I didn't have to teach today. Instead, I went on a field trip. It started two weeks ago when I was handed a flier for a play. The paper was set on my desk, upside down, while two teachers were having a conversation next to me. I didn't think it was even for me until I was asked, "So, do you want to go?" My blank stare caused the paper to be flipped over and I saw what it said.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
The play was being performed and it looked like a group was going. "Sure," I answered, "I'd love to go."
"Good, we already bought your ticket."
Here's a word of advice for dealing with Hungarians. Be open for anything, because they're very, very generous people. If they have food, they won't share it. They'll force you to eat some of it. If they like (or don't like) something you're wearing, they won't hesitate to tell you. If they want you to do something (like teach an extra class or go on a 13 hour field trip) they'll make plans for you to go, and then they'll ask if you want to.
It's very fun, because they won't let life pass you by. They'll drag you along kicking and screaming, and then they'll give you more food. And while they're doing this, you don't have to worry that they don't like your new beard. They'll tell you - more positive than negative, but I shaved it anyway.
We met at the train station at 7 AM, and I was expecting to see a small group of students and a few teachers. There were about five teachers, and 120 students. I'm not exaggerating, that's the number of students that went.
They had reserved a train car for us so that everyone would have a seat. Unfortunately, the Hungarian railway service seems willing to accept payment for seat reservations, and then not provide the seats. Everyone had a place on the way there, but a few had to sit on the floor coming home.
Next, the play had been moved from a theater in the city center to a slightly less convenient location. By this, I mean we got off the train and took a metro a few stops. Then we switched to a tram for a while. Finally we took another kind of train that dropped us off a mere eight or ten blocks from the theater. That's a pretty easy process with 120 kids.
To keep it interesting, I was assigned to watch a group of students that I don't teach. That means that I didn't know any of their names, didn't recognize any of them, and they probably don't speak English. Thank God there was another teacher who was also assigned to watch them. Otherwise, Hungarian reporters would right now be saying, "This just in, a record number of missing person reports were filed in the capital today - 20. An American is taking the blame and apologizing profusely for his total inability to remember Hungarian names."
Overall, the play was good. It was depressing, but well performed. I was stunned, though, at how many dirty words and sexual references were made during a performance to high school kids. I'm still convinced I grew up in the wrong place. We would've been given detention just for attending the play during school hours.
In conclusion, if you ever go on a field trip with a Hungarian school, pack a big lunch. The Hungarians are too kind to let you sit and not eat while they have food. Don't try the "I'm not hungry" excuse either (even if it's true), they've already decided the answer.