Monday, December 7, 2009

A Weekend in A Village

This past weekend (December 4-6), I spent time at my friend Miro's house in a little village in South Central Slovakia, Pribelce. About 500 people live in Pribelce. Just walking down the streets, one could tell that everyone knew everyone else. When there was someone people didn't know, they knew that it must be a visitor.

The highlight of the weekend for me was the Pribelce sandpit and the end of the pig killing.

The Pribelce sandpit is monstrous. Unfortunately, my camera wasn't working, so I couldn't take a picture of it. Miro explained that about a million years ago, an ocean lay over the city. This is evident in the shark teeth that one is able to find in the sandpit. I looked for shark teeth but could find none.

We were invited to a pig killing, but we showed up halfway through the process. The pig was already killed and the workers were busy stuffing meat into pig intestines to make sausages. The workers used a small device, almost like a gun, to shoot the meat into the intestines. It was a fun process to watch. They explained the whole process from the killing to the storing of the pork and sausages. It has inspired me to want to see the whole process.

In my classes, we are reading "The Importance of Being Earnest" and one character says that when one is in the city, he entertains himself and when one is in a village, one entertains others. Surely that was the case this weekend, as we had to provide the entertainment for ourselves. There's no malls to walk in. There's no events to attend.

Needless to say, I'm glad to live in the city.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In the Recording Studio

On October 8, 2009, a student came running into class asking if I could do her a favor. She asked if I would do a recording for Slovak Television on that day. She said she did not know what I would be recording, but it would be a voiceover.

Considering it an opportunity that I might never have again, I accepted.

So I met the student at a recording studio. A script was prepared for me and another American to read. The script discussed the history of Bratislava and why a European congress should take place in Bratislava in 2013 for Oncological and Gynocological research.

Though I am unsure who prepared the script, it was rather absurd at times. They wanted me to say things like, "Bratislava is a Mediterrean-type city." I told them that this was just ridiculous and untruth, so I could not say it. They did not object.

The recording process was fascinating. The microphones were so sensitive that even shifting my weight might cause noise. It was also interesting how they would re-record parts that I made a mistake on. The producer would play back from where I did not make a mistake and then I would begin the script again.

I had only read the script three times before recording, so it was difficult to read the text without making mistakes.

Breathing was perhaps the hardest part of the whole process. I had to turn my head to the side to breathe because I felt that my breathing was too loud.

Because I might never be in such a recording studio again, I had the student take a picture of me attempting to sing so that people might think that I was recording a CD.

If you ever watch a video about a European congress taking place in Bratislava, you might hear a familiar voice. Just think: my voice will be heard by hundreds of influential people throughout Europe. I didn't know I was that loud.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fall Break 2009 - Dublin, Ireland

During fall break, five of us went to Dublin, Ireland. It was my first trip to an English speaking country. It felt much different knowing that we could speak English with anyone we met. We spent four days in the city.

Dublin is a city that likes to parade its various artists. All around Dublin are quoted from authors such as James Joyce and Jonathan Swift.

In the city, there are many signs that say "To Let." My first thought when I saw those signs was that it looks like "Toilet", only the "i" is missing. I was not sure how anyone else did not see the same thing until we found a sign in which someone put the "i" into it.

The most famous attraction in Dublin is the Guinness brewery. The tour of the Guinness brewery begins with an introduction into the art of making beer. For Guinness there are four ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast. The tour takes the tourist through the process and shows different advertisements for Guinness over the years. The beer is celebrating its 250th anniversary.

On one of the days, we all went on a bus tour to see the countryside and the Powerscout Gardens. It was a rainy day, so it was difficult to enjoy being outside, but we did our best to do so.

Another place we visited as Trinity College, the major university in Dublin. It was created so that the Irish would not have to go to England to receive an education. Interestingly, a dozen or so students receive a scholarship a year for speaking Irish. On the campus, there was a sign that said, "Please keep off the playing fields." We thought, "How can playing be done on the playing fields if people must keep off them?"

One of my favorite things about Dublin was the friendliness of the people in the city. We are used to rude waiters while out to eat, but, in Dublin, waiters were there to serve us and not the other way around. We also had interesting conversations about life in Dublin from the perspectives of two restaurant managers/owners, something we could not imagine doing in Slovakia.