Wednesday, October 18, 2006
nem meleg viz
If you speak Hungarian, you know that the title of this post means “No hot water.” Why would I make that the title? Because that’s how I started my day. I woke up to the sound of pipes being clanked, and decided to get up after listening to the noise for five minutes. I hopped in the shower, and immediately realized why the pipes had been being worked on: there was no hot water.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
If you’re Canadian, then you have already celebrated Thanksgiving. If, like me, you are living among four Canadians, then you get to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving AND still look forward to American Thanksgiving. For those of you who don’t know, Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated on Monday, October 9. Since we had classes all day, with twelve of us taking Art History until 9:30 at night, a celebration was planned for the following day. Our Tuesday night culture class had been postponed until Wednesday morning, so at 6:30 on Tuesday night the festivities began.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
what to do when procrastinating in Budapest
When presented with a five-day weekend, one doesn’t feel a pressing need to do homework right away. I’ve always been good about staying on top of my school work, doing it as I get it and not letting it pile up, but having the urgency of due dates really helped with that. Now, after my three Monday classes and one Tuesday class are done, I feel like I have so much time, why do homework now? I try to do a bit each day so that it doesn’t really pile up, but it is so nice to be able to enjoy the weekend, and then have the weekend to do my homework! Especially this time of year, when it is so beautiful out. The weather has just turned cooler, but it’s still in the upper sixties with clear blue skies every day. Not like Michigan. I’ve been told by native Hungarians that this is not typical weather, and last year by the time October rolled around they had already had the heat on for a whole month. Isn’t it an El Nino year? I think so, and I’m very glad it is.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
a little relaxation
I think yesterday was the best day I’ve had in Budapest so far. The weather has finally gotten a little cooler, I didn’t have a weekend trip hanging over my head, and so I just bummed around the city with Mary all day. We left around 11 to go to Karoli Gaspar University, where we have classes on Monday. The English department there has its own library, and we needed to do some reading for our Holocaust in American Literature class. We stayed there doing homework until almost 1, when we left to go to a cafe, where we did a bit more reading for classes.
Around 2 we left to go pick up my plane ticket for Greece, where I am going in two weeks. We have a fall break for 10 days, and everyone is traveling. Christy and I picked Greece as our destination of choice, and bought tickets online about a week ago. That was an exciting day. So Mary and I took the subway up farther north in the city than we had ever been. It was so refreshing to get to a part of the city where we could still explore. We found a large market, much like the Central Market nearer where we live and go to school, and wandered around in it for awhile. While there we bought langos (lahn-goh-sh), a traditional Hungarian food, for the first time. Langos is really just friend dough, which you can put seasonings on. We both had garlic on ours. It was fabulous, but kind of greasy.
After our langos and exploration, we headed over to Professor Fetzer’s for a weekly open house (Fetzereknel in Hungarian). We were especially excited for it this week, because his wife, Tamara, had finally joined us here. She flew in on Tuesday, so yesterday (Wednesday) was the first time we got to see her since our informational meeting back at Calvin in April. It was so good to see her, and so see him so happy to have her here. We all love Professor Fetzer a lot, so anything that makes him that happy is good for us, too.
Upon leaving Fetzereknel, though, things got really interesting.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
You’re probably starting to think that all I do here is travel. I’m starting to think that too. Last weekend was the group excursion to Krakow and Auschwitz, and it was an entirely different experience than the previous weekend’s trip to Romania. Instead of riding in vans with Janos and Robbie, our wonderful drivers and guides in Transylvania, we all rode together in a 28 passenger mini-bus. That was kind of nice at times, because we weren’t secluded in three separate vans, but I still liked the vans better. I’m more of a small group kind of girl, so it was easier to get to know the few people in my van on more personal terms, and we had a lot of fun. We actually had more wiggle room in the vans, too, and on 8-9 hour drives, wiggle room is a very nice commodity.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Visiting Dracula. Sort of.
I don’t know where to start in telling you about my weekend in Transylvania. It was amazing, for one thing, and very informative. I learned so much from Janos, our guide.
He was most knowledgeable about all things church-related, and he knew a lot about the cultural life of Romanians (and those who live in Romania - they are not necessarily the same).
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Four-hundred thirteen…that’s the number of steps I climbed today. I also walked down all of them. With these people:
left to right: Cory, Kyla, Christina, Ryan, and me
Why, you may ask? Well, let me get to that.
Monday, September 18, 2006
I think I’m Gonna Like it Here
Ten points to the first person to comment with the source of my title. It (the source) really has nothing to do with what I’m going to write about, but it does convey my feelings. This weekend was so relaxingly fabulous. While almost everyone was out on weekend trips around Europe, Dora, Cari, Christy, Eric, Karin and I stayed here in Budapest. Karin’s family was here to visit, and it was so nice to have a family around, even if they weren’t my own. Her family has been doing a tour of Europe for the past month, and will be here for another month and a half. By here I don’t mean Budapest, but Europe. Her three younger siblings are taking a semester off from school to do this. Mom, Dad, why didn’t you take us on an adventure like that?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Speaking Hungarian. Or not.
We had our first culture class last night. One of the things we did was to go around in a circle and say something that had been particularly hard for us, and them something that was especially rewarding. For many of us, including me, the language barrier was the most difficult thing so far. It has been very frustrating for me at times to be unable to say simple phrases like “excuse me” and “you’re welcome.” I have learned these things now, but for a long time after arriving here I felt like a total clod a lot of the time.
Monday, September 11, 2006
happy to be here
So my post on Friday was a little bit down. There were no funny little anecdotes or entertaining observances. I apologize. Let me liven up this blog a bit. I’ll start with the partial lunar eclipse that I witnessed on Thursday evening. A group of girls from my apartment decided to head down to Budapest’s Castle District where the International Wine Festival was being held. As we were leaving the dormitory, Christy pointed out that it looked like there was a lunar eclipse, and sure enough, there was a shadow over about a quarter of the moon. Unfortunately, we saw it right at the end, so the moon was quickly reappearing, but it was still a beautiful sight. We looked online the next day and found out that there had indeed been a partial lunar eclipse visible only in eastern Europe and Africa on Thursday night. So I guess you could say I’m glad to be living in Europe at this time.
Friday, September 08, 2006
the honeymoon is over
Well, we aren’t in the honeymoon phase anymore. I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it does change certain dynamics. I no longer feel compelled to take someone with me on the bus or tram. I can safely go by myself to class or to the travel agent to talk about trips I’m planning. Certain things about the city irk me. Why can’t anyone throw away their cigarette butts? There are trash cans with ashtrays all over the place, but no one bothers to use them. The other day I was lying on the grass in the park, minding my own business and reading my book. I kept smelling stale cigarettes, though even though no one around me was smoking. Finally I got up and moved, and when I did I noticed two cigarette butts under where I had been lying. Ew. Not a yard away was a trash can, complete with ashtray. Some things I will never understand.
Monday, September 04, 2006
a laundry novice
I learned how to do all my own laundry two and a half years ago, and have been doing it on my own ever since. The washing machine here, however, has me stumped. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one - everyone in our group is struggling. I did laundry for the first time today, though, and now I understand why everyone complains that the washing machines are the trickiest part of being here. First of all, there aren’t really any instructions. I think that if there were, I could pull out my Hungarian/English dictionary and figure it out.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
This morning as I was getting ready for Hungarian language class, I ate some “Mini Zimtos” (think Life cereal meets Golden Grahams) with some 1.5% milk on them. It is impossible here to get any type of milk other than 1.5% or 2.8%. There is no skim milk, nor regular 1% or 2%. And it all comes liters, although you do have a choice of a pouch or a carton. I still don’t know how to say milk in Hungarian, or else I’d tell you how right now. We have started learning the language a bit though. This morning we learned numbers one through 10,000. Pretty good for one morning, eh? I can also say good morning (jo reggelt) and good day (jo naput), thank you (kosonom), and one or two other random things.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
So here are some things I’ve noticed in the few days I’ve been here. First of all, the standard of personal hygiene is, well, different. It is not at all uncommon to stand next to someone on the bus and wonder if they’ve showered or put on deodorant this week. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now it still surprises me every time. Secondly, I have seen one or two speed limit signs, but for the most part, people just drive as fast as the possibly can between one traffic light and the next. Traffic tends to be on the light side because so many people use public transport, but those that do drive do so quickly, and with absolute precision. I have seen so many almost-crashes, but never has anyone actually hit something.
Me and Kyla, worried about the speed of traffic
They just come within inches. Wow. Third, waiters will not bring you your check unless you ask. Last night Julia (my roommate) and I went to an ice cream place, and sat there for an hour and a half before we figured this out. The place was closing and so finally we asked for our check.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Finally in Hungary
So, I’m Emily. I’m in Budapest. “Why?” you may ask. Well, quite honestly, there’s no specific reason. I wanted to do a semester abroad. I didn’t want to go to London for it (let’s not get into the reasons there). France would have to wait until next year, and I have other plans then. So, it was this year, and Hungary sounded pretty interesting. So far, I have not been disappointed. But I should start at the beginning. A very good place to start.