Sunday, March 29, 2009

Felejthetetlen het volt!

My sister and her boyfriend came to visit. We explored Eger, Budapest, and Heves. It was lovely to have company. 

The Minaret, this time I stayed on the ground


That is right, a tiny little girl with a re-curved bow that shoots real arrows. Only in Hungary...

Budapest at night
Statue on the Castle Hill

     Fisherman's Basti

Metro 2 sign at Deak Ter

Marx and Engles at Statue Park

Friday, March 27, 2009

Yoga, dancing happy executioners...just another weekend in Heves

At about 4pm, I grabbed my new mat and dashed out the door for the bus. Dressed in sweatpants and a long sweatshirt I boarded the bus amongst a bevy of my students heading home for the day. I was on my way to Tarnamera (a neighbouring village) for my first yoga lesson. After a long day I jumped at the opportunity for a small nap. I woke up with a start (thanks to one of my students), and walked through fat droplets of rain into the baroque inspired elementary school. 

There were three ladies waiting. Awkwardly we made stilted conversation, and waited for everyone else to show up. Eventually we were settled into a room, calming music playing, candles glowing and a bunch of women stretching on the floor. The highlights of the evening included stretching, breathing, re-enacting Monty Python's school for funny walks, whispered instructions during the relaxing period causing me to giggle, wondering if the smell was from my mat or residual superglue from ATC making, and getting tucked in during communal nap time. 

Two days later, was Saturday the 28th of March. Back in January the education ministry decided that we would need to work a Saturday to make up for having the 2nd of January off. Originally we were supposed to work it right away, but due to rising gas prices/the gas being shut off by Russia, it was postponed until the end of March. So Saturday morning, bleary eyed and rather cranky, we woke up and rolled ourselves into school. Saturday schools are one of my pet peeves. The children are inevitably crazy, and most of them just don't show up. So after a couple hours of trying to get the kids to focus on anything related to English, I exhausted.  But there is no rest for the wicked, so at approximately noon, Judit and I piled onto a charter bus headed for Budapest. 

We had gotten tickets for Experidance, a dance company that re-tells stories through dance. It was amazing. The dancer portraying Mattias Corvinus wore an extraordinary amount of eyeshadow, and gold. The costumes, scenery and dancing was stunning. They used a combination of Hungarian folk dance, ballet and modern dance. They even incorporated the 'Hungarian clap' demanding an encore to set the beat to a rousing chardas. Probably the most cheerful song, however was reserved for a comic dance of executioners, whilst the creepiest was reserved for the lawyers' dance. 

Too soon it was time to get back on the bus and head home. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Babysitting: 12B style

As the date of their impending freedom approaches, 12b's apathy towards the English language grows, and this results in both frustration and hilarity for their Anyanelvi teacher (the No). 

One poignant example is today's class. The assignment in the Erettsegi (Hungarian maturity exam, much like the HSC in N.S.W., The Abitur in Germany or the Matura in Austria) book was to explain to the examiner why the student would be a good babysitter. They had to cover such points like:
  • Do you have any younger brothers or sisters?
  • What would you do to entertain the child? 
  • What would you give the child to eat/drink?
  • What would you do in case of an emergency (ex. Crying)?
The No divided the class (about half of them were 'mysteriously' missing) into two teams. The boys opted to stay together, and so did the girls. Fluttering between them, the No tried to spur her students on to do the exercise, she received only blank looks and muttering in Hungarian. In the end, she sat with each group and asked them their responses. The girls gave fairly normal responses: Yes, I have helped look after children. We would give them fruit and vegetables. We would play ball and run with them, and in case of emergencies, we would sing to them, hug them or take them to the Hospital.

The boys, however gave a slightly different response. One of the boys kept repeating that he hated small children, and finally assisted his group (himself, one other official student, and one student who comes although he has already taken his language exam (he just sits in the back and listens to music)) with the following responses:
  • We would feed the children fruit, vegetable and beer milkshakes
  • We would take the kids to the pub and a metallica concert (lifted on shoulders so not to get squished)
  • In case of emergency we would take them to the hospital (yes, even if the kid is just crying). 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Virag leszek: Adventures in Hevesi's nőnap celebrations.

Heves loves women's day, which is a coincidence, because so do I.

On Friday the students swarmed and buzzed through the school, bearing arms full of flowers. The student porter popped his head into the staff room every two minutes to call various female teachers. I wasn't expecting any flowers, because in truth I had forgotten about it, and as it isn't mandatory, I did not expect much. Tibor, one of my 12d students cornered me in the hallway, and handed me a beautiful white carnation. Throughout the day, I was called out a couple of times (my favorite was Tomi in 10th grade, who saw me walking, and said 'Hey you, this is for you' gave the kisses and sauntered off). Finally done for the day, I walked out with six flowers decorated with ribbons and greenery. There is no feeling like receiving flowers.

However, it does come with its awkward moments. As an American, I have slowly adapted to giving the puszi kisses. I kiss my friends hello and goodbye, with barely a batted eyelash. However, students. That is just strange, but it is rude not to do so. It doesn't help that I never remember the right number of kisses, or which side goes first. This lead to a Friday full of bobbing, weaving and being called back by students to try again.

Saturday was our charity/women's day ball. A basic run down of a Hungarian ball: drinks, performances by students (usually), dinner, dancing, raffle and at midnight a second dinner. As per a couple weeks ago, I was slated to preform. So at 6:30 we showed up to the school. We were greeted by a couple of the teachers, giving last minute instructions to a large number of my students. They gave all of us girls (everyone but Jeb), Calla Lillys, and all of us a glass of champagne. One of the teachers showed us to our assigned table, and we then meandered about admiring the preparations. At about 6:45, I left my friends to join the others giving performances. My 12b boys (who were also reading poetry) asked about my stage fright (a phrase I taught them the week before), and 11d girls (who all looked pretty in their folk dancing costumes) admired Tara and Lyla's hair/makeup job. I was one of the last to preform, and my heart was beating so loudly I could not hear myself recite. It must have gone OK, because I got a standing ovation, and thumbs up from people I don't even know. Afterwards I tried to sneak up stairs with the help of one of my students (I was hiding behind him), but we got caught and told to not go upstairs yet.

Finally allowed to go upstairs, I was greeted with smiles and waves and a shot of Hazi palinka. Dinner was amazing, although we all got scolded for not having soup first. We danced (I got spun so much I almost threw up). Someone I had never met before asked Sani if he could dance with me, and someone else asked to take a picture with me. (I kid you not, although afterwards he told us he was one of my students' dad). At the end of the night, we were hanging out at the table, waiting for the raffle, when Csilla and all of the student waiter/waitresses walked up to us.

"Briggi, the students have a special task for you"
Oh no, I thought, what are they volunteering me to do? Turns out I was the raffle-puller girl. We had a ridiculous number of prizes (see Lauren's post for photos), and it took over 45 minutes and much confusion to pull them all.

Monday, we got more flowers. In seventh period the male teachers had arranged a party for all of the women who work at the school. At 2pm we walked into the lunch room, transformed into women's day party room. On Sunday Jeb had been looking for his favorite type of beer at the store, but could not find it. I think the male teachers bought it out, there was also wine, shots of Baily's, shots of cherry stuff, cakes, and of course more flowers and poetry. I never thought I would be drinking a) at school, b) on a school day, and c) served to us by our principal.

Wow. I love this Country.

Friday, March 6, 2009


5:15 am - My alarm beeps an incessant demand to wake up...I hit snooze

5:23 am - Hit snooze...think about waking up. Realize it is a busy morning, and haul myself out of bed

5:30 am - whip up the brownies I promised Dia

6 am -  Brownies are in the oven, and I drink luke-warm tea and have left over batter for breakfast

6:30 am - Fret about the fate of the brownies on facebook chat

6:31 am - pull out the brownies, begin to get ready

6:44 am - remember that Today is picture day, and we are supposed to look 'formal'...I have nothing formal, begin to look for something nice that Borris has not destroyed

7:30 found something, brushed hair, make up on....and look for boots to cover the fact that all my stockings are holey...

7:40 - Running Late! Run to school, passing several dawdling students.

8:00 - Just made it in before the bell. Look around...all of the other teachers are in suits, I feel really under dressed in a skirt, turtleneck and boots.

10 am - free period, chill out in Maria's office and wait for coffee.

10:05 Kata walks in and tells me there will be no performances (including mine) at the ball on Saturday, as she has been too sick to organize it. I am horribly confused and begin to wonder what I bought tickets to. 

10:06 Relief sets in, as I realize I don't have to butcher the Hungarian language in front of all of Heves

10:07 Consider calling friends to ask if they want to cancel

10:08 Agi sweeps into the conversation about the ball/not ball. I still have to preform.

10:10 I go eat a brownie, and begin hard core poetry cramming.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday Afternoon Wishes

I wish the weather was nicer -- Heves has been foggy and drizzly and grey since maybe Saturday.

I wish I had something to wear -- Bah, we have two formal events this week, first 12d's class portrait tomorrow, then on Saturday our ball. Between Borris' destruction of my clothing, my increased chubbiness, and a closet full of informal things, tomorrow's selection is slim.

I wish I had bought the cow-shaped Nintendo-like game at the market -- does that even need an explanation?

I wish I had a plan -- But, maybe I still have time.

I wish you were here -- I miss you.