“Everyone smiles in the same language.”
It is the best quotation which describes Erasmus exchange experience! As the best option for me, I have chosen Slovakia to start my adventure…and I do not regret my decision! Banska Bystrica has Matej Bel University, with around 16 000 students plus about 100 Erasmus students per semester. Those 100 students make the really big family from all over Europe. There are six faculties ( economic, political science, natural science, art, education and law). There is also students organisation: ESN (Erasmus Student Network) which organises many events for students, that’s why you can see many students in the city centre. There is always something happen.
Banska Bystrica has cheap but comfortable students houses, for me, a person who lives with parents, living with three people in one room was quite strange, but then I realised that there is no time for sitting only in the room. There were so many places to visit. Price for one room (for three students) was 54 euro per month! If you are not a student, the cost of hotels is around 40 euro per night in a double room.
Food in student houses
OK, we have the place to sleep, so then let’s go to find something to eat. In one of the student’s homes, there is the canteen which also serves local food. As far as I remember the price was around 2 euro – one meal with soup. What did they serve? My favourite “Smažený sýr s hranolkami a tatarskou omáčkou” here is a recipe (fried cheese, chips, special mayonnaise sauce). I am not a chef, but even for me, it was easy to prepare it by myself at home. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.
As we are close to the subject of food I need to write about Bryndzové halušky here is a recipe (potato, flour and salt), typical Slovak meal. The best burger after all-night parties is Mašla – made in the small food truck in the city centre. I also really like “kofola”, it is similar to Coca-Cola, but kofola is 100x better 😀 Slovakia is also the famous destination for beer lovers. The tradition of brewing beer in the city under the Urpin hill began as early as 1501. I also recommend trying beers like Šariš, Zlaty Bazant (Golden Pheasant) and Smadny Mnich. All of them, for sure, you can drink in pubs in Banska Bystrica.
Places to visit
Great! Now we can explore the city. What impressed me on my first day in that town, was the fact that close to the city centre is the mountain called Urpin (the same name for the local beer). Great place for people who love the beautiful cityscapes. It is a favourite place of recreation with several hiking trails. The tradition is to drink Becherovka – herbal drink contained 38% of alcohol on the top of the mountain.
It is a students city, quite small, but full of pubs and cool places to chill with friends. A prominent place to visit is an excellent club Ministry of Fun – the most significant dancehall in Slovakia. I can also recommend NJOY – modern place to dance and drink, Ponorka- pub mainly for students, Capitol pub- the place to drink the best Slovak dark beers, Kaviaren ARENA- lovely, a quite calm pub.
Banska Bystrica has the town square with the clean pedestrian street with many pubs and restaurants. The main square in Banská Bystrica – called Square of Slovak National Uprising is one of the most beautiful in Slovakia. You can climb up to the Clock Tower, or sit near the beautiful fountain. The town hall has an impressive architecture…but all of those attractions you have to see for yourself.
Banska Bystrica is also a great place to visit other towns in Slovakia. There are buses and trains connections. (Slovak students but also Erasmus students can travel by train for free!) You can go to the capital- Bratislava or other beautiful cities, eg. Zvolen, Kosice, Ruzomberok, Banská Štiavnica or Donovaly- it is skiing resort famous for dogsled racing. You can also visit Tatralandia- the most significant aqua park in Slovakia.
Culture of Slovakia
I fell in love with Slovak music; I did not expect that it is so exciting. At the beginning of may. The University organises students event with a lot of great local music. The hoilday is called Majales. Students don’t have classes at that time. They can chill and listen to great music. If you want to see Banska Bystrica, I can recommend you to see the music video of Slovak singer Adam Ďurica – Mandolína (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iiYHJdjyzE). It was recorded mainly in the town square in Banska Bystrica.
It is the view from the dormitory during Majales.
- There is a big shopping mall called Europe. There are many shops, restaurants and one cinema. There are also huge supermarkets such as Lidl, Kaufland, Tesco, Billa.
- Slovakia is a country where people love sports such as bike riding (safe and calm roads), swimming (there is indoor swimming pool Stiavnicky in Banska Bystrica)
- Taxi was cheap; it was around 2,50 euro – doesn’t matter where do you want to go (in the city). There are also the train station and right bus connection.
Many people cannot speak fluently in English, and it is better to be patient and friendly. Gestures are always helpful, Before coming to any country I still like to learn some vocabulary, here you have a few useful examples:
hello – ahoj
good afternoon – dobrý deň
thank you – Ďakujem
yes – Án
accommodation – ubytovanie
restaurant – reštaurácia
There is an excellent sentence about small cities, and it can be about Banska Bystrica :
It is a city which you have never heard of before, but which you will remember forever!
ENJOY SLOVAKIA! (remember to try local food and to drink dark beer )