This week saw the 10th anniversary of me leaving Scotland and heading over to Denmark to get married, attempt to learn the language and get used to the appalling plumbing. During my time there, I had the good fortune to work in an international environment where I met many interesting people who enriched my life in different ways.
I used to teach at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA). Our students came from all corners of the globe (including New Zealand), and many of them remain good friends. The Friday Bar, which started at 2pm each week, was a good opportunity for staff and students to mix and mingle over a couple of beers, often sitting outside in the small garden area. For a while, we had a group of students who came from Macedonia, and thanks to them, I had one of the best holiday experiences I have ever had.
In 2011, I went to Ohrid in Macedonia, probably one of the most special places I have ever visited. Ohrid is an ancient city and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe. Ohrid is full of history everywhere you go, from the the oldest Slavic monastery (St Pantalejmon in Ohrid pictured below) to an 11th century fortress. It is a fantastic place to walk around (take comfortable shoes – there are lots of hills) and come across things like a Roman amphithetre, a mosque, or yet another of the many Orthodox churches there are in the city. It is a fantastic mix of cultures, reflecting the history of the region.
St. Pantalejmon monestry
St John at Kaneo
The fortress of Tsar Samuil
This short blog post does not do the place or region justice. There is so much to see and experience here. There is something for everyone with water sports, history, hiking and exploration all on offer. During my week there, I also met up with some former students and their families, who showed me just what a special place this is. I ate some excellent food, drank some really good local wine and brought back many good memories.
All this came to mind recently as one of my former colleagues has recently moved on to pastures new, and I was struck by something he said in his Facebook post telling us his news. He thanked his former students ‘for educating him so beautifully’. Such excellent words that brought to mind how much I also learned and discovered thanks to my former students, hence this blog post.