Before Exchange, the MAIN advice that any previous exchange student gave me was to be a “yes-man”. No matter what it is (within reason of course, keep in mind the 4 D’s 😉 ), give it your best shot. At the end of August, all of the exchange students in Slovakia received an email inviting us to participate in Kosice’s Peace Marathon. This marathon is the oldest in Europe and the second oldest in the world (the first being, of course, the Boston Marathon), so it was kind of a huge event. I was stoked.
HOWEVER, I was stoked for the mini marathon, a quick 4km (2.5 miles for everyone who is too lazy to convert, like me), as well as the festival the night before. So, when an exchange student friend of mine asked me to join her in the half-marathon, I was a little skeptical at first. The most I have ever run was a 10k, and I don’t believe I did too well in that. But, I knew this was an opportunity that I shouldn’t pass up on, so I signed up with her (as well as convinced another exchange student to suffer with us).
The marathon weekend
This past weekend the marathon FINALLY came. Kosice is a whopping 5 hours away from my town of Nitra, but the car ride wasn’t too bad with my friend and her YEO (who I will be forever thankful to). Saturday was truly crazy. We met up with the other 29 exchange students inside of Kosice’s mall and sat around for roughly 30 minutes just trying to figure out what we were supposed to be doing. The next two hours were spent registering for the race and rushing around with some of Kosice’s finest to try and reach each event in time (we failed…miserably). After speed-walking with Slovakia’s Matej Toth (gold medal winner in the Olympics, for speed walking…this man is insanely fast) and attempting to take pictures (some will be posted in the gallery, so check it out!), we finally relaxed for an hour at a cute restaurant. The rest of the night was spent walking around the city and attending Biela Noc (White Night), a contemporary art festival. While Biela Noc in itself wasn’t too impressive, the time spent with the exchange students and some of the organizers was well worth it.
The three of us participating in the half marathon were lucky enough to spend the night with Kosice’s YEO and his family. They were so incredibly kind to us, I could not be more thankful. We spent roughly an hour chatting with him and his wife about exchange and our feelings about the race over some tea before finally heading to bed (at midnight..). Finally, race day was here and my friend was more excited than I believe I have been about anything, but it made me more excited too. While the race itself wasn’t the greatest (turns out running on an injured ankle is not the best way to make it heal), I enjoyed every second and now I have the ability to say that I participated in Europe’s oldest marathon (and I have a medal to prove it!).
Moral of the story: those ex-exchange students are right. Never say no. You will never regret trying something, but you will ALWAYS regret the opportunities you don’t take.