Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Move aside, anyone who breathes....nénis coming through!

I've dedicated a few entries to the essence of "seasoned" women of Hungary, and here is another. If you haven't heard before, their technical term is neni. The word actually means "aunt", but it also is a term that is closest to Mrs., or Ms. It's a term of respect. Sometimes my kids even call me Hannaneni. The REAL neni's, however, are the ones you've heard about. They dominate culture here in Hungary. They can be total (I hate to use the b-word, but...) meanies and get away with it easily. These women's bodies are a little rough around the edges these days, but they carry their weight all over town (even if it might take years to get from place to place). When waiting to get on a tram, they will push everyone to get on/off first and nobody questions it. I experienced the perfect display of neni-power tonight on the tram. There was a guy ("that guy", to be exact) sitting in a seat across from me. A hoard of neni's got on the tram at one stop, and one neni happened to just pop up next to the guy and stare at him with her lazer eyes that have the ability to pierce your soul. He didn't seem inclined to move and give the neni his seat, so she stared more. Suddenly, his soul was pierced, and he got up and let her sit down. She caught my eye and flashed an evil smirk that seemed to say something like this: "The nenis strike once again! Should anyone dare to attempt to infringe on our power, the shall die a horrible death. Get up out of my grill, minions!" Aside from this heartwarming story, everything is good! Three day weekend coming up...woo hoo!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Learning About Relationships With Lulu

Before I re-visit the cute conversation I had with little Lulu today, I feel she deserves an introduction. She is my little 1st grade translator because she speaks fluent English...not only does she speak FLUENT English, she speaks American/Canadian English!!! I don't have to change my vocabulary. She uses normal words, rather than terms like "the bin", "the garden", and "I haven't got..." (don't get me wrong, I have a love of the British that borderlines on obsession...but sometimes I just want to speak American English!). Moreso, I love her because she is generally awesome. She is sassy and in your face, and I love her one-liners I hear all the time. I have some REALLY good stories about her involving head scarves, Christmas Presents, and flashing people...ask me about these at your leisure. Here is the play-by-play of our conversation today:
  • Lulu: Hanna, come here please...I need to talk to you about something important.
  • Me: What's up, Lulu?
  • Lulu: So Marci said he's in love with me, but he is suddenly pretending like I am invisible. Isn't that stupid? (P.S. this whole conversation took place with Marci sitting right behind Lulu...who cares? He can't understand anyways...)
  • Me: That is quite silly of him...boys can be that way sometimes.
  • Lulu: Are boys this stupid all the time? Even when they're your age?
  • Me: Sigh. Well, yes...they tend to be. But there are a few very nice boys out just have to look a little harder for them! (wink!)
  • Lulu: Gosh, why does all of this have to be so confusing??!
  • Me: I know, Lulu...go back to coloring right have years and years to worry about this. Just know there's a nice boy somewhere out there who won't always be stupid.
  • Lulu: Marci, you're stupid!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Lesson on Clothing Items Turned PG-13...

This week, I am teaching my students items of clothing. Just the general t-shirt, jeans, shorts, shoes, etc. Easy, right? So, 2.c has worked its way up to become my absolute favorite class (aside from 1.b, OF COURSE)...but they are just a really fun and excited group of kids. I also love them because I have some girls in the class who I like to call my "groupies". They love me. Not kidding. They say it at least 10 times a day...each. They also tell me I'm beautiful every day, which just adds to their appeal. The day I brought in Easter candy, I even got a "You are plus, plus, plus beautiful, Hanna!" from one of them. Today, they made my lesson very interesting! As the kids were sitting and drawing pictures of each item and writing the name next to the picture, I asked them what other items of clothing they'd like to know the names of...we came up with things like sunglasses, tights, sandals, long-sleeved shirts...all simple and suitable for the minds of children to be thinking about. Then I looked over to see my groupies sitting in the corner giggling. I gave them a look, and they came up to me and whispered something Hungarian in my ear, then proceeded to giggle uncontrollably. I understood what they said, but still looked at them as if I was completely clueless. One of the boys noticed, and proceeded to make an "action", signifying a bra....this involved fake cupping and squeezing. Then the class proceeded to point at my chest. Of course, that led to all of the children cupping and laughing...then they wanted to know the word for underwear, and signified by pulling their own underwear up out of their pants to show me. Sheesh. Sheepishly, after having my rack pointed out to everyone, along with seeing about 20 pairs of underwear, I explained that today was not the day for undergarments...then directed them to ask the other English teacher instead...I had enough awkwardness for the day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Nichols Invade Europe

Mom and Dad's trip to Europe was a total success! I loved having my parents here and I loved showing them my 'hood. Mr. Sun also gave us the huge gift of being present the whole time they were here!!! We soaked in the baths without getting lost in the changing lockers, they met my partner in crime and all was perfect, and they were even treated to some Mozart at the Opera! Then, it was off to Austria! We hit up Salzburg first and for all who have been wondering, it's been confirmed...the hills ARE in fact alive with the sound of music. Check it out.... And of course a trip to Salzburg would not be complete without enjoying one of EVERYONE'S favorite things...crisp apple strudel....all we were missing were some doorbells and sleigh bells and some schnitzel with noodles. It was also confirmed that Eidelweiss is the #1 easiest song to get in your head for weeks upon weeks after hearing it. time you're in Salzburg and you turn on your TV in your hotel don't need to question...YES, The Sound of Music and Amadeus DO in fact have their own channels, and they DO play continuously.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Surviving my first Hungarian fire drill...

Yesterday (yes, I was ACTUALLY notified of something, and a day in advance), I was told there would be a fire drill today during 4th lesson. At 11:35, the alarm would go off, and I was to take my kids to the courtyard with the others. Great, I can handle that. I have my great little 1st graders who worship the ground I walk on and who would behave great, just to make me happy. Super. Well today came around, and of course their teacher wanted to take the whole class "so they wouldn't be stressed out about the fire alarm" with me. I was a little miffed that the person who the children are truly, truly afraid of every second thinks they'll be less stressed with HER than with me. I'd make a bet they'd be fine with me, and I don't even speak their language. Whatever, I could catch up on other work that needed to be done. 11:35: alarm goes off, and I proceed with a couple of other teachers on breaks to the ONE stairwell to the ONE entrance to the school. Ok, another source of culture shock...the kids were SORT of lined up with their teachers, but were they quiet and good-mannered like in the States? NEM. They were making fake siren sounds, fake cries for help and pretending they were dying. Yea, you're all awesome and hilarious. Congratulations. After a good 5-6 minutes, I realized I was on the 2nd floor, and we were still only on the 1st floor stairwell. Oh God, if this were a real fire...first of all, there'd be mass chaos and stampeding down these stairs, AND I would be dead most likely if the timing is like it is now. I ACTUALLY found myself looking around out the windows to plan my own escape (along with my favorite little ones, of course), should a fire ever break out. Therefore, I survived my first fire DRILL...but should there be a real fire...out the windows and acrobating it down to the ground it is for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day at Városligeti Primary School

I made my way to school today just like it was any other day (well, I'm having a great hair day today if that counts as something different), but I noticed something was off the second I walked through the door of the school. There were kids wearing shoes that didn't match, shirts that were inside-out or turned around, and there was a general feeling of silliness. I thought it might just be Spring Fever, or quite possibly some memo about a dress-up day that I didn't get (I don't get notified about much around these parts). I went to my first class with my 1st graders, and being that they aren't too incredibly creative, Vince came up to me and said, "Hanna, may I go to the toilet?" Of course I replied with a yes, and expected him to run out the door with his hand on his crotch, as usual. This time though, he spouted something off to me in Hungarian that I didn't understand, and then it hit me. He just played an April Fool's joke on me. It's April 1st. Silly Vince...he's a crazy little boy...IMAGINE...asking to go to the bathroom and not really needing to go! Haha. Of course, every other kid in the class proceeded to do the same by the 28th "May I go to the toilet?", I was a little pooped. That wasn't it though. I was informed by other teachers after 1st lesson that April Fool's here in Hungary is sort of a big deal. So I should watch out, even though my kids aren't that creative. No, mine aren't at this point in their lives...but the older kids are. So was I extremely surprised to walk into my 2nd grade classroom before the next lesson to see a bunch of 6th graders with their faces painted (two boys had wigs and skirts on) sitting in the little chairs? No. At first I thought (and asked aloud)....uhhhhh do I have to teach these ones today? Then the 2nd grade teacher walked in and looked just as surprised as I was. This was her former class, playing a joke. Luckily, this joke earned me a free period in which to plan lessons for after Easter Break. Otherwise, the day was pretty much normal, aside from another one of my 2nd grade classes sitting down facing the back wall instead of me. I acted surprised when they said it was only a joke. ;-) Side note: We are learning Easter vocabulary at school this week, and I am teaching my students the names of a couple different Easter flowers. Hearing my little ones spout out the word "daff-o-dil" is quite possibly the cutest thing I have seen in my life. It would be worth it for all of you to come teach in Hungary for a whole year, just to hear this one word. It's THAT cute.