it every day. As I make [...] Continue Reading…

Am I naked up here or something? First reflections on teaching

I’m a little late on this post, because the last week has been hectic and exhausting to say the least.

You know how they always tell you that when giving a speech you should try to picture that everyone in the crowd is naked? Well, last week, during my first teaching lesson, it felt like just the opposite.

“Am I naked up here and I just don’t know it or something?” I thought to myself, as [...] Continue Reading…

First (official) day at school

Today was the official first day of school. I say official because while the school year started, I didn’t actually get any students yet.

We went to Velký Kostol (the “big church” right behind my flat) for a morning church service to kick off the school year. All of the lyceum students attended, and the service was in Slovak. So, while I tried to follow along and sing along the best I could, my eyes wandered [...] Continue Reading…

I have survived the blood

Today was filled with blood, awkward X-rays and accompaniment.

In the morning, two other teachers and myself met our translator and friend Peter, and he took us to the doctor’s office to get our blood drawn. All new teachers have to go through this, so the government knows we aren’t bringing over any diseases.

If you know me, you know how anxious I was before the whole needle-in-vein thing.

The feelings of when they put the rubber [...] Continue Reading…

Discovering Textile House

It’s nice to know that no matter where I go, I can always manage to shop.

Or is it?

My mom would probably argue no.

Today, after another work day at the school, I went with one of my roommates to a second-hand clothing store called Textile House. It’s sort of like Plato’s Closet in the states, except I found way more stuff I wanted here.

As my roommate explained, all the items start out at a certain [...] Continue Reading…

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