Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Locsolkodás, érettségi, and Serenade

The Thursday after spring break the No walked into 11d's classroom, to be greeted with a student jumping out of the sink closet and spritzing her with strong perfume. Shock, Surprise and Stink assailed all of her senses, forcing her to take a moment to re-group. It proves that even two days after locsolkodás, American teachers are not safe from fertility traditions.

The last few weeks the staff have been frantically prepping the 12th grade
students for their Maturity exams. This includes giving intense practice exams,
which they mostly failed. They have, however, led to some new favorite


One of the Hungarian graduation traditions (unlike in the US,
activities extend over at least a week) is called Serenade. It is exactly
what it sounds like. Students walk from teacher's house to teacher's house and sing
them songs. Both 12a and 12b are singing to me. The No is excited to see this
tradition up close, but would be more excited if it did not mean staying up
until after 2am. 12b is
seranading her at 1am-ish.

Here is a quick guide to some important Hungarian terms for this post.
Locsolkodás: Easter Minda sprinkling, boys dash/sprinkle girls with water/perfume in exchange for money, eggs and palinka.
érettségi: Hungarian Maturity exam, think of a University entrance exam.
This is taken in the beginning of May for 12
th grade, but can be taken earlier.
Seranade: Part of the Hungarian graduation traditions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Part 3: Kalocsa and Holloko

"Hey dude, I'm lost, I forgot where to go in the [town]" was how Easter Sunday should have started. I got off the bus in beautiful sunny Kalocsa at the wrong bus stop, and a short phone call to Franny later, I was headed in the right direction. Easter was delicious! Between Jon's AMAZING cooking and Franny's play list, Easter was lovely. We meandered the town, and dyed eggs with plants and onion skins. Franny and I were in charge of blowing the eggs out, so that we could dye just the shells. While the first one I did, to show Franny how to do it, worked perfectly, the next two I broke....finally culminating in an egg that defied physics and exploded up my nose. Too soon I was on the bus back to Budapest.

                 Prep work to dye the eggs

Washing the eggs
Jon making Deviled Eggs

Franny blowing out the eggs

     Yummy! Lunch part 1 of 10 

Holloko: I went to see the traditional Hungarian watering. I missed out on seeing a girl dressed in traditional dress getting doused with a bucket of water, but it was a good day nonetheless. 

Ladies in traditional dress

Kids who ran around splashing people

Part 2: Bratislava, Brno, Budapest

I met Jamie and Tara in Budapest and together we caught a late train to a former capital of the Hungarian territory...Bratislava. We slept poorly, meandered, and ate perogies.  

                                                                       Train buddies
                                                                      Castle view
                                                                 A hat on a building!

Brno, a name I can not properly pronounce, but was stunning! We explored, and visited one of the most famous prisons in the Hapsburg empire. There I drooled over Handschrift documents on display, and later we popped into the Easter market. All too soon it was time to wait for the train and travel on our separate ways.

Budapest: I finally checked out the shoe memorial along the Danube. The weather was perfect to just chill out on its banks. I also popped into the Easter Market at Vorosmarty ter, and chilled out sipping tea.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nagyszerű helyekre elmenni voltam!

12 days and 7 cities later, I am home. I started in Szeged, then home for Student Days, then off on Spring break adventures in Brataslava, Brno, Budapest, Kalocsa and Holloko. While each one deserves its own post to properly encapsulate the insane adventures, instead I will give a short (well...I will try) blurb and photos.

Part One:

Perfect weather welcomed me to Hungary's sun city, Szeged. There I chilled with Jon and Franny. We ate AMAZING food, check it out on Jon's blog (especially the duck comfit...yeah I ate that, be envious!) We engaged in my favorite activities: walking around pretty places, enjoying the sunshine, making daisy chains and ATCs, Swinging on swings in a park, and hitting up a great museum. We made each other laugh and groan with silly Hunglish phrases all weekend long! (Oh for Bisztos!) Then on my way home, I met up with one of my crazy eighth graders, who found a better way to Heves than the one I was going. We were waiting at the Gyongyos bus stop, when another kid (not one of mine), asked Viktor if we were related. Viktor, who is short and dark, gave the new kid a funny look and told him I was the anyanelvi tanar. The new kid (a senior at one of the Gyongyos schools) spent the whole bus ride home arguing that I could not be 25. 

                                                                      Franny and I swinging

                                                           Working at the Pick Salami factory     


                                                                    Jon and Franny 

                                                            Under the alter in Szeged

Part Two:

Exhausted I rolled into school to be greeted with Chaos. While Chaos is actually fairly normal, this was student directed chaos. At EJ we have 'Student days' where various classes compete against one another to become Student Principals for the day. They elicit votes by running various programs, Karaoke, Football, cooking and dance competitions, interrupting classes and creating a general ruckus.  I checked out the archery on the first day. Some one's dad brought traditional Hungarian re-curved bows and real arrows, which he gave everyone a chance to fire. The next day I hung around the cooking competition, mostly to enjoy the day and for the entertainment of culture shock. Everyone from seventh grade on up were lighting fires in random places in the grass. Then cooking dishes in cauldrons, and for the older students drinking wine, on campus. All with minimal adult supervision. I can now tell everyone that my kids are all wonderful outside cooks! The next day, I judged a dog competition, watched break dancing, a dancing competition, meandered through classrooms and was collected by a non-English speaking student for the scavenger hunt. As he dragged me across campus, he would raise my wrist and mock other students passing. I was met at the end of campus with one of my students holding a live goose. Too soon it was time to run for my bus, and spring break had officially begun.

                                         I visited 10b and tried on riot gear...hmmm maybe I do want it for class!

                                                          9d's entry in the cooking competition
                                                         Preping for the competition
                                                Eta and Kate supporting different classes
                                                        Kids watching teachers singing

More posts later.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How to look like Carol Brady in 5 easy steps:

1) Go a local Szepsegszalon:  Looking at my sister's photos, I noticed how dreadful my hair looked. It was shaggy and the old dye job had mostly grown out. So on Tuesday they walked to a local Szepsegszalon and made an appointment. 

2) Make an appointment: This involved a lot of gestures and pointing, but soon enough we had figured out when and how much the hair cut should cost. Nevertheless, it wowed my colleauges and I was dubbed nagyon okos (very smart).

3) Show up to the appointment: I was running late, but made it in just in time.

4) More smiling, nodding and gestures to communicate with the hairdresser: The hairdresser asked if I wanted a 'trendy' cut, thinking of my students - spiky faux hawk mullets are currently in style - I refused. Instead I chose something out of a book, published in 1993.  She whipped out not just sissors, but strange instruments of hair torture. Instead of watching the snippets of blonde and brown fall arround my feet, I closed my eyes.

5) Look in the Mirror: There staring back in the mirror was Carol Brady, albeit a slightly more modern version.

She trimmed up the back, and it is really cute.