Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two events make a trend?

Another example of life-imitating-lessons. Today with the 9.C, we had a test on the Medicine and Injuries unit. Right before the lesson one girl came and announced that she couldn't take the test because she was, well, injured. She had fallen in gym class and scraped herself up - and not put-on-a-bandaid scraped up, but actually being-sent-home-to-recuperate scraped up. Ironically funny.

But a bit worrisome. I wrote before here how I taught a unit on Crime to 9.C, and they almost committed crimes over the unit-end test. So is this a pattern? Teach crime, cause crime; teach injuries, cause injuries? Because the next unit is going to be Global Problems (global warming, wars, societal defects) and the results might be catastrophic...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Renewing my passport, complaint one

Average income in US: $43,000 / Cost to renew US passport in US: $75

Average income in France: $37,000 / Cost to renew US passport in France: $75

Average income in Hungary: $8000 / Cost to renew US passport in Hungary: $75

Average income in Burkina Faso: $210 / Cost to renew US passport in Burkina Faso: $75

Hm. From this I've learned two things.
One, that I'm thankful not to live in Burkina Faso.
Two, that the US State Department doesn't expect expat citizens to exist on a local salary.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


"You realize this could be the end of the world?"
"Yes, Bence, but the waterslides are more important!"

Aquasome! on youtube

Monday, April 13, 2009

Locsolkodás - Easter Monday in Hungary

Last night I conducted a cross-cultural survey (i.e., I was talking to random international strangers on, and as far as I can tell, locsolkodás (sprinkling) is a uniquely Hungarian tradition. Oh, how lucky for us. Basically, guys get together with their friends and go visit all the women in their lives. At each stop, they recite a short locsolóvers (sprinkling poem) and sprinkle perfume or scented water on the womens' heads, and the women give them kisses, or painted eggs, or pálinka, or all of the above.

The poems range from traditional and a bit quaint:
Zöld erdőben jártam,
kék ibolyát láttam,
el akart hervadni,
szabad-e locsolni?
(I was walking in a green forest, I saw a blue violet, it had started to wilt, may I sprinkle it?)

To modern and quite dirty (this one is pretty tame):
Zöld erdőben jártam,
részeg vagyok, hánytam
Most el fogok dőlni
Nesze bazzeg, kölni!
(I was walking in a green forest, I got drunk and threw up, now I'm going to fall down so here's your damn perfume!)

More traditional ones can be found here or here, funny and dirty ones here. I think they're great for practicing Hungarian and learning lovely new words.

A poem I wrote last year, in honor of this great tradition:
Oh joy, oh yay,
it's "sprinkling" day -
a holiday quite sub-par.
My hair will stink;
the boys will think
what clever men they are.

And an English locsolóvers, written just for me, this morning:
Roses are red,
violets are blue,
if you don't want it,
I won't sprinkle you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Differences in American and Hungarian high schools

A couple days ago I was walking down the halls of my school and looking at the tablós. For those outside Hungary: a tabló is a like a big poster, containing all the pictures of the members of the graduating class, plus their teachers. They usually have either a nice background design, or some graphic incorporating the pictures (click here for some examples). These are assembled by a professional photograper or printer (or maybe there are professional tabló-makers?) in the spring and displayed someone in the city all summer - last year all of Varga's tablós were in the windows of the cultural center. Then, when the graduating class has left town and everyone's focussing on the new year, the tablós are dragged back to the school, where they linger in dusty storage for a few months until they find a place on Varga's already-jam-packed school walls.

Which brings me back to me, wandering the halls and staring at the old tablós. It struck me that we don't have tablós in American, but we do have something similar, yearbooks. When I went to write this epiphany down, the following list spilled out:

Anything I missed? Add it in the comments. Also, here is a complete list (not my creation) of cultural differences.

Does anyone know how to make blogger make a table? Mine failed...

ps, two days later - ha ha, I just now noticed that on this of all posts, wherein I actually ask two questions that a loyal reader might chance to answer in the comments, I somehow managed to disable the comments. I'm a genius. Anyway, they're back on, I hope.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sleeping in: my opinions of and failure at

I've never been a big sleeping-in person. In college, roommates and I had endless discussions on the topic. One argued that sleep was the only time when you were completely relaxed and free. Well, maybe for her, but I'm not exactly living a stress-filled life, neither then nor now. Another roommate pushed the wonderful, incomparable feeling of stretching out in a bed made with fresh linens, a good comforter, and nice pillows. I totally agreed, but I can do this while awake and reading. Sleeping-in just seems like a waste of time.

But. Just because I don't like sleeping in doesn't mean I enjoy being woken by an alarm every morning. And the past few weeks, it's gotten to be every morning, weekends included, that I've had to be awake and up at some unforgiving hour of the morning. So I was really, really looking forward to Spring Break, just to have a chance to sleep "in" until, maybe, 8 o'clock. Maybe even 9!

It wasn't to be; you can see that from the time stamp. Last night I felt a bit of tickle in my throat, figured it was an allergy, and made it worse by sitting outside and drinking a cold beer (because as all Hungarians know, if you have a cold, being outside and drinking cold things actually intensify the virus. I think it has something to do with the cold beer molecules attaching themselves to the virus molecules and giving them extra muscles, like Pop-eye downing a can of spinach. But Hungarian medicine is too far above my head for me to actually grasp the logic). Anyway, I went to bed; in this prone position all the snot ran into my face and clogged up my nose, and I woke up in the dead of the night not being able to breathe. Or rather, being able to breathe only through my mouth and throat, which was so excruciatingly painful that it woke me up.

And so, I've been up since then, breathing carefully, blowing my nose frequently to no avail, and drinking hot things (everyone knows the hot molecules form a cushiony blanket around the pointy-scratchy pain molecules). Maybe tomorrow I'll get another chance...

p.s. Blogger has kindly informed me that this is my 300th post, woo-hoo! Um, I think I'll have another coffee to celebrate?