Hungry in Hungary

Teach me how to English speak.


Teninten

In coming to Hungary, I was itching to travel around Europe. I had certain countries in mind, but I didn’t have my mind set on anything inparticular.  I knew I wanted to hit up the bigger cities because they would be easier to travel to by plane.  I was in Hungary for ten months. I visited ten countries, Hungary, Germany, England, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden, Slovakia, Italy and France.  It has been an overwhelming past ten months.  I am so thankful for the opportunities at hand.  I don’t know the next time I will be able to tell coworkers that I am ‘just going to Italy for the weekend.’

But all the weekend travel has made me a bit exhausted and I am looking forward to staying home for weekends and relaxing.  

The Building.

Upon arriving to Hungary, One of the first things I noticed about Hajduszoboszlo was the building being constructed down the street. I didn’t see it as a building though, I saw it as a way of measuring time.  Before I left, my mom suggested I pick one thing in town to take a picture of often to show time lapse. She suggested a tree- I saw the building- both work. The workers were slow to show any progress, but looking at pictures from August, I now see that the slow process did in fact reap benefits. Not much happened during the winter months, and I was also less likely to stand outside and fumble with my camera with gloved hands. Some times I saw the workers standing around and smoking.  As I leave Hungary, the building remains unfinished.  There is something incredible chilling about that.  Like I have left something unfinished as well.  

Will/Won’t/Excited

I usually have to mop my bathroom floor after I wash a load of dishes in the kitchen sink. This would be an abnormal statement, but its become the norm for me.  The plumbing in my flat is wacky and I am always discovering puddles, clouds of foam, or gurgling sounds coming from a hole in the middle of my bathroom floor. When I flush the toilet, water will randomly drop from the faucet- and I’m not talking white noise drops, I’m talking refill your glass of water drops.  When I turn on the bathroom facet, the kitchen faucet gurgles- loudly.  When I shower, I often have to stop half way through to allow the standing water to drain.  But the worst plumbing phenomenon is the eruption that occurs in my bathroom for some mysterious reason during a typical load of dishes. During the winter, I would have to warn friends to watch their step or take off their socks before entering the bathroom because the floor was usually wet. Aside from being a nuisance, it’s a bit dangerous for my tiled floors.
While mopping up the mess of dirty dish water off my bathroom floor, I thought that while there are many things (and people) in Hungary that I will miss terribly, this flat’s plumbing is most definitely not one of them.
Her is a list of things I will miss, won’t miss, and am excited to return back to America for.

Will Miss:
-cheap sparkling water
-cheese and bread
-chocolate snails
-fresh fruit
cheap (good) wine
-turo

Won’t Miss:
-sandwiches on trains
-the drain in my bathroom floor
-hard pillows and spring beds
-paying to pee

Excited For:
-Restaurants
-customer service
-phone plan
-free water

Will/Won’t/Excited

I usually have to mop my bathroom floor after I wash a load of dishes in the kitchen sink. This would be an abnormal statement, but its become the norm for me.  The plumbing in my flat is wacky and I am always discovering puddles, clouds of foam, or gurgling sounds coming from a hole in the middle of my bathroom floor. When I flush the toilet, water will randomly drop from the faucet- and I’m not talking white noise drops, I’m talking refill your glass of water drops.  When I turn on the bathroom facet, the kitchen faucet gurgles- loudly.  When I shower, I often have to stop half way through to allow the standing water to drain.  But the worst plumbing phenomenon is the eruption that occurs in my bathroom for some mysterious reason during a typical load of dishes. During the winter, I would have to warn friends to watch their step or take off their socks before entering the bathroom because the floor was usually wet. Aside from being a nuisance, it’s a bit dangerous for my tiled floors.

While mopping up the mess of dirty dish water off my bathroom floor, I thought that while there are many things (and people) in Hungary that I will miss terribly, this flat’s plumbing is most definitely not one of them.

Her is a list of things I will miss, won’t miss, and am excited to return back to America for.

Will Miss:

-cheap sparkling water

-cheese and bread

-chocolate snails

-fresh fruit

cheap (good) wine

-turo

Won’t Miss:

-sandwiches on trains

-the drain in my bathroom floor

-hard pillows and spring beds

-paying to pee

Excited For:

-Restaurants

-customer service

-phone plan

-free water

Birds Flyin’ High

On Wednesday I turned twenty-four. I had one of the best birthdays in the history of my twenty-four years- although I do remember a thirtieth birthday party at the lake that involved an alien theme and lots of candy in a tent that smelled like play-dough, so this one might be a tie.  For a bout a month, Krisztina has been speaking of this ‘surprise birthday celebration’ for me. Even at her own birthday party she was mentioning my big day. I wish all my friends could meet Krisztina- she is a gem. 

In the Hungarian way of offering gifts and candy to friends, classmates, and coworkers on your own birthday or name day, I wanted to do something for my colleagues at Gonczy.  I had the idea of a tea party for months, and as time was running out, the only day to have it was on Wednesday.  It wasn’t a birthday party, it was a Thank-you party.  I made cucumber sandwiches and pear tart.  I set out cheese plates and fruit.  I bought Hungarian tea biscuits and cookies.  I went to the market and bought an assortment of bouquets from different vendors.  I bought chocolate bars and made thank you notes. I wanted to treat this community of teachers that I have called my friends.

Before I had the party, I was Krisztina’s.  She had a scheduled surprise for me at 6:30. I have never had a surprise before, so, even though I knew I was being surprised, I was gliding through the day with ideas of what could be- at least I thought I was gliding.  Krisztina’s surprise was an hour above Hajduszoboszlo.  She handed me a certificate she had made that informed me that I would be riding in a motor glider! This was given to me on the way to the town’s airfield.  I was the only one in town that didn’t know about my surprise. Jenna told me I should bring a pullover, and even though it was super hot that day, I did as I was told.

 A few teachers were waiting at the airfield.  As soon as we parked I saw the vehicle I would be soaring over the trees in.  It looked like a sidecar of a motorcycle with wings and a propeller.   It seemed safe enough and I was too overwhelmed with excitement to care about safety.  It wasn’t until five minutes later, already buckled in (barely), helmeted and straddling the pilot as he raced across the field of grass when I realized that this thing I was doing was crazy.  I had no instruction other that if I had a problem to tap on the pilot’s shoulder and not to touch the handles of the wings (there was no other place to hold onto, so I held my very loose seatbelt).  But it was too late to think, we were in the air. We went in circles to gain height. The motor was loud and the wind was strong, I was so glad I had the cap of a helmet to save my ears. I was also thankful I wore my cardigan, because my already short shorts hiked up more when I sat down, leaving most of my leg exposed to the high altitude’s cold air and wind.

Looking at the city from above made so much since.  I could see everything so clearly, roads leading to landmarks, frequented buildings, my house, and the park.  Everything was recognizable- a perk to living in a small, walk-able town.  The city is small enough to see the whole thing from only a kilometer above, but it seems so big in its entirety.   The surrounding crops that bordered the clusters of homes made for a great contrast in scenery. I saw everything- It was like a real-life Google Earth shot.

Apparently, while in the air, Emily, who had come to visit and knew what I was doing from the beginning, made a comment to Jenna about how she admired my courage to jump in the vehicle and do it.  She told Jenna, who also knew more than Emily, that she could never do anything like that.  Five minutes later, Krisztina came up to Emily to reveal her latest surprise- Emily was next.  Maybe an even better birthday present than seeing the city from above was seeing Emily’s face as she was hoisted into the motor-glider. She was drenched in pure panic, with a hint of excitement.

Later, On solid ground, we both agreed that it was something that we would never think to do on our own, but given no options made it impossible to think twice about backing out and we were so glad we had the opportunity. 

I have ten days one week left in Hungary.  I have never used an hourglass, but I can now understand the notion of literally watching time go by.  This week was incredibly tolling on my spirit, because as excited as I am to come back to the states, leaving Hungary means leaving a community behind.  The final school week, the one teachers look forward to more than students do, came and went.  A revelation only understood after-the-fact, I would not stand at the front of room 18 anymore and teach these kids.  I would probably never see them again.  All the time focusing on the end and now that its here, I want to rewind.
Thursday was a weird rollercoaster of a day.  The day after your birthday is always filled with a sense of lackluster, but Thursday left me with a feeling of loss. After an uneventful hour at the bank in attempts to close my Hungarian bank account, Jenna and I were led into our Principal’s office to discuss other options of receiving June’s pay while we are out of the country.  It was bizarre to sit at his desk again.  I haven’t sat there since our first day at Gonczy Pal, when we were working out our schedules.  That first time was just the same as the last.  Jenna and I were filled with uncertainty and confusion as Gyongyi and Tibi worked over logistics of our predicaments in a language we couldn’t comprehend. This time I sat in silence and soaked in the experience.  
After the meeting, I said my see-you-laters to Emily as she caught the train back to Nyirbator.  That was hard to see such a close friend leave, unsure of the next time we will see each other, even if we will be living in the same country (not even-Em is moving to Montreal).
Then Jenna and I were ushered into the school’s gymnasium for a surprise farewell celebration for the two of us.  The gym was decorated with banners of bears and rainbows, an airplane and a few dozen roses. The event consisted of several songs and dances, including  ‘True Colors,’ ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ and ‘You are My Sunshine.’  I would like to refer to this program as ‘Cryfest 2012.’  The closing of the ceremony involved our students reciting poems and then bringing us a rose and kissing us on either cheek. This went on for a while, until all the roses were in our hands. The grand finale of the whole shebang was each class coming up to our mock thrown and giving us hugs, kisses, notes, chocolates, flowers, pictures, and other Hungarian gifts. There were a lot of tears- not just from the kids.
As far as last days of school goes, Friday was pretty melancholy.  I didn’t get to have my third graders as I planned because their form teacher wanted to keep them- understandable.  For the rest of the day I sat at picnic tables and talked with my students.  The whole school was out in the garden. I brought my computer and let my students take pictures of themselves on my photo booth. My older students brought me gifts of wine and desk accessories- sweet gestures, but things I will not be able to bring home.   
The teachers called for Jenna and I to meet in the teacher’s room for a good-bye from the faculty. Tibi said a few things in Hungarian, they were translated to us, and we were presented with gifts. I got a beautiful decorative bottle of Palinka and Jenna received a decorative clock. I took the stage and gave the teachers my many thanks for all their support and accommodations.  I let them know that I will always consider Hungary, Hajduszoboszlo, and Gonczy Pal as home.
Saturday was the school-leaver’s ceremony. All the eighth graders were dressed in their black and white uniforms used only for special occasions. The ceremony was at nine in the morning, so it was still relatively cool for the day so late in June.  I was in the shade and comfortably wearing a cardigan- so not ready for Florida’s heat.  The hallways were covered in flowers. Flowers were on all the windowsills, arranged over every doorway, hanging in bouquets on doors, on desks, and petals were strewn on the floors lining the walls. Was this a graduation ceremony or a wedding? I can’t imagine anyone in Hajduszoboszlo finding fresh flowers for the next couple of weeks.
Watching the ceremony, I was again met with a feeling of weird déjà-vu from the beginning of the year. Only this time the school wasn’t welcoming new students, they were sending them off. The same look of fear I saw on the first-graders’ faces was plastered on the eighth graders.  New schools, new friends, completely out of their comfort zones. I never taught the eight graders, so I didn’t really say anything to them, but I sure felt empathy for them.
Last night I went into Debrecen with Krisztina and Tunde.  We walked around the University campus for a while and ate carrot cake. The University was putting on a night run, something I would have totally signed up for had I known about it. There were runners in neon green running vests peppered all over the courtyard in front of the University’s main building. There was a large LCD screen over the finish line with a count down for the race’s start.  From time to time I would look over at the screen and realize ten more minutes had passed in Hungary. Ten minutes less. I was literally watching time go by. I had to get out of there.
We took an unexpected detour to the university’s Medical department, where the Maternity ward is located. And walked right in to visit a friend of Krisztina’s who had given birth to a beautiful boy two days earlier.  We stood and stared at this somber creature get blanketed in love by his tranquil mother.  I have seen mothers of newborns interact with their child and it always brings me great joy, but watching this stranger offer a finger for her new one was too much. That feeling of newness washed over me again, but this time it was accompanied by a surge of comfort. No cares in the world.  Time means nothing to this little thing.  Lucky him. 

I have ten days one week left in Hungary.  I have never used an hourglass, but I can now understand the notion of literally watching time go by.  This week was incredibly tolling on my spirit, because as excited as I am to come back to the states, leaving Hungary means leaving a community behind.  The final school week, the one teachers look forward to more than students do, came and went.  A revelation only understood after-the-fact, I would not stand at the front of room 18 anymore and teach these kids.  I would probably never see them again.  All the time focusing on the end and now that its here, I want to rewind.

Thursday was a weird rollercoaster of a day.  The day after your birthday is always filled with a sense of lackluster, but Thursday left me with a feeling of loss. After an uneventful hour at the bank in attempts to close my Hungarian bank account, Jenna and I were led into our Principal’s office to discuss other options of receiving June’s pay while we are out of the country.  It was bizarre to sit at his desk again.  I haven’t sat there since our first day at Gonczy Pal, when we were working out our schedules.  That first time was just the same as the last.  Jenna and I were filled with uncertainty and confusion as Gyongyi and Tibi worked over logistics of our predicaments in a language we couldn’t comprehend. This time I sat in silence and soaked in the experience. 

After the meeting, I said my see-you-laters to Emily as she caught the train back to Nyirbator.  That was hard to see such a close friend leave, unsure of the next time we will see each other, even if we will be living in the same country (not even-Em is moving to Montreal).

Then Jenna and I were ushered into the school’s gymnasium for a surprise farewell celebration for the two of us.  The gym was decorated with banners of bears and rainbows, an airplane and a few dozen roses. The event consisted of several songs and dances, including  ‘True Colors,’ ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ and ‘You are My Sunshine.’  I would like to refer to this program as ‘Cryfest 2012.’  The closing of the ceremony involved our students reciting poems and then bringing us a rose and kissing us on either cheek. This went on for a while, until all the roses were in our hands. The grand finale of the whole shebang was each class coming up to our mock thrown and giving us hugs, kisses, notes, chocolates, flowers, pictures, and other Hungarian gifts. There were a lot of tears- not just from the kids.

As far as last days of school goes, Friday was pretty melancholy.  I didn’t get to have my third graders as I planned because their form teacher wanted to keep them- understandable.  For the rest of the day I sat at picnic tables and talked with my students.  The whole school was out in the garden. I brought my computer and let my students take pictures of themselves on my photo booth. My older students brought me gifts of wine and desk accessories- sweet gestures, but things I will not be able to bring home.  

The teachers called for Jenna and I to meet in the teacher’s room for a good-bye from the faculty. Tibi said a few things in Hungarian, they were translated to us, and we were presented with gifts. I got a beautiful decorative bottle of Palinka and Jenna received a decorative clock. I took the stage and gave the teachers my many thanks for all their support and accommodations.  I let them know that I will always consider Hungary, Hajduszoboszlo, and Gonczy Pal as home.

Saturday was the school-leaver’s ceremony. All the eighth graders were dressed in their black and white uniforms used only for special occasions. The ceremony was at nine in the morning, so it was still relatively cool for the day so late in June.  I was in the shade and comfortably wearing a cardigan- so not ready for Florida’s heat.  The hallways were covered in flowers. Flowers were on all the windowsills, arranged over every doorway, hanging in bouquets on doors, on desks, and petals were strewn on the floors lining the walls. Was this a graduation ceremony or a wedding? I can’t imagine anyone in Hajduszoboszlo finding fresh flowers for the next couple of weeks.

Watching the ceremony, I was again met with a feeling of weird déjà-vu from the beginning of the year. Only this time the school wasn’t welcoming new students, they were sending them off. The same look of fear I saw on the first-graders’ faces was plastered on the eighth graders.  New schools, new friends, completely out of their comfort zones. I never taught the eight graders, so I didn’t really say anything to them, but I sure felt empathy for them.

Last night I went into Debrecen with Krisztina and Tunde.  We walked around the University campus for a while and ate carrot cake. The University was putting on a night run, something I would have totally signed up for had I known about it. There were runners in neon green running vests peppered all over the courtyard in front of the University’s main building. There was a large LCD screen over the finish line with a count down for the race’s start.  From time to time I would look over at the screen and realize ten more minutes had passed in Hungary. Ten minutes less. I was literally watching time go by. I had to get out of there.

We took an unexpected detour to the university’s Medical department, where the Maternity ward is located. And walked right in to visit a friend of Krisztina’s who had given birth to a beautiful boy two days earlier.  We stood and stared at this somber creature get blanketed in love by his tranquil mother.  I have seen mothers of newborns interact with their child and it always brings me great joy, but watching this stranger offer a finger for her new one was too much. That feeling of newness washed over me again, but this time it was accompanied by a surge of comfort. No cares in the world.  Time means nothing to this little thing.  Lucky him. 

Hajdúszoboszló on June thirteenth, twenty twelve. one kilometer in the air. 

Hajdúszoboszló on June thirteenth, twenty twelve. one kilometer in the air. 

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

I’m not one to cry in public, but I found myself in the middle of the school’s courtyard, surrounded by playing children, crying over the amount of time I have left in Hungary.

To top it off, my fourth graders (some of my favorite students- shhhhh!) organized a thank you performance for all their teachers, involving gifts of wine and a “You Are My Sunshine” performance. Bring on the water works.

This week is extremely overwhelming.

this is what chaos looks like.

an english lesson turned sweaty when were used verbs as an uber-interactive game in a classroom with no air conditioning. I know that Hungarians are not big water drinkers, instead they drink water loaded with sugary fruit syrups. I told my third graders that their exit ticket for the day was several gulps of water. 

as you can see, they weren’t happy about it. 

In March, when the weather was perking up and the trees started to grow buds (a phenomenon I had never fully experienced until living in a place that feels seasons at full force) I invested in a decent pair of Nike Down-shifters. I started out just taking twenty minute jogs around the out skirts of town, nothing heavy- just enough to sweat and see something besides the white walls i was confined to in the winter months. In April, my jogs became runs and the distance grew kilometer by kilometer.  In May I started using colored pens to highlight the different routes I would take throughout my town. My map on the way is now vibrantly painted with neon lines, colors blending on this street and that. 

On foot, I have been able to experience so much more of my town. Its been awesome see new flowers popping up each week along my routes. The dogs don’t seem as scary when you are zipping past them. I even enjoy playing a game of human-frogger with the tourists as I zig-zag through past them on the main street. 

Although the clouds of second-hand smoke linger throughout the city, I feel invincible. My body needed an outlet in the absence of dance and running is just what it needed. 

Today I arrived home from a weekend in Budapest around 7:30, Hajdúszoboszló’s dusk and prime time for running. I set my iPod to Beyonce’s  and started to power-walk aimlessly, as I don’t care where I run to, as long as there is good music in my ears. I wound up running almost eight kilometers. When I made it back to my gate, illuminated by the dimming sunlight hiding behind the trees, I decided to walk around my block for a cool down. As I made it up to the main street, Dosza Gyogrgy, I saw the almost-full moon rising, in all its gigantic glory over Kossuth Lajos St. It was a great feeling to have the moon rising in front of me and the sun setting at my back. 

I’m really looking forward to coming home and running a race. 

getting there.

Friday: train from Hajdúszoboszló to Budapest

Saturday: train from Budapest to Bratislava

Sunday: train from Bratislava to Vienna to Sopron

Monday: train from Sopron to Budapest to Hajdúszoboszlo

backpack was a gift from a dear friend.