One Year Later

The Hungarian border signs. (click to see larger)I missed pointing it out last Sunday, but it was exactly a year since I moved to Hungary.  Technology helps you keep track of these things pretty easily because I can easily read what I wrote on that day.  Surprisingly, not much has changed, I’m still tired and hot (a fairly common theme).

The start to this year’s adventure has been a little different.

First, is my knowledge of the Hungarian language.  Last year I felt overwhelmed when I heard it because I didn’t know anything.  I’d tried to study it before my arrival, but it was an unsuccessful task.  This time around, I still don’t know much.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed, though, I just feel sort of guilty.  A year spent with the language and my skills are still mostly in understanding.  Why is forming Hungarian sentences so hard?

Another difference is meeting people.  I spent my first week in 2010 at an orientation for foreign teachers, so I was constantly surrounded by people who were about as excited and confused as myself.  Now I’m just hanging out in an apartment by myself, and I occasionally go spend time with some people that I know from being here for a while.  The upside to this year is that I do have some Hungarian friends.  That was something I had to work for last year.  Now if they’ll just teach me Hungarian…

Now I know how to ride Hungarian trains. (click to see larger)Some of my first complaints (first of many) last year had to deal with the heat.  Well, that’s still pretty much the same.  I’m looking forward to the winter – or at least the fall and spring.

During my orientation week in Budapest, I spent a lot of time aimlessly wandering the city.  I didn’t know much about it, and I didn’t really know how to get anywhere.  That hasn’t changed too much, but I know a lot more than I did last year.  Imagine what I’ll know a year from now!

The orientation that we were given last year contained many things, but one of them was a sort of crash course on Hungarian culture and history.  These are topics that I’m really interested in, so I actually did quite a bit of research on them before I got here.  However, nothing can help you learn about a culture like living in it.  I’m a lot more prepared on that one now – even if I still have a lot to learn.  The dirty looks I get should be significantly less this year.

I'll have plenty of alleys to explore. (click to see larger)Teaching.  That was something I was a little concerned about last year.  My experience and knowledge of the field was pretty minimal.  Plus, I would be teaching high school kids, so they would only be a few years younger than me.  It wasn’t an unreasonable question to wonder if I would be able to convince them I’m their teacher and actually keep them in line.  I did.  Mostly.

The school I’ll work at this year will be somewhat different.  What I have to teach is much more structured, so that will make it easier as well as presenting a lot more challenges.  The freedom of my lessons last year was awesome - if I thought something was boring, I simply didn’t teach it.  That makes working fun.  My biggest experience point is that I’ll walk into classrooms next week with a full year of knowledge about excuses that Hungarian teenagers make.  That ought to throw them off a little bit.

Sometimes they change the names of streets and don't take down the old signs. That'll take some getting used to! (click to see larger)There are many, many more differences this year than last.  Some are big, a lot are small.  My previous year had its ups and downs, but it managed to fly by incredibly fast.  I won’t mind if this one is also full of challenges, I just want it to feel like it lasts longer than 2 weeks.  If it doesn’t, I’ll have to leave Hungary.  At that rate, I’ll be 90 years old before I know it.


Hungarian word of the day:


It’s pronounced Ay-ve (rhymes with gave), and this word means “year”.  I’m on Hungarian year number two.  Do you think it’ll be as interesting?  I do.  I think it will be way more exciting and memorable.  Last year I didn’t understand Hungary enough to get into ridiculous situations.  This time around, I’m much more capable (and incapable of getting out of awkward times – if you must look at it that way).