Monday, 8 August 2011

31/7 to 6/8, SES in Nitra

SES, or summer esperanto studies, has a very well run program, and very full, which is why I am writing this late, and as a single blog.
First, the courses. The first thing we did is a test to see what our level of esperanto is. I was put in the 3rd class out of 5, so I guess that makes me somewhere around intermediate. There were people from about age 10 to 65, mostly from Europe, but also from other countries. My class was conducted in esperanto, and about 26 in the class. I am still surprised how much I can understand. I purchased a book which helps learn the grammar.
The afternoons were filled with lectures about different topics, or tours of the region. We went for an afternoon tour of Nitra which included the castle. It appears to have an identity crises as it turned out to be a church. Here we learnt of two brothers that translated the bible into the local language about 1100 years ago. The statue of them keeps popping up everywhere.
The city was actually quite clean. We went into the local Chinese tea house and sampled some tea and chocolate. There is some tradition of pouring a pot of tea over Budda using small cups. I didn't fully understand it, it just looked like a waste of tea.
One afternoon I took a self guided tour of mount zor-something. This use to be a hill fort in the bronze age. The earthworks are still there.
Wednesday was a whole day excursion to Bratislava. We started with a castle built on a rock. Some parts date back to Roman times. Some parts were destroyed by Napoleon, and others in WW2. The big European river, the Danube???, flows straight past. This was also the border of the old soviet republic, and many people tried to make it across the border,and failed.

Evenings were concerts. These were conducted in both Esperanto and English. The opening even featured the local Mayor. We got local family bands, esperanto bands, cute local esperanto singers, and people who just wanted to do something from their country. The pub was conveniently located next to the hall, so drinks were always on hand; 1 euro per beer. I don't know what they put in the beer, but it really makes you piss. First time within an hour, before bed, 3 in the morning, and once more in the morning. The closing concert on the last night, they gave various gifts to certain people. I got one for travelling the furthest to get there.

Nights was general socializing, with some sleeping. Between late nights, early mornings and learning, I became very tired.
So far, I feel that SES is the best event for beginners to both the language and the culture. The main criticism is the food. It was almost always dreadful. The cafeteria here are the only people who can make chicken taste like overcooked pasta! Sometimes they served traditional recipes such as one that translates into "potato with potato"!

Photos: people on my table in class holding our trophy that we "purchased" in a game. 5 singers, they were here learning esperanto, and singing in esperanto. Some interesting "art", look at the attention to detail in the middle! A plate of food that was edible.

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