Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Day 16 - 17th July, Poděbrady

The multicultural evening took place in one of the castle’s larger rooms (N.B. I think I’ve neglected to mention that summer school takes place in a castle. It’s quite cool.). Including the UK, there were thirteen countries giving presentations. 

The couple from Argentina went first, and mostly talked in English as they were beginners at the start of Summer School and speak even less Czech than I do. They didn’t mention to Falklands (haha) and handed round this really nice chocolate biscuit. The French followed them. Unfortunately, they all speak really good Czech, so I didn’t understand much, but they did have beautiful slides of French towns on their presentation, which is fairly typical. I don’t think I’ve seen a French town centre looking anything less than postcard pretty. Even in the rain. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s forbidden in their constitution. The Latvians were up next up, explaining in three languages (English, Czech and Russian – impressive or what?) that their country was divided into five regions, each with its own dress, dialect, dance and food. They also kept reiterating that they were not Lithuanian. I sense they have been asked what it’s like to live in Lithuania one too many times. I can sympathise, if someone ever calls me American, even once, I think I’ll flip. 

The Poles showed an amazing animated film about the history of Poland and Ildiko, who comes from Hungary, gave us a quick lesson in the Hungarian alphabet and pronunciation. She was followed by our very own Misha (aka German!Mike) who gave us a quiz about the differences between Germany and the Czech Republic. They have a lot t in common, and the answers to his questions surprised a lot of people, even the Czechs in the room. Since there are so many Russian people on the summer school, they decided to split their presentation into two, so more people got a chance to take part. For their first one, they sang a Russian folk song, and handed out soup. I took one sip, and then it “accidently” fell into the bin. However, the fish and garlicky hors d’oeuvres made by the French were really nice. And I think Team GB, as I nicknamed us in honour of the Olympics, drank a bit too much of the sect that was going during the break. Sect is Czech champagne. It’s really, really good. The trouble is, it gets you drunk quite quickly…

After the break, the Swedes took the stage and to the dulcet tones of ABBA did a sort of lottery, giving everyone a number and then giving out prizes when numbers appeared on certain slides. Jones won a plastic Viking helmet, whilst someone else in our class won an “Absolut Sweden” t-shirt. The Slovenian team (including T, S’s roomie) followed, and told us quite a lot about their country, including some famous poets who lived there. What I found most interesting about the presentation was the origins of Slovenia. Despite only being founded in 1991, it has evidence of human habitation over 250,000 years ago. Next on where was Ukraine, who showed some absolutely stunning pictures of Ukraine in both winter and summer, and then the last team before us, Taiwan, hit the stage. Both Taiwanese girls are tiny, so it was a shock to find out that one of them, who is also Sheffield!Nic’s roomie, teaches Kung-Fu! Then it was us! Our presentation went well, with people enjoying the strawberries and cream, and laughing at the videos of our “weird” sports.
Afterwards several people said they had enjoyed it, including our teacher Zusanna. We were not the last presentation though. The presentation from Saudi Arabia was delivered by one guy (which must have been nerve-wracking) in English, since he was a beginner.  It was fascinating to find out so much about a country that also seemed so shrouded in mystery, and it cleared up a few things for me, such as the fact that it’s not just the women who have to cover up in Saudi, the men have to wear long, white robes as well. However, given Saudi’s not exactly amazing record with women’s lib, especially in regard to driving and letting them take part in the Olympics, the guy was given a bit of a grilling in the Q & A section following. The Russians gave the second half of their presentation after Saudi Arabia, handing out vodka and gherkins, which were surprisingly more popular than the soup, and then dancing to this year’s Eurovision entry from Russia. The Russian!roomie was involved – she danced amazingly!

After the evening was over, we headed to the corner shop, to grab some dinner (I avoided the microwave meals and grabbed a pot noodle instead – Yeah I know, not exactly healthy, but it was late and I was hungry). We headed back to the kolej, and sat in the corridor talking until the lights got officially turned off by the woman on duty and we decided to call it a night. It was an amazing night!

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