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…
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.
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.
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).