Saturday, December 15, 2007


Yesterday was my 23rd birthday. It was a good birthday, except for waking up at 6 a.m.

A few of the students found out it was my birthday and sang "happy birthday" to me in English and Slovak. I heard "happy birthday" maybe four or five times during the school day. It was nice, but a little much. My students expected that they would not have to do work because it was my birthday. Oh they thought wrong.

That evening most of the ELCA people here went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. It was a nice evening. After dinner, I talked to my family over the Internet. It was nice. A birthday for the record books.

I have dubbed this last week "Field Trip Week." Every day I had a class that either had 2 or 3 people there or none there. Some of the students were in the Czech Republic, some were in Austria.

Anyway, one more week until Christmas break!

Monday, December 10, 2007

St. Mikolas Day

Last Thursday was St. Mikolas Day, also called St. Nickolas Day in other countries. Apparently, Slovak children put their shoes out before they go to bed and they get candy in their shoes in the morning. I forgot to put my shoes out and so I got no candy at night. Nevertheless, St. Mikolas did visit my classroom.

It was the last class of the day. We were having a discussion about hobbies, free time, and lifestyles, and the discussion wasn't going very well. The students didn't want to talk much. Then one of my students from another class knocked on the door and asked if he could test the electricity in the classroom. I told him that he could check it later, after class. He said that needed to check it now. So I said, "Fine, whatever." So he plugged some speakers in, and before I knew it, loud music was coming through the speakers and some other students came into the classroom dressed as St. Mikolas' helpers. They started dancing around and singing some Slovak St. Mikolas song (I think). Then St. Mikolas came in. He was dressed like Santa Claus and was riding a scooter. It was quite humorous. So he began to pass out candy, and he sang a little himself. Then the music changed and some "evil" St. Mikolas' helpers came in. I don't know how to categorize them. They were dressed in red and black.
It was quite a strange experience. I could hardly control myself. I laughed and laughed and laughed. My students didn't find it so funny and I have no idea why. I mean, come on, St. Mikolas on a scooter. That's funny stuff.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


While you all were enjoying turkeys on Thanksgiving Day, I was enjoying myself the only American thing we know in Bratislava (well there is more than one I suppose)...McDonald's. I know, I know. I promised myself no McDonald's while I was gone. It's not that McDonald's tastes good or anything. It's that it is American, and it was Thanksgiving. So a few of us went to McDonald's and I ordered a Big Mac Menu, as they call it, what we call Big Mac Meal, or #1. The burger was what I expected, which wasn't much.

Nevertheless, a number of Americans (60 or so) celebrated a belated Thanksgiving that Saturday. It was the feast of feasts. Each person brought a dish and there was a turkey, and it was a huge turkey. I brought corn. I'm good at making simple things like corn. Anyway, so there were two large tables of main dishes and one large table of desserts. I suppose I would compare it to a Lenten potluck, but actually good. Let's be honest, as good as Lenten potlucks can be, they would be a lot better with a hulking turkey in the middle of the table and some stuffing and gravy. I suppose the only thing that would have made it better would be finger jello. I suppose.

At this feast, there were us ELCA people in Slovakia along with LCMS people from around the region. I had the opportunity to speak with some people who worked in Kazakhstan. From listening to their stories, I realized living and working in Bratislava was easy compared to doing that in Kazakhstan in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, that's all.

Monday, December 3, 2007

We are Slovan!

Okay, back to blogging.

On Friday, November 16, I went with a group of people to watch Slovan, the Bratislava hockey team. It was my first Slovan game and it was a great experience. I had been to a professional hockey game once in my life, so hockey is something foreign to me.

Slovan played Trechin. Slovan was ranked first in the league and Trechin was ranked second. And Slovan won! It was pretty fun. Apparently a lot of students go to the games. They had fun cheers. It is hard remembering them, but most of them were in Slovak so it was hard enough telling what they were anyway.

Here is a picture of Larry, Sonja, and I at the game:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's Snowing in BA

Today we had our first snow of the season. It snowed for a few hours, then the snow turned into rain.

I have been told that it didn't snow much last year in Bratislava, and some have suggested that the snow has to make up this year for last year.

Well, that's all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Long Lost Love

So, before Fall Break, I went with two students to a guitar shop. I had been aching for a guitar for a while and decided that it would be a good idea to buy one, so I did.

The two students took me to two guitar shops and I tried different guitars out. One store had a really good deal for a guitar that I liked, and the other store had a guitar that I really liked, but it didn't have the deal. So my student got the salesperson to lower the price and to throw a few accessories in with it. It took a while, but I ended up getting a pretty good deal on a cool guitar.

My student said that because the salesperson had been so helpful that I should say something cool to him in English like, "Hey, thanks dude. That was awesome." I laughed, and then I did. The salesperson was very happy to hear me say that. There was a big smile on his face. Then when we walked outside, I said to my student, "You know I'd never say that to someone in America."

That's all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

English Problems

I find it necessary to share a few pictures and thoughts that I forgot to share in my Prague blog. While on the train, I kept hearing the automated message about to where the train was going when passangers boarded. After saying something in Slovak, it always said in English, "This train terminated in Prague." I remarked to my Slovak friends that it sounds like the train is going to blow up when we get there.

In Prague, I took a few pictures worth sharing. I don't remember where I took the first one, but you can probably see the spelling problem yourself.

The second one is my favorite. My Slovak friends wanted to have fast food for lunch. So where did they go? KFC. That's right, Kentucky Fried Chicken. They asked why I didn't want to have Kentucky Fried Chicken, and I told them that I hadn't had KFC in probably 6 years and could probably wait another year to have KFC. Anyway, this is a picture above the trash can in KFC. As I was about to take the picture, an employee was about to take out the trash and he saw me with my camera pointing it at the trash. I have to wonder what he must have thought. Did he understand why I found the sign funny? Anyway, he backed off and then I put my camera down and waited for him to take out the trash. Oh, the dangers of translations. They meant to say, "Don't Put Trays in the Trash," but, by saying, "Don't Put Trays," one must wonder where not to put trays and what to do with the trays if one isn't supposed to put them anywhere.
That is all.


Tuesday of Fall Break, I traveled with two of my friends and colleagues Virgenia and Sonja to Trechin. Trechin is two hours east of Bratislava by train. In Trechin, we met a Slovak named Igor whom Sonja knew. Together we made out way to the Trechin Castle, the third largest castle in Slovakia. The second is the Bratislava Castle, which I have been to, and the first is Spesh, which I have not been to.

The today was cold and rainy and made the castle look extra gloomy. To get into the castle, we had to have a tour. The tour was nothing special. The tour guide spoke Slovak, as expected. Igor translated for us, however. There were five of us on the tour: three Americans, a Slovak, and an Austrialian. The best part of the tour was climbing to the top of the tower to see the city from above.

After visiting the castle, we wandered around the city entering various shops. It was quite fun. We returned to Bratislava that evening.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


So I understand that I have neglected to keep up with my blogging, so I will be posting over the next few days of a recap of the last few weeks going backwards. So we will start in Prague.

Last week we had Fall Break and I speak two days in Prague with some Slovaks. It was quite an interesting trips. I went with this guy Ondrej who works at the school and his friend Matej. We met a few Slovaks there and they were nice, but they spent Slovak a lot, so it was pretty hard understanding them.

Prague is a very pretty city and a pretty busy city. My favorite part of the city was probably Charles Street Bridge. The fascinating thing about the bridge was the statues. Every five yards on either side was a different statue of a famous Christian. I had a hard time telling who any of the statues were, but I know the one in the picture on the right was Jesus. It took me a while to figure that one out.

Another fun part of the city was the church on the hill by the castle. I could have spent hours in this church walking around, looking at different paintings and statues. Here was my favorite one.

Another cool site in Prague is the ancient clock on one of the churches. At the beginning of each hour, these small doors open up and these little statues of saints rotate. This draws a crowd of probably a few hundred. The first time we tried to see it, we were too late. The second time, we couldn't see the statues. The third time was a success though. Here is a picture of the clock.

Czech food is delicious. I had the national meal for lunch one day. I had had it before, but this time it was particularly good. The meal is some kind of meat, some interesting sauce, and dumplings that look like pieces of bread. Delicious.
Prague is a four hour train ride from Bratislava. I left at 5:30 a.m. Thursday and returned 10:30 p.m. Friday. Next, I will write of my trip to Trechin.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bratislava Castle

This weekend I went again to the Bratislava Castle, but this time I went inside to all the museums.

They had a pretty neat collection of coins from different periods of history, going all the way back to the Roman times.

In many rooms they had different tapestries. These are big pieces of carpet that have paintings on them. These were very fun for me because they were pictures of stories from the bible and mythology.

In another room, there were many pictures of Jesus' crucifixion and such, and I'm not sure why this exhibit was here because it was very random and had numerous pictures of different kings of different countries and such.

Then we got to go to the top of the tower, where we could see for miles and miles. We could see Austria, which is actually only a few miles away, but anyway.

Then we went into some music exhibit and this guy showed us the auditorium. In it was a big piano, which he let us play. So I played the first thing that came to my mind: the can-can.

It was quite an interesting time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Autumn Has Arrived

Dobre Den (Good day),

It is certainly autumn in Slovakia. The leaves are turning and falling. The morning are getting colder and the afternoons not so warm. The sun sets before seven now. I have been told that during winter, I will leave for school before the sun rises, and leave after it sets. This does not sound too exciting.

Two weekends ago, I went to a town about a half hour away from Bratislava for a get-together the vice prinicipal hosted. This was the first time I experienced Slovak hospitality. The host kept insisting that we eat and drink. At one point, I wanted to say that I could get anything I wanted on my own, but I realized that consistently asking if people wanted something was part of the Slovak culture.

This last weekend was a weekend full of relaxing. Saturday, I went out into Bratislava and found a park and read a book for a while. It was a little chilly, but I enjoyed it.

Fall break is coming. If anyone has any suggestions of amazing places to visit, please let me know.

I have been playing a lot of chess lately with Larry. It isn't always fun, though. When we first started playing, Larry didn't tell me that he was really good. I haven't even won yet. He is like a computer. I thought I was going to beat him once, but it didn't happen. A few days ago he told me that when he was younger he beat the 4th ranked chess player in Arizona. Larry always pulls something out of his sleeve. Nearly every other day, he'll say, "Oh, did I tell you about the time I..." then he says something extraordinary like "made a 2 million dollar sale." Then a few days later he'll have another story just as crazy.

Well, hope all is well with all of you.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Slovensky Raj


I apologize for not blogging lately. It has been a busy last week or two.

Last weekend I went to Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise) with a group of people. We stayed in a nice cottage right near the hiking trails. We left right after school on Friday and traveled by train for about four hours. The train ride there was not that bad. That was my first train ride.

Saturday morning, we began hiking at around 8 a.m. and continued until probably 4 p.m. when we tried to catch a bus back to the town our cottage was in. The hike was pretty cool. We hiked around little waterfalls and such. It was cold at times, especially when I slipped into the streams a little.

I strained my left ankle during the hike though, so when everyone else went Sunday morning for another hike. I stayed in and graded some papers. The train ride back was packed. We were fortunate enough to get seats, but most people had to stand.

It was a pretty exciting trip.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The King of the Castle

Napoleon was lucky I wasn't there to fight him centuries ago because he would have met his match at Devin Castle if I was there. In 1809, after signing a peace treaty in Bratislava, Napoleon made his way to the town of Devin, which is on the Danube. He took the castle and then blew it up.

Yesterday, Larry, Kendra and I made our way to Devin, which is a half hour bus ride from Bratislava. The castle sits about a hill overlooking the Danube. The castle was so cool. We explored what was left of the castle for several hours. The castle has been built and re-built since the Romans controlled the known world. Most of the castle was only ruins, but it was still cool nonetheless.
There aren't enough words to explain how cool the castle was. Kendra and I even got ourselves into a little bit of trouble. We found a way to climb onto of the castle walls and walked above one of the castle gates where I imagine archers stood to shoot approaching armies. It was quite dangerous, but we were safe about it.
I think that before I leave Slovakia, I will have to take the castle by force. Would the government really send troops or the police to try to get me out of the castle? I think I could guard the castle quite well. I will need my own men, bows and arrows, swords, and surfs. Call me King Daniel from now on.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What A Way to Spend a Wednesday

About a week ago, I was informed that Wednesday I would meet Peter, who is in charge of making sure the Americans have everything they need, at 7 a.m. to go to the doctors. First thing, 7 a.m. is way too early to be ready to go. Well, I suppose being ready at 7 isn't so tough as I have zero period tomorrow (which is at 7:20). Anyway, I met Peter and two other new teachers and we walked to a bus stop and headed toward the doctor's office.

Now, I didn't learn until the day before that they had to get a blood sample. I am terribly afraid of blood tests and anything that has to do with needles. Sitting in the waiting room, I tried not to think about what was going to happen. Not thinking about it was quite easy; I was perplexed with the music that was coming from the stereo. The music was really bad American 80s music.

Anyway, Peter told me that I was the first to go in from our group. I walked into the doctor's office and sat in a chair and pulled up my left sleeve. The doctor motioned to me that I had to flex my arm a few times to get the blood flowing. The doctor tied a rubber band around my left bicep, and then I saw the needle. Now, I am used to getting worked up about getting blood taken and nearly passing out and sometimes wishing that I would just pass out so the pain would be over, but I have never hyperventilated in a foreign country.

The doctor said something like, "will you faint?" And I say, "Nie" (which is no). Then she asked again, and I said maybe, so they had me lie down. Then the doctor did the blood test and all that, and I was totally out of it. My body was very white. I looked at my hands and they lost all color. Then the doctor kept asking, "Cafe," and I kept saying, "Nie, nie." The only thought that went through my head was how much I hate coffee and how that would not make anything better. Then the doctor asked if I wanted tea, and again I said no. Then I remember the Slovak for water (voda), and said that. Peter, who was in and out of the room, said the doctors wanted to take my blood pressure, and I kept thinking, "there is obviously something wrong with my blood pressure. You don't have to take it to figure that out." Then when they were about to take my blood pressure, I sat up and said I was fine, even though I wasn't, I just didn't want my blood pressure taken.

After I don't know how long, I realized what was wrong: they took my blood and said I couldn't eat that morning. I suppose I forgot to mention that.

Today in class I was talking to my class about how stories have purposes to them, so I guess I should be a good storyteller and find a purpose of this story. Not knowing the language where you live is bad, and what also is bad is getting blood drawn, and what is ever worse is experiencing both at the same time.

Friday, September 7, 2007

European Football

After classes today, the students got together to play their football, soccer. Another professor asked me to join them; naturally, I said yes. Soccer and me don't really get along. I am not used to sports that involve kicking things. I could probably count the number of times I have played soccer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed playing. I even scored a goal, which is probably my first ever. We lost in overtime.

I realized something during that game: I could not think of a single student in any of the four classes I have had so far that I would consider obese. I shared this observation with the other professor playing. He said it is rare to see someone overweight. I was not able to figure out the exact difference between Americans and Slovaks right away. Do Americans eat more? Maybe, but I'm not sure if that's it. Do Americans sit around more? No, I think loafing is something that everyone does. Then I realized it was the amount of walking Slovaks do.

When my students asked me the major difference between America and Slovakia, I said trasportation. Nearly every American household has at least one car, some two, some three. Americans drive everywhere. How often do Americans walk anywhere? Most Slovaks rely on public transportation. The streets aren't that busy. Bratislava does not even have very many stop lights.

I do not believe that walking or taking a bus everywhere is inconvenient; in fact, I find it rather enjoyable. I wonder what the average American would say is more convenient.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The First Day

Monday (Pondelok) was our first day of school. It was a short day, however. The school year begins with a church service at the big Lutheran church. The service was in Slovak. There was a bulletin for us to follow along with, but that too was in Slovak. I attempted to sing some of the songs, but it was rather difficult.

After the service, everyone went to the school, and the students met with their class teachers. At the Lyceum, students stay with the same 36 students their entire high school career. So any class they have, they have with those students. Each grade has two classes. In the English classes, they are split into three groups. The class teacher is the person who guides that class their five years in school.

I didn't have any classes Monday, but Tuesday I had two classes. I had my 3rd years. In 3rd year, they learn American literature. In 4th year, they learn British literature. This was my first experience teaching. I was a little nervous before class, but that went away a little bit into class. Some of the students looked a little scared because I told them that they could not speak Slovak in my classroom and they would lose points from their next test if they did. I would be scared, too.

I had my first sweet lunch yesterday. Lunch, which is called "obed," was sweet rolls and soup. It wasn't as bad as people made it seem. I almost liked it.

Well, I don't have any classes today, but tomorrow I have four classes. Today I am just preparing and planning for my classes. We will go to the normal class schedule next week.

The weather is still cold here. It is 46 degrees now. I can't believe it.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Cold August

Greetings again from Bratislava, now chilly and windy Bratislava. The temperature this week has been hovering around 60. That's right, 60 in August.

We have today, Saturday, and Sunday off, but I have many more hours of lesson planning and syllabusing to do. This morning, I went to the police station with a few people to begin the process of getting our visas. We got there at 7:45, we left at 11:30. It was a rough morning. Sitting around for a few hours is very draining.

The frustration of the language is beginning to catch up to me. It is very frustrating not being able to understand what people are saying. I am trying my best to learn the language (maybe not my best, but I'm trying), but I guess it's not something I'll learn in a few days.

There are many things happening this weekend in Bratislava. The city is celebrating the re-enactment of the king going through the city. There will be many activities at the castle tomorrow. It's a cool castle and a six minute walk from my flat.

Well, I suppose that is all that is new from me. School officially starts Monday. I'm excited and unprepared.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Address

For all those who we patiently waiting for my address, here it is:

Daniel Lichtenberger
Evanjelicke Lyceum
Vranovska 2
85102 Bratislava

That is my address for the Lyceum (it's pronounced "leets-eum). I don't know the address to my apartment, but the address at the Lyceum is fine as I will be there 5 days a week.

Today I got a European bank card. Apparently workplaces don't give out paychecks. They only use direct deposit. I also got a bus pass today.

Yesterday was my first day at school. We had a few meetings, which were in Slovak, and worked on syllabi.

Tomorrow is a national holiday to celebrate the beginning of the uprising against the Nazis. I am not too familiar with Slovak history, but from what I have heard, even though the people were against supporting Nazi Germany, Slovakia was their ally during most of WWII. However, in August 1944, in Central Slovakia, 80,000 Slovaks defied the German army to begin the uprising. Most history says that Russian freed Slovakia. However, I have read that the Soviets would not have gotten as far into Europe as they did without this uprising.

One of the most interesting things about being in Slovakia has been listening to their history. One person I met shared with me that historical events in Slovakia are not simply, "This was done right," and "This was done wrong." Instead, people debate what was right and wrong. I suppose I do not fully understand these debates, but it is interesting listening to people question history.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Moving In

I finally got to move into my apartment yesterday. There are two rooms. One for Larry, the guy I'm living with, and one for me. There is also a small kitchen, a toilet room, and a shower room. The shower room doesn't really have a shower; it's more of a hose. It was interesting showering for the first time. And it has no curtain. The picture to the right is of part of my room. As you can see, there is a little sitting area.
The second picture is of the view from the apartment.

Larry and I had our first meal at the apartment. We made spaghetti. This morning we went to the English speaking church, which was nice because it was in English. Then we went to Tesco, which is the Europe equivalent of Super Wal-mart. It was very difficult buying food. Shopping in America is hard enough for me. I wandered most of the time wondering how I was ever going to make it (with food that is).
Friday night we had the national meal, which is basically macaronni and cheese. It was very cheese. It was goat's cheese. Not really my thing.
Tomorrow we start our teacher inservice where we will plan for the first couple of weeks. I'm ready for the students to come.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

At Michi-Lu-Ca this summer, I experience Yedsnedew, a Wednesday backwards. When we woke up we had dinner. It was spaghetti and garlic bread. It was quite an experience. Today, which is also Wednesday, I woke up, went to breakfast, and found 3 hot dogs sitting on my plate. Yes, that's right hot dogs for breakfast. The thing was though that there wasn't any buns for the hot dogs. I was polite and at least ate one.

During one of our sessions today, David, one of the pastors at the English speaking Lutheran church, said that sometimes for lunch at the school the cafeteria will only provide soup and three or four jelly-filled donuts. Yup, donuts for lunch.

Besides strange meals, everything has been going very well. The language is hard to learn, but I am able to buy a few things when I am out. Last night we got to go out into the city for the first time and experience the night life. We learned a little bit about the rich history of Bratislava, which includes Napoleon firing a cannonball into one of the buildings which still stands.
Tonight we get to learn about the ELCA Global Missions policies, which includes absolutely no ransoms if someone is kidnapped. Reassuring, I know.
As promised, I took a picture of the city from my temporary room at the seminary. I hope to have some more pictures up soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hello Bratislava

After three plane rides and a long night, I finally made it to Bratislava. The plane over the Atlantic was quite an experience. Everybody but me and the little Swedish kids in the row in front of me slept. I kept myself busy by watching three movies and playing games on television on the seat in front of me. When I arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, I found my terminal, blopped down on a seat and put my head onto my backpack. I slept for about 30 minutes. I slept again on the plane to Vienna for a little while.

When I arrived in Vienna, people had been waiting for me and we left for Bratislava. The best part though was we rode in a Benz. That's right, a Mercedes-Benz. The only thing was it was a van. We found it quite humorous.

We are staying at the Lutheran Seminary in Bratislava. I room with Eric who is from Minnesota. He refers to U-M as University of Minnesota. We already talked about distinguishing between the U-Ms. Everyone here is pretty nice. A few are my age.

The view from the seminary is fabulous. I have been trying to put new batteries in my camera to get a picture of it; however, I cannot figure out the Europe adaptors yet.

We have Slovak language class in a little bit, so I should go. I will try to put a picture up later.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Countdown Has Begun

Only six days until Europe meets Dan. I've bought nearly everything I need. I've seen nearly everyone I need to see. I've even been commissioned by the ELCA. Some ask, "Are you ready for Europe?" I ask, "Is Europe ready for me?"

At this point, my alter-ego Life-Lesson Dan would say, "Are we ever really ready for anything?" As we all know, we can prepare for the future, but nothing works out as planned. Even events that appear to be the same are always different because no two things are ever the same.

So, like children say in a old-fashioned game of Hide-And-Go-Seek:

"Ready or not, here I come!"