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.