Eastward

In the Fall of 2017, I departed for Slovakia on an exchange program with Rotary International. I kept a blog, documenting my travels, as well as Slovak culture and history. Now I’ve returned to Europe. Starting with a month back in Slovakia, I’m traveling across Europe

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Winter’s Grip on the Tatras

Today, I had my first real winter hike! Never have I journeyed though wilderness in such low temperatures or surrounded by so much snow! Winter has always been a backyard season for me, so getting to explore the spectacular Tatras on the first occasion was a wonderful treat! I went ...

Juraj Jánošík

(Featured Image Credit: Ben Skála, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons) An adventurous teenager by the name of  Juraj Jánošík began his all too short life as a chivalrous scoundrel when he joined the Kuruc rebellion. Hungarians and Slavs rose in a peasant revolt against the opposing Habsburg empire ...

Strangers

Living here these past few months, I have realized that I never really known a stranger. Not in the United States. The numerous people I viewed as so far removed from my world, in reality, were nearer to me than I ever could have imagined—a fact only unveiled by staying ...

A Stroll Through Kežmarok

Today, beneath light flakes of drifting snow, I explored the historic streets of Kežmarok. A small city, not far from Poprad, Kežmarok contains a number of very unique churches and an impressive castle! Unfortunately, as it is Sunday, none of these sites were open for tourists, but I am excited ...

School Initiation and a Small Update

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to officially photograph for my school's initiation of the first year students. I had so much fun watching and documenting the various silly trials and engaging in the ensuing dance party! Now, after hours of slaving over the images, editing them as near ...

Auschwitz

It wouldn't have surprised me if the looming clouds and the sprinkling rain were ever present above the dreary rust-colored buildings, the very Earth trying to block out the place and wash clean its sins. Great and horrible monuments alike survive amid Mankind's tumbling and wanton sense of progress. We, ...

Chronicles: Morena and the Slavs

In that dead hour of the morning, the last before the horizon begins to blush with the dawning sun, when the cold and the shadows are deepest, a spindly figure crawls over the crest of a northern hill to gaze upon the villages below. Her hair is darker than the ...

Kráľova hoľa

Mountain passes, blazing with the intense colors of fall, slipt past the car as my host father and I made our way into the wilderness for a Saturday hike. Brilliant reds and golds decorated the trees which carpet the rolling mountains of the Low Tatras (Nízke Tatry). Aside the country ...

Today’s Photographic Endeavor

After Slovak lessons in the morning, I departed with Antoine, an exchange student from Canada, to tour Poprad by foot and practice our photography. We had the remainder of the day's classes off since all of our classmates are either in London or Bratislava. Antoine and I walked to Spišska ...

An Autumn Trip to the Bachledka Ski Slopes

Today, I journeyed with my host mother to the Bachledka Ski Slopes near Slovakia's border with Poland. An attraction was recently constructed there and the nice weather (at least in the towns and cities where most live) attracted many visitors to the location. We hiked up the ski slopes, the ...

Trenčín and Its Castle

A couple of weeks ago, during a the Rotary Youth Exchange Summit for all the students in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I had the opportunity to visit Trenčín Castle! There were nearly a hundred of us, so understandably were unable to enter inside, but it was still a joy ...

Monthly Musings: September 2017

I have been in Slovakia for just over a month now—a period punctuated by the annual Inbound Orientation Meeting for RYE students from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This assembly and all the advice given to us exchange students on how to best move forward through our year has me ...

Castle Strečno

The forces occupying Strečno Castle during the middle ages used their cliff-side perch to full advantage, warding from potential invaders and taxing those who traversed over river and road below. The castle was modest then. Only a square tower and a courtyard, surrounded by stone walls and a moat. How ...

Zelenom Plese and Jahňací Štíť

The trail to Zelenom Plese (Green Lake) began amid a logging operation. Hikers passed aromatic timber and dormant equipment before their journey through unadulterated nature truly began. A crossroads and its accompanying sign acted as a gate to the Tatras above. Here, the hikers scattered throughout the mountainsides, most of ...

Téryho Chata and the High Tatras

The phone on my hip buzzed as my party reached the base of the mountains after a long decent and an even longer climb. Despite my broken understanding of Slovak, I knew what the notification said. "Congratulations! You walked farther today than anytime in the past year!" I couldn't help ...

Spišská Nová Ves and the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

As the patina likenesses of da Vinci, Mozart, Walt Disney, and the Great Sphinx of Giza gathered at the base of the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, our bespectacled tour guide rotated the tower door's lock and led us up a narrow, spiraling staircase of stone. Many ...

Spišská Sobota

Named for the once regularly occurring Saturday markets held in its square and the region to which it belongs, Spišská Sobota (literally Spiš Saturday) is the best preserved town center in Poprad. Once an independent town, it was incorporated into Poprad as the cities grew ...

Poprad, Slovakia

Charmingly set beneath the monolithic mountains of the High Tatras, Poprad is a town of winter sporting and medieval beauty. I am delighted to be living in a place that is so near to nature and boasts a long and vibrant—if troubled—past. History The city of Poprad sits on a ...

Welcome to Slovakia!

My name is Andrew Dundas. I am an exchange student with Rotary International, an organization dedicated to making global ties and fostering change through service to one's community and world. As an exchange student, I am an ambassador for my country and my generation. Rotary sponsors our journeys in the ...

An Eastward Exchange

(2022 Editor's Note: The featured image was taken at Versailles near the end of my trip and is included here as one of the few—non-selfie—images of me from exchange.) On An Eastward Exchange, I aim to evoke the ambience of the locations I visit through writing, video, and photography; to ...