In 2017-2018 I was an EVS volunteer in Slovakia. Between greens and mountains, my friends decided to organize a festival to promote European values and to improve the cooperation of the local people in the small town of Spisske Podhradie. So, 12 of August a lot of volunteers had the chance to share stories and experiences, and have fun together!
EVS is also about discovering really obvious things. I had a situation during a festival, spending a time with a lot of volunteers from Europe, where I was the only one Slavic. Luckily there was one of my favorite journalist from Slovakia and one musician from the Czech Republic. So three of us started to speak in our languages. Seriously, It wasn’t my first time listening to the Czech language, I spend almost one year in Slovakia, so I really cannot call these languages totally foreign. But still, I didn't expect to feel so comfortable in this company. Without even asking two times “What do you mean?”. I start to believe that it’s our kind of superpower, Slavik power of understanding each other.
By the way, if somebody is still thinking why it is useful to learn Slovak. In Europe, we have a lot of Slavik and all Balkans languages and dialects, which English speakers will never understand. But, there is a solution, a small suggestion. The Slovak language is the most understandable for all of this countries. Maybe it’s more difficult to read in the country with Cyrillic, but it’s enough to learn the alphabet and at least you can read.
I don't think that it’s common - still, a lot of Slovak people cannot understand me because of my accent or I am just mixing Polish and Slovak to often. Sometimes I meet people who are just super open-minded and calm, so they are not checking grammar knowledge or vocabulary. Just to remember, people who can understand others (I mean foreigners) are mostly bilingual. So learning other languages is making us more open-minded and giving an opportunity to know more happy people.
PS: Sometimes, the same words in different languages have a different meaning. Be careful.