This is a typical Tuesday for me here in Bratislava, Slovakia. Which is call Zoovakia when am I a bad mood and get annoyed by too many toxic stereotypes I see around me.
Tuesdays and Mondays are a lot fun. You can read about one of my typical Mondays in the article where I explain why I don’t need any holidays.
I wake up round six, get ready listening to some German or French documentary.
Then I take a bus to the headquarters of a famous brewery.
At 8.00 I teach one of my most talkative, most ambitious students. This Tuesday we talked about his vacation in Croatia.
About 50 percent of my clients spend their holidays in Croatia.
He is the only one who has something to say about it. The others could only tell me they slept, ate and drank in Croatia, but this guy actually DID something there. And he’s like me, he doesn’t care about looking at nature. He learned something about the cities, about castles and about the tourist sector in Croatia. It’s baffling how many people go on holiday and have nothing to tell you when they come back, but not this guy.
My next student wants to have his lessons in the mall of Polus. There are lots of huge malls in Bratislava, real shopping temples. Polus is just one of them. We have the lesson at a table in the food court. Surrounded by people who stuff themselves with hamburgers we have a lesson on the differences between Common Law and Civil Law. He’s a lawyer who teaches at university.
I have to prepare carefully, because apart from legal terms he also wants to learn slang. So he learns to stay things like ‘we got the piss kicked out of us’ and ‘she’s gobsmacked’ and all kinds of terms concerning litigation. He’s very received and shares personal information only reluctantly, but it’s interesting to work with him, because he’s always very friendly and respectful and is one of the few students who are willing to do a lot of work at home.
After that I teach two more classes at the brewery. The students have the best English of all my students and don’t make that many mistakes. So the trick is to make it as challenging and as complicated for them as possible. Sometimes we play intricate strategy games or we talk about managing people, business, the evolution of Slovakia, etc. They also like to analyze documentaries, like Wild Wild Country. One student offered to try and organize a workshop to let people discover their ‘ikigai.’ He takes this seriously and comes up with all kinds of ideas. He also happens to be the funniest student. Creativity and humor go hand in hand, I suppose.
One thing that’s radically different from Belgium is that several of my students are deeply religious. This means they go to Church at least once a week. Sometimes we have a lesson on a week day and they tell me they got up extra early to go to Church. Being Belgian this is very hard for me to imagine. In Bratislava not a day goes by or I spot nuns or monks on the street or in the bus. The influence the Church has here reminds me of what my father told me about Belgium in the late 1950’s. This gives Slovakia an almost surreal quality in my eyes. I cannot understand what young, ambitious people, often rather driven by monetary gain, can possible find in the doings of a typical church service. I’m convinced it’s more the ritual they need, than what is actually said there, because most sermons have zero to do with any realistically applicable advice for one’s life, even my devout wife is willing to admit that.
Anyway, I left home today at 7.20 am and I am back home at 7.30. I had breaks in between of course and met some wonderful people.