Thursday, January 29, 2009

Turo Teszta, how I long for thee

I know I am getting a little update happy, which generally means one of two things: I have absolutely nothing to do or I am procrastinating on other, much more important things. Usually, you can bank on the second choice.

I don't have to be at work until nearly 11 on Thursdays (though I usually go much earlier) and the day starts with one of my favorite classes. Granted, they are usually misbehaved, rowdy and work avoiding, but somehow they manage to also be sweet, enthusiastic and tolerable in a way other classes cannot. They speak a little English, but use it more effectively than classes who have more, and are always up to hijinks of some sort. Last time, I walked in to one boy swinging a desk at another who promptly responded by swinging a chair. (in a play fighting, not really going to hurt him type of way). Not fully in the room, I responded by walking out and closing the door behind me, knowing that scolding them would only encourage them. When I walked back int 15 seconds later, everyone one was in her or his seat chatting quietly.

Today, I walked in to one girl straightening her hair. When I told her to unplug it, she offered to do mine.

ANYWAY. Today this class disapointed me terribly. They told me turo teszta was for lunch. My absolute favorite lunch. Pasta with turo (the cottage part of cottage cheese) and sour cream. It is amazing. Jon used to make fun of me eating sour cream noodles for dinner so much. Now he fixes them himself. Adding turo just multiplies the delicious factor exponentially. I was soooo looking forward to turo teszta.

BUT it wasn't. It was a soup and soup day. We've already had one of those this week. The soups weren't bad, mind you. But to go from turo teszta to soup and soup was possibly the worst part of my week. I would fix it for my own dinner tonight, but I haven't got any turo and don't want to go to the store. Hopefully, they will be redeemed sometime soon. Man. . .just thinking of turo teszta, I am getting hungry again after just eating two bowls of soup and a fried pork chop.
Sad day, indeed.

Beteg vagyok. .. .

Geh. Yet again I have a cold. It started a little over a week ago and has been making me miserable ever since. At the beginning of the week, it seemed that several of the teachers and the majority of the students had the same thing. They're mostly over it by now, I hope I am soon to follow. Hajni warned us at orientation that we'd get sick more easily due to different germs, strains of whatever, and other ickyness that we're not used to. I've been taking my vitimins, taking drugs during the day and consuming copious amounts of tea (which I do anyway, this just makes a good reason to drink more). Gyuri reminds me constantly that the only cure is pálinka and sleep. For the past week or so, I haven't gone to aerobics due to the constant cough. I think I'll go back tonight. I think I'm about over the cold. Gsh, I hope so. . .If not, maybe I'll give Gyuri's advice a try. . .

Magyart kellene tanulnom. . .

I asked Zsuzsa, my Hungarian tutor what I thought was a relatively simple question--how to say that I need to do something or I must do something.

I ended up getting nearly an entire lesson and three pages of notes dedicated to the entirely different conjugation this expression requires.

Zsuzsa says that Hungarian has only the three common tenses (past, present, future) and really only uses two of them. However to make up for it, there are about 16 different conjugations in each tense. I think I've learned three.

Luckily, the teachers are more than willing to help me with my goal of speaking like a two year old before I leave. . .unfortunately for me, all of the two year olds I have met don't seem to have much trouble with the 8000 conjugations, endings, and prefixes that make up this language.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We all needed a break

This week, we are working on music. The kids needed a break. I wanted to do something not painful. Everyone loves music. Voliá. Music.

We talk about types of music, I have them list styles on the board, then I play them some songs and we talk about which style they are, which instruments are in it, the singer, tempo, and if the music is good or bad.

I have gotten to see what kind of music the kids like in real life and been surprised at what they know/don't know. Some examples:

--Nearly every class LOVES Greenday. To the point that from literally the first chord, at least one student in every class can name the song. (New Greenday, not old--Boulavard of Broken Dreams)

--Most classes are okay with country both old and new. They like John Denver and (to my surprise) Garth Brooks. (I even went for the most stereotypical sounding, countriest country song I could find). In the US, at least 85% of the class would yell to turn it off.

--About half of the classes knew songs and I never expected them to. Songs I included for my personal amusement--the Scorpians, MC Hammar, CCR, and (by one, hilareous 9th grade girl), Etta James. Granted, I got blank stares from the rest of the class, but it made me happy all the same.

--Everyone hates emo. One class tried to shock me by saying "Emo shit." I told them that they were missing a verb and that it needed to be "Emo IS shit."

--Most classes say techno, disco, house, electronica, minimal, and trance are their favorite types of music. One girl, who knew exactly what she was doing, told me that her favorite was rock, because the others "weren't real music." Explosions ensue. Thanks for the debate, Klara.

Next week, I want to do more work with music. . .maybe instruments and more specific artists and bands.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Moments Like This Never Cease to Make Me Smile

I was talking to Ani today, probably complaining about how I wish spring would come. She was kind of staring past me. All of a sudden, she snaps out of it.
"Sorry, I was just analyzing your grammar."

WHAT? Who does that?

I am really glad people like her exist.

Last week, we spent 10 minutes talking about how much fun diagramming sentences is.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Procrastinating by Doing (somewhat) Useful Things

In my efforts to procrastinate on finishing grad school apps, I have finally posted the pictures I have been procrastinating on posting for about three months now.
I put them on my Picasa website and tried to add decent descriptions of each in lieu of blogging about the trip now.
Here are a few of my favorites from the trip:
A church in Banffyhunyad that was built in the 1200s.

The famous clock tower in Segesvar was built in 1631 (that's the town Dracula was born in!)
Tara, Briggi, and me in Segesvar
They played us music while we ate dinner in the Gyimes Mountains
A look down the river in Nagyvarad, the city we stopped in on the last day.




Ending the Semester

We had minor bits of chaos while trying to put in grades to close our semester. Specifically, we use an electronic gradebook type thing that schools across the country also use. Meaning everyone was trying to enter grades at the same time. Teachers of each class have meetings that discuss each student, her or his participation, and grades, making sure everything checkes out. Our school usually does this over the course of a week and half, but due to the troubles last week, ALL of the class meetings are today. I entered my grades all last night with a whole 18 hours to spare. The classes were only 30 minutes today, which meant the kids were excited and not willing to work. I usually start teaching on Tuesdays at 10:50. While I remembered we got out early, I forgot that this meant my classes would start earlier. So, I was sitting at home, working on Hungarian homework when this realization hit me. Like, literally, at 9:38, I realized that if we get out early and all the classes are moved up, I probably start teaching early. Hoping that I hadnt missed my first class, I hustled to school to find out I had a whole 4 minutes to spare before my first class.
Now all of the teachers are super excited about these meetings. By that, I mean, they are hoping to be out before 6 if they are lucky. I technically dont have to attend them, but am hanging around the teachers room at least for a while in case anyone has questions about the grades I gave. I, for one, do plan on going home before 6.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Travel Brochures Gone Awry

A long time ago (mid November, maybe), I assigned my more advanced classes what I thought was a straightforward, simple project to go along with our vacation unit.
They were to make a travel brochure about a city of their choosing. They were to list 3 hotels, 3 restaurants, things to do, and important travel phrases for that location. Simple enough?

The begged and complained about tests and homework, so I pushed the due date back further and further. This week, hey were FINALLY due. Despite my constant warnings to proofread, not rely on online translators, and above all, not to copy and paste from the internet, here are some of the gems I received:

"The day ended with children's riding, mostly. Naturally down was needed to rub down the fires with enthusiasm, to scour their hoof. The six year one did it ladly, the smaller ones tried sitting in the saddle only naturally."


"The church building, which dominates the image of the town, seats 2400 persons. The twin-towered facade has a projecting porch with a tympanum supported by four Ionic columns. The frieze below the tympanum bears the inscription. . ." (This from a kid who barely speaks in class. I don't know anyone, native speaker or not who talks like this. I sure didn't teach him "tympanum")

Hotel Slver:
Qualitative, comfortable mattress
internet accession
Radioman alarm clock
Man-servant

In another hotel: "2-4 concubines in self contained rooms with a TV"

"Where so many kinds are men a new kind lives with a culinary method that it Europai for a man unusual you are the Arab language whatis a wonderful dot like that yet there is a publisher room in the country's most beautiful hotel a night 75000Ft more kinds Nightclub they are for this country." (I almost feel dizzy reading that)

Highlight of My Day

Ani told me about a class she took on postmodernism during university. They were supposed to make copies of a poem from an English book in the library. Due to a misprint, some of the assigned pages were blank.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Maybe the Only Thing More Prevelant than Sandwiches

Ok. So I suck at updating blogs. Mainly because nothing exciting ever happens. If it does, I'll let you know. (Probably).
So, in an effort not to suck so much, I'm going to write about little, day to day, almost meaningless things.
Meh. And I promised Jon I would try to do this a few weeks ago, so I guess I should at least give it a shot.

Welcome to snippets of my boring life.

Today's short and boring updates will be about Chinese Stores. (I'm in a shopping mood, sorry)
Before orientation even started, someone (likely Emily or Briggi) needed to buy something mundane. Probably like socks. Maybe flats. The other replied "we just need a Chinese Store." Quoi?

But for reals. . .that's usually the name. "Chinese Store." (Only in Hungarian-duh.) Sometimes, they go really crazy and call them things like "Chinese Discount," "AsianOutlet," or in my town (wait for it) "Hong Kong Discount."

They usually have red signs and yellow letters. They exist everywhere. I think Ujszasz, which has a pizzaria and a restrauant that opens only on request for important events, has like three.

They are usually owned/run by Chinese people (Surprised?) and carry Chinese-made goods (shocking) ( usually just clothes, linens and shoes) for pretty low prices--however, it's one of those you get what you pay for deals. From what I have been told both by my students and other teachers is that the clothes aren't worth it, so I haven't even looked.

Shoes are a big thing in Chinese Stores. In fact, there are Chinese Shoe Imporiums. (Maybe just the two I see when I walk to my lessons in Szolnok--but that is just on one street) You can find really cute shoes for just a couple thousand forints (ten to fifteen dollars, give or take). Don't try to wear them in the rain though or that will be the end of them. But they're so cheap, it's not too much of a loss :-)

Otherwise, the stores are good for things like socks, patterned tights, and dish towels.

Pretty exciting, no?

(Okay. So maybe I'm not giving these stores their full due. While I'm not sure the name "Chinese Store" would fly at home, I admitt, I would be super jazzed if one opened in BloNo.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

There is a time and place for everything. Pálinka time is all the time.

Jon was here a couple of days into my first week back from school.

Before break, I was told I had to bring him to school to be shown off and to eat lunch. I barely have time to breathe on Mondays, let alone eat lunch. So he made tasty butter noodles at home and I was scolded for not bringing him.

Tuesday, I went home to get him and we enjoyed a tasty Hungarian lunch of soup with an entree of soup (gotta see it to really appreciate how much soup that really is). Under Gyuri's orders, he was introduced to the secretaries and some of the teachers. We escaped with minimal damage.

Today, I brought him back to school for another Hungarian specialty of soup with an entree of meat wrapped in meat with a hearty side of potatoes and bread. (I would love to try Atkins here). I am glad he will at least be able to vouch for the fact that there is no way I could starve if I tried. Hell, there is concern if I ask for less soup than usual. . .

After, we went upstairs to see if Gyuri had a particular type of USB cable that I don't have so I could get the Istanbul photos before Jon leaves. I felt bad, because I pulled Ani away from her desk to translate for us. I guess I should have expected Gyuri to have us sit and chat. Small talk and pleasantries. Gyuri chain smoking and telling us all of Europe might freeze because of the Russians (gas pipeline shut off). No, we don't smoke. No, no coffee. That leaves only one option. Ani and I were able to refuse the offer of pálinka on the basis of BEING AT SCHOOL, but Jon didn't have this excuse. Not that his "no, thank you" sounded too convincing in the first place. (he did decline once or twice, but that rarely works for anyone)

Gyuri unlocked one of the many cabinets in his office (the key was in the lock) and produced a bottle. . .of Unicum. Having just experienced this herby-death concoction of which the Hungarians are immensely proud last night, the look of shock was amusing. (Later, he told me, he felt tricked) Fortunately, the liquid was clear and did not smell at all like death, but strongly of alcohol and deliciousness. We finished small talk, borrowed the card reader and made our exit.

Of course he has pálinka in his office. I am zero percent surprised at this. It is just one more reason why my director is a cartoon character, my school is awesome and that sometimes even the expected things are surprising.

A Fate Worse than a Window

I don't particularlly enjoy getting my kids in trouble, but sometimes, there is a little smirk that sneaks through.

I confinscated a telephone from one of my students today. The class (having heard about the sandwich) asked if I was going to throw it out the window. I told them, no, I will give it to Szabo Laszlo (terrifying assistant director) and the student would go ask for it back.

Seeing the looks on their faces when I said this, I asked if this was bad. One of the quieter students in class started to say something, shook his head, "it is better to throw it out the window."


(Since then, three more phones, an MP3 Player, and a hair straightener have gone to Szabo Laci. Only one phone has so far been claimed.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'll try to get caught up with the break and winter programs within a few days, depending on how much I procrastinate on grad school apps/lesson plans/grading, etc (so chances look pretty good).
I was grumbly about going back to school after such a lovely (and short) winter break. I had thrown together some lesson plans and drug myself out of bed. Getting to school though, was a nice surprise. It is nice to walk down the hall and be greeted with "good mornings" héllos" and (my new favorite) "boldog New Year!" At first I thought it was just the kids mixing Hungarian and English (even those I don't teach usually go out of their way to say "hello, how are you?" even though they can't do a lick more than that), but then Gyuri said it to me. And the teachers to each other. I love it. Don't know why, but it makes me giggle a little every time.