Budapest

Hungary Is No Longer My Classroom

When I moved to Hungary in 2010, I planned to stay for a year.  The theory was that I would hate teaching English and head home, or I would like it enough wander off and continue with adventures in different foreign lands.  But, I threw the plan in the trash, and Hungary was my adopted home for four years.

No longer.

hungarian flag parliament building

After years of teaching and being a student, I packed my bags in late 2014, and started moving on.  I noticed that expats who move to Hungary often stay either one year or multiple decades, but I still think four years was the right amount of time for me.

But, I haven’t escaped Hungary.  Not by a long shot.  Following another common trend, I wasn’t able to avoid falling hopelessly in love with a beautiful Hungarian girl.  She was convincing enough to get me to tag along to Amsterdam, and my wanderlust was beginning to find its cure again.

Unfortunately, loving someone with a different passport has some downsides, and I’ve had to head back to my native country while I continue to try to figure out a way for the two of us to live in the same country.

So, my website is not dead, but it will no longer be primarily about Hungary.  However, I haven’t yet shared all my past experiences, and I’m sure to have many future visits to Hungary where I can happily indulge on the delicious food that I already miss.

szabadsig hid hungary symbol


Hungarian word of the day:

Viszontlátásra

This is pronounced “Vee-sont-laa-tash-rah,” and it means goodbye.  In this case, it’s a little harsh and inappropriate, but I don’t have the skills to say “until we meet again” to the land of the Magyars.

Fourth 4th Of July

Time doesn’t fly when you’re hungry, but it does when you’re in Hungary!  It’s been a while since I’ve (publicly) made one of those jokes, so I thought it was about time I do it.  Feel free to laugh and tell your friends.

The reason I’m thinking about time flying by is that it just hit me that this is the fourth summer I’ve been in Hungary.  It takes noteworthy occasions to point this out, and for me, that was the 4th of July (aka Independence Day in the USA).

Four.  Four summers.  Four periods of unrelenting heat with virtually no ice cubes.  And that doesn’t even count my initial arrival in August, so really it’s more like five.  Most people spend summers in countries with beaches or nice climates.  Well, most people aren’t very creative.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about July 4th.  It’s weird spending your big national day in the borders of another country.  The internet allows you to see in real time that your friends are holding flags, sitting at baseball games, and doing other patriotic acts.  Yet, the people walking down the street next to you seem completely oblivious.

To make it worse, the World Cup is going on.  I grew accustomed to seeing American flags waving on this particular day, but this year it was mostly the three horizontal German colors waving around.  Maybe it’s a geographical location issue, but out of the four important games yesterday, I’d give the Cup to Germany and second place to Brazil based on fans wearing their support.  Maybe the French are boycotting Budapest because of its lack of croissants.  And what is Colombia’s excuse?

But, soccer wasn’t on my menu yesterday.  Actually, my menu seemed to be set with a single option that wasn’t very tasty:  my MBA thesis.  With the deadline approaching, it seems to trump most other social activities.  It’s pretty cool.

In order to spare me from my pain, I’ve been able to escape the distractions and heat of the center of the city in favor of a house in a nice quiet neighborhood in the hills.  The nights are quiet, the air is clean, the wasps are making nests around me, and it seemed almost perfect for July 4th.  But, I forgot my baseball bat, so my options were limited.

In a kind gesture to make me feel at home, it was arranged to have a little Hungarian style American cookout.  The conversation went a little something like this:

“So, in America, what do you do to celebrate this day?” I was asked.

Starting to get excited, I said, “Blow things up, grill hot dogs, and play baseball.”

“OK, we can grill hotdogs…”

Notice how she left out the blowing things up and playing baseball?  That’s what you get for hanging out with women.  They always skip the important stuff.

So, we set up a little charcoal grill.  After some confusing time spent on opposite sides of a language barrier, I finally got it across that I had no idea how to do it because I always used a propane grill.  I was then politely banished from attempting to ruin dinner, and I took the opportunity to get some pictures to capture the moment.

The “hot dogs” were good, and the onions were even better.  Since proper buns are scarce, we improvised with “kifli” or crescent shaped rolls (that, for some reason, are super popular and can be found everywhere).  To add a Hungarian touch, we had to throw on some “szalonna” to give the meal some more taste.  Szalonna, in my part of the world, is called “bacon fat.”  But the Hungarians love it, and I’ve been told I’ll never understand because it’s not in my blood.

So, Happy 4th of July, everyone!

 The delicious dinner!

Hungarian word of the day:

Virsli

This is pronounced “Veer-sh-lee,” and it’s a kind of sausage food.  Wikipedia describes it as Vienna sausage, but I would say it’s the closest thing I can get to hot dogs, but still not quite right.  No problem, though, they made for a great (and delicious) grilling experience.

BOARDapest

I've seen this building many, many times. How can I see it differently?

If you live in the same city for a while, you start to know it too well.  You have trouble exploring.  After all, how can you find something new when you’ve already found everything?  To make it worse, you know the most efficient way to get everywhere, so you rarely have to try a new way or take a wrong turn.

I don’t know everything about Budapest.  I haven’t been everywhere, and I haven’t seen all there is to see.  Plus, even if I had, things change so there’s always something new to find.  But, I tend to have to go farther and farther away to find areas that I’m not familiar with.  It’s hard to find the motivation to do that when I live and study right in the middle of some really cool neighborhoods.

So, in the spirit of my Innovation class (which only has a small amount of homework – you’ll understand this reference if you keep reading), I decided to innovate my exploring.  I bought a longboard.

 

Isn't it beautiful?

Suddenly, I can go farther at much faster speeds.  I just explored a big park that I’ve been to a bunch of times, but this time I saw more than ever before.  Instead of thinking, “no, that way looks like a long walk to nothing, I’m not going to bother,” I found myself just taking it and finally seeing what was at the other end.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to explore as much as I would like.  The gods of school seem to frown upon fun, and they took this opportunity to send unprecedented lightning bolts of homework.  Also, my body is struggling to keep up with the new muscles needed to travel this way.  It seems they’re slightly different than the “metro riding muscles.”  Shocking.

If anyone knows of places with long, smooth sidewalks or roads, let me know!  I’ll check them out.

 With castles like this around, I decided I needed a helmet to protect my brain!

Hungarian word of the day:

Longboard

I don’t feel the need to translate this for you.  It seems that it’s a new enough concept that the Hungarian language didn’t find it necessary to make a new word.  But, if it makes you feel better, “skateboard” is “gördeszka.”