Thursday, 30 January 2014

January Ends

Dear Friends. I hope January has treated you well and that February will treat you even better. The snow came to Bratislava this month, and with it came the running noses and the sneezes. It’s spring soon, I hope. Walking around in Old Town is something I would recommend. It’s nostalgic with the scarce lights and snow covering the streets. The romantic cafés and the warm, cosy bookstores are worth a visit.


The tower you see in these pictures is Michalská Brana – Michael’s Gate – the only town gate that is still standing from the medieval fortifications that surrounded the city.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Slightest of Sensations

It happened this morning, early. My sleepy eyes and brain tried to register what the mag was conveying.

There were colours. Some fitness poses. A bit about food. Then I visited Natalie and she had written so nicely about Russian.

It feels like I’m starting to come back to life. Spring is around the corner. I can sense the smell of spring – or maybe it is a recollection of the smell of spring I feel?

It is about the simple things, really, happiness. Lately I have been happy but stressed and tired because of uni and a bit anxious because we are moving (oh yes we are. There is a clue in this blog Smile) without having a job ready. But now it’s starting to feel good, exciting. Not so many weeks to go now!

And by the way. With the risk of being completely silly, there is one t-shirt I want to find. What do you think? Wouldn’t this one be suitable for a CEE-nerd like me?



The text? CeskosLOVEnsko Smile

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Otázka dňa [SK: Question of the day]


Otázka dňa: sú postoje a vnímanie proces alebo výsledok?

Question of the day: are attitudes and perceptions a process or a result?

(Jumping from welfare studies to social psychology is so much fun, gotta love the social sciences)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Kde je moja káva? Posledné dobrodružstvo.


Practicing my Slovak.

Now you too know how to ask where your coffee is and say recent adventure. Life has been quite an adventure lately. I don’t have the energy to stress about it so I decided to start giggling instead. I think that’s a good rule. Giggle. The day will always end and a new one will be starting tomorrow.

How about the adventures?



Some time ago I went crazy in the supermarket. The result: a lot of fruit. What can one day when the fruit cravings kick in? The adventure? Carrying them home.



After a year and a half in Bratislava, I’m starting to find my way. The other day I realised that the main sights are visible in almost all places in the city. Here I was standing at Racianske Myto. looking at Slavin. To my left I could see the castle.



Adventure: trying to capture the sunrise. This is the view from my office. I am not complaining!



I don’t know how many times I have mentioned the fact that I like duck. Actually, the cabbage is the best, then the potato pancake and THEN the duck. We have found a really cosy place (recommended by a friend ages ago but it took some time to locate it) in central Bratislava. The food is good, the service is good, the prices are good. And they serve duck and salmon and other tasty things. So I strongly recommend Pulitzer!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

To je už streda? Is it already Wednesday?

I don’t have many comments for this week – other than that I want it to be over. Like, completely over. I have to write my two last assignments and start on my thesis and attend a seminar and invite our landlady for tea and throw a wine & cheese-party. And go to the gym and work and keep my brain awake.

Oh and it’s payday today. That’s good news.

As I said. No comments. Or as they say in this corner of Europe - žiadne komentáre.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Dobré ránko slniečko!

Good morning sunshine!

New day, new week and new opportunities. I started my week with a very good attempt to get up at 5 am. It was so efficient, that I only snoozed until 5.30.

Expectations for this week? Well, I want to go to the gym after work. And I need to write an assignment on citizenship. Tough stuff. This morning I have been reading about nationality and citizenship in Slovakia. That article is strongly recommended if you are interested in the state of affairs of the Slovak Republic.

And one more thought for the week – hope it’ll be a great one for you!


Sunday, 12 January 2014

dnes (SK: today)


Dnes som unavená. I am tired today. It’s good to know all the essentials in a foreign language Smile The second cup of coffee (with some Arabic spices) is being emptied, while I’m pondering about the schedule for today. I need to make some pea soup, start painting (!!!!), start on an assignment for sociology class, go to Raca (one of the districts of Bratislava, also known as the producer of many good wines), buy some eye cream etc etc etc.

Maybe the correct word is not unavená, but rather ohromená (overwhelmed).

Language note: adjectives in the Slovak language – very much like other Slavic languages – need to agree in gender and number with the noun. As I’m one female, I’m unavená and ohromená instead of unavený and ohromený.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (e feta)

As a friend of simplicity, my opinion is that five or less ingredients in a dish should be enough. One of my favourite pasta dishes is Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino. In other words, spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili. Now, this is what one could call a simple dish. Five minutes is all you need, or maybe eight.


Step 1: boil the spaghetti (or tagliatelle as in this case)

Step 2: sauté a couple of garlic gloves (here cut into small pieces) and some fresh chilies (quantity depends on your threshold of pain - here I had two big chilies) in olive oil


Step 3: toss with the spaghetti in the pan, add some herbs



Step 4: dare to be un-Italian and add some feta cheese.

Step 5: eat.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Where We Went: Esztergom.


Decisions: The Hats

A while back when I was attending a training on communication, I came across the Six Thinking Hats-model.


This model was developed by Edward de Bono and its aim is to include different types of thinking when making a decision. I was using this model in a group, but believe that this model can be applied in individual decision-making as well, considering that it draws attention to different approaches to a problem.

Each hat corresponds to one type of thinking (see Wikipedia for more):
  • Information (White) - considering purely what information is available, what are the facts?
  • Emotions (Red) - intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)
  • Discernment (Black) - logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative
  • Optimistic response (Yellow) - logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony
  • Creativity (Green) - statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes

The blue hat is that of the facilitator – it is there to give direction to the process. So, how are these hats used?

The brainstorming session or meeting begins with the blue hat. After that the hats are “used” in turns (the facilitator decides which hat is currently on) for a short while and all the participators are requested to think in terms of that specific colour.

My experience about this model is positive: I like the way it takes into accounts such aspects as optimism and creativity, and the way that the colours are balanced. It also captures a wide range of factors that may occur once the decision is made (risks and benefits are taken into account) in an out-of-the-box way. It can be beneficial in the beginning of a decision-making process, while the brainstorming is still taking place. I mentioned above that I think this can be applied to individual decision-making, and I’m sure it can but that it requires extra work. It tends to be easier if there is someone external directing the thoughts (when they need to fall into one specific group).

Have you ever tried the hats? What did you think?

Go Get ‘Em!


You only live once, they say. Chase your dreams, go places, love, set your heart to it. I sometimes find these phrases somewhat troubling. Not everyone can do as they please. Not everyone can chase their dreams. Blessed are those who have the guts, the skills and the economic possibilities. Sometimes chasing dreams requires a lot more than just the will, even if it’s a good start. At the same time, how could one not at least try? Goals and dreams do not fulfill themselves. So, I guess I’m kind of divided on this now.


Today I read a thought-provoking update on facebook (where else?) where a person very correctly wrote that the more goals one has, the greater the need to get down to business. And I felt overwhelmed. What am I doing to chase my dreams? I do admire people with a lot of goals and ambitions, I think I have some of them myself. However, I cannot help to wonder if this is chasing is not a product of our society (whom else to blame, right?). Sometimes it is easier to focus on the things that could be instead of appreciating what is.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Places: Norrköping

A few days before Christmas, in the very last days of 2013, we made a short trip to a city founded in 1384. Located next to the Baltic Sea, the city of Norrköping turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It had some of the features of Stockholm, but to a lesser extent. As one could expect from a Swedish town, it is clean and calm, the old industrial area has turned into museums and restaurants. The centre is small enough for one to walk around it.


Monday, 6 January 2014

The Little Things

Sunday night.

J: It’s been a while since we were in Hungary. Shall we go there tomorrow?

S: Yes, let’s.

Monday. Public holiday. No work. We are going to Hungary. This is one of the reasons I like Slovakia so much Smile

Reflections on Creativity

On New Year’s Eve I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine about creativity. Most people – yours truly included (in the past) – seem to think that creativity is linked to art or to the skill of producing things with your hands. As creativity is one of my keywords for 2014, this is one topic I would like to dig my teeth into a bit further.

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I would like to disagree. After spending most of my life being sad about the fact that I’m not a creative person, I have now reached the conclusion that the problem is not me being uncreative. Rather, the problem lies with my definition of being creative and creativity. True, I will never be able to create music or wrap the most amazing presents. My near and dear ones should not expect to receive anything handmade from me – not even a cupcake.

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However, think of any problem you have ever had. What is required from you to find a solution? The answer is creativity. What do you do when you process new information or prepare a project? Again, creativity. How about decision-making? What is needed in order for a good decision to be made? One that is not only rational but also takes into account different emotional aspects and consequences? I think you can guess by now!


I could write so much about this topic, but for now I would just like to conclude that the definition of creativity is wide and it can be applied into so many areas of life and human functioning. One last thought: even though one isn’t very good with their hands (as is the case with me and cupcakes), there is no point in not trying. The result might not be so good, but at least the process of creating might be fun.

What are your thoughts on creativity?

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Ночь, улица, фонарь, аптека, Бессмысленный и тусклый свет.


Look what I found on Wikipedia: one of my favourite poems by Aleksandr Blok!


Night, street, lantern, drugstore.

Meaningless and dull light.

Live another quarter of a century -

Everything will be the same. There is no way out.


You will die – then start again from the beginning.

And everything will be repeated like before:

Night, the channel’s icy ripples,

Drugstore, street, lantern. 


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Great Expectations

(photo Bianca van der Werf: anticipation)

The expectations for the new year are great. There will be some changes in my life that I can’t talk about right now, but one of the things I’m looking forward to is graduating. Finally. Just need to decide what to write about in my thesis. I think it will somehow involve Russia – not the changes, but my thesis. After all, it’s a rather hot topic right now, I know the language and should use it. Очень хорошо.

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We have decided to engage in some travelling as well. Ukraine, Turkey, Morocco and Sicily are some places we would like to visit in 2014. Travelling enlightens. Adventures teach. The other day I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about some core issues I would like to focus on in 2014. There are the usual things: learning and developing as a person etc etc. I decided I need to practice creativity and flexibility in different forms. These key themes might pop up in the blog now and then.  


Something tells me 2014 is going to be very colourful, adventurous and good. I wish all of you the best in 2014.

5. Pät’. Five.

First thought: all it takes to make some good food is five ingredients. Five is a good number to keep things simple while mixing flavours.

2nd thought: maybe I should rename this blog to Cooking in Slovak.

Ingredient # 1 (jeden, jedna, jedno)

Zucchini. Cuketa.


Ingredient #2 (dva, dve, dve)

Garlic. Cesnak.


Ingredient #3 (tri)

Tomato. Paradajka.


Ingredient #4 (štyri)

Couscous. Kuskus.


Ingredient #5 (pät’)

Feta cheese. Syr feta.


How to make it?

Fry ½ zucchini (small), 2 garlic cloves and five cherry tomatoes in olive oil. Prepare the couscous. Once all is done, mix them in the pan. Put on a place, add the feta cheese and some seasoning and spices.

Happy New Year!

First of all, Happy 2014! I’m starting 2014 with a short review of 2013, borrowed from Natalie.
1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Crossed a border (Slovenia-Croatia) on bike. Twice. 
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I tried my best to keep them. And I have made some for 2014. This year will be all about travelling, fitness and creativity. And food.
3. How did you spend New Year’s Eve?
With family and boyfriend.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Italy, Serbia, Austria, Czech Republic and kind of Croatia (we crossed the border!)
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 9th for personal reasons.
8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
My somewhat efficient time management; good academic results despite having a fulltime job.  
9. What was your biggest failure?
None that I can think of.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Must have been books.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Travelling. And books.
13. What song will always remind you of 2013?
14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Travelling. Learning. Creating. Working out.
15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

16. What was your favorite TV program?
17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No. I have no time for hating anyone.
18. What was the best book you read?
So many, so many.
19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Ocho Macho.
20. What was your favorite film of this year?
Did I even go to the cinema?
21. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was probably working, but the weekend before my birthday I was in Belgrade and the weekend after I was admiring Budapest.
22. What kept you sane?
My boyfriend.
23. Who did you miss?
A bunch of friends “back home”.
24. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned.
Don’t forget to breathe.
25. What does 2014 hold for me?
Travelling. Working out. Learning. Hopefully new adventures in foreign lands.