Connection with nature
Banská Bystrica is surrounded by mountains, which created good conditions for outdoor sports. Many small villages in the nearby hills have ski lift that operates in the winter and several bigger ski centres are within 30 minute drive from the city centre. The most famous one is Donovaly, serving as a gate to Low Tatras mountain ranges. It offers ski slopes, off-terrain down hills, routes for cross-country skiing and also opportunities for ski alpinism, winter mountaineering and even dog sledge racing. In summer, you can hike, ride a bike in the mountains or just enjoy the nature and sit down for a fried smoked cheese in a wooden restaurant.
When I lived in Banská Bystrica, I got accommotadion in student dormitories. A small ski centre is located just 20 minutes from the place. In winter, it was enough to take the snowboard and half an hour later I was already riding. In summer, I started running at the dormitory door and in five minutes I was in the mountains.
There are enough parks in London or Bratislava, where I lived later, but I felt much better connection with nature in Bystrica. Maybe because the town itself is just the city centre, with the castle and medieval church and the rest are former villages in the mountains that grew into some kind of interconnected settlement.
Professional sport and hard work
Banská Bystrica used to be a national centre of sport, supported by the military. Many successful Czech and Slovak sportsmen served here in the ranks of the army, including three times Olympic gold medalist in javelin Jan Železný. Later the support of the state and army declined, but Bystrica is still on the sport map of Slovakia thanks to the good conditions for skiing – Olympic medalists in cross-country including Anastasia Kuzminová train here. Athletic meeting in high jump takes place every February and there are several famous hockey players, who also played in NHL. Michal Handzuš, Richard Zedník or Tomáš Surový all started here.
I was introduced to professional sport when I entered the university – I studied physical education and English. I did not have background in this field, neither sports talent, and it took me long to learn some of the skills needed for passing the school criteria. Many of my school mates were former athletes and it was much easier for them. However, I started working on myself and apart from the head-on approach I used some science and common sense in my workouts. I developed quite good physique and learnt basic skills of most of the sports, which I try to maintain and improve, because learning to overcome the obstacles in training – be it hurdles on the track or learning to swim butterfly – prepares you for obstacles in life.
Taking care of yourself and other people
I lived in the school campus and for the first time I had to take care of myself. Parents supported me but I felt that I have to try myself and find some work. I did various part time jobs in factories or shops, even night shifts in the book print, where I was filling a machine with paper for the whole night. Many guys were leaving the campus at the weekend and heading home. Instead, I often stayed, did a few part time shifts and spent the rest of time practicing sport skills or learning. It gave me good foundations for the following years, when I would spend my summers working part time in London and gain experiences from other culture.
Banská Bystrica is a university town and where there are students, there are parties. There was a disco at our campus every Tuesday and another one on Wednesday at the campus of the economic university – which means lot of girls. I am not a party person but I used to go out with friends and learn the things. Soon I realised that spending all night drinking is fun, but on the other day you are not able to work or study properly and your mobile phone is full of names without stories to connect with. So I limited the partying to once a week and for the rest of the days I just went to the disco and talked to my friends, who worked there as bouncers. Guys from physical education studies are always the bouncers.
I studied teacher´s training program in P.E. and English language. Unlike with some sport skills, I did well in the English studies. I can say that I was a good student and passed all exams at the first time. Similarly, I made a very good choice with my bachelor and master’s thesis topic. I did research on British newspapers for bachelors and investigated Scottish and Welsh Independence for masters. These timeless topics improved my researching writing skills (which I improved even more since) and gave me good foundations for my later hobby in journalism – which now turned into a profession.
Recently I visited my lecturer and thesis supervisor and he told me that sometimes he reads my works in the Business Focus of The Slovak Spectator bi-weekly. Always, we have a conversation topic at hand, because Scottish and Welsh independence is still on the agenda, in relation to EU or the recent Brexit.
Moreover, during my studies I took lectures on history, culture and literature of the English speaking countries, which is often found in popular culture as well as academic encounters. Knowing what references to „Orwellian“, „Adrian Mole“ or „Boston Tea Party“ mean is always useful.
5. No linear progression between work and reward
At high school, I was used to the simple working of life: you learn certain topic and you get a good grade, you collect 10 kg of fruit and get 100 crowns, you obey what your parents say and they let you play the computer…However, at uni I realised that the outcomes do not depend on the effort put in, but they depend the people and their intentions. You can hand in the best essay but if your teacher thinks that it is lacking deeper opinion, you will not pass the test. Doing promotion work as a part-timer, you arrive to the supermarket on time, as ordered by the agency. Who should have known that the agency did not contact the shop manager – who sent me home with no money.
World is not a cherry pie and instead of doing things right you must often do the things the way the people like it or looking for people who like the things done the right way. It requires knowing the people and also being able to make a good estimate of people. These social skills opened to me during my stories in Bystrica and London, where I entered even higher level of living in the western society. First step is communication, which does not include only knowing the language. I learnt what „we will call you later“ or „of course, you are a nice guy“ really mean…
Second step is being able to get over these refusals and stay motivated – deeper understanding of people brings greater trust into their words.
Third thing is observing indirect feedback – although I prefer if people tell me the mistakes directly.