Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Classes this week have been a real treat. . .besides the 9a kids talking, a few other classes have quite literally gone out of their ways to make trouble. I'm caught in the space between not being able to clearly communicate with most of them and talking to their form teachers who can talk to them, but then they (the kids) would know they got to me. Beh.

So, stress baking it has been. Margie brought me some chocolate chips back from her trip home this Spring. I decided chocolate chip cookies would be perfect--delicious, but easy and hard to screw up. Of course, I didn't check what ingredients I had on hand and it was about 7 when I started (stores close at 6), so something was bound to go wrong. I had only one egg and I haven't been able to find brown sugar for a couple of months, so I more or less made up the recipe as I went. Making up the egg substitute was easy enough. The brown sugar was harder to fake (no molasses), so I threw in whatever seemed good, trying to get a little extra flavor. . .a little extra vanilla, instant cappuccino mix, mapeline (there are like 3 bottles of the stuff in my cabinet). I made a pan cookies because I realized as much as I like the mixing (and eating) parts, I really hate actually dividing up the cookies. Perfect solution.

Anyway, they turned out really well for not looking at the back of the bag. I brought them to school and it took about 30 minutes before anyone even touched them. After that though, they were gone. In fact, several of the teachers who rarely talk to me went out of their ways to say something. . . and ask the recipe. Having used a tea cup as my primary measuring device, I really have no clue as where to start with this. (Is there even mapeline in Hungary?)

Next week, I may try again with measuring cups and ingredients I know are at the stores in Ujszasz. I wish I could just find an appropriate substitute for mapeline. . .

Tornados, Fast Talk, and Why I Can Never Stay Angry with 9A

Have this love/get-really-frustrated-with-but-still-think-they're-adorable relationship with my advanced 9a class. They have been studying English for 8 or so years, so most of them are pretty fluent. They are smart students. They just cannot shut up. No matter what I do or try or say, those kids yammer on in Hungarian to the extent that we usually get only half-way through the lesson usually. My usual tactic has become to sit and wait for them to be quiet. They ignore requests, they ignore threats--so I sit and wait. What work we don't finish in class, they get as homework. This is frustrating, yes. But somehow, they manage to win me over by balancing their Hungarian rambling with off-topic, asinine questions in English.

Not having seen them for over two weeks, I started the class by asking how they were, what they did over break, if it was a difficult week. There was a storm blowing up, which many of them commented on. They were blown away when I told them I liked storms--especially in Hungary where there is no threat of tornadoes. This brought on a whole wave of questions about tornadoes: How many are there? Why can't they be predicted? How do you know it will come? How bad are they? Where do they go? How fast are they? Do they make cows fly? How do they pick up trees, people, cars, etc? Can they really destroy your house? Have you seen one? Have you gone up in one? Where do you go for one? How do they end? I answered their questions the best that I could, delaying the lesson I had planned. They were fascinated by the fact that tornadoes really can pick things up and either destroy them or simply set them down and seemed astonished that we still haven't found a way to predict exactly when and where one will happen (you can with hurricanes, they argued).

We eventually exhausted our tornado talk (they still thought I was crazy for liking thunderstorms) and moved on to other things. As I was about to start the lesson, one of the girls raised her hand (a rarity in this class). "Can you talk fast in English?" I told them that I could talk relatively fast in English. "Can you talk as fast as you can?" I repeated the request, a little confused. At this point, several of the other students piped up that yes, they had discussed it and would like me talk as fast as I could, please. I made the deal that if I were to do this, we would then go on to the lesson. They agreed and told me to tell them about my weekend. So, I talked as fast as I could for the requested 20 seconds. They seemed genuinely astounded by this ability. I was told to "replay, please. We will listen again." I must have looked skeptical, because there were soon a chorus of "pleases". . .again a rarity. I gave in. When I finished telling them again how I vacuumed the spiders from my ceiling, they sat there open mouthed. "That is very fast." I asked if they could understand. "No, not much. You said Újszász once." I told them that of course, I could speak quickly in English--after all, couldn't they speak quickly in Hungarian? Eyes were rolled at the absurdity of this question. "Yes, of course. But not in English."

We finally got into the lesson about cinema and entertainment. Every 3 minutes or so, I had to wait for them to be quiet. (I am not the only teacher they are talkative with, however, I think they are at their worst with me.) After I finally got them settled down after one of these pauses: "You speak French?" "Yes." "Can you talk as fast in French?" "Probably not. And I would make mistakes. It takes more thought." "We do not speak French, we would not know. . . we will speak English for the rest of the class." "Promise?" "Yes." Having already exhausted my weekend, I introduced myself and my family and told them that I hoped they would keep their promise. Again-amazed. Maybe its because they don't have the opportunity to learn this language . . .I don't know. But they were super impressed with my ability to introduce myself in a lanuage I studied for a decade. They had even written down various words in Hungarian phonetics to ask their meanings. Cute.

For about eight minutes, they did keep their promise. Sadly, this was about three mintes longer than I thought they would. During the next "settle-down" pause "You will return next year?" "You know that I will not." "What will you do?" " I will return to the university." "Okay. In two years, you will return." "It will take more than one year to finish at the university." "Then you will write a letter?" "If you write to me, I will write to you." "You will write back to us?" "Sure." ". . . Okay. But it is better if you return."