Sunday, December 19, 2010

GPS My City

I haven't written in awhile, but wanted to make sure my readers are aware of a pretty cool iPhone application (and just a fun quiz) that generates city tours all over the world. I was contacted by someone from and was told that they are introducing a walking tour for Budapest. Those who send the correct answers to will be awarded three city walk iPhone applications to cities of their choice. Those who are living in Hungary or have lived in Hungary, you should have no problems! Here's the quiz (the formatting will be weird, so copy and paste into a document or email, and it should be better!):
1) Budapest is famous in Europe for its bath culture that dates all the way back to the Romans. This is unsurprising given that the city has ... thermal springs. a) 20 b)80 c)123 2) How many cities were part ofBudapest until 1873? a) 2 b) 3 c) 4 3) Budapest is an important religious center for one of the three main monotheistic religions. It houses the second largest ... in the world. a) church b) mosque c) synagogue 4) Due to its beautiful architecture and lovely views over the Danube Budapest is also known as: a) The Pearl of the Danube b) Little Paris c) The City of Lights 5) Gellért Hill is the largest hill in Budapest offering a stunning panoramic view of the city and housing such famous sites as the Wax Museum, the Liberty Statue and the Cave Church. What have scientists recently found under the hill? a) the largest cave system in the world b) the largest underground lake of Europe c) a tunnel connecting Budapest to Prague built during the Hapsburg rule 6) One of Budapest's urban legends says that if one touches the Statue of Anonymous he will: a) die alone b) become a better man c) be a better writer 7) Sir Biro László József was born in Budapest in 1899. He is famous for inventing the: a) toothbrush b) the bra c) the ballpoint pen 8.The Magyar language is distantly related to Finnish, Estonian and some other minor Baltic languages. Do you know the family of languages that Magyar is part of? a) Indo-European b) Ugric c) Arawakan 9) Who were the first to built a settlement in 1AD on the land where modern Budpaest stands? a) the Celts b) the Huns c) the Goths 10) How many districts does the city have? a) 4 b) 10 c) 23

Monday, June 7, 2010

His First Starbucks

So I've mentioned that I was lucky enough to be asked to spend my last three weeks in Europe with a group of my students in England doing a language course. We drove on a bus across Europe to England (don't worry, we didn't swim across The Channel...we took a ferry!), and we are staying in a very charming town called Stamford in the East Midlands. During the day I teach some of them lessons to some students while others do various jobs in the town, and in the afternoons we take trips. There's one student in particular who has a bit of a special place in my heart...let's call him Jimmy. I realize I sometimes take for granted how lucky I've been to be able to travel as much as I have and see so much of the world. Sometimes seeing city after city and church after church...after church, I become sort of numb and I miss out on the...wonder of it all. Jimmy has definitely reminded me of that wonder I had the first time I came to Europe...the wonder that any traveler should be lucky to have 100% of his/her travels. Jimmy is an 18 year old student who has chosen to have a job and pay his way through the private school I teach at. On the way to England he told me with total joy and excitement in his eyes that he was more excited than anyone for this trip because aside from short trips to Austria, he'd never been outside the small country of Hungary. To see him explore England and his reaction to all these new experiences has been truly amazing. I already have lots of stories, but the best comes from over the weekend when we stopped at a rest stop on the way back from London. There was a Starbucks there, and since there are no Starbucks in Hungary, naturally I stopped. He got in line with me and told me he was going to try his first EVER Starbucks. I told him to keep his money and that his first Starbucks should be purchased for him by a nice American girl. As I handed him his Caramel Macchiato, he struggled with how the little drink sleeve worked on the cup and then proceeded to confirm with me that he was supposed to drink it from the small whole in the top of the cup. He'd never used a 'to-go' cup before. Then we proceeded to speak about his day in London and all the different things he saw and people he encountered. He told me how he really wants to move to England someday now. I'm so glad there are people like this around to remind me to keep the wonder in my eyes and in my heart as I explore new and unknown places. I was once that excited person with joy in my eyes wanting to live in Europe someday. I was only slightly miffed at the fact that we had to tour yet ANOTHER church today...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hungarian at Home

So I was informed by a friend recently that there is a commercial being shown in the United States that is in Hungarian. Sure enough, my favorite sandwich shop has aired a commercial in Magyarul. There are only a few problems with it: a) no Hungarian refrigerator would be without sour cream in it somewhere, no matter how empty it was, b) no Hungarian would ever have an empty refrigerator, c) Hungarians will deliver food that fast when pigs fly, and d) the lack of Euro haircuts in that commercial mean it was clearly not shot in Europe. So, Jimmy John's...I will give you props because you make a good sandwich and you DID make a commercial in the language I love (and hate) most next to English...but get it right next time, ok?
In other news, I'm now to the countdown of having less than three weeks left in this country I love so much. The good part about this is that I get to have a three week jaunt around in my other home away from home before I head back to the States. My school has invited me on a (all expenses paid!) trip to England with some of the students. The only catch may be that we are taking a England. A bus...with 25 high school students...across Europe. Nem tudom.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, and as a big lover of the Earth and things residing on it, I decided to plan my lessons all around this lovely day. For the older kids, this entailed calculating our "Ecological Footprints" and talking about our obligation (or lack thereof) to conservation (here's a short version of the Ecological Footprint Calculator that we used in class if you're interested... We had some interesting discussions and I even shamefully showed them the difference in my Ecological Footprint when living here versus living in the United States. With my younger students, I introduced them to the English words related to recycling. We talked about what can and can't be recycled, whether or not it's important, etc. With my 4th graders, we made charts with pictures. We had a "Things that can be recycled" column, and a "Things that can’t be recycled" column. The creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that came with their answers made me laugh to the point of tears when they showed me their pictures. Here's a taste of what they came up with as a class:

Things that CAN be recycled:

- Paper

- Cans

- Plastic water bottles

- Mobile Phones

- Tires

- Playstations (which most just thought was crazy...who on Earth would even consider throwing out a broken PSP!?)

- Magazines

- Wine bottles (because in Hungary 9 times out of 10, a glass bottle will be a wine bottle…which is why I love this place).

- Posters

-This list just gets more boring...they really illustrated their creativity with the other list, so let's get to that...

Things that CAN'T be recycled:

- Apples

- Humans

- Hair

- A teacher

- Hamsters

- Poop (No way was I going to try to explain the way in which this could actually lead to creating something new...jaj)

- Balls (no, not the balls you're thinking of...get your mind out of the gutter)

- Hannah Montana

- Umbrellas

- A sheriff

- Underwear (when I sarcastically suggested giving their underwear to a charity shop, I got a few extreme looks of disgust from the girls for even mentioning it, and I'm pretty sure the boys started to pick a meeting spot in town where they'd gather with their underwear to hand out to homeless people).

- Soup

Those are just a few...hopefully they bring you a laugh. And after you laugh, go give the Earth a little squeeze for being pretty darn awesome.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Roman Holiday

Since I can't really put my Easter weekend trip into beautiful enough words, I hope my pictures can do a little justice at least...
This last one isn't us...even though we realize we both could TOTALLY pass for beautiful and famous 1950's actors. The movie Roman Holiday did inspire this blog title, I love Audrey Hepburn...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Random Thought of the Day...

I like to picture The Count counting on Hungarian Sesame Street...."Egy, ha ha ha...kettő, ha ha ha...három, ha ha ha..."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hungarians and Feet

Ok, I don't often rag on Hungarians. I love them. I love them in all of their hard working, extremely hospitable, resilient, amazing food-making, community minded glory. I also don't want this blog entry to somehow place all Hungarians in some arbitrary "box", although many of my previous posts have done nothing less than that. Goodness knows I can't stand it when people place all of America in the "stupid, fat, and gluttonous" box. With that said, I just can't hold this feeling in any longer. I'm finding myself becoming grumpy at and resentful of Hungary for this issue that is causing me great pain on a daily basis (particularly when the time comes to get ready in the morning somehow). I am hoping that simply getting this issue off my chest will somehow comfort me and get me through the coming weeks until this seasonal issue is no longer an issue. The issue: feet. Seriously. If you would have told me a a year and a half ago when I decided to come to Hungary that the cultural difference I would have to grapple with most (sad, but true) would be feet, I would have been like "Psssh. Whatever". Yet today, I sit here writing a blog that makes me grumpy just by typing it. First of all, let me explain some of the cultural ideas surrounding feet and footwear in the United States....just so maybe I will seem somewhat rational to my Hungarian readers. Like the people of the United States, American's feet thrive on the idea that they are free, both physically and psychologically. This means that you can really wear whatever you want on your feet without judgement from others (aside from Crocs and's just a crime). What I'm REALLY getting at is that you can wear what you want, regardless of what time of year it is. Because we love our feet to be physically free as often as possible, we choose to wear shoes that expose our feet to fresh air and sun rays as often as possible. This means that it could be a sunny day in January in Alaska, and there are bound to be a couple people sporting flip flops because gosh darn it (Sarah Palin accent included), it's sunny! And even in February, when it's still chilly and snow storms are inevitable, our sense of everlasting optimism creeps up and tells us to start wearing sandals and flip flops because well, Spring is really just around the corner, so why not? Now, it could have been 85 degrees out today here in Hungary and I would have worn flip-flops. Was it 85 degrees out today in Hungary? Nem. No. Cut that in half and you're about right. But that's beside the point. IF IT WERE 85 degrees and I had worn flip-flops in March, I would have gotten stared at and asked several times if I was cold. I'd get extra points if someone politely warned me about a uterus cold. I finally started wearing my flats (not flip-flops...flats...toes are covered, people!) without socks this week. I wear pants. Yet a square inch of my skin pops out from underneath and people wonder...aren't you cold?!?! By the way, the whole time I'm being judged, there is a teenager standing next to me wearing a mini-skirt and boots...but she has on nylons. She's safe from uterus colds and the like. I can hear the feet of Hungarians screaming out from under their layers of boots, socks, AND tights: "Help me!!! I'm suffocating!!" But alas, they stay there until the officially accepted date (last year it was May 1st) of being allowed to sport sandals without judgement. SO fine, I will wear my socks for a few more weeks (unless the temperature gets above 55 again, so help me God...), and I will only start wearing sandals a few weeks before the officially acceptable date. I will also, on my honor, try my darndest to stop complaining about Hungarians and their need to wear "proper" footwear at all times. But if I were to see a single Hungarian break this rule (rules are meant to be broken, right?) and show their feet in the coming weeks...I might stop (and first make sure they are really Hungarian) and hug them for coming over to the dark side.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3rd Graders Have Hearts

On Wednesdays I don't have any lessons at the school here in Gyor, but I go to a little village called Kunsziget (pronounced like Koon-see-get). It's such a treat because the kids there are wonderful. I'm considered to be somewhat of a local celebrity at the school (I'm not's true...and actually very awkward). The celebrity status is really just a rite of passage for any native speaker going to teach at a primary school. Since it's Valentine's Day on Sunday, I decided that at the expense of the boys' enjoyment, we would all make Valentines for someone important in our lives. Since last year most of my boys responded to the words, "Today we are making Valentines" with grumpy faces, I waited for the response today, especially when preparing to make Valentines with my 3rd graders. True to their gentle and sweet spirits though, these boys managed to not only not complain, but actually be excited to make Valentines! They colored in the lines, they worked very hard, and my cute story comes in amongst all of this attentive work they put in. Little Adrian came to me and kept asking the perfect spelling for every word he wanted to say. He sat and colored and made sure it was perfect. Then he came and whispered to me out of earshot of the other students that his Valentine was intended for Niki, a very cute girl in the 2nd grade class. Gosh, what a sweet boy. After class, he asked me to come with him while he waited for the 2nd graders to go play outside so he could swoop in and put it on her table. This isn't even the best part of the next lesson was with the 2nd graders, and I was able to watch as Niki walked in to find the cute Valentine from Adrien on her desk. A HUGE smile swept across her face and she was beyond giddy the whole lesson. I hope that we can all take a little time this Valentine's Day week (even if it is a holiday more or less fabricated by chocolate and greeting card companies) to do something for someone that will leave a big, goofy smile on their face for a whole afternoon. P.S. while my example Valentine isn't really in good enough shape anymore to send to its intended receiver, I may as well say it here...Happy Valentine's Day, Mom! I love you!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Braving the Blizzard

So Hungary is one of those places where the weather can be a certain way in one place, yet totally different just a matter of miles away. Alvin and I decided a few weeks ago that we would celebrate the one-year mark of our beautiful relationship in the exact place where we started dating (or rather, where after weeks of meeting once and constant flirting through the internet, Alvin tipsily exclaimed to a whole bus, "I have a crush on Hanna!") If you don't know how the story went after that and you're interested in being nauseated from cheesiness, please refer to all posts following the date of January 31st, 2009 :-) Anyway...back to the weather...we ventured out from Gyor Saturday morning where the weather was not bad at all. I noticed 2, maybe 3.5 flakes of snow fall as we left the train station. As we ventured farther east however, I noticed that more snow was falling, and there was more snow already on the ground. Oh, dear. After one delay in Budapest which forced a visit to a McCafe, one very serendipitous run-in with a Hungarian friend who read a story entitled The Desolation of Man (persze...) to us for an hour on the next train ride, and a slippery taxi ride later, we finally arrived to our castle in Eger. No kidding. The castle walls were just outside our room... Luckily, Eger has an abundance of activities to do inside while there is a blizzard going on outside. That abundance of things includes wine...lots of yummy wine. When in Rome, right? After too much wine, just enough palacsinta, and some wet and cold toes, the Anniversary Weekend was a success, and I was only slightly grumpy when I had to return to the scary world that we all call Monday...

Monday, January 18, 2010


Anyone who is not Hungarian or lives in Hungary who pronounces that correctly on the first try gets a huge cookie. Seeing as how my own family still can't get it right, let's just make it easy and say it's pronounced like "jury"...but without the y. Even then, a Hungarian would probably look at you like huh? So yes, here I am in Győr, living and teaching in an old factory building. Yup, no lie. If you were to walk up to my place with me and watch me cheerily open the door, you'd want to take me home from this prison haste. When you walk into the door however, it's a different story. My apartment is arguably the nicest apartment of anyone in my program. I have seating (real seating...not table chairs or stools) for up to 6 people. I have more storage than anyone should have in their life. A bathroom that looks like it has never been used. Yes, be jealous. Oddly enough, I don't have a washing machine or microwave in all of this amazingness...whatever. But otherwise, I'm living like a queen here. I'm also a convenient 40 minute train ride from my wonderful fiancee...which might be the biggest treat of all. Did I mention I have a beyond wonderful fiancee? Oh yea, I guess I did...I am still just thoroughly enjoying referring to him as such :-) More on adventures from Győr soon(not, I repeat NOT pronounced like "gee-yor", "jor"...just give up's a lost cause. :-)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to Magyarorszag I Go!

Yep, the States could not keep me hostage for one week I will be on my way back to beautiful Hungary. I'm excited to spend 6 more months in this place I love so much before it's time to buckle down and go to graduate school where I won't have enough money to go to Nebraska let alone Europe. I will definitely be missing my family after the wonderful few months I've had with all of us in the same place though. It's been glorious bonding with my ever-extending family! I will have a change of location as I head back to Hungary as well! I loved spending my year in Budapest...but I'm excited to be spending the next 6 months in a smaller city called Gyor, located in northwest Hungary. There is an elementary school and vocational high school there that I will be teaching at, and I can't wait. Enough of this though...let's get down to the real business at hand! Literally, the business on my left hand... Yup! I have officially been fiancéd! Not to be confused with fianceed. Yes, through getting engaged, I have learned that there is a difference between how the man and woman are addressed. Us ladies get one e with a fancy accent above it, whereas the boys get two. There's your little fun fact for the day! Anyhoo, partner in crime who has appeared in numerous blog postings and who I waited four months to hug proposed at the airport when he arrived in Denver. The guy didn't waste any time...and I'm ok with that because I can't think of anything else I'd like to do but get married and spend the rest of my life with this wonderful, wonderful person. Well, the actual MARRIAGE part will have to wait awhile, but I'm thoroughly enjoying knowing that regardless of the ceremony that will ensue at some point, I'm hanging out with this cute guy for a LONG time. Needless to say, my New Year is starting off better than anyone could ask. I can't wait to see what it brings as it continues!