Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First Impressions

Well, I know that you are always supposed to start with something clever, but I’ve got nothing. So let’s dive in. Here I am in Budapest, Hungary, in the same Kollégium where I was two years ago when I did my student exchange. I arrived yesterday, although it already seems like I’ve been here at least a couple of weeks. Although it seems silly to write why I’m here, because of course I know the answers, I’m here as part of the Central European Teaching Program, and in a few days (on Sunday, after a week of orientation), I will be going to Szolnok, where I will spend the year teaching English to fourth- through eighth-graders. The adventure begins.
So here I am. I’ve already become thankful that, unlike some of the other teachers, I have some background with both the Hungarian culture and language. For example: last night, we went to the Vigado restaurant for the dinner. One of the girls asked the way to the bathroom, and the other explained it as, around the corner and then it’s the one with the women’s faces on it, not men’s faces. At the time, I just assumed that that meant the bathrooms weren’t labeled, as part of the restaurant’s wishfully-trendy decor. But today during the language lesson, someone asked about words for bathrooms, and I realized that the bathrooms of course were probably labeled, but “nõi” and “férfi” mean nothing to the English speaker - if you saw them out of context, how would you even guess that they were genders? I’m so thankful that I know basic things like that. Although I haven’t kept it a secret, I’ve downplayed the fact that I was here before and that I know a bit of the language (a very small bit, despite Hajni’s frequent statements otherwise). Who likes a showboat? Although I love being able to help people do things.
Which is very good, because Hajni remembered what I said about becoming her assistant, and she’s serious about it, as am I. Apparently she’s talked to Mary about it and it might actually happen next year. Hajni is still planning on adopting a child soon (within the next year) and Mary seems to think that the program is growing enough to deserve a second person. But of course, it’s Hungary, so who knows? As Hajni would cheerfully tell you, we might all be dead by then.

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