It's hard to believe we have been in Slovakia for a year! But, it's true...today we celebrate one year. In some ways the time has flown, and in others, well, not so much. Irregardless, we have definitely been shaped and molded this year...
We thought it'd be appropriate to make a little list of things we both appreciate and are learning to appreciate about our new culture.
10 things we love about Slovakia (in no particular order):
1) Halusky, Milka, Vinea/Kofola, Pirohy...need we say more!? There are some great foods here in the SK which we are happy to indulge ourselves in :)
2) Walking. While it was also an adjustment to walk everywhere, we love the built in exercise walking provides for us and we just enjoy being outside now. It's a completely different thing from in the states where it's not as accessible to walk, but we really enjoy it here.
3) Nature. Maybe not so very much in Bratislava (though there are some great parks), but outside of the city...wow, watch out, world, Slovakia's got it going on in the natural beauty department!
4) Soccer and hockey. They take great pride in these sports and as a result these events are fun to watch and enjoy.
5) The history. How often do you get to walk out of the movies and say "oh wow, look, there's a castle out the window!?" Seriously! Amazing.
6) Cafes. We'll never stop loving the atmosphere of cafes...particularly in the summertime when everyone is out enjoying the evenings sipping caj (tea) by the storefronts (in FRONT of the castle :)
7) The people. We've truly met some great people during our year here so far...and we're praying we continue to meet many more. (side note: we're continually learning that this just takes time...period.)
8) Taking your shoes off at the door. This one may sound silly, but really...it does create an intimate feel. It's like saying, "hi, welcome to our home, take your shoes off, get comfy, and stay awhile." I like it.
9) The city at night. It's just a really awesome view to see a city lit up at night. Especially from our balcony...we're big fans.
10) Holidays. Christmas markets and New Year's celebration were especially good to take part in...but it's always fun to get in on a culture through their holidays.
10 things we're learning to love (er, at least appreciate) about Slovakia:
1) The language. Oh, the language. It's no piece of cake to learn. The grammar is beyond comprehension sometimes (or so it seems haha). But, alas, we're trucking through it and one day we will speak this language. We're determined.
2) Buses. Man, those things can get crowded. And when they're packed, they're packed...which makes getting on and off with a stroller challenging sometimes.
3) Getting to know our neighbors. This has proven to be tricky enough.
4) Raising babies. This one is strictly cultural differences that I could probably write a whole post on. Basically, people here raise their babies differently (read: not bad, just different) from how we were raised. We've learned and are learning to just embrace these things, laugh at them, and ask the Lord for wisdom as we raise Elise (in both the big and the little!)
5) Road signs. Some Slovaks may disagree with this one, but when driving we've found the road signs/markings to be less than accurate and slightly confusing. However, it needs to be said that where I grew up, in Hickory, there are about four 39th streets...so I guess we're not doing so much better in America :P
6) Time spent traveling. For me, personally, this one has taken some time to adjust to. Call it being spoiled, or partially Type A, or whatever you want to call it, but it can often take 30+ minutes to get out the door to the bus stop and then to the final location. I'm working on patience :)
7) The lack of thrifting. I'm a thrift-lover. Garage sales, secondhand stores, etc...I love them! There are a few here, but you have to hit them JUST RIGHT (like on one particular day) to benefit from them. I do miss a good garage sale...but hey, maybe they're here and I just haven't discovered them yet. (they wouldn't be called garage sales, though, since many people don't have garages here :)
8) The weather. The cold has been hard on us...we won't lie. We'll adjust (perhaps?)...but we do miss warm weather (and the beach!)
9) Snowy, white pollen. In the states it's yellow and all over everything...here it's white chunks of pollen snow and it's all over everything (in spring). I'll never love pollen no matter where I am!
10) Being sick. Living in a new culture you contract all the viruses and bugs you're not used to...I think we've experienced all the ones that were going around town within the past two months.
We've learned that all cultures are different (obviously we knew that, but it's become even more real to us). Each one has their strengths and weaknesses and no culture is perfect...far from it actually. It's kind of cool, each culture is like each person...unique and special with its own set of qualities, both good and bad. And similarly, every culture, like every person, needs Christ.
We've learned a lot. We've grown a lot. We've got much more to learn...but we're thankful for where we've been and from where we've come. Now to start year TWO!