Saturday, September 30, 2006

oh happy day...

Reasons why I am in a good mood this weekend:
  • the weather is beautiful.
  • I finally received my m-bag full of books! and a package from mom! and letters from various people, including adorable pictures of little Emily!
  • Had a "how to cook in Hungary" lesson today with a parent. We made over 20 things and froze them, plus she gave each of the new teachers a bucket literally full of food, recipes, and cooking items. She's like the Martha Stewart of Budapest!
  • We had a girl's night last night where we made pizza and watched Jane Austen movies. And we met an American girl who just moved to Diosd, who seems really nice.
  • Tonight we met up with a friend from Moscow. We met her at our training over the summer, and she was in Budapest for a conference, so we showed her around the city and took tons of pictures. And we ate at Subway, where they actually asked if I wanted a 6 inch or footlong sub. It took me a second to realize why that was odd...
  • Election day is tomorrow. IF the mayor of Diosd is re-elected, then odds are good that he will allow us to move into our new building within a week or two!!!!'s after midnight. I really should go to bed. pictures coming soon, I promise!

Friday, September 29, 2006

all about me....

...courtesy of one of my Hungarians learning Intermediate English!
"She is a nice, sweete short girl.
She has a red hair.
She dosen't use ring, necles, and sunglases, but she hasn't need that.
Because she is nice without things too."

Ha! I love this class. It was a huge group, with people of all ages, but most knew enough to have basic conversation. And I think they learned a few things! One lives in the apartment building next to me, and one lives right next to the cukraszda, so I know I'll see them again. :)

Speaking of sweets, every Friday the local bakeries make this special dessert. I've been waiting for that all day!

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Don't tell my students, but I get bored reading Middle English too! In fact, in the middle of Sir Gawain just now, I very nearly fell asleep, right in the middle of the teacher workroom! So I decided to update my blog before I attempt to wade through it again.

Last night was fun -- we tried a Hungarian restaurant nearby, followed by a visit to not one, but two cukrazdas! I have to say, I love the ice cream here. I am particularly fond of the caramel and cinnamon flavors... yum.

Tonight's my first conversational English meeting here at the school. I found out that I'll be teaching the Intermediate group, which currently has over 20 people signed up! Tonight's focus is on describing people... should be interesting! Check back for details...

and now back to work!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

see you at the pole...

I was kind of surprised to find that prayer at the pole happens even in Hungary! This morning, I got to school a little early, so I headed out for a minute to grab a few pictures for yearbook. How cool is this -- today there was a man here from Texas, and he helped to originate the See You at the Pole day there several years ago. He is in Budapest now and heard that our school was hosting one, so he came to see. Wouldn't it be cool to see something you started several years ago in action in a totally different country? I just thought that was fascinating.

I really love Wednesdays here anyway, because it's chapel day! Students lead it, and I really enjoy that. It's nice to see that teenagers do sometimes care about things and take action! The kids here, aside from the horrible "We hate Canterbury Tales" debacle, really are amazing. The Christians are genuine in their faith, and I never see any animosity toward the students who don't share their beliefs. I really like that we don't seem to have some of the tension that I noticed in the States.

My other favorite thing about Wednesdays is that students are dismissed early so that the faculty can meet. It's so nice not to have to sit at school forever after the day is done!

off to grade a quiz from Things Fall Apart... have a great day!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

venting part two...

In keeping with the Monday blues, last night was, well, pretty wretched. I had decided I would take an easy night and go to bed early, so I left the school at 8:30 and walked up the flights of stairs to my apartment, where I proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes or so just trying to open my door.

I've had problems with my door before. It sticks, and once I really thought I wouldn't be able to get out. Last night, however, the door wouldn't even budge. I could not get in my apt. to save my life. I considered trying to crawl across my neighbor's balcony, but since it's 5 floors up, decided that was probably a terrible idea. I pretty much resigned myself to spending the night at the school or on Lisa's couch, and I was being a whiny little girl.

I think Parker and Lisa B were tired of my rotten attitude, so they graciously offered to come help me. We hatched an elaborate scheme to take the door off the hinges so I could get inside -- but first Parker tried one last time. Yep --you guessed it. On his first try, the door just opened, as if there were no problems at all. I felt so stupid.

Thank God every day isn't Monday!

Monday, September 25, 2006


One thing that definitely hasn't changed:
Today less than half of my seniors had read the assignment. When I passed out the quiz, I immediately was bombarded with requests for extra credit.

I had previously offered an extra credit opportunity for this unit, which was memorizing the first part of the prologue to Canterbury Tales. I graciously offered it again. Nope -- they didn't want to do that either.

I really do like these kids a lot, but that was so frustrating.

It's such a Monday.

On to a more positive note! I completely forgot about this last night, since those pictures were taking forever to upload... So I've been really struggling with what to do about that Conversational English class. You know how badly I wanted to do that, but I really didn't want to spend three hours on public transportation every Monday night. Problem solved! At our retreat someone announced that we're starting something similar here at the school. This is so much better, because it takes me all of three minutes to walk to the school building, and my 'students' will actually live here in Diosd!

I feel slightly better now. or perhaps it's the chocolate I just finished :)
oh, and Allyson -- I must side with Stace: the Boost bar, while definitely tasty, has nothing on the Peanut Butter Lion Bar!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

finally! some pictures!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

OK, I know you've been disappointed at how slack I am about posting pictures (although you know me well enough not to be surprised -- aren't you impressed that I still update this?). Never fear -- I finally recharged my batteries, so you get to see some of the people I keep talking about! Unfortunately, photobucket is being stupid, so I had to upload the blurry, compressed versions -- but you get the idea.

The picture of me is from the retreat. Note that I still display my Falcon Pride! The place was really nice, and I enjoyed getting to just hang out with people I don't always get to see. We played a few games, talked about a few teaching strategies, and drank a lot of the extremely good, extremely cheap drinks from the coffee shop. I'm pretty sure that was my highlight -- is that shallow? :)

Other pictures:

  • Lisa B and me in downtown Budapest
  • Parker abandoning his ultra-healthy diet for two white hot chocolates
  • Lisa A displaying the commemorative World Cup Coke bottle
  • Emily and me waiting for worship time

ok, I had more, but this is taking far too long. I have to do some work!

It was good to come back to such sweet messages from so many of you. I love and miss you guys.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

riots and retreats

I'm not sure how much coverage the rioting is getting in the States, so if you're curious, here's a link to the English newspaper in Budapest. It pretty much covers the basics{4194E2CB4F4F477CBA29B26FB2CCC79C}&From=News

The general attitude here seems to be that there are some legitimate protestors, but the violent ones appear to be skinheads and extremists who are just looking for an excuse to create trouble. Hopefully it will die down soon... Again, though, I have to say that everything in Diosd is fine!

In fact, I'm more than fine, as this is a short week. The students have tomorrow off, because we have a staff retreat! I'm really excited. We're going to the Hungarian countryside, all expenses paid, to destress and build team unity. Honestly, I'm more excited about the destressing part. I keep hearing that culture shock is a silent killer that creeps up on you, and I can sort of see that already. Even if you're in a great mood, sometimes the stress of just hearing different languages all day is enough to cause tension. So I'm really excited about getting out of the city and into nature for a while...

no blog updates until we get back, but I hope to have some pictures for you by then!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

thieves at the posta!

Yesterday I got a package from Karen, which was awesome. It started, "This is basically a bunch of crap from my apartment -- but it's from the heart!" I loved it! too funny...

but the best part is seeing what didn't make it. You see, Karen wrote a detailed explanation of all her items and why she felt compelled to include them. When I actually received the package, I could deduce that some of the items were missing! So here are the things that a proud Hungarian at the local posta is now using:
  • a roll of emergency toilet paper
  • a key (to Karen's heart! So Karen, somebody is Hungary is going to start stalking you soon...)
  • (my favorite) a slapband: the brief fad from middle-school consisting of a bracelet you literally slap onto your wrist.

This made me laugh hysterically. What in the world will some random Hungarian do with these things?

It also makes me wonder how many other items I'm missing from my packages! (Kathy, I got yours too -- I'm pretty certain they didn't feel compelled to take any of that!) :)

so the lesson is -- when you send mail internationally, always write a letter describing what was in it. because it's the thought that counts!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You haven't lived until...'ve heard Hungarian rap. Wow.

Words fail me. What a way to start my morning!

By the way, in case the rioting in Budapest is being covered back home, never fear. All is well here in the tiny village of Diosd! :)

Also, notice that I've added links to the blogs of Emily and Lisa B. They have more pictures than I do, and I make a guest appearance on both, so check them out! They're under my links section.

Have a wonderful day...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Thai food and postcards and porn stars -- oh my!

So last night some of us decided to go to the touristy part of Budapest, because we realized that none of us have Budapest postcards yet! They're hard to come by in our very non-touristy village of Diosd, so we took the tram into the city, where we browsed the souvenir shops and looked for a relatively cheap place to eat that did not involve Golden Arches. We finally settled on a Thai place, which had a hostess named Dominique who spoke English very well. And speak she did, pretty much non-stop! But she was fascinating. She moved away from Hungary at 12 and lived in Paris and Moscow, so she speaks four languages fluently. She just moved back to Budapest and was very willing to tell us about all the changes she has noticed. The biggest, she said, was the girls. When she left, women were more modest, but now porn has become a huge industry in Hungary. As if to prove her point, not five minutes later, she alerted us to Hungary's most famous porn star, walking arm in arm with a sketchy looking guy and followed by several men. Interesting. and a little gross.

I am a little disappointed, though, that I chose to go downtown rather than stay in Diosd. The village had an open-air festival last night featuring live entertainment. Some of the teachers went, and apparently I missed the hilarious Hungarian renditions of American hits such as "Don't tear my heart, my achy-breaky heart" and "Stand up by me." I'm told that Sweet Home Alabama was particularly unintelligible, while the Metallica song was passable (although they pronounced the band name as Met -a- LEAK -a) One of the teachers caught the eye of an inebriated Hungarian, who wrote down "Girl blue shirt, janna dance wit me?" Next year, I HAVE to go to this! so funny.

Church was awesome today, as I walked in and saw 5 different people, all non-teachers, that I've met while I'm here. It's nice to feel like I'm starting to feel comfortable. Plus after church we hit a Greek restaurant and a really cool coffeehouse, all for the bargain price of $5.

On the tram on the way back, we crossed the Danube and rode past all these amazing buildings. I was thinking about how much I love Budapest, when Lisa B turned to me and said, "I really love this place." Seriously, this is a beautiful, beautiful city. and I am absolutely thrilled to be here.

so start making plans! Come visit!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Trash Heap: The Sequel

We decided to risk it again -- the giant trash heap. Apparently, taking a right instead of a left ensures that you miss the huge walls of garbage, which was nice. Hazards still abound, though, as the hills also double as the local Lover's Lane (how romantic) and the target practice range for the Hungarian Border Patrol. Yeah, all of those things go together...

I better start losing weight soon! :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

a break-in of sorts

We were all told when we came here that Hungary is a very peaceful place, and we shouldn't fear for our safety. Theft, on the other hand, is extremely common. Basically, if you leave something out, you shouldn't expect to see it again. There have been some cases of missionary homes being robbed as well. I figured being on the top floor kind of eliminated some of the risk of that, but it is a thought in the back of my mind.

Today when I got home, I opened the door and saw that the table in the living room was moved away from the wall. Odd, I thought. I didn't remember moving it this morning. I dismissed it as me being stupid, and went about my way. Then I went into my bedroom, and I definitely hadn't moved my laundry hamper into the middle of the room. I started freaking out.

and then I saw the phone. Yes, that's right. The phone I asked for upon my arrival and had eventually decided not to get was mysteriously left in my apartment today while I was gone. Apparently my landlord finally decided to get on the ball! :) I was relieved. Still, it was odd to know that someone had been in my apartment while I was gone. And I still haven't met him/her! All I know is the name on the mailbox. Weird.

Anyway, I have a pretty nice phone now -- cordless and with caller id! Yes! So feel free to call... :)

Lisa and Emily and I decided to take a walk after work today. Parker had told us about the trails he runs on, so we decided we'd try it. What Parker failed to make clear was that these trails at one point run alongside what is apparently the local dumping ground. It was highly entertaining to see the assortment of couches, computers pieces, clothes, and styrofoam out in the middle of nowhere. We bravely went past it to where the road was clear -- and promptly got confused in the maze of trails. When the sun set and we were still a good 45 minutes away from our apartments I was a little worried that we'd be stuck on the hill in the dark with trash piled up on either side! But fortunately, Lisa has excellent navigational skills, so we made it back just as it was getting dark. It was an adventure.

and we took a little sidetrip to the cukraszda for some ice cream. They have cinnamon ice cream here! Is it wrong that we've all memorized the cost of a cone with two scoops? (240 forint, in case you're wondering, which is approximately $1.15) I love that place.

I do not love test reviews. sigh. back to Beowulf study guides.

too little slelep...

Why do I stay up late, knowing that I have to work the next day? sigh.

So last night I helped Mary and Lisa B host a dinner for the new teachers and the single veteran teachers. We fixed some Mexican food (which is incredibly difficult to find here), listened to some music -- good times. The bad thing about good times, though, is that it's hard to go from being social to work mode. So after we cleaned everything up, I came back to the school and proceeded to get on Vonage and call home. for two hours. and then myspace to get in touch with people. and then email to get in touch with people who have no myspace... When Lisa and I finally left the school, it was close to 2. needless to say, the alarm clock went off for a long time this morning before I dragged myself out of the bed.

I should really learn my lesson.

It was worth it, though, to talk to people!

Update on the building... the mayor of Diosd came to inspect it this week, and today the fire inspectors are visiting (which means the alarms have gone off at least 6 times this morning. fun.) Hopefully, this means I can actually have my own classroom soon!!! I cannot wait. This past weekend we helped to get everything ready for inspection, and it is such a great place. You will not believe the pictures I'll post once we get in.

Can I just brag about my students, past and present? I cannot tell how great it is to hear from so many SE students lately, and the kids here are just as wonderful. It is really interesting to teach in a place with so many international students, although sometimes the language barrier is tricky. Imagine teaching a class of 18 with Honors students, ELL students, and nationalities including Americans, Hungarians, Estonians, Koreans, Chinese, Mongolians, British, and Kazakh! Fascinating!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

a response to criticism

I was reading my comments this morning, and I felt compelled to respond to the anonymous comment from a European reader, who will probably never read this, but that's beside the point.

I sincerely hope that I didn't come across as overly critical of Europe or Slovakia in particular. On the contrary, I greatly enjoyed my time there (with the exception of my time in Tesco! :) ). Most people who know me are aware that I love Europe and am thrilled to be here. And I agree with some of your criticisms of the United States -- we do tend to be too money-conscious, although I don't think we've entirely sacrificed respect and the bonds of family. Perhaps that, too, is an oversimplification perpetuated by films. Anyway, my intent was not to criticize; I mainly wanted to record my impressions. There is a difference in customer service and perceptions of business here, and I do think it's sad to see subpar buildings next to all the beauty and history also in Bratislava (for the record, I also dislike seeing the problems of urbanization in American cities).

Anyway, I just felt that I might not have been accurate in representing my feelings during my trip. I enjoyed my trip, I like Europe, and I have never seen Hostel. :)

and now it's time for class to start.... have an excellent day!

Monday, September 11, 2006

slovakia and post-communist life

Fascinating, though fruitless, trip. Basically after leaving Diosd at 5:30 this morning, driving two hours, and filling out our paperwork, we were told to come back at 3. We dutifully toured the local sights, including a castle housing a DaVinci exhibition, came back at 3, and were told to come back in two weeks -- they may have visas for us then. or maybe not.

sigh. I'm starting to see the after-effects of communism. Paperwork is crazy and customer service is non-existent (especially at the Tesco in Bratislava. yikes.) Case in point: our director told us a story from a couple years ago. The local CBA, which is like a mini-mart, had these chocolate chip cookies one day, and one of the missionaries found them. You have to understand that chocolate chips do not exist in Hungary, so this is like gold. Word spread throughout the American community here, and the supply would run out in a week's time. After the third sell-out in a month, the cookies disappeared. Finally, the guy asked the owner, who informed him that he was tired of restocking his shelves all the time.
I don't think he really understood the basics of business.

It was kind of sad, really, because the old section of Bratislava is absolutely beautiful. It has interesting architecture and lots of old-world charm. However, it is surrounded by commie condos -- an insane number of buildings that all look exactly the same. It was depressing, really, to stand at the castle at the top of the hill, look out over the beautiful landscape, and see all those horribly ugly buildings.

Fun word of the day: the Slovak word for ice cream is zrmzlina. How in the world do you pronounce that????

Sunday, September 10, 2006

victory! and a little thing called skype

Today I went to the grocery store by myself.

Now this may not seem like a big deal, since I've been going shopping for several years, but here it entails a bit more. I have to make my way to the bus stop, take the correct bus, exit at the right stop, navigate the mall at Campona, do my grocery shopping in a place where the food labels come in at least 6 different languages (none of which are English), take all the groceries back onto the bus, and walk back to the apartment building and up all four flights of stairs carrying all of the groceries. no small feat, that.

I must have looked like a native, though, because I had four different people try to ask me questions at Tesco. I've finally moved past "I don't understand" and can now say "Sorry, I'm an American. Do you speak English?" None of them did, but at least they understood what I meant! Plus it's nice to think I don't immediately look like the standard obnoxious American tourist.

Awesome to hear from my small group from Westover tonight, even if the skype connection was a little fuzzy. I really do miss you guys; I wish we could have talked more! Please email me with all the updates.

If you want to talk with me for free, you too can download skype! The calls are sometimes a little delayed or echo-y, but hey, it's free. Visit, download the program for free, and add my contact information. When we're both online, we can talk or chat. All you need is some sort of microphone. I'd love to hear from you.

I think my procrastination is almost done.... sigh. One thing that unfortunately is true on both sides of the ocean is that sub plans are more work than just teaching it yourself. I'd almost rather be here tomorrow. But then, when would I get to visit Bratislava, Slovakia again? :)

random slices of life from Hungary this weekend

These are not connected in any way, but oh well...
1. So I'm in my apartment trying to figure out my cell phone (the menu is in English, but all of the voicemail stuff is in Hungarian. I still have a message I can't listen to!) when all of a sudden I hear this crazy honking from tons of cars. My kitchen window looks out toward the highway to Budapest, so I run to it, thinking there's some massive wreck or traffic jam. Nope. All I could see was a long line of cars with balloons tied to the mirrors. Every single one was honking the horn. Apparently, it's a Hungarian custom to celebrate weddings by being as loud as humanly possible!
2. My oh-so-modern shower consists of a showerhead that attaches to the faucet pipes in my sink. There's no holder for it, so if I want to have both hands to shampoo my hair, I have to get a little creative. I figured out that I could prop the showerhead on the shelf in the corner, if I anchor it with the conditioner and body wash bottles. This worked great -- until mid-shower yesterday, when the showerhead suddenly decided to detach itself from the pipe. It was ridiculous. I didn't know I had that much water pressure, but it was like a geyser, and there was water everywhere, except in the tub! Fortunately, the bathrooms here are completely tiled, floor and walls (perhaps this happens a lot?), so I just had to grab some towels and accept the loss of my box of tissues.
3. I went to a wine festival in Budapest last night. It was really fun! They blocked off this huge area next to the Danube, and wineries from all over the world put up these beautifully decorated booths so people could sample their wines. It was very laid back and European. We saw all these people with bread and cheese, so we went looking for some. Our lone male last night, Austin, is certainly not at all shy, so he just walked up to people asking for cheese. He knew the Hungarian word for cheese, because it's sajt, pronounced "shite" which is really pretty funny. The first time someone asked if I wanted a shiteburger, I was a little taken aback... anyway, Austin walked up to this woman, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "Shite? Shite? Shite?" She looked at him like he was crazy and said in a strong Southern accent, "What are you looking for, son?" She was American! It took a little explaining to make her realize we just wanted cheese! When we finally did get it, they gave us a sampler including sheep and goat cheese. All of it was pretty tasty, except for one French cheese, which kind of smelled like armpit. It wasn't pleasant! But the rest of the evening was greatly entertaining.

Tomorrow I'm off to Slovakia to get my visa. I still can't understand why I have to go to a separate country to get a Hungarian visa, but I'm told this is much easier than waiting for it to be mailed off for several weeks... so i'm doing my first sight-seeing trip tomorrow, starting at 5:30 am! in light of that, I think it's time for my Sunday post-church nap...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

stats and affirmation

I am pleased to report that the second day was as nice as the first, and I've already had parent compliments! although I have to say the 45 minute class period takes some getting used to... I feel like I'm flying through stuff and never get quite finished.

I'm also excited about this blog. Thank you for all your comments and emails; I'm glad you're enjoying this, because I love writing it! I installed a counter when I first set up the blog, just to see if anybody would actually bother reading it. Imagine my shock when I checked it and saw that in one day this week I had over 100 people visit the page. 100! With 168 separate page loads! Who knew I had such an audience? So thanks for reading, and caring. It makes a world of difference.

It also makes me wonder if I should start charging (I kid, I kid!).

time to head home...have an excellent day.

Mom to the rescue....

as requested... kindergarten, age 5!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


don't know why the other picture didn't work.... here it is.

And I forgot to add that I finally got a cell phone! Yes! I texted Kathy a happy birthday message today, for the bargain price of 25 cents. technology amazes me.

first day of school fun!

obligatory first day of school picture... I really wish I had my kindergarten one to put beside it! By the way, I angled it so you can see my balcony. There are two benches and a drying rack out there right now, and there's another door that opens into my bedroom. The other picture is my bedroom from the balcony door. Notice the rather large couch. We couldn't get it out of the room and are convinced they built the apt. around it. I gave in and just decided to keep it! Makes the bedroom a little small, but it works!

So here are the reasons today was amazing...
a) easiest first day ever. I'm not sharing details, because all of you public school teachers would hate me! Let's just say I have ample time to grade papers and plan. I've never been so prepared.
b) wonderful kids. I love them already. it's like all your favorites are in one class (not that I have favorites, of course...)
c) explored the city after work today with Emily and Lisa B. We found a little paper shop where I finally found stationary (have I shared my frustration with that? Apparently people in Hungary over the age of 12 don't write letters, because I can't find any stationary. Fortunately, I kind of like the 12 year old girl stationary I found today, so a few of you may actually get real mail sometime in the near future)
d) I got four things in the mail today!!!! I opened Nik's first and thought, "Nik is the best letter-writer ever!" Then I opened Mom's and it was of course sweet, and very needed since it contained the InDesign installation disk for my yearbook class! And then I opened Kathy's, and there was a packet of ranch dressing and some crystal light! You guys all rock, so I hereby declare you all best letter-writers ever. The fourth was the last package from Southside, but I got the notice after the post office closed :( Something to look forward to tomorrow! Oddly, the dates they were mailed ranged from mid August to September 2, and yet they all arrived on the same day. What does this tell us about the respective postal services of the USA and Hungary? (no offense, dad!)

Have a great day, friends.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I Love Conversational English!

I had the best time last night. What a cool experience!

I learned that it's actually a club for people trying to figure out English. It's run by Hungarians about my age who are active in the church I've been going to! They have an hour or so of lessons followed by a time of praise music and a brief speaker.

Now despite technically being a missionary, I am definitely NOT a share my testimony kind of girl. I've always hated the idea of standing on a street corner and passing out tracts. I just thought it was annoying. What a surprise, then, to find that these people were actually curious. People stayed to hear my testimony-- which, by the way, I was not expecting to give! I spoke with a translator, which was really interesting. It was probably good, because the pauses while he translated gave me time to figure out what in the world I would say next!

I really enjoyed working with the people, too. I had 5 in my class, from about 30 years old to probably 65. They sincerely wanted to learn and had little notebooks to write down new words. And they were so excited when they said something correctly. Teachers know -- there is nothing like enthusiastic, dedicated students!

I am trying to decide if I want to commit to this, though, because it is all the way across town. literally. I left the school here at 3:45 and returned at 9:00. That's a long, long time for every Monday. However, the leader was really sweet and told me I was "most warmly invited to return!" and one of my students said, "You will return? You will be our teacher?" That's hard to turn down...

and the really big news! Yesterday I was so frustrated about the apartment situation. In the middle of me crying over the phone to my mom, Ildiko (one of our Hungarian secretaries), came into the room and handed me a note. She had called the landlord and explained that I would need to move. My wonderful landlord is no fool -- he (she? I don't know!) quickly realized that would mean no money at all, so he cut my rent! I'm still paying more than I expected to, but I am within my budget now, and I don't have to move! I now have a two-bedroom apartment in a relatively new building for less than a one bedroom in an older, cheaper part of town. Yes! I was downright giddy.

So later on when I complain about four flights of stairs, doors that stick, and cabinets that won't stay closed, remind me how happy I am to be there!

Monday, September 04, 2006


It's decision time...
My roommate, Hannah, has not yet raised all of her support to come here. Right now we're unsure when she may come, so I need to decide what to do. I can stay where I am if I can handle paying the rent alone, but I need to sit down and play with my budget to see if that's an option. Or I can leave my apartment and move into Budapest with two other girls who have been here for a while. That may be better financially, but then I'll be quite a ways from the school and will have to pay more for public transportation.
I'm kind of stuck! I would prefer to stay where I am, since I'm already settled in, but I just don't know. I would appreciate your prayers...thanks.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Growing up I never understood how it was possible that Mom and Dad always wanted a nap after church on Sundays. Then I started to do it, too. It was like a weird ritual I couldn't break. Even Hungary is not immune to the Sunday Nap Syndrome, as I just woke up from a 3 hour nap. 3 hours! So there goes my day.

Last night I was treated to a special fireworks presentation. I was doing some reading when I heard them, so I went to my balcony, and sure enough the town next to Diosd was putting on a show. No one seems to know why, but our guess is they had been canceled on St. Istvan's Night and this was the second attempt. I had a perfect view from my 5th (!) floor balcony, and I was surprised at how good they were. I mean, Erd isn't exactly a large city or anything. I really enjoyed the show...
...until I noticed that I was intently looking directly over the top of the apartment building next to me. Those residents have no balcony facing Erd and probably didn't know what was going on. I'm fairly certain that the couple on the fourth floor thought I was watching them! so I think I have a reputation as a peeping Tom... :)
I was part of a horrible American stereotype last night. Some veteran teachers took us to their favorite restaurant in Budapest. It was really good and a very interesting place -- a little nicer than all the others we've been to so far. We were, I'm pretty sure, the only Americans there -- and on the way out Emily took a corner of the tablecloth with her. I tried desperately to catch the glasses as they fell off the table, but alas, it was all in vain. Glass went everywhere. So even when we try not to draw attention to ourselves, we fail miserably. Fortunately, the waitstaff was great and spoke some English. They told us not to worry about it. I secretly think they were just ready to see us go!
School starts this Wednesday!!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

extracurricular activities

Since I arrived, I feel like the only Hungarians I've met are the English-speaking ones at the school. That's such a shame, but with the language barrier it's nearly impossible to remedy. until now!
I think I'm going to start volunteering to teach Conversational English once a week, mostly adults. It'll be a nice break from teaching high school kids, and really shouldn't require much planning, since I'll mostly just talk to them and correct their pronunciation (which is somewhat laughable to my non-Southern friends! I'll have them saying y'all in no time). The best thing, though, is that I'll finally get to interact with Hungarians and be able to communicate some! I'm so excited. The guy who asked me to help was surprised, I think, at how readily I accepted. I am doing it on a trial basis until after school gets going, though -- don't want to bite off more than I can chew!
I'm also co-leading a Bible study for 11th grade girls, which is a cool way to get to know students outside of the classroom. So I'm starting to feel like I have a life other than teaching!

So I've been reading about Hurricane Ernesto by NC right now. I'm convinced this is nothing compared to the gales I've faced this week. I'm going to name it Windstorm Istvan, just for fun. Yesterday, I was wearing heels going up a hill with a very heavy laptop case. Istvan slammed the bag into my legs, and I thought I was going to tumble over right in the middle of the street. I'm terrified to wash clothes, because I have no dryer. Unless I want them to drip all over my floor, I have to put them on the balcony, and I am convinced that I would find my underwear strewn all over Diosd! It's also been about 50 degrees here the last couple of days. I had to pull out my fall clothes. Compare this to just a short while ago when we were at 100 degrees. crazy.