Friday, February 27, 2009

"Adam loves you tanar-neni"

Spring is coming. 

The No can tell. Not only because it is light after 4pm, not only because there is less bite in the chilly gusts of wind that accompany her to school, but because her students may be beginning to crack. 

This week students have professed love to the No in 3 separate classes. One student tacked variations of "and Miss has my unending love" or "Miss is very nice today" onto every sentence he had to read from the textbook. In a couple of her classes, the students keep asking about if the No has a boyfriend (hadn't we gone over that?). Got asked to party with two groups of students (one needed help asking, so paused after every word, waiting for his friend to whisper the next word to him). Two of her students have begged her (and I do mean literally on their hands and knees) not to bring them to the Osztifonok/confiscate their cell phone. One student resorted to throwing himself on the floor in the middle of the hallway during passing time, rolling around and intermittently making Monkey noises. 

This behavior could also be partially attributed to the increased level of chaos that has reigned over our school. One third of the teachers have been out sick, while another healthy chunk are on the school ski trip leaving the rest of us to scramble to replace them. Replacement generally means that both advanced and beginner halves will be together in the same class. Or a German group and an English group will meet together. This means that either two lessons are being taught at the same time, by the same teacher (yes it is as confusing as it sounds), or a lesson which is too difficult for half and too easy for the other half. At the same time we are preparing for a Ball next week, which should include various performances. Due to the illness of the organizer, we only found out today who was definitely preforming. 

There was also another dance last night. It was a Farsang party for the dormitory students. The No was invited, after participating in a passing-time dance party with the 11d girls. Not really knowing what to expect, the No tentatively approached the school at 5:30. She met with Zoltan (12d's Osztifonok) on the way, and the pair stumbled through broken Hunglish until they got inside. The No was pulled aside by one of her petite (but considers herself to be a tough guy) girls, and told she must judge. The talent/costume contest was pretty good. They boys showcased their sport skills. And the girls showed of dancing, costuming and acting skills. After which the No was shepherded into a small room and fed things. Then there was awkward dancing, and she made her escape. 

All in all, it has been a strange, if wonderful week. Although it has given me new goals: 

a) Learn to dance
b) Work on I don't need a constant translator
c) Remember my umbrella at all times
d) REALLY have to work on sniffling just encourages them. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"the basic rule of any investigation, not using special cars" pg. 80

Ordinary. Life has become ordinary, but in the ordinary, we can find beauty. At least that is the idea behind Clare's 3BT. I found her blog back when I lived in Gyula, and have tried to make an effort, especially when stressed or worried, to remember the beautiful and ordinary things in my life. 

Borris still destroys and turns things mysteriously pink (there was nothing red in that load...yet every thing turned out slightly pink...).

My new policy of not giving student's confiscated phones straight to their osztifonoks, but rather giving them a grace period, in which to hand in sentences, has both increased my wall of shame and decreased the number of phones I see. Plus, it is nice being called for by the student porter. 

I only grimace slightly, when I have to substitute a class unannounced. With the number of teachers out either sick, or on ski week, I have made a concerted effort to check the wall of substitutions. However, sometimes, they forget to write them in until after the class is over. And, I just take it for granted that 11d and 9b will be the entire class, rather than divided by ability level. 

Having a student ask to have extra conversation class, and actually talk!

Reading a delightfully silly book.


Learning an extremely cut down version of Dr. Suess' OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO, in Hungarian. I cut it down, and the other teachers are translating it for me. I did do one whole sentence by myself though (maybe 3/4...I put the first person singular ending on the noun, rather than second person plural). While I quietly recite it to myself, teachers who do not usually talk to me, are willing to help me out with my pronunciation. 

Going on middle of the day adventures to Eger on b-week Tuesdays.

My thinking-pregnant-thoughts at other teachers has apparently worked, and someone else is pregnant! Peter the German teacher says it is about 90% certain that we will get another schedule this year! (This will be number 4, for those of you counting).

Sani fussing over me when I am sick. Zoli (who by the way, is rather intimidating because he is HUGE..even 12d, his Oszti are intimidated), grabbing me on the shoulders and asking "Jol vagy?" when he thinks I am sad/sick. Jeno, who I can give makkos or dios or gries-teszta to. I don't like it, and he patiently teaches me Hungarian at lunch. 

Our brand new official porter calling me into the booth at the end of the day. I gave him a chocolate chip cookie, because a few days ago he gave me weird-marshmallowy things. He called me over to give me a cake recipe, which he then explained slowly in Hungarian and hand gestures. 


Monday, February 16, 2009

"A good man, Edina thought. Question is, what is he good for" p 32

The last two weekends can be summarized in the following words: Margie, Mangaliza and Mariapocs.

The first weekend in February I put on a dress, threw on some make-up, heels and waited to be picked up. Eltelka arrived  and the pair of us drove into the heart of Andrassy ut. We were quite lucky and found a parking place almost directly in front of the Opera house. There we waited to meet with Margie and Hanna, who were also going to the Ballet. Adorned with fabulous paintings and guilt, the interior of the Budapest opera house was almost more amazing than the rendition of Anna Karenina being unfolded on the stage. Hours and coffees later, I stumbled home behind Lauren and Lyla. Saturday I visited, and ran errands with the Csibis. Later I met up with Lauren and Lyla again, and the three of us headed to the second round of Margie's birthday bash. 

Sunday the girls and I met up with Jon and Franny at the Mangaliza festival. Mangalizas are an ancient breed of Hungarian pigs. They are hairy, large, and their meat has the healthy cholesterol. We fought through lines for food, which was delicious. Later I got to pet the babies, as they were driven past in carts. I fulfilled the advertisement's imperative: Pet and Eat.

The next week dragged by, as my bronchial cough developed into a nasty zombie inducing full cold. Feeling better, and armed with a flask of hot tea I boarded a bus for Szolnok at some ridiculous (ie before 7am) hour. This turned out to be the slowest bus in Hungary. Frustrated, flurried and worried messages zipped back and forth between me and Emily. A full twenty odd minutes late, the bus arrived. We got to the train station, bought tickets, jumped aboard the train and we were off.  We were met in Mariapocs' bus station (a little shelter on the side of a highway), by Tara and her school's Director, who drove us the 30-45 minute walk into town. Margie made us pancakes, coffee and a disturbing liver/rice sausage (a gift from a student's grandmother). We sat around, chatted and later prepared ourselves for the ball.

If you ever want to feel like a rock star, and have no musical talent, go to Mariapocs. We walked in, dressed like bombshells, but not to the sparkly nines like some (glitter is an important part of all formal school occasions I've noticed). There we sat at a prime table, littered with alcohol, water and polgacsa all courtesy of the director. We watched adorable children sing, dance and preform. We then gorged ourselves on a fantastic dinner, then danced the night away. Second dinner at midnight, then a raffle, then more dancing, and we were exhausted.

The next morning, we were driven to the train station by the bleary eyed Principal. He had stayed at the party until 6am! The snow had started earlier on Saturday afternoon, and had not stopped when we walked home at 2am. Sani's car got stuck, so bearing our backpacks and purses, Margie, Jamie and I pushed his car out of the snowdrifts. The five of us had to walk along the tracks, as it was the only thing clear of the the foot or so high drifts. Walking along arms out for balance we made it to the platform, to await the slowest train in Hungary. 

In Nyiregyhaza we parted ways. Emily and Jamie caught the first train home. Margie headed to Tescos to pick up supplies, while Tara and I headded into town for coffee. It was lovely to wander through the beautiful streets pock marked with ugly 60s style buildings. All too soon it was 2pm, and Tara's bus left. We made strange faces at one another as we tried to tell stories through the dirty plate glass windows of her bus. She pulled away, and I was left, kicking dirty snow into oily puddles for another hour before my trusted chariot whisked me home. 

On my last bus home, I ran into a pair of students. One in 11d-beginners, and one a 12d German student. We communicated awkwardly. I laughed a little as one of their friends (not someone I teach) got on the bus, and almost sat next to me. Realizing who I was, he jumped back and politely said 'Csokolom Tanarno'. There I was, feeling grubby, with unwashed pigtailed braids, and a slight stiffness from sleeping on some one's floor, having a student treat me with cautious politeness, whilst asking me in the mix of German/English/Hungarian, that has become my daily lexicon, about parties and other teachers. I am glad, and amused that this is my life. I could not ask for much better. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"With Napoleon Brandy, made in France and not in Minnesota" p30

Teaching stuff:

As a way to encourage students to push themselves out of their normal four sentences in Dialogues, I have created character cards. The trick is to incorporate the character into whatever dialogue we are working on. It forces them to be a little more creative, and think about how they are putting the vocabulary together. These are the characters I have so far:
  • A strict teacher
  • A Vampire
  • An obsessive comic book collector/artist
  • An angry waitress
  • A parent of 4 young children, who you are looking after during the dialogue
  • A university student
  • A Pirate
  • A Superhero (state your name and superpowers during the dialogue)
  • A caffeine addict, you need to drink at least four cups of coffee a day
  • Someone vain
  • You have a disease where you fall asleep every 5 minutes, but only for 10 seconds at a time
  • A presidential candidate (think about campaign promises)
If you have any suggestions for more that would be great! I am currently compiling a list of situation cards as well.  I used these in my more advanced classes, but even then had to explain some of the vocabulary/concepts.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Giving blood....

So while I may have failed to give blood, I did discover an interesting cure for low blood pressure (after a week of crazy students I have no idea why my blood pressure is so low that I can not give blood) and anemia. "Hus (meat-yup knew that one), Vitamins (tick again) es Egeri Bikaver" was what the doctor prescribed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Neni: hungarian for matchmakers...

My phone rang, and thinking it was Tara I picked up.

"Kezi csokolom, Laci itt" burbled the voice on the other line. Laci? I ransacked my brain. Good Lord...could it be?

Three hours earlier:

Sleepy and comfortably full from lunch (Makkos teszta which I gave to Urban Jeno and soup), I meandered my way home. I had not petted my favorite dog in a while, so I planned on stopping for a good ten minutes.

Walking slowly up, I saw the lady who owned the dog opening the gate to another lady. She saw me stop and hesitate.  "gyere ide" (come here) she waved me in the gate. Thanking her, I promptly cuddled and petted the small waggling creature that lured me to her gate. The two ladies exchanged small talk, and asked my name. Then they called "gyere ide" and waved me inside. I was struck for a moment. It is a big deal to be invited into some one's house, and here were two strangers waving me in.

Inside we ate baked apples, and shared some small talk. Mostly the little old ladies chatted, and I nodded and smiled. My Hungarian is largely non-existent, so I smile a lot. We discussed grand kids, and one of the ladies, who will visit her daughter in Canada this summer, asked about help with English. "Absolutely" I said. So I gave the ladies my phone number. We also discussed one of the lady's 29 year old son. Now I should have been suspicious when they asked about my boyfriend...and my weekend plans. I told them about going to Budapest, and then to Mariapocs. I tried to explain that there was going to be a ball. However, I think I may have made a mistake, as the ladies started saying "Laci go Mariapocs" Confusion and smiling took over. 

It was time to leave, and the lady who was visiting also got ready to walk home. We walked out together, and conversed in smiles (me) and rapid-fire Hungarian. She then invited me in. I demurred, but followed her in. She has an amazing house, which she showed me. Then, handing me a slip of paper with Laci (her son)'s phone number, we walked out. 

I walked home, dazed but happy having met two new Hungarians.

So three hours later I was surprised when Laci called me. Our conversation ran something like this:

"Hello I am Laci, my mother told me to call you"

"Oh, ummm Hello. I am Briggi"

"Do you know why my mother asked me to call you?" 

"Umm...not really. Maybe because I know that many people in Heves"

"My mother is a great organizer. Well shall we be friends?"

"Yes, I think so."

I think I have made a new friend. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eger Weekend, taking tea, and one angry English teacher

The No has been lazy about posting. Stuff happens but motivation to post has been gone, along with one of 11b's paper airplanes out of the window.
This weekend, a small CETP brigade came to conquer Eger. On Friday the No got to fuss and make mystery meat into something delicious. She thinks it was pork...but when meat selection consists of going to the butcher with crossed fingers...well it was delicious and probably not
Saturday they drank coffee and learnt to play poker, explored, ate Palikinta larger than their stomachs, went down to the Szepasszonyvolge and up the Minaret.

The Minaret, left from the Turkish times represents two of the No's greatest fears. Heights and spiral stairs. As anyone who has travelled with the No knows, it is not uncommon for her to have a panic attack ten steps up. But at about 11am on Saturday morning the No thought to give it a shot. Armed with 200fts and some very supportive friends she made it up. The claustrophobic stairs were worn, and there was no railing  but Lauren and Lyla talked her up. 

Note the look of both Joy for reaching the top (a goal she set at orientation), and blind panic. 
Also look at the relief of being back on the ground!

Forralt bor, pizzas and additions to the drama wall later, the No's guests scattered and she was left alone in her flat. Picking up her pile of mending, she was working her way through it when the doorbell rang. It was Maria, her upstairs neighbour. Maria motioned for the No to lock her door and follow. Upstairs the little old Nenyi thrust first tea and cakes on a tray, then the No on her couch/bed. The No sat there, curious as to what was going on. Then Maria turned on the music. In rapid fire Hungarian, she explained it was the Csango (a group of Hungarians, who live in Transylvania and speak an OLD dialect of Hungarian) Himnusz (anthem?). Then they listened to a hard rock version of the Sekley Himnusz, then some romantic tenors. As the No wondered how she would make her escape, Maria suddenly stopped the music and pulled out a jacket. She fitted it to the No and then zipped it shut (this was the second jacket the No had received from a little old lady in her flat complex this week...) and with that tea was over.

This week in teaching:

Using Character cards is a good way to challenge the students to get away from the same four lines in their dialogues.

11b: One of the Students surreptitiously took photos of his teacher throughout the lesson. The No saw the cell phone and saw the photos. Going to delete it, she found the other 10. He was assigned to write "I will not use Attila's cell phone to take photos of my English teacher, because it is creepy and wrong" one hundred times before 2pm. 

12d: Have taken to calling the No tanar Nenyi. She has decided that while it is cute from a seventh grader, it is not cute from a 12th grader.

7a: We are going to create our own comics. Joe has become Super-Joe and his archenemies is Luggage-head, who is evil because he has a headache. These were the examples I put on the board for the students. I look forward to their creations.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

CETP culture shock bingo (finally)

This is a short list complied of all the strange little moments, which have become quite ordinary parts of our lives. Collected over multiple weekends, with multiple CETP-ers, this list represents things that originally surprised/shocked/delighted us about Hungary. 

  1. Place the following items into a grid.
  2. When you have completed an item, fill in the grid square.
  3. When you have completely filled out the grid, congratulations you have acclimatized to CETP culture shock.

Here is the list, if you have any suggestions/additions to the list, please feel free to comment below.
  1. Drink a Boroscola
  2. See a student drink
  3. Get scolded for sitting on something cold
  4. See a faux-hawk mullet
  5. If single, have a Hungarian neni or bacsi try to set you up
  6. See a castle outside Budapest
  7. Get lost on Public transport
  8. Sleep in a flat with more people than sleeping space
  9. Eat fornetti/princess/polgacsa
  10. Catch yourself using the stupid American excuse
  11. Feel morally obligated to bring sandwiches on public transport
  12. Visit a town/village that has vowel sounds that do not appear in English
  13. Have a conversation in Hungarian
  14. Pretend you do not speak English
  15. Buy mustard/mayonnaise in toothpaste tubes
  16. Palinka
  17. Shamelessly make out on Public Transport
  18. See a free-range chicken
  19. See a shirt/jewelry with pre-trianon Hungary on it
  20. Have someone thank you for being here
  21. Get lost on Public transport
  22. Be greeted with Csokolom
  23. Watch someone consume more than 6 sandwiches a day
  24. Buy clothing with incorrect English on it
  25. Be mistaken for a Hungarian by a Hungarian
  26. Be smiled at in the street by a Hungarian stranger
  27. Be quizzed about your love life by your students
  28. Be called Neni or Bacsi
  29. Get recognized on public transport...extra points if it is by the driver/Kontroll
  30. Be delayed by livestock
  31. Gyula
  32. Light your oven without burning yourselves
  33. Be mistaken for a a Student
  34. Eat Pizza with peas/corn/sour cream
  35. Buy wine for less than 100 ft