We’ve now been in Slovakia for a little more than one week. It’s been quite an adventure so far with our main adjustments coming in the area of the kids’ school, my visa arrangements, and Jana’s Music Together project. In this post I’ll stick to talking about the kids’ adjustments to Slovakia.
Jana’s brother, Slavo, came to pick us up at the airport when we arrived on Friday, June 10. We went straight to their place in Banská Bystrica, which is an apartment in the same building as the church where Slavo is the pastor. Since we don’t have our own apartment yet, we’ll be staying with them until we find a place (more about that in a later post). It’s been great to get to know Slavo and his family better. Slavo’s wife Martina is the superintendent (and founder) of Narnia Elementary School where Elisabeth and Max will be attending school. Thier son Natanael is one year older than Elisabeth and their son Timotej is 6 days older than Max. All four of them are getting along great so far.
Narnia Elementary School
School in Slovakia is quite a bit different than in the States. For one thing, the school year starts September 1 and ends June 30. That means the kids finished their school year in the States and arrived here for the last two and a half weeks of the Slovak school year. Another difference is that the school day is shorter, or longer, depending on how you look at it. The day starts at 7:45 and ends at 12:00 or 1:00. During that time they have math, Slovak, geography, and all the other required subjects. In the afternoon they have what they call “afternoon club.”
Afternoon club lasts from about 1:00 until whenever the parents come to pick up their kids. That can be as late as 5:00. The activities include afternoon English classes with American teachers, preparation for English language musical programs that they perform at the end of the year, musical instrument lessons, art lessons, recess, and various activities like horseback riding, archery, swimming, ice skating, downhill skiing, and so on.
It was by design that we came to Slovakia at the end of the US school year and with a couple weeks of Slovak school left and it’s worked out very nicely. The first week our kids attended only the afternoon club. They got to meet their classmates and they got to experience the “fun” part of school. The kids at Narnia have been very nice, helping them to feel at home and adjust to their new surroundings. Since the kids at Narnia are learning English, they can also help Elisabeth and Max learn to communicate in Slovak. Both of them are doing great with their Slovak.
This week the kids are attending school for the whole day. In fact, yesterday Elisabeth and Max will took placement tests for both Slovak and Math. That will help their teachers know what areas they need special help in. They’ll also let us know what areas we need to work with them in over the summer so they can be caught up with their peers.
Missions in the Mountains
If you happened to read my interview with Elisabeth and Max then you know that one of the things Max was looking forward to about Slovakia was going on Star Wars missions in the mountains. Well, his dream was fulfilled within 24 hours of being in Slovakia. Slavo and Martina have a cabin in the mountains just 20 minutes away from where they live. It’s a very nice little place on a meadow, nestled back against a spruce forest.
Needless to say, just about the minute we arrived at the cabin the first thing Max wanted to do was take off on a mission into the forest. So he did. In our first week here it’s amazing the opportunities our kids have had. They’ve gone hiking in the mountains, horseback riding, archery, swimming, and canoeing (Max twice). So far, Slovakia has made a pretty good impression on them.