Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How time flies

Hungarian lesson: Szalad az idő "Time runs"

Late June already?! Here it is, the end of my first year of living abroad. I suppose it's only fitting that I write something here in my sorely neglected blog about my overall experience, my new perspectives, and how this year in Hungary has changed me. On the other hand, I don't really know where to begin. Suffice to say, looking back over the past 10 or so months I'd say my experience has been a lot about learning about another culture, but more about learning how to be on my own.

I've been happy here, but very much looking forward to going home for so long that now that my departure is upon me (just next Monday) I feel more disbelief than anything else. I'm beyond excited about this summer and so many of the things coming up. I can't wait to see friends and family, and to revel in so many of the little things about American life I've missed (read: Thai and Mexican food, plus a washing machine that doesn't hate me and want me dead). I've heard from friends who have returned home after acclimating themselves to living in a foreign country that reverse culture shock can be even more shocking than the real thing. We'll see. Actually, one of the things I'm most looking forward to is looking back on Hungary from an American environment. I'd like to think I'll have the time for all of that introspection, but this summer promises to be a hectic one. Life in Szentes moves quite slowly, so I'm a bit anxious about tackling this summer's formidable to-do list: get grad school applications in line (take the GRE's, write a good research sample, contact a long list of prospective programs), earn as much money as possible, attend weddings, show a visiting Hungarian friend around, and get in all of the quality time I can with those I've missed so much for so long. It's certainly exciting.

Over the last few weeks here life has been wrapping up nicely. School ended last Friday (the 13th!) with little ceremony, something that surprised me greatly after becoming so used to the Hungarian tendency to have some sort of tradition-laden program for every occasion. This place is just full of traditions and rituals signifying all manner of things. For example, I just found out that the reason the main church's bell rings for a ridiculously long time every day at noon is to commemorate a victorious (though pretty minor in the scope of things) battle nearly 500 years ago. Well, nevertheless, the only going away ceremony was a small teacher's appreciation day, which I really appreciated because it made my longest day (Wednesday) fly right by due to shortened lessons. It was a nice little presentation by students and then a small banquet, which was a good chance to talk to a lot of my colleagues. Oh, and as always, there were poetry readings as well. Other than that it was a quiet week during which I just let my students play whatever game they wanted. I am getting ridiculously good at taboo. I did get some good news from colleagues who had given an anonymous student satisfaction survey to all the 9th graders and gave my classes a some really positive feedback. Also, the English specialization group of the 9th graders took the first of their state English exams and all of them passed the spoken portion that we had been working on in my classes. All good news. Other than school, last week I tagged along with Taylor and his visiting parents as he showed them some of the cool things in the region.

This week without class before I leave is divided between three objectives. The first is to clean the apartment and get all my ducks in a row before heading back. The second is the unpleasant business of lining up all of my paperwork for next year. If all goes well I'll have all my official business taken care of before I leave for the summer but I'm just not that optimistic about it as this process inevitably involves the Hungarian bureaucracy and, well, I don't have many good things to say about that inept dinosaur. The third objective is way cooler than the first two: showing a friend around Hungary! My friend Victoria arrives in Budapest early tomorrow morning and we'll spend the last 5 days of my time in Hungary together. I can't wait to see her (first time in almost exactly a year) and catch up on what has been the first year of teaching for both of us. Victoria has spent that last year teaching third grade with Teach For America in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, so I'm sure she has some great stories.

Well, that's about it for now. I'll probably post next from the States. Maybe returning home will give me more things to say about this year, so stay tuned. I absolutely can't wait to see you all!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Blog envy

Hungarian for the day: A rest kétszer fárad. - A lazy man works twice.

Having spent all afternoon reading other people's funny and interesting blogs I reflected upon how very long it's been since my last post in my own neglected blog. What can I say, it's a quiet town I live in. Plus I'm lazy.

New developments in Szentes:

1. New fountains in the river-

2. My washing machine is evil and has been broken for nearly a month. There must be some balance between the stereotypical American attitude towards malfunctioning machines (throw it away, buy a new one) and the Hungarian attitude (fix and fix until you've spent more on surly repairmen than a new appliance costs). Am I being unreasonable thinking this thing needs to be replaced? Take a look and decide for yourself -

3. I finally got a bike! One of my colleague's lent me her bike from her adolescence and it's in need of a paint job but it's a faithful means of conveyance -

On a side note, only 19 days until I'm back in the States for the summer!