Monday, January 29, 2007

sick (and homesick)

so apparently the hand sanitizer isn't all-powerful. sigh.

I haven't succumbed fully to the cold/flu/sinus infections that are going around, but I know something's lurking. I skipped church yesterday and basically slept my way through the day. And for the first time I realized I'm a little homesick.

This came as a shock to me, as I've never really noticed it before. But I think when you're sick you just want to be at home. so today I find myself missing such random things as my family, my friends back home, Chick-Fil-A biscuits, Mello Yello, Jeopardy, Outback steak, downtown Greensboro, and Puffs tissues with aloe vera.

so maybe it will be ok if I have to go home for a little while! I'm still hoping that extra passport I got months ago will come in handy and I won't have to leave...but if I do, I will thoroughly appreciate it. It's just not as pleasant to be sick without the mindless fun of Golden Girls repeats!

Friday, January 26, 2007

happy name day to me...

Cassia walked into English class today bearing a large chocolate cake -- for me! Apparently, it's my name day. The Catholic saints all have assigned days which are very important to Hungarians, so they celebrate on the day of the saint for whom they were named. St. Paula, I found out, is the patron saint of widows. Had no idea there even was a St. Paula!

OK, so really we all just wanted to eat chocolate cake! But it was sweet of them.

let's see -- other news...this weekend is the big Senior Auction, where the seniors sell off donated goods and services to help pay for the senior class trip. There are quite a few really good items, like airline tickets, car rentals, and hotel stays that were donated! But I'm thinking I'll be going in on the authentic Indian dinner, made by one of the families here at the school. I'll let you know if I win! For my part, I'm donating my services designing prayer cards, since I did my own and a couple other people's as well. It'll be interesting to see how much that'll get...

and fun thing that happened this week: karaoke at "The Red Rose" here in Diosd. We were entertained by Hungarians singing (I kid you not!) Bohemian Rhapsody, Greased Lightning, Oh Happy Day, and American Pie. Sometimes I would kill for a video camera! hahaha

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hungarians really need my proofreading services...

So whenever I go out, my eyes are naturally drawn to English words. They just catch my attention. This morning, I stopped at CBA on my way to school to get a bottle of water, and while standing in the checkout line, I saw a sales flyer with the word 'ripped' on it. I couldn't figure out most of the words on the rest of the flyer, so I walked closer and saw what they were advertising: ribbed condoms. I tried not to laugh, but the thought of someone selling ripped condoms (no wonder they're on sale!) just got to me that early in the morning. I laughed so hard I cried, while all of the Hungarians were, I'm sure, appalled at the weird American girl who thinks condoms are funny.

I know I've said it before, but sometimes I stop and think is this really my life?

update on visa stuff: no one has told us why, but something has happened to sour the official's attitude toward the school. It's long and complicated, but basically you can't get a visa in the country, hence the trips to Bratislava. Now the people there are possibly unwilling to work with us, so we may have to go home long enough to get a visa. Now I wouldn't mind going home for a visit! But unfortunately there are 9 of us affected. Finding subs in a foreign country for 9 teachers with no definite dates is next to impossible! So please pray that we can find favor with the officials and resolve this matter quickly.

I'm off to cover a class -- we have something like the flu spreading through the school -- thank God for SE and all that hand sanitizer!

Monday, January 22, 2007

humble pie, Hungarian style

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a beautiful night, and the view from our roof is amazing, so up we went. Good times....

...until we came down the ladder, apparently making a bit more noise than we intended. Suddenly our neighbor was in the hallway, nightgown clad, angrily scolding us in rapid Hungarian.


So today Heather and I walked over with flowers and an apologetic note, translated by Monika, our secretary, who assured me, "She will love it. Ask her name!" Well, she didn't love it. and definitely didn't leave room to ask her name! Apparently neighbor lady likes her sleep and was still pretty angry, although when we finally got tired of squirming underneath her wrath, she did grudgingly give us a "thank you" -- in English!

I think we'll definitely be on our best behavior now...maybe it's time for cookies?

anyway, this weekend was fun. On the recommendation of our ELL students, Heather and I went to the Tropicarium, the largest aquarium in Eastern Europe, which is conveniently located next to Tesco in the mall! It was surprisingly good, despite the English "translations." I sometimes think I'm going to volunteer my proofreading services all over Hungary, as I'm tired of seeing things like this: "The fisshs many-coloured, what tell other fish is poison." Yeah.

so how adorable is this: Right now all of our male students are busy asking the girls to the Valentine's Banquet -- and they're good. One of my favorites involved sneaking the question into the powerpoint presentation during chapel last week -- clever boy! Today one of my seniors came into my room during lunch. "I need a huge favor, " he said. "Can you walk over to the flower shop and get me an orchid for Aline? Mr. White won't let me leave me campus! and I need it today after school!" How could I turn that down! So I walked across the street to buy this beautiful bouquet and got it to him just afater the bell rang. She was impressed.

So I may be keeping my neighbors up at night... but by God I'm encouraging young love!

Friday, January 19, 2007

little women uncut!

As Heather said, "America has been lied to!" So here I am to set you straight, if you are in fact in the same situation. Since I recently read March, last year's novel about the father in the Little Women series, and I love Louisa May Alcott, Heather got me Little Women for Christmas. Now, I have read Little Women dozens, if not hundreds, of times since I first read it in about the 3rd grade or so. I know whole passages by heart. Yet as I re-read it, I realized all my life I've been reading a censored version. Who knew there are was actually more to Little Women than I ever suspected? Granted, there's nothing earthshattering that I missed, but still. AND, what we know as Little Women is in fact two separate novels: Little Women and Good Wives.

My world has officially been rocked. :)

oh, and in case you're wondering, March was a really interesting novel. I recommend it.

So last night was the return of the ELL class! It was actually really nice to see most of the people again. and I've picked up another weekly tutoring session, this time with Marton's girlfriend, so I guess he thinks it's helping.

and for those of you Elon people who know Allyson, she welcomed baby Claire into the world this week! Congrats, Al -- send pictures soon!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Falcon Pride

So there's a rule against cell phones being on during the school day, but as everyone I know in Hungary pretty much teaches at the school, I never bother to turn mine off. Today in the middle of Brit Lit, as a result, my incoming text message was obvious to the whole class! I'm glad, though, because it was Heather telling me I got two giant packages from Southeast!

Let me tell you, that was like Christmas all over again. I was not expecting anything like that -- I am definitely set for any breakfast, sanitizing, or educational emergency! Thank you guys so made my day.

Let me know when you want to come visit! :)

I love chapel days....

... and today's was especially good [[Southside people -- Michael Watkins' friend was our guest speaker! It was good to hear a Southern accent :) ]. It was funny, however, to hear another teacher tell us to mingle with the students instead of standing at the side. "We aren't prison guards here," she said. Ha! When I think of all the times I had to stand guard during assemblies...

so a prayer request for you all -- as you know, this visa situation is getting a little ridiculous. Basically, our request was denied because of some unfortunate timing with paperwork, meaning we have to start over from the beginning, a process I started way back in, oh, February, when I first applied for a Letter of Invitation. The school is sending some people to Bratislava on our behalf this week. They're meeting with someone in a position of power, so there's a possibility he might have mercy on us and speed things up a bit. I'm not illegally here now, thankfully, but I would really like to have this taken care of.

oh -- and I'm definitely teaching AP English next year! I am pretty excited about that...but I wish I could have done it this year! I may tutor a few students individually this year if they decide to take the test...we'll see.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy MLK Day!

Sadly, that is not a celebrated holiday in I hope all of you enjoy your day off!

Random thoughts from this weekend:
  • I will never understand Hungarian customer service -- as in, for example, the ridiculous amount of time I spent this weekend trying to flag down waitstaff. It was actually kind of funny for the first 30 minutes or so...
  • Went to see Step Up this weekend and noticed that Heather and I were the only ones to laugh in a few places. Apparently several jokes are lost in translation, making it immediately obvious to everyone which audience members were American.
  • first basketball game in our new gym! Our boys played pretty well but couldn't quite get the win. It was a lot of fun to watch a little b-ball. not as much fun to find that my boys in Carolina blue lost this weekend. I KNEW I would jinx them -- I'm like the SI cover curse!
  • tried to make beef stew this weekend and encountered some unusual vegetables...anyone know of a vegetable that tastes like celery? I've never seen anything like it.
  • It is so frustrating to know exactly what I should say in Hungarian, work up the courage to say it, and apparently mispronounce it so badly that it cannot be understood. I almost want to give up and just point all the time. or carry around a giant signboard....wouldn't that be cute?
  • however, at church I got so excited -- because I actually read something! usually the Hungarian and English versions are posted during worship, but this is a Hungarian song. I figured out that it was the Bible verse about no eye has seen, etc. I was so incredibly proud. so back to studying this insanely difficult language.... which I can (sort of) read but not speak! sigh.

all right -- time for Bible study with my 11th grade girls! We're reading Experiencing God -- which I also read in 11th grade. Talk about a blast from the past... Have a great day.

Friday, January 12, 2007

bloggity blog...

To all my teacher friends, I just found If you haven't thought about using blogs in teaching, take a look at the site. I think you could do some really cool things with it. Today I'm trying it for the first time in my Senior English class when we go to the lab today. Take a look -- no need to make copies, and they don't have to type in the links!

You know, there's something about the first week back after a vacation -- it seems like it's taken forever. I can't wait until tomorrow when I can sleep late! oh -- and watch my beloved #1 Tarheels play! A student taped the games for me so I can share the joy! My only disappointment is that I can't watch Duke lose. twice. hahahaha....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

life is good

I think it's odd that I hardly ever drank coffee before coming here -- especially when I think about how excited I was when my students told me that Starbucks is coming to Budapest. Now add that to the excitement of my Mountain Dew and Peanut Butter KitKat from the school store (hey, I need to support the senior class!) and that makes one heck of a day....

I promise that I do other things beside eat and drink here!

Just to prove it, yesterday I met with Marton, the Hungarian I tutor. Interestingly, the topic list he was given to prepare for his English exam includes describing oneself, the weather, and the benefits and problems of welfare. Um....which one of those doesn't quite belong? What a random list of things. So today we meet again before his first exam this weekend, when we will discuss traveling, correspondence, and ways to conserve energy on the home and national level. Weird.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

is this winter?

I have to say, I think Al Gore is correct, because surely there is some global warming going on! Ever since I got here, people have been telling me about the Budapest winter. Well, today it's mid50s and sunny -- yes, we have been able to see the sun for three days in a row now! I'm not really complaining; it's nice and all, but seriously, can we get some snow?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I'm back, and with pics!

Heather with a taste of home!!!!

the view from Anne Frank's house

some of the bajillion bikes we saw in Amsterdam...
Heather and Lisa at the carnival in Leicester Square

Our Italian friends, whose names we cannot pronounce! They navigated us through the mobs of people -- and I do mean mobs.

Happy New Year's!

View from the top of the London Eye -- on New Year's Eve we were standing in the bottom right corner!

I'm a little surprised at how grateful I am to be back in Hungary, although I have to say I was thrilled to be in a place with Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, and the English language! I'm also glad that I'm now no longer an illegal alien -- kind of gives a new perspective on the whole political argument! and I never want to hear anyone complain again about immigrants not speaking the language... Now that I've re-entered the country, I have three more months to (hopefully) get the whole thing straight.
All right, that's enough procrastination. time to get ready for school tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

happy new year's!

So New Year's.... it was an experience. Let's just say the evening ran the gamut from miserable, wet boredom, to total irritation, to excitement, to utter chaos afterward. Once the weather cleared up, everything was great, and the fireworks were really amazing! But being part of the mass mob of 350,000 people trying to locate bathrooms afterwards...not so fun. It took us until about 4:00 to get home. crazy. but fun and definitely memorable!

Yes, I totally went to the old stompin' grounds today! It was so great to wander around Little Venice and Clifton Gardens, but Elon girls -- I was so sad to not be there with you guys. It was especially strange to see some random men come out of 'our' flat. They probably wondered what in the world that weird American girl was doing taking pictures of their place :) Anyway, I ate an almond filled croissant topped with powdered sugar for you, and wandered by the Robert Browning pub. lots of fun memories.

and then I hit the New Year's sales at Oxford and Bond Street, and rode the London Eye!

I love London.