You have certainly noticed a new "black- eyed boy" walking in the corridors of our school. He is from Chicago and his name is Dan Lowman. And, if someone is interested,- he's not single.
Daniel with his wife
At first, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Dan Lowman and I'm from Chicago. I graduated from university two years ago and my degree is in sociology and teaching. I really like sociology because it's a study of how people interact with each other, how people get along with each other. So being here is a good mix because I'm in a new place, in a new culture, and I'm teaching. It's the two things I like to do.
How did you get to Slovakia? And why Slovakia?
That's a really good question. I work for an organization called Peace Corps (which is the same as Julia Bagley worked for). It's an US government program and they go to about 90 countries all over the world. When I first signed up, I thought they were going to send me to somewhere in South America, because I speak Spanish and I studied Spanish at university. But this is the US government and they said: " Let's send you to Europe, to Slovakia, where nobody speaks Spanish and you can learn a whole new language that's really difficult." They gave me a choice, actually, between Slovakia, Poland and Surinam which is in South America, but it's a Dutch speaking country. I thought about it for a long time, I read some books.... Slovakia sounded like the best place - it's got good food, it has a beautiful landscape, good schools and I think that the people are great. So, you knew something about Slovakia before you came here?
A little bit. I'd been to the Czech Republic before, so I'd heard of Slovakia, which is more than a lot of Americans can say, unfortunately. Central Europe isn't a place Americans study a lot in school. I don't think that's a good thing. I guess that's one of the reasons why I came, because I wanted to find out more about it. And then, when I go home, there are that many people who don't know about it. What was the first thing you noticed when you came here that was different than in the US?
Almost everything. That's not true, a lot of things are the same. The food is different. It's good here, but it's just not what I'm used to. My favourite food in the world is an American cheeseburger. You cant' get one anywhere in Europe at all. ( I miss those a lot ). The language is difficult. I'm working on it and I can speak a little, but it's .... Everyday I have to keep practising. You find out that you're like a two-year old again because you don't know how to say things, so you have to point and you have to act things out. And it's just like little children do when they are on the street. They don't know the word, then they point, they beg their mother for things. That's what I'm like with the other English teachers because I have to ask: What's the word for haircut?
So it's difficult to adjust. It's not so difficult. Just because the people are so easy to get along with. So many people speak English, especially young people. Again, around the world things are the same - people have to get their hair cut, they have to buy clothes, buy food in the grocery store... but movies are in English, so it's not too bad. Kosice is a great city- it's got everything you can ever want. Some of my friends are in little villages that have 800 people. I thing it's a lot harder for them when they came from a big city, like Atlanta or N.Y.C. , and all of a sudden they're in a small town and they're the only persons that speak English. It's gotta be hard. Is there anything you can't get used to?
That you have to take a basket into the grocery store. If you don't take the basket, they yell at you. I can't do it. It's hard for me to wait for a basket to come, because I'm standing there and I only need one thing! I wait and I wait, and then I just go and get yelled at. That's hard to get used to. Everything else, though... you just get used to it. I'll be here for two years, so it's home now and I have to get used to it because it's where I live. What do you think about our school system and about our students?
They're both great! Students the same age in the US don't know as much. They don't work as hard and they just don't know as much. We study foreign languages in high school there, but people who take four years of French, for example, they can't really speak it when they're done. It's by the end of university they can. And here, you guys are examples of students who've been here for three or four years and you speak English extremely well. ("Oh, thanx"-Verca & Eve.) Even my first year students speak English extremely well. Just how hard the students work is really amazing. There are no problems in class with people making trouble.... And the teachers are good, too. They work really hard and I know Slovak English teachers spend so much time preparing and thinking about what they're gonna teach. The school and the students are really good. Tell us about your favourite food, music, movie and actor/ actress?
My favourite American food is cheeseburger. My favourite Slovak food is probably vyprazany bravcovy rezen and zemiakove knedle. I like those a lot. I like blues and I like the Rolling Stones. Favourite actor... probably Harrison Ford and actress Julia Roberts. My favourite film is an old one. It's called The Blues Brothers and it's from 1980. It's a great movie with Dan Aykroyd and James Belushi..
Well, thank you very much for an interview and we wish you good luck. Bye! Veronika & Evelina