[NOTE: I wrote this a few weekends ago when there was a big snowstorm going on. For some reason I never put it on here, and I don’t really have a good excuse why – except that I was freezing.]
In my two years in Hungary, I’ve lived in two different places and taught in two different schools. Part of the deal is that each school has provided me an apartment, which is awesome because I don’t have to find my own. The interesting part, however, is what the school gives me.
Last year, I lived in what can only be described as an apartment built by communists. If you’ve never encountered one of these, just close your eyes and imagine a utilitarian building that is ugly and worn out. But, it was spacious (for me, since I lived by myself) and close to my work, so it wasn’t much of a problem. It just added to making the experience more interesting.
This year, I live in an apartment building that’s basically brand new. It’s clean and modern, and it looks like it was built yesterday. It’s still really close to where I work, but the size is much smaller than the previous one. It’s not a horrible trade off, though, since I live by myself.
The assumption would be that these two apartments are a good way to judge the schools and their financial situations, but I’m not sure I would say that’s true. Why? Because the schools are the inverse.
In my old communist apartment, I would go out my drafty front door and cross the street to a school that was built five years ago. Now, I leave my modern place to head down the road to a school housed in a building built during communist times.
How does that make any sense?
The nice, new school supplied a crappy apartment, and the old, withering school gave me something recent. I kind of think it has more to do with the surrounding areas than anything else, because they’re both good schools. Maybe there just wasn’t a nice building close to my old school so they had to house me in that apartment.
But now that the temperatures are at record-setting lows, the age of the apartments start to matter. As Hungary hunkers down to deal with the cold and snow plaguing Europe, I turn up my thermostat a little. I now have modern heating that automatically adjusts to keep it a certain temperature. I’m a little spoiled.
Last year, I had to manually turn on the radiator things (I say things because I don’t even know what to call them). They were connected directly to the gas line, and it took me a while to figure out how to light them. Since they sat right beneath my curtains, I was always a little hesitant to leave them on. Give me a break, I could see a little flame inside of them! Despite this, their lack of power and leaky windows made it a constant struggle to keep it warm enough inside.
Now that I’m sitting comfortably while sipping coffee and watching the snow, it’s fun to reminisce about the cold old days. That is, until I remember the inconsistencies of my current workplace. Some classrooms are smothering while others are freezing. Being in that building is kind of like having the flu.
Well, that’s certainly motivation to get out of bed tomorrow morning…
Hungarian phrase of the day:
It’s pronounced “He-day-g von (rhymes with “on”)”, and it means “it’s cold”. It’s a true statement right now – it’s cold outside and probably in my old apartment. I’m warm…