I’m not Hungarian.

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One thing before I get into what I really want to talk about. Putin is in Budapest. I don’t agree with either Putin or Orban (Prime Minister of Hungary). Side note: Sometimes a student will say Orban and for a second I hear Urban. Anyway. I was just telling some of my seniors on Friday that you will never fully agree with your government. One of the girls went “oh” like it was a revolutionary comment. And coming from a post-communist country, maybe it is.

So back to the real topic. I’m not Hungarian. Far from it. I don’t look or act the part. Here’s some things that Hungarians want me to sympathize with them or act accordingly to and I don’t. I just don’t get it. I’m not Hungarian.

1. ‘It’s so cold today.’ It’s 37 degrees out. Know what it is back home? -6, before windshield. You don’t know cold. There’s been 2 decent snowfalls since I got here and neither of them stuck.

2. ‘You have a cold, or the sniffles. Why aren’t you home in bed or at the doctor?’ Hungarians stay home for the sniffles so they don’t get more sick. If they develop a cough that lasts more than a day, it’s the doctor. I have had a cold this week and I mentioned I was tired because of being sick today in my office. My colleague started telling me that I should be in bed or go to the doctor. I got sick of it and I looked at her and said kind of loudly, “I’m not Hungarian” “And Americans don’t get sick?” “NO but we don’t stay home for just a cold or the sniffles.” Then she proceeded to tell me that Hungarians don’t do work just at work and that it would take me longer to get well and that there are different viruses in Europe like they have different viruses in Africa and that I could have the flu. Right. Because at almost 27, I have no idea what having the flu feels like and have no idea how my body reacts when I’m sick with a stuffed nose a cough. You’re right. I’m just the young kid that doesn’t know anything.

3. ‘Hey do you want raw bacon?’ yeah. Gonna pass on that. I have a weird thing about bacon being cooked. And I won’t buy beef here. I rarely buy it in the states because my family has beef and I can get it from home. But beef at the store, or even a butcher sometimes, always creeps me out. I don’t know where it’s from or what it’s been fed or who butchered it. I’ll get stuff from mom and dad as long as I can. That way I know where it’s coming from. Call me crazy. Just how I am.

4. I’m typically not as negative as a Hungarian. I do have my negative moments but nothing compared to a Hungarian.

Now don’t take these things and think that I hate Hungary. I love Hungary. It has wiggled into my heart, grabbed hold and is never letting go. I’m okay with that. I just had some of those moments today where I wanted to shake a Hungarian and tell them they have no idea and they’re being dramatic. I’m at the moment where I have cultural frustrations…can you tell?

….Yeah…..No Title

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This post might jump from place to place. Just…try….to follow my nonsensical ramblings.

Saturday was Valentine’s Day. In the past, I have had rants about the day and how there’s pressure to be with someone. To me it’s not a big day. Someone on Saturday told me happy Valentine’s Day and I feel like I looked at her like she was an idiot for a good 5 seconds before I realized that it was true. It was Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to forget holidays. Just like I had one of my kids remind me last week that it was Lincoln’s Birthday. I don’t think of it when I’m in Hungary. American holidays aren’t on their calendars and I’m usually thinking about what I need to teach so holidays aren’t a big thing. MJ, the friend who I am in contact with the most since being over here, posted something love on my Facebook wall: ‘Happy “who needs a man? I am a self-sufficient kind of lady” day.’ Followed by ‘I can buy myself chocolates. Take that world.’ I love this because there was a lot of posting by non-single people saying don’t worry singles, you’ll find the right person someday. You’re a great catch, just wait. This has always irked me a little. I talk a lot about being single here but, in real life, I really don’t bring it up. I think it’s because on here, I know I won’t necessarily get a response back and in real life I will and I don’t always want others’ opinions about this. And if I do bring it up, I will say something like “Happy Single’s awareness day” for Valentine’s Day and I’ll be joking about it. Don’t tell me then that I’ll find someone. I was joking. Don’t take me serious. People should know that by now. I also have a problem with this because not everyone knows where I’m at in my life. Right now, in Hungary, by myself, struggling to be a teacher, and sometimes emotionally inept, I can’t handle a relationship. I knew that would happen so that’s why I declared this a no-date year. When I get home and have dealt with the re-entry back into my own society, I might be okay with dating. Now, it wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

Another thing that is always brought up around Valentine’s Day, concerning relationships, is how you address the person you are in a relationship with. No, there is no ‘my man’. Did ‘my man’ lose the ability to function as an adult or become my slave? Slavery is what comes to mind when someone says ‘my man’ or ‘my girl’ or ‘my boo’. It sounds like that person is your possession to me. I know that’s not how it’s meant but still. Get over it. I never do this with words like ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ because you are making sure that the person you are speaking to knows that the person in question is in a relationship with you….not owned. You will never hear me say ‘my man’. Because I will not refer to my significant other like that and I will never have a slave. Simple as that.

Saturday I was at a basketball tournament in another town. We tend to call this town Little America because it has the international Christian school and there’s a crap load of Americans that teach there. It’s also where everyone else in my organization is at. This tournament was very American and it was a little overwhelming at times. American food and candy at the concessions, a pep band, basketball. Granted, teams weren’t that good because it’s different when you aren’t in the states. I met some friends from Budapest there, they were there because they knew one of the coaches. I also saw and talked to some people from my organization. That was nice because I don’t get out there often because it takes me an hour and a half to do get there. So I have no community with them.

Community is one thing that I realize how important it is since I’ve been there. I’ve always thought that I was very good at being independent and being an island. You can’t do that here. There’s too much emotion that comes when you’re over in a foreign country alone. One day I’ll blog about ALL the emotions that I’ve had this year. But recently I have been angry about missing big events back home. I missed the birth of my twin nieces and have missed out on a lot of wedding and engagements. Things I can’t celebrate with these people because I’m here in Hungary. I understand that I’m doing something that needs to be done for me and there is a reason for this year but it’s hard to understand and grasp sometimes. I have found some kind of community here, though not with my own organization. The other American took me to a bible study when I first got here and have found community there, but sometimes it feels like I’m a third wheel there. I also have a group that goes out to eat after church on Sunday and that has been good for me. This year is important for knowing about community and finding my strength.

It is birthday week. I think something is being planned by the other American teacher. If it were me, I’d just hang out and go to museums this weekend. But I don’t think that will happen. The other day, it was one of the other teachers in my office’s name day and I said I don’t celebrate name days. They ask if I celebrate birthdays. Yes. And then they ask when mine is. Sunday. OH! Does anyone in Budapest know that? Like one other person. I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it. I think it’s going to be more of a deal than I wanted it to be. I’m only 27. It’s not a monumental deal. Crap, I haven’t had my birthday off from work since my junior year of college. I just work all the time. Not my problem I need money to pay for stuff like rent and food and student loans. Only bad thing about this birthday is that I’m sick. I hate teaching and being sick. You should see how much toilet paper tissues I have around me. That’s right. I’m using toilet paper because I ran out of tissues and now conditioner so I actually have to go to the store now. And I’m sick…and drinking tea….I never drink tea. Now I am because of being sick. No chances that I’ll ever like it when I’m not sick. Take that tea-loving Hungary.

Happy New Year.

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So I’m working on a bottle of wine. Let’s see if I can keep this coherent and not loopy. Right? Right. And it’s New Years Eve. I can drink wine if I want to…I’m an adult. So tonight, before drinking, I had a dance party by myself, in my kitchen to music in my head. I’m a great adult. I’m not crazy. But I am fun to hang out with. I’ll probably edit this later.

The past couple weeks have been good. The last week of classes were a little pointless. I was being observed but I got through them and got told I was improving. To which I wanted to answer, “Yeah, of course. I’m obviously going to approve from week 6 of teaching.” Whatever. Some classes give teachers presents. Some of them were quite interesting. But sweet that they got me something. I went into December not expecting anything. That was great.

The last day of class, I totally watched Jim Carrey’s version of The Grinch. That was interesting because a lot of the kids hadn’t seen it before. I was out of school way before noon and that was even more epic. The other American and I went out into the city and kind of celebrated the end of what we call “hell week”. Because it’s a rough week. So we went out to eat and to the Christmas market. Side note. I have accumulated 4 Christmas market mugs. I don’t need 4 of them. But I have them. End side note and the wine. Then we went with a group and caroled at a disabled home. Then we met some people to watch The Hobbit after we went to a Mexican restaurant called Arribas. There was us 2 American teachers, 2 Hungarians and a new guy from the states. Let’s call him P. He’s the only one to my right. I’m be sarcastically humorous because, let’s face it, that’s how I am with no responsibility. We’re all talking and then I feel a tap on my right shoulder. It’s P. He taps me on the shoulder to talk. Yup. Taps me. It’s nothing important, he just wants to get to know me. But I get tapped on the shoulder. Now I don’t know if had said my name before this and I didn’t hear him but I got tapped on the shoulder. Yup. Nice guy and he’s a shoulder tapper. We went to the Hobbit and I fell asleep and made references to The Mighty Ducks, Remember the Titans and The Matrix. I think I win.

I then started traveling starting on the Sunday. I first went to Vienna. It’s only a few hour train ride so that’s good. I get off the train and I pick up a map and I go to my hostel. That’s right, I went to a hostel. It was interesting. The first night, I had the room to myself. I did take a shower. That shower, I’m convinced, was made by men. First they say take 5 minutes. That made sense because there’s many people using that shower. But I have long hair and I need time to wash it. So I hurried but the light kept going out because it was motion censored and I guess I don’t make that much motion. Then the shower kept going off, I kept having to push in the button so I could get water. Made by men, Boo. Men don’t get it.

The next day I go out and I’m walking down the street looking like a tourist. With the shoulder bag, my farm coat with my name on it and a map in my hand. I really look like a tourist. This woman comes up to me and speaks to me in German. Several things. I could tell before she spoke, she wasn’t Austrian. She spoke in German to me. Then she spoke and I go, (mentally) you’re not Austrian. You’re American. I can usually catch German or I can get the drift. Not with this woman. I look at her and say I’m American. She goes so am I and I live here and I still can’t find my way around. So, I got mistaken for German in Germany and Austrian in Austria. Vienna was really cool. I liked it. My last night there, I had 2 French Canadian roommates. They would talk to each other in French and me in English.

I then went to Prague where my boss is. I stayed with her. She showed me around and on Christmas Eve, we were invited to a church service. It was between my boss’ church and the Catholic church across the street. First it was just a service, then it was with the Catholic church then it was a Catholic mass. I’m not Catholic. I grew up in a Catholic town, but not Catholic. They also offered us communion. This makes me nervous. Catholics don’t let just anyone take communion with them. So this was a big deal. I didn’t take communion. I just was uncomfortable with it. But I was at Catholic Mass on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, after a minor breakdown on Christmas Eve, we went to someone’s house. My boss made tacos for a group of people and we went to someone else’s flat because they had more room. This person is Mennonite. We don’t have Mennonites near where I live. The closest thing we have is Hooderites, but they’re not the same. So it was interesting being there getting to know them. It was kind of funny because my boss was telling me about her and she was like “She’s a farm kid, you’ll have a lot to talk about.” Yeah. Okay. We didn’t talk farming.

Next night, we go to this place called the Tavern. Best burger I’ve had since being in Europe. Europeans generally don’t get burgers. Before we get there, boss is telling me about some of these people that will be there. She’s talking about this guy and goes, “He’s a farm kid. You can bond.” Because if you grow up on a farm, you bond. This guy did look like the bigger guy in the singing group Home Free. Nice guy, but didn’t bond. Kind of wish we did.

So I was out of Budapest for a week and decided to come back home. I get on the train and I ride for 7 hours with 3 German men. They played games the whole time so I didn’t have to talk to them much. But I understood a decent amount of what they said. I should have counted how many times they said shit in German. It was quite a bit. But I got to my temporary home. I like being home.

Past couple days I have been eating way too much. And there’s been great coffee. I love coffee. On the way home I did get Martin Short’s memoirs read. He writes exactly like he speaks. I love him. I also feel bad that he lost his wife. He loved her so deeply and I want him to have her back and I want a love like that eventually.

So I don’t have much else to say. So have a good new year and be safe.

Yup. I’m still in Hungary.

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I think a lot of times, when a person does ministry in a foreign place and that person is single and they come back, you hear a lot of the good. You will hear the bad but no one can ever prepare you for the emotional journey that you will take. It isn’t perfect. It has a lot of emotions and not all good. I have never felt more alone than I have since I’ve come here. I also have never felt like people wanted me out so bad too. It’s been an interesting few months to be sure. I’ll start with the bad and move to the good. Because the bad is always stuck in a person’s mind at the time.

I’m a shy person in person in real life. Like really shy. Until I am comfortable with you, it’s really tough to talk to me. So in Mid-October, the school was like “hey, you’re not doing great. We’re asking for another native speaker teacher.” That was the day before fall break. Great. That was the actually the first time that I broke down since I’ve been there. I mean, I didn’t do it at school, I came back to my place and did it. So my boss came out from Prague and got everything taken care of. It was not and is not easy to think about and deal with for me. Good thing is that I’m here for at least a while longer. That’s a very good thing. That means I can invest in the faculty and students a little bit more. I have a faculty member watching a few of my classes this week and then I’m sure after Christmas things will happen or something.

Good things: I went to Germany in October. There is a German woman who was an exchange student when I was a freshman in high school and I went to stay with her and her husband. It was a fun time. Went to Heidelberg and saw a ruined castle and just hung out and practiced my German. We had Thanksgiving for the kids the Saturday before Thanksgiving and that drained me and the other American. 20 some pound turkey and we, more like I assisted in, made all the food. It was fun. We laid out paper as a table-cloth and had kids write what they were thankful for. Some of the older kids did math on it. I took a picture because it was intense math. Stuff I don’t like doing. And I got sick after it. Not fun. We also went to someone’s flat for actual Thanksgiving and it was good. I haven’t laughed like that since I left home. And I saw a guy get kicked in the chest on the bus that night. It happened right in front of us. It was really scary. But it’s a good story. One day I’ll talk about it more in a post.

I’ve done a few museums since here like the House of Terror and the Holocaust museum. I’ve gone to a couple Christmas markets. Budapest has the best Christmas markets by far. I also went to Bratislava (in Slovakia) a week and a half ago. It was cold and rainy but still really cool. I’d go back when I had more time and it was nicer out. I also will be traveling over the holiday. Vienna, Prague and probably Krak√≥w. I’ll be staying with people I know over Christmas so I won’t be totally alone, which is good. The holiday is going to be hard enough but to be alone would be even worse. So hopefully everything works out so I can relax and not worry about school stuff because I could totally see me worrying about school and the outcome of that whole situation. But I’m traveling. YAY!

I’ve gotten involved with a bible study, a church and a book club since I’ve been here. All are good and providing me with some community. I don’t have many people close with my company so it’s hard to get community with them. But I have friends! That’s a good thing. The school also asked me to judge an English competition for 8th graders last week and that went well. I didn’t expect that to happen. I also helped the freshman last week sing a song for the whole school. That was fun.

All is good back home. Sister is pregnant with twins girls, due in February. So my niece/nephew count will double. MJ and I are doing a lot of calming down of each other. Things happen in our lives and we know how to deal with each other. She told me that my stubbornness was getting in the way of something. I’m not stubborn. I still insist I’m not stubborn. I’m not. I’m very agreeable. Anyway, we go back and forth worrying about each other. It’s what we do. We’re pretty much family. The Atlantic Ocean makes constant communication rough for us, but we get through it. We email all the time and we complain how customs has kept her package from me for 2 months already. I was supposed to have it before I went to Germany in October and I still do not have it. Boooooooo. I miss home now over the holidays and there are things I wish I could take care of back home but I keep myself busy. Because there’s nothing I can do over here right now. I just have to wait until my time here is done. I can do this. I have this taken care of. Don’t worry.

Hungarian Language With a Small Rant.

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I felt like my last post was a little scattered to me so lets see if I can get back into this blogging thing.

So last Sunday, after church, I spent time with a girl I went to orientation with. She’s in a town outside of the city at this more “American” school. We’re both here for a year. She’s here for a year because of the contract she has with the school in New York and I’m just staying for a year because, as of right now, that’s all I’m called to do. So we were talking. Her school makes her take language lessons so she learns Hungarian. Mine doesn’t. She was saying how she doesn’t really want to take these lessons because she’s going to be here for just a year. What’s the point? She mentioned that she can get along with just pointing. It’s been working just fine for her. I then started thinking.

She sounded so condescending. Like the Hungarian language wasn’t worth her time. She came to Hungary for a year. Obviously something was worth it in the country. Trying to communicate in the native language is not only polite but it’s so arrogant sounding. I feel, and whether I have succeeded or not is still to be determined, that I should try to fit in as much as possible. Now I’m teaching Hungarian students and not all her students are Hungarian. It’s different for me. She’s kind of in an American bubble. I’m not. I kind of need to learn some Hungarian. It helps me earn respect from my students. High schoolers are a hard group to impress, no matter where you are in the world. Some things don’t change. I get that Hungarian is a hard language so by the time we would get the hang of it we would leave. (there are 4 categories of language. 4 being the hardest to learn and that’s like Chinese. Hungarian is a 3 so it’s a hard language.) I just have a hard time seeing this like she does. We’re here with a Christian organization. They kind of like us to try to interact. The schools that we’re at don’t have to have us. I mean in my case, they need a native speaker so yeah they need me, but ultimately, they didn’t need to say yes when our company asked them to take us. To learn Hungarian, to me and at least a little, is a sign of respect and honor. I guess she’s not with Hungarians like I am so it’s completely different. Isn’t it? Or am I totally overreacting to this? I mean that’s happened before. I think that it’s happened at least a couple of times on this blog where I overreacted. So again, it’s possible that I’m overreacting.

So I didn’t even touch bilingual church did I? Oy. So. First time I went we were late and they were singing in Hungarian so I was like okay. Cool. I was like they have Hungarians lead worship. Then the worship leader starts praying in English without a Hungarian accent. Like it’s pretty American. What? Way to throw me off. Like I’m not thrown off with life to begin with. Then you turn out to be not Hungarian when I thought you were. Distrust……. Yeah, that’s a lie. I trust this place even though they throw me off.

I have also been taking an insane amount of naps here. First it was because of the jet lag. Now just because I got into the habit of taking naps. Especially on Sunday afternoons. The girl across the hall, also American we are the only 2 Americans at our school, looked at me last weekend and goes, “You really like your Sunday naps, don’t you?” Yes. I am turning into my one or both of my parents.

Good thing: I have a three-day weekend. Bad thing: Hungarians make it up on Saturday. Ugh. Well, at least I’ll get at least one day off next weekend right? Updates to come.

I’m a Bad Blogger.

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No. Seriously. I’m a bad blogger. I haven’t blogged since I first got to Hungary. Can you guys forgive me. How about forgiving me after I remind you that I’m in a new country, a new joy that is NOT EASY and I deal with a crap load of teenagers on an almost daily basis? I’ve wanted to, if that counts.

So here’s what’s going on in my life. I’m teaching high school. I’m teaching English as a second language in a Technical high school in the 21st district of Budapest Hungary. It’s October. I have about 8 months left until I go home. Now here’s the thing about going home. I haven’t hit homesickness yet. I’ve hit numbness. I had 4 people of varying importantness die in the first 2 weeks I was here, 1 since then, so a total of 5. I haven’t cried over it. I haven’t cried over not being home and seeing the kids all the time. I haven’t cried at all over anything. I’ve been a version of happy and a version of sad since I’ve been here but nothing extreme. It’ll hit me by the time I leave. Probably around the holidays. But I’m going to make it because I’m strong and I’m determined to get through this triumphantly. I’m too stubborn to give up. I’m determined to make it through this year and have a good time about it.

I have had some good times. Some of the kids are great. I have some not so great ones, but most of them are great. I’ve had kids speculate that I hate the sun because I am pale, I had a kid tell me he wants to be Batman one day because the kid next to him is named Robin. I pushed a kid off his chair today and he dramatically fell. The class applauded when I did it. So. Not all bad on the teaching front. It’s just that I’m not a trained teacher and I’ve always known it was a tough job but it’s tough. I’ve gone to Margaret Island, Fisherman’s Warf and I toured the third biggest synagogue. I live by the Danube and since my school is a technical school and I live in a property owned by the school, there are planes and helicopters in my yard. It’s interesting to be sure. I also have plans to go to Germany and Austria. I was going to Bratislava next weekend if I didn’t have to teach on SATURDAY. They have meetings on Monday so the kids have to make up the day of school on Saturday. Lame Hungary. Lame. OH and I went to a beer festival and I went to some kind of festival last weekend and had hot wine. I’ve done a lot more drinking here than I planned to. It’s not because I’m in depression. It’s because alcohol is everywhere. You can get it at the supermarket for like a dollar.

I’ve done some reading here, gotten involved with a book club, I’ve been writing with MJ. I’m actually expecting a package from her and I’ve also gotten several letters from back home. But. I will post more regularly. I promise. I’m in a beautiful city and I have an amazing opportunity. I’ll have a great amount to post from now on, if I sit down and actually right.