Czech visitor enjoys travel, and barbecue
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 28, 2012 1:46 PM
A Czech visitor who spent part of the summer in Goldsboro leaves this week with not only some good memories and improved English, but a deeper appreciation of the culture and a newfound love of barbecue.
Michal Nemethy, 21, is from Slovakia in the Czech Republic. The third-year student at Slovak University of Technology -- where he is studying mechanical engineering -- had been on his first trip to America since June.
He spent the summer with Robert Daniel of Goldsboro, who years ago had lived in the Czech Republic, where he taught English. In 2003, Daniel became impressed with a Beatles revival band he saw perform, the Backwards Band, and soon became their American manager.
Nemethy, nicknamed Miso -- pronounced "Me-show" -- is the brother-in-law of one of the musicians, Dalibor Stroncer, who portrays the late John Lennon.
The band is very popular in his country, Miso said.
"Everyone knows the Beatles revival band. They're very well-known. But they're not like celebrities."
During the two months he was in the U.S., Miso primarily stayed in North Carolina but also had opportunities to visit New York and Connecticut.
"This is for me really a good experience," he said. "New York is one of the biggest impressions. My favorite part was in New York and staying here in Goldsboro, understanding the same things in different ways like we used to in Europe. I like the South."
He especially enjoyed being near the coast.
"I have never been to the ocean, the beach, so I was really excited," he said of a trip the family made to Emerald Isle, where he experienced another first, fishing. "That was great. I caught four fishes. I didn't expect that."
Overall, he said his stay has been "interesting and surprising," citing as an example the notion of a "drive-through cemetery."
"It's so rude, or it's not possible, to go with a car in the cemetery in my country," he explained. "We have an interesting tradition in my country -- go on the first of November to the cemetery, a day of memories of people that used to be with us but they're not. We used to take candles to put on the grave."
Miso was also more than willing to sample American food, although he was admittedly shocked by the abundance of certain things.
"I know before the foods in U.S. is not very healthy, a lot of burgers and junk food," he said. "But I really like butter beans and corn, all the typical veggies in the South, barbecue.
"In my country, we are not putting sugar everywhere. We have a lot less people that are fat in my country."
Some of the reason may be the transportation options.
"Americans use cars everywhere and they are not walking everywhere so much," he said. "Living in a big city now where I'm staying, I'm from the second biggest city in Slovakia. I used to use public transportation a lot, (or) walking."
He did try out his own cooking skills for his host family while here, though, said Daniel's mother, Vann Daniel.
"He made us pancakes, but they're really what I call crepes, and he filled them with bananas and blueberry jam," she said, giving them a thumbs up.
Miso, who started learning English before his trip, said it is taught in school but only on a limited basis.
"We only study grammar, rules and how to use it, without no practice, no conversation," he said.
Spending time ensconced in the culture proved helpful in picking up the language, he said.
"Now I'm feeling more comfortable than I arrived here. I can tell everything I want," he said.
The thing he's missed most about his country during his time away?
"Beer," he said, simply.
"He could never find a beer he really liked," Mrs. Daniel said.
And while he was able to email and Skype with his family, he is happy about reuniting with them later this week and enjoying a family vacation in Croatia.
"I'm really looking forward to my niece because she was born when I was here," he said.