This year I feel like I have hardly been home for “major” holidays. In July, I was on the road to Uvalde Texas when my birthday came around. Now I am in Banska Bystrica Slovakia, and Christmas has come and gone. Something that many Americans don’t realise, is that Christmas in countries like Slovakia, is extremely different from what you would be used to in the US. Today I will talk about some of the differences that I noticed.
I woke up on December 24th, with it not quite drilled into my brain that it was actually Christmas. But Alex, Christmas is on December 25th! Well you see, in a few Central/Eastern European countries, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th, not the 25th. After I got dressed, the day progressed rather slowly. My host family was busy preparing the dinner, and they told me that it was tradition to fast before the Christmas dinner (although my host mom did slide me some sweets throughout the day).
Once dinner time came, we all gathered around the table. My host grandmother is Catholic, so she performed some kind of Catholic ritual. I am not quite sure what the symbolism in it meant, but I carried through with it as the rest of my host family did. After that was over, we all dug into the meal. First; was an excellent cabbage soup, which alone filled me up. After we all finished the soup, it was time for the main course: carp with potato salad. It tasted fantastic, although I found it strange compared to the traditional American Christmas dinner. My host sister ate her food as fast as she could; she knew that was coming after we finished our meal. Presents.
The second I set down my spoon, everyone flew out of their chairs and gathered around the Christmas tree. Note, that this is around 7 in the evening. And thus commenced the annual tradition of exchanging presents. All of the gifts that I received from my family were extremely well thought out, and I truly do appreciate all of them. It was not until this year, that I truly understood the joy of getting another a Christmas present. It might be contagious. And with the presents being given and unwrapped, Christmas of 2017 came to a close.
With that being finished, I want to talk about something that has been bothering me the past few days. Over the holiday season, it has come to my attention that more and more people here are becoming extremely homesick. So much so, that they feel the need to share it with everyone else. I have a few issues with this, mainly that homesickness is contagious. For example: someone receives a text from a friend, saying how badly they miss XYZ. This someone then thinks wow, I really miss XYZ. And then the cycle continues. By going and sharing how much you miss something, you unknowingly (hopefully) put those thoughts into others minds.
With that being said, I truly don’t understand where they are coming from. I am one of the youngest people on exchange in Slovakia, with the majority of the people here being over 18. Legally, the majority of the people here are adults, yet they are in tears when they can’t see their mother on Christmas? Give me a break. I am not trying to act like the edgy tough guy, I just cannot fathom how they can stoop to such levels. Let me make it clear: of course I miss my family and friends back home, and you would have to label me a liar if i didn’t say that I wasn’t a little disappointed that I was not able to be with them this holiday season. But that is the difference that I cannot understand: I am disappointed that I cannot be with my family and friends, they are depressed and cancerous.
I am going to be as bold as to say this: my patience with the majority of the exchange students in District 2240 (Czech Republic + Slovakia) has run extremely thin. This is a result of the majority of them acting as a hive mind, with the most entertaining activity they can come up with is fighting tooth and nail for attention. Of course, I cannot say that this generalization covers all exchange students here in District 2240, but it covers many. Too many. I am often criticized that I am too open and should be more cautious with what I write. I challenge those who say this: if those who disapproved with my writing wrote a counter piece in defense, I would welcome it in open arms. I invite you to write something derogatory about me (mostly because I haven’t had the opportunity to truly debate someone in a while) so that we can come to the truth of the matter. But until someone “puts me in my place” I will continue to write freely and openly. I am going to use one of my favorite catch phrases: sue me (and go ahead and try, it isn’t defamation of character if it is true).