Tag Archives: Budapest

I’m Anne. (Nope.)

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So I couldn’t sleep last night (it’s been an issue lately) and since I’m in the middle of a book, I looked for a book to review on my shelves. Couldn’t find one I wanted to do. Looked at my nook, figured out that I have a crap load of Jessica Sorenson. I did, a while ago, talk about Callie and Kayden. Which I still love. Since I last blogged, there’s one more Callie and Kayden books, 3 books of Violet and Luke and one of Seth and Grayson. I’ve read all of them and I think I wore myself out on them. True life story. But I do have a large section of her on my Nook. Which I haven’t been using as much since I’ve gotten back from Hungary. I’ve been really into physical books. I think it’s because I didn’t have many physical books when I was in Hungary. I missed them so I’ve been having a hard time controlling myself not to buy every book in sight. I also went downstairs of my parents’ house today looking at my books from my childhood. Why was I so obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club and the Sweet Valley Twins. I know a lot of those were hand me downs from my sister but I got a decent amount myself too. I feel like those series have gone out of fashion because kids want something a little more hardcore. And it’s a shame. They’re good for girls. Not always great for boys but still. Nothing seems reviewable at this time. I fell like I’d have to reread things to adequately review them.

I’ve started reading Persuasion by Jane Austen. It’s my first time reading it, though it seems like most of my Goodreads friends have. (just like Gatsby) It’s not a book that if you read an Austen in a Brit Lit class in college, (with an exception of like a specialty class) you won’t be reading it because let’s face it, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility win out. I had to read P and P in a weekend while working in a tourist town over Labor Day weekend. Not fun. All I wanted to do was go out to the bar and hangout with people because everyone hung at the bar and it was going to be the last time I saw them in almost a year. Not because I’m a big drinker. Because I’m not. I’ll drink a normal amount, actually no. If I’m out, it’s like 2, 3 max drinks and I’m like I’m an adult and responsible for these people. Anyway.  I’m only a few chapters into Persuasion. The reason that I’m not farther into it is because of work. Work sucks time away from reading and then I’m mentally and physically exhausted after work and I’m preoccupied before work so the only days I read anymore is days off. And I don’t always get far. I really need a new job, other than being a CNA, because this job takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally. But this book is about a woman named Anne who’s 27…like me! She’s engaged at 19 and then is broken up and sees the man again at 27. This isn’t a review of the book because I’m not all the way through it. But there’s a line near of the beginning of the book that stood out to me. It’s on page 5 of my edition.

“but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister: her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way;-she was only Anne.”

I feel like I relate. I am only Megan. I have a lot of times where I feel like my word has no weight. I feel ignored. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m pretty much feeling like an Anne. But I don’t think that I match up with elegance of mind and not always with sweetness of character. I’m just not there. I know I’ve said that I’m more of a Bronte fan but I feel like this book is going to be relatable with me. I think that I’m going to enjoy watching her progression in this book. Because it’s Austen, there will be progression. It’s bound to happen. Austen does that. It’s who she is. There will be a post, I’m sure, about the book. I’m sure I’ll have an opinion. You just have to wait. Austen takes brain power for me right now. It’s not like when I was in college and can read P and P after the bar at 11 at night and have to work in the morning. I actually have to commit the brain power.

Side note. Hard week for me. The school I taught at started school this week and I want to be with my kids. Also, a lot of the people I know are posting about the immigration stuff going on in Hungary and I want to be there and doing something. I’m seeing posts on Facebook from ex-pats and Hungarians that are pretty much breaking my heart that I’m not there. I’m also angry I’m not there with people I love and a country that was home for 10 months. So it’s a week I’m homesick for Hungary. It’s what happens when you leave your heart somewhere.

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Burning Hungary’s Bridges. Not really

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In the words of my Hungarian colleagues, Oh Istenem. I finished The Invisible Bridge last night. Late last night. Like at 11:50 p.m. All 758 pages of it. I feel like I have a new favorite book and I’m going to recommend the crap out of it and I will adore this copy forever and forever. I may be a little dramatic. Not really. I feel strongly about this book. I love this book for several reasons.

#1. It’s historical fiction. I have always had a little bit of a soft spot for historical fiction. Especially World War 2 historical fiction. I have this morbid fascination with war. World War 2 and the American Civil War in particular. I once sat in a café overseas and told a guy who has a degree in History that my senior paper for my history minor was on African descent radicalism in World War II with an emphasis on African Americans and he looked at me and goes “I don’t even know where to go with that”. So I love studying and reading about war.

#2. It’s about a Hungarian and mostly takes place in Hungary with it always going back to Budapest. (for the most part.) I complained about it a lot but I love Hungary. I told my mom recently that I feel like I should be getting ready to go back to Hungary now. I have a lot of friends that are going back over seas and I’m a little jealous. And I was in major prepare mode last August and I feel like I should be doing that again.

For those of you who haven’t read this book. Let me tell you about it in my own words. Andras is a Hungarian Jew who goes off to Paris in 1937. He ends up delivering a letter and eventually meets a woman who he delivers the letter to. Eventually World War 2 erupts and Andras is back in Budapest. The rest of the book is during the war. For me, I was at a loss for words to describe what this book is really about. But I’m going to go with what it says on the cover from the Los Angeles Times; “Profound love, familial bonds and the deepest of human loyalties lay out against the [story] of a life powerfully, unsentimentally ad inspiringly evoked.” So it’s a story about love and family. Those coincide.

I almost have no words for this book. It tore at my heart a lot and made me remember Hungary fondly and smile and not smile. There’s a lot of emotions I got with this book. Every time I saw a Hungarian name or place that I knew, I was excited. I knew some of the Hungarian words that were used and I instantly I mentally raised my arms and yelled in my head “I WIN!!!!” I cried with the sad parts and smiled when there was something good like a child was born.

The one thing that I noticed and was a little put off by was that in Paris, when a Hungarian knowingly met another Hungarian, they didn’t say their names like a Hungarian. They didn’t say surname then the given name. In the book it was given name, surname. Even between Hungarians.

Two things that really stood out after the war started. Andras having to eat the paper and Tibor’s death. I was disgusted by being made to eat their paper. But what bothered me more was Tibor’s death. I really wanted to cry and deny that Tibor had died. Tibor didn’t only seem like Andras’ big brother but he seemed like my older brother too. He looked after Andras, he gave advice, Andras sought Tibor’s approval. I do that with my brother. I do it subconsciously. Andras does too. I think that Tibor is my favorite character. And you find out what happens to Ilana and their baby and you’re like this the worst story ever. But the best books evoke your emotions. They make you weep and laugh. I did want to weep and laugh. The book cover was right when it talked about being about family. They kept the familial ties as much as they could. The three brothers (there is another brother. The baby of the three.) kept together and in contact as much as possible. I liked that and that it wasn’t all about the romance. Because the romance isn’t the only thing that’s part of life. Books where romance is the only thing aren’t realistic to me.

I felt frustrated by Klara and Andras’ relationship at times at the beginning. Andras wasn’t even supposed to be with Klara. He was supposed to be with her daughter Elizabet. At first, I was like damn cougar. Then I realized that there was still 5 years between Andras and Elizabet and Klara had Elizabet was 15 when she had Elizabet. It made me more okay with it. I was also frustrated by how she pushed Andras away. I didn’t understand and I thought it was because of the age difference. But it wasn’t. You hear Klara’s story and you start sympathizing with her. She’s definitely not had it easy. But then you find out what else is going on with Zoltan…..mmmmhmmmm. Their life is very dramatic in Paris. Budapest and getting married was the right decision for them. It pretty much calmed them down. That and war broke out. War has a way of maturing people, especially when they have to do hard manual labor.

There’s a few extra characters in the book. But I’ll just go over a couple. Hated Zoltan. I know there had to be an antagonist for Andras but I hated how he didn’t have any remorse about what his wife did to Klara. They were together for 11 years and then all of a sudden his wife’s being horrible (kept my language PG there) and it’s like ‘yeah she did that like 2 years ago and you didn’t know. Wow you’re dense’. I was okay when he died.

Polaner, I didn’t get in the beginning. Like I didn’t understand why he was part of the book. Yeah he was a friend but I didn’t get why he kept coming up until the end. Then I got it. He’s useful.

The war is another character in this book. All the characters are living in constant fear of what could happen to them due to them being Jewish. I don’t blame them. I’d be terrified. Especially if the men in my life could be called up to be in labor camps like these men were. Every time they talk about the bridges at the end, I kept singing OneRepublic’s “Burning Bridges”. It was the song everyone was requesting on Twitter so they did it. I saw them perform that live in Budapest. I was with a group of Americans. One of the guys mentioned that it could be because Hungary gets burning bridges. It’s true. I don’t want to go into it here and now but look at WWII. But war is horrible and I think that this book does an okay job a portraying war from someone who isn’t directly in combat. I haven’t been in the same situation that Andras or any of the characters are in. So it’s different. It also broke my heart that the Jews weren’t considered Hungarian. At that time, who were they going to culturally relate to? The Nazis kind of booted them out of everywhere. It’s horrible. Could say more about that, but won’t. That’s another post.

I could talk about this book forever. But I won’t. Go read it. Next review should be soon.

Re-Entry is Making Me a Horrible Person.

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Warning: This is going to be a re-entry post and it’s going to be emotion driven. If this offends anyone, please remember that I’m not trying to offend or scare anyone from experiencing another culture. I’m just hitting brick walls every which way I turn and I need an outlet.

When I made the decision to go overseas for a year, it was only going to be for a year unless God told me something different. Starting from basically last February when my original company went under, it’s been, I feel, very dramatic and tumultuous. So I’ve felt that it was time to come home and not go back. The last 2 days I was in Hungary, I keep deep sighing. Like this is almost over. Sigh. I have to travel and I’m not a great traveler. Sigh. I have made acquaintances and built relationships, which I was supposed to do being with a Christian non-prof company, and I have to leave them. Sigh. Where is my life going? Sigh.

I have been back exactly 12 days. Not home home but in the states for 12 days. I knew that there would be reverse culture shock, that I had to give myself time and that a lot of people wouldn’t really understand how overwhelmed that re-entry can be. I also knew that there would be an expectation that I would continue to be who I was before I left and that my reverse culture shock would be over within days. It’s not. I’m so much more angry now. It seems that I have more attitude, my sarcasm is out in full angry, bitchy force. Even my inappropriate, insensitive jokes have been on the rise. Being that I feel that this whole experience has been rocky, I can’t stop this from happening. No matter how hard I try, it’s happening. And depending on who I’m dealing with, these emotions and how I’m reacting to things, makes me feel like a horrible person and it’s been hard to dispute that I’m not a horrible person. I have been horrible to people who haven’t deserved it and I can’t help it. I start with good intentions and then end up being horribly sarcastic or having an attitude and starting fights. Then at the end of everything, they feel like the ass. This shouldn’t be happening.

But it is. And I have no where to turn to. I feel like I’ve complained so much in the past year to so many people. I feel like I have given up the right permanently to ever say anything bad about my life ever again. I’m not the person who complains. I shouldn’t be complaining how I’m having a hard time keeping up with conversations, how the words aren’t coming like they used to, how I can’t find anything or do anything normally anymore. I shouldn’t want to be back in a country where I’ve had probably the toughest year of my life. I shouldn’t be sobbing about how I’ve wrecked certain situations. I should be fixing them. But I’m not. It’s all building up and making me worse.

And it’s hard to cry with people. I’ve never been a crier. If I had to cry, historically it was in complete privacy. That’s just how my family works. To me, personally, I wasn’t going to have people see a weakness or see how silly some of the things I was crying over were. (trust me, some of the reasons were silly.) I cried a lot over in Hungary and it wasn’t always for me. I cried with people, in front of people and for people. Some tears were for me, or for a friend, or in mourning or for a relationship. I get home and where do I cry? Who do I cry with?

The last couple days, especially, all I have wanted is to be alone. No other people in any way. Not physically, phone, text, social media. Nothing. All I want to do is be by myself and exist. I know that it’s probably not going to help me any in all of this, so I’ve tried a little. It hasn’t been good. It makes me want to retreat more. Being a hermit is looking more and more good. For me and for others. Again making me feel horrible.

I have been trying to keep a strong front. I feel like it’s crumbling. All I want is normal and not to be a horrible person. I should be able to pull myself together and be a strong person for myself and for others like I usually do. My life isn’t that horrible that I should fall apart. But it’s not what’s happening. I have been having conversations with God lately about this whole situation. I’ve talked to Him about all this and asked other questions. I’ve asked why is this so hard. Why does it feel like You’re taking this relationship away from me? Why? So far, no answers.

But I am trying. I keep telling people that. I’m trying, I’m working on it. Sometimes it might not seem like it but I am. I’m a work in progress.

Few Thoughts on Leaving Hungary.

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I come back to the states in 6 days. There’s so much emotion that goes into that one sentence. But this year has made me more emotional than I ever have before. I think when you’re living overseas (especially when you’re a single woman), emotions are amplified by a million. I’m extremely excited to leave, completely sad that I’m leaving. I’m scared for numerous reasons and dreading traveling. I’m in the process of getting things done and getting the last few things. But sitting here, writing. I’m getting the anxious pit in my stomach. I know with how rough these last 10 months have been, a lot of people won’t understand my hesitation for leaving. But no one has really seen the whole story. No one has seen the little moments. Or heard the questions and one liners that were so perfectly spoken by my students. Or had the bonding moments (superficial or not) with the random people that have been a huge part of my life for 300 days. No one knows how many times I’ve asked myself why am I here or the times I’ve thought, this is why I’m here. Yes, I have consciously been aware of how long it will be until I go home in the sense that I will be going back to a place I’ve known my whole life. But now I am also consciously aware of how Budapest has a piece of my heart and that I will leave a little bit of me here and have that hole replaced with Hungary.

There’s still a lot of pain in me. There’s been big events that I’ve missed back home, I’ve practically ruined one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I’m going to carry those things with me for the rest of my life. There’s a lot of guilt. I can’t change what’s been done or said. I get that. I wish I could change some things though but I knew that coming to Hungary meant that life was going to be tough and life was going to be real and I was going to miss things and relationships would change. Sometimes terminate. (None of my relationships have terminated. Don’t worry. Some have changed dramatically and you know who you are and I’m sorry. I’m trying.) But the thing is, I’ve never been a completely open person. I keep my emotions to myself so that other people can hurt. Until this year, that’s worked for me. I was able to deal under these circumstances. But this year, with emotions amplified, I can’t function like that. I won’t be able to function like I used to for a long time, if ever. I would have eventually come to that point without Hungary but moving here sped it up. I’m sure a lot of people have noticed a change in my blog. I’m writing a lot differently. I need to. I’m sure eventually I’ll get back to writing like I used to, but now this blog is more self-centered. Because I need to throw whatever is in me out into the universe. I can’t leave what’s going on in me inside. It’s why I’ve started journaling like crazy. It helps me get the emotion out.

I don’t know what people expect of me. I know some people will expect me to be the same Megan I’ve always been. I’m not. As much as I fake it, I’m not. There’s a lot more anxiety and much more insecurity and less confidence in some areas. There has been a lot of tears this year from me and there’s going to be a lot more. I’ve cried and will cry for other people and for me. But there will be people that understand. Mainly those who have experienced this themselves. Some others too but it will be harder for them to understand why more than one native English speaker is overwhelming or why going to a restaurant or going to a grocery store with more than one or two options is overwhelming. It’s a special circumstance I’m in, but I’ll get through it.

Yesterday was the last technical day of teaching. I didn’t do anything. One class gave me a picture of them and chocolate. They told me they loved me. I love them too. I didn’t expect to love these kids and this country as much as I do. I expected love but not this deep. It’s a reason I don’t want to leave. I have laughed and cried with and for these kids. How do I move on from that? How does anyone move on from that? I get told by people who have gone back after living overseas for a time and they tell me to give myself some time to heal and don’t put a time limit on it. Leaving in under a week, I realize that I will never completely heal from Hungary and I don’t want to. This country has helped shape me in a way that no one has expected.

True Feelings

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So this has been an awful week. If I wasn’t having issue before keeping positive, I am now. This is the closest I’ve ever been to being depressed. I cant keep my emotions in check and it’s kind of not good. It’s actually horrible because it’s affecting a very important relationship. But this isn’t the time or place to talk about that because it involves people, including me, that need this to be private.

Anyway. 30 days until I go home. That’s really exciting and really sad. I’ve had a rough year in Hungary, so that’s the exciting part of going home, but I have made some really good friends here and for the most part love the Hungarian people, that’s the really sad part of this. I don’t think a lot of people realize how drastic these feelings are. I was recently trying to explain to someone all the emotions I have and so I started listing them off. I didn’t even go into the magnitude that I have emotions. A lot of people don’t realize how strong you feel emotions when you are overseas. Prior to this experience, I was mellow. I was a rock that people depended on. I had emotions but I could push them away so I could move on with life. And there are very few people that saw the emotions that I was feeling. Forget that when I moved to Hungary. Let’s put you in a culture that’s vastly different from your own and a language you don’t speak. Not easy to begin with and then you start a job you are not properly trained for and member care you don’t here from very often. It escalates quickly. You feel like you have no where to turn and these emotions sometimes feel like they come out of no where, pretty much like an imaginary brick wall. That happened to me the other day at a really bad time. I always feel really guilty when that happens. The person that I’m talking to when these emotions come isn’t asking for me to practically run away from them because I don’t want them to know how scared I am of these emotions. But at the same time, it would be nice for people to know how scary these emotions are and understand how bad it is.

I was just talking to the other American teacher the other day about what’s going on in life. I don’t let people in my life very easily and I figure it’s mostly because of the fear of rejection or ridicule. I mean, a little because I don’t like some people but that’s not often that I use that excuse.

I know I’m going to go back home and there’s going to be some people that are going to expect me to be very similar to how I was before Hungary and be able to pop right back into fitting in and there is going to be a lot of pressure to be like that. But the thing is, I don’t fit in anymore. God has changed my heart and it will continue to change drastically in the months following my return. Knowing me, I’m going to push to fit in and give myself a time limit on when I should be ‘normal’ again. But I can’t. My old normal is never going to be normal again. Normal is changing all the time. I had a hard time with that when I came to Hungary and it’s going to be hard when I go back. Is my new normal better than the old normal? It’s a good question that I think shouldn’t be answered.

UPDATE! I’m not trying to give the illusion that I have the worst overseas experience ever. (Amanda Knox anyone?) I’m just trying to convey that there’s a lot people don’t understand when people go overseas for a year and not to try to expect much from that person. That’s all. I’m fine. Trust me. Whatever I’m feeling or how strong it is, I’ll be okay. There are people in their native country that have it worse.

Learnage

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I leave Budapest in 42 days. Done with school in 39. I have a lot planned fun and more business days. Here’s things I realized or learned.

1. I’m scared. I’m not sure how I’m going to react to “re-entry”. I’ve been reading some about this and have been talking a little about this with people. For those of you who don’t know what re-entry is, it’s when a person goes back to their own culture. Adjusting to Hungary was an interesting transition and though I think it wasn’t a big deal, it was. Re-entry will be a big deal too. I was talking to my boss last week via Skype. During this conversation I got a little nervous. I started to read articles about re-entry. This one is my favorite because it describes how I feel. I realize that I am going to have a hard time with family gatherings. It’s going to be a place in time that I feel like I’m going to be asked and feel obligated to tell everything and I don’t want to.  I also feel like my family is going to be expecting me to be normal and I’m not. I’m changed. But it’s a process and I can’t rush it.

2. I have a love/hate relationship with Hungary. I have 4 different days. 1. I love Hungary. 2. I hate Hungary 3. I could take it or leave it. 4. I question everything. It goes from day to day how I feel and sometimes how I feel differs with the parts of the day. Sunday I loved Hungary and Monday I hated it.

3. I have a passion for one on one relationships. I knew this before but it’s more in me than before.

4. I go inside more. I do that more now. Something happens and I go inside. And I feel myself pulling away from friendships more. It’s my defense mechanism. I did this before Hungary but I do it way more now.

5. I feel emotions more. Living over seas makes things more intense. That’s my life right now and I hate it. Back home, I’m usually private. To the point I get uncomfortable talking about my emotions and usually push emotions aside. Here I feel emotions 100% more than I’m used to and it’s not in my comfort zone.

There’s more and there’s more details. Obviously. I have spent almost 9 months here, there’s going to be a list. I just wanted to give people a short list or an insight on what I’m learning.

And let it be known that there are things going on in life back home that I am not comfortable talking about. It also deals with a person that I talk about regularly here on the blog. And it’s hard being here in Hungary when they’re back there hurting.

Crappy (literally) Teaching Moment

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Yesterday, my first class was my lowest level class. It was the first day after a 4 day weekend and our schedule is a little confused because the seniors are testing. Anyway. These kids have been talking about going to the doctor and I brought in a worksheet. Most of the vocab, they knew but there was some new stuff to stretch them. One of the new words was diarrhea. Then they ask me. “Miller? What is Diarrhea?” “Okay, this will be very non-teacher like of me guys, but you know when you poop and it comes out watery with chunks in it? That is diarrhea?” Confused looks. So I start thinking of other ways to describe it. “Miller? What is poop?” Ah crap I think. (Exact thought. I promise) “Okay, crap, shit. The chunks that come out when you sit on the toilet. That is poop and if it looks like water and has chunks in it and you do it a lot in a short time, that is diarrhea.” Of course that would set in. They knew the words crap and shit. It was then the light bulb came on and they were like “OH!!!!!” and they tell everyone who did not understand what it is in Hungarian. Every once in a while you just have to curse in class.