Bratislava-Vienna by train
Though a train corridor between Bratislava and Vienna has existed for years, there was never a train nor a track that ran through it. But on January 7, nine years after communism, a new, modern-looking and spotless train station was opened in Petržalka with service to Vienna. During the day, there are now two regular routes that cut almost half an hour off bus travel: departing Petržalka at 5:30 arriving Vienna Sudbahnhof at 6.26, and departing Vienna at 17.25 arriving Petržalka at 18.20. The new train route Petržalka-Kittsee-Pandorf-Vienna has been under construction since 1995. After 2010, the train connection will be widened to encompass Štefaník Airport in Bratislava and Schwechat Airport in Vienna.
Anyone who wants to support the UNICEF children's fund can buy postcards and presents at three locations in Slovakia. The cards feature small cute pictures painted by children and emblazoned with the foundation's logo. Proceeds from the sale of the cards - which cost from 15 to 40 Sk (40 cents to $1.10) goes to UNICEF-supported Slovak charities like the Baby-Friendly Hospital Fund and the Child Help Line (Linka Detskej Istoty).
UNICEF was founded in 1946, and the postcard tradition began three years later when 7-years old Jitka from the former Czechoslovakia senf UNICEF a hand-made postcard. In Slovakia, you can buy the latest edition of postcards and selected gifts at UNICEF stores: in Bratislava at Grösslingova 6, in Trnava at Hlavná 17, and at Barbakán, Nám. Štefana Moyzesa in Banská Bystrica.
Swimming in winter
The Bešeňová natural spa, situated 30 km from Ružomberok in northern Slovakia, is a great place to relax after a day skiing or walking in the snowy walleys of the Low Tatra. Even in winter, the big spa has five pools filled with naturally heated waters where you can sit and luxuriate as your breath frosts the air. At night, the effect is even more thrilling with the night skies above and the ghostly white hills of the Low Tatras all around. The water is 40 degrees Centigrade in the pool, but emerges 1,987 metres under the surface at 62 degrees. It has strong medicinal properties, aiding respiratory illnesses and making skin fresher and healthier. The spa is open daily from 13:00 to 21:00 during the whole year. For information call Termálne Kúpalisko Bešeňová at 0848-39 24 29.
Apply for an American university!
For the academic year 97-98, 281 Slovak students were registered at 2,579 American universities. Many of them were helped to the US by the American Universities Admission Program (AUAP), an academic organization that helps foreign students enter American universities.
The AUAP has some interesting statistics on Slovak applicants to US universities. Half of the applicants are women, and the major fields selected are Social Sciences and Humanities. At the undergraduate level, students at American universities are allowed to change their course of study (called 'majors') during the first two years, unlike in Slovakia where the credit system does not involve student choice.
Applications for study at American universities take from 12 to 18 months. You can contact AUAP, Suite 19, 5053 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota Florida 34242 USA, Fax: (1) 941-349-4370, e-mail: auap@.com, or you can reach contact person Jaroslav Ježek at AUAP Slovakia, c/o Conimpex, Tel.: 07-6381-066.The selection programmes are not free, so for detailed information contact the Slovak branch before writing any cheques.
The Slovak Academic Information Agency (SAIA) also offers education programmes about studying at universities abroad. One of the most interesting programmes now on offer is the British Embassy competion for four post-graduate scholarships, selected by the British Chevening Scholarship Fund, in fields such as media, human rights, politology, environment, economy and others. The deadline for applications is January 22. For more information contact the British Embassy, Panská 16, 811 01 Bratislava, Tel.: 07-54441-9632, or call SAIA, Na Vŕšku 8, 810 00 Bratislava, Tel.: 07-5443-3010, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case you are interested in more detailed or general information about education in the USA, try contacting these web pages: Educational Testing Service (ETS) - www.ets.org, Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) - www.toefl.org, or Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) - www.gmat.org.
By Soňa Bellušová