Wednesday, January 9, 2013

International Summer School of Rusyn Language and Culture

If you are considering participating in the Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum International Summer School for Rusyn Language and Culture, you might be wondering what it’s like to live in Presov, in the dorm. What is the food like? What are the history and folklore sessions like and the language class? –First, here are some descriptions of the living situation. In another installment you’ll hear about the classes and faculty.

Prešov is a small but bustling city—a lovely place to spend a few weeks. It resembles other small cities and towns in Central Europe with its large main central “square” on which are located some significant and beautiful historical buildings and stores, lots of flowers, and people heading on their way to work, shopping, or strolling just for fun. An initial walking tour with Studium guides will immediately show you that there is much to explore on your own time and also that it’s not difficult or complicated to find your way around.

The main street which runs through this central square is called Hlavná ulica or, literally,  “Main Street.” Just off Hlavná ulica is a picturesque side street called Florian ulica. Here you will find some coffee shops where you can sit either inside or outside and enjoy a fragrant coffee or an icy beer, relax, enjoy the company of new friends, and people-watch. And there is nothing as refreshing as the unforgettable ice cream in the “Croatia” ice cream shop on Florian (and found elsewhere in town) with its large window open onto the street and serving a variety of scrumptious flavors. You will always find a line of patrons there! The fruit ice creams or various chocolate varieties are among the more amazingly vibrant tastes you’ll ever experience. I’m serious about this—really! You’ll definitely need to visit this shop more than once. The walk back to the dorm from Hlavná ulica takes about 10 minutes or 15 at a more relaxed pace. The more walking you do, the more ice cream you can justifiably enjoy.

Also located on the main square area is a TESCO department store. Its lower level is reserved for grocery shopping, and Slovakia offers everything you could want in terms of food and drink there and in other grocery stores. The TESCO sell all kinds of goods, including clothes and souvenirs. Studium guides can also direct you to a bus that stops in front of the dorm (they’ll teach you how to buy a ticket from the vending machine by the bus stop—very easy) and this bus takes you within a few minutes to another newer and larger TESCO. The Prešov mall, also accessible by bus, is completely modern and offers a chance for even more serious shopping of all kinds.

One of the views from the dorm down toward the cafes.
See where the open air covers are on the sidewalk across the street from the dorm.
The dorm houses international Studium students on the 11th floor which was renovated just a couple of years ago. Most of the dorms rooms are suites of two “bedrooms” with two beds each, and each suite has a toilet which is in a separate little cubby from the sink and shower. It has been possible for previous participants to ask for a bedroom for one person for a few extra dollars, and this may be the case again. The views from the 11th floor are truly stunning. From one side, for instance, you can see into the distance toward the village of Kapušany, and if you look carefully, you can actually see the ruins of Kapušany castle high up on a craggy hill (For a view of the castle from a hang glider’s perspective, see this Youtube clip: From another side of the dorm, you look down at the swiftly flowing Torysa River which runs through Prešov and offers a walking and running trail for residents and visitors. Wifi is available in the rooms, as are small refrigerators. There are two kitchens with a stove and a smattering of pots, dishes, and mugs, and each has an additional and larger refrigerator for residents to use. Some of us became proficient at using the European washing machine and dryer located in the kitchen areas, others simply washed out items of clothing by hand and hung them on travel drying lines stretched across the room. Bring light summer clothing, and washing clothes won’t be a problem at all.

A section of the university cafeteria where Studium participants often eat
Breakfast at Studium
The cafeteria is located just across the parking lot from the dorm. Previous participants in the Studium have graciously offered their advice to the Studium organizers concerning what kinds of foods were most appreciated. There will sometimes be delicious pastries and hearty bread and butter, sometimes cheese and ham, at other times eggs and yogurt, and even granola, for breakfast. Lunch always starts with a delicious soup served family style, followed by a variety of dishes made of meat and potatoes, some fish, several versions of baked dough. Salads have been available, as well, and international participants have encouraged this trend so that the cafeteria managers are beginning to understand more and more what is successful and what is not. Some dishes that were served for lunch or for supper (which is usually lighter than lunch, as is typically European style) were a bit difficult for us to define, made of thick dough and other ingredients. The occasional serving of pirohŷ is always a hit. A sense of humor definitely makes the experience of dealing with the food fun. You’ll have some amusing memories from this aspect of the program—but you’ll never need to go hungry, believe me. And with a visit to TESCO, you can always find a few snacks or pieces of fruit to supplement the cafeteria diet.

 The Ballada Coffee Shop

Perhaps the most beloved spot for Studium participants has been the Ballada coffee shop. It’s located directly across the street from the dorm, a 2-to-3-minute walk from door to door. The Ballada is totally cozy either downstairs or upstairs. Some of the walls are lined with bookshelves filled with books, including books about Carpatho-Rusyns; tables are close together; delicious coffees are served as lattes, cappuccinos, and in other forms, along with pastries, and tea and refreshing beers are also available. The atmosphere inside is perfect. But patrons can also sit outside at small tables in a covered area. This is a great place to relax with friends, talk, and just enjoy a late afternoon or evening. Some participants actually find this a good place to do some studying.

In another post I’ll describe the Studium faculty and classes and also what a typical day is like.

For further information and application, please go to:
Written by Pat Krafcik, email:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your detailed description. I look forward to your next post about the classes.