Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Conversion Equivalents and Using Numbers in Slovakia

Those of you who have traveled and shopped in other parts of the world where the systems of measurements and units are different know that you sometimes have a double challenge: asking for what you want in the local language and knowing how much to ask for. Converting the different kinds of measurements can take some getting used to, but obviously this gets easier with time and practice. Slovakia utilizes the metric system, the same as other European countries.

Here are a couple of things I learned about using numbers in Slovakia that are different from what I was previously used to at home in the US:
  • The system for writing the date is day, month, and year. In Slovak, a date can be written as 26. máj 2010 or 26. 5. 2010; and occasionally you might see a date written with a Roman numeral for the month: 26. V. 2010.
  • Large numbers require a space between the thousands, for example 14 326 664; or a period rather than a comma to separate the thousands, for example, 14.326.664. The comma is used instead of the period to mark a decimal, for example, 19,50%.
  • Slovakia utilizes Daylight Savings Time along with the rest of Europe. The “summer-time period” of Daylight Savings Time in the EU begins on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October. Slovakia is located in the CET (Central European Time) 1 time zone. It is one hour ahead (+1) of London, +6 of New York, +9 of Los Angeles, –2 of Moscow, and –10 of Sydney. The twenty-four hour clock or “military-time” is used quite often, both in spoken communication as well as written.
  • The standard electric current is 230 volts/ 50 Hz. If you are planning to bring a laptop computer that functions on a lower voltage, it shouldn’t be a problem to use in Slovakia. Most modern laptops can automatically sense a change in voltage and adapt. You only need a plug adapter that attaches to the prongs to plug into the socket particular to Continental Europe. Check your laptop AC adapter for the information on input. If it reads input: 100-240V, then you’re fine. Check your nearest retail department store or the Internet for a set of plug adapters. For any other electrical appliances or devices that need an adapter to work outside of your country, the best advice is not to bring them at all. It’s simply too much bother to deal with power converters and to find additional plug adapters.
Depending on your knowledge and experience, the measurements you may or may not have to practice converting are the following:

  • Temperature: Fahrenheit to Celsius
  • Linear measurements: inches, feet, and miles to centimeters, meters, and kilometers
  • Weight: pounds to kilograms
Because I’m somebody who always likes to be prepared (and because I’m something of a nut when it comes to printing out small pieces of paper with information on it), I’ve created tables and charts for converting basic measurements like temperature, weights and measurements and stuck it in the back of my book, "The Foreigner's Guide to Living in Slovakia". I can’t tell you how often I’ve referred to these tables over the years. Even today I have the temperature conversions table up on my refrigerator. This is mostly because of my in-laws who are always asking us what the temperature is and comparing it to where they are.

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