Eaten Alive

I know, I know, I haven’t blogged for the past day or two. I never promised a blog per day, did I? 🙂 

Anyway, Hungarian class is over, aside from a monthly refresher meeting. It was a great class — at least for a Linguistics major (and polyglot) like me! Not sure that the other business/art/non-language majors enjoyed it quite so much….

So, backtrack to my last blog post. Zoom. Okay, the reason I haven’t been blogging since then is that, honestly, I haven’t really had much to say. I don’t typically blog unless I’ve accomplished something significant during the day, seen something impressive, or learned something funny or intriguing. That’s not always the case, but it’s typical. No sense in cluttering the blog with “Hey, so I ate toast for breakfast then had an orange and now it’s noon.” Yeah.

So anyway, backtracking. Adrienn (the Hungarian student who invited me to her house), would love to have me and my roommate, Kelly, over to her house (again, for me) at some point. Hopefully, once Karoli classes start up and we figure out our schedules, we can make that happen. Her sister is apparently very good at making lángos and homemade palacsinta, so I’m very excited to taste some native Hungarian food actually prepared at home. 

Speaking of Hungarian food, Kelly and I went out to try — for the first time — real gelato. I know, gelato is Italian. However, the people in Budapest pride themselves on making a pretty mean gelato, so we couldn’t resist. One scoop was all I got, but man was it good. I’m not entirely sure what it was as the signs were all in Hungarian, but from what I could interpret (and taste), it seemed to be what I would call “Chocolate Cookie Cream” flavor. There were so many other flavors that I wanted to try, such as one that looked like the chocolatey, nutty top of an ice cream Drumstick, tiramisu with ginger cookies sticking out of the top, the list goes on. We’ll be going back there every now and then for the rest of the semester, that’s for sure! [Photo courtesy of Tracy’s Food and Thought]

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Aside from the gelato and general surfing around Budapest on the trams and metros to get this or that done, the main thing that has been occupying my time is reading. As I’m sure many of you know (or are soon to find out), I do not like working at the pace in which a class is running. AKA I like to work ahead.  A lot. 

So what has this meant for me in the last few days? Five books in three days, that’s what it’s meant. I’m working the sixth over right now. 🙂 All six books are required reading for our Eastern European Culture class, but you can bet that I’d rather get these things out of the way so that I have more time to focus on my linguistics studies (and hopefully some Irish language?) starting next week.

Please do keep in mind, though, that I don’t read ahead on material that is easy to forget or that I don’t completely understand by myself — like history or math. Only the stuff I have a good grasp of already. 

So yeah, I’ve been reading a book per day, at least. It started with The Cellist of Sarajevo and Sarajevo: A War Journal because Bosnia is the first place we’ll be going. However, I’ve also read The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber, A Guest in My Own Country, and How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, the latter of which I finished about half an hour ago. The Kingdom of Auschwitz is on the menu for tomorrow, as is a trip into the labyrinthine caves under Matthias Church. 

So that’s why I haven’t been blogging. Who wants to hear that all I’ve been doing is reading? That trend’s almost over now, though. 

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Continuing onto another note, I’d like to ask a question to all of my dedicated readers — Would someone please tell me when the heck Budapest’s mosquito season is going to end!? I have literally been eaten alive from the moment I got here. I have more than a dozen bites on my left arm alone. Heck, I have bites on top of bites — believe me, I’ve actually checked. We kill one of them in our room, and we think it’s over. Then, about half an hour later, another one is buzzing by.

The problem is getting so serious that Rachel-Richard, our resident spider/undercover mosquito murderer has gone off and had a family in order to keep up with the tall mosquito order. The itinerant “other parent” is nowhere to be found at the moment, but the child, Stacy-Stanley, is currently inhabiting my corner of the room. Wait, Stacy-Stanley’s not there right now. I just looked. Oh dear….

Hopefully it will cool down enough soon to put a stop to the biting-bug onslaught. On a brighter note, mosquitoes do not carry any different diseases here than they do in America. 

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Finally, in a special note to those of you who may be wondering just how fluent I have become in Hungarian during the time I’ve been here — “fluency” is certainly not the word I would choose, because fluency to me means a command of the language in which one can function not only in casual situations but also more formal ones with a speed and accuracy relatively similar to a native. That is not what I have achieved here. Rather, I have achieved a speaking proficiency in less than two weeks in which I can successfully (and politely) communicate to the people around me what I want or need, what I’m wondering or thinking, and my answers to questions that others ask me. Please do keep in mind, though, that this progress includes study of the language which I did on my own, and I acquired this language while already having five others under my belt. I am passionate about languages, translation, and linguistics — for those who are not, or who have only a marginal interest in it, the results will be quite different, I imagine.

My point is this — considering the fact that I’ve only been learning Hungarian formally for less than two weeks, I am quite impressed at my own proficiency in Hungarian and the range of things I am able to say.

I had yet another opportunity to test out my knowledge of Hungarian today as I staked out a nicely concealed cafe from which to observe activity at the post office. Why? Because I’m creepy like that.

Just kidding.

Actually, I staked out the secretive spot at the cafe to observe the post office as part of a cultural analysis bit for my culture class. I just took it to the extreme, rather than standing by the door and taking notes in an obvious way. Although sometimes obvious places are the best places to hide and observe from….

Anyway, the waitress came up to me and, because I wanted to look like just another customer at the cafe, I ordered a drink. I asked for water, to which she brought out a semi-frozen glass bottle for two hundred and some forints. She held it in front of me, but I put up my hand politely to deny it and she looked quite confused. To be honest, she looked overwhelmed, because I occasionally spoke and was writing in English and she clearly had no idea what I was saying. Csapvíz (just tap water), I said apologetically, realizing that I had failed to specify that didn’t want mineral water. 

She stared at me, said, “Aaaah,” twitched her eyebrows, and nodded a few times. The expression on her face was surprisingly easy to read — “Hm. Pretty good. Didn’t think she knew Hungarian.”

Didn’t think I would impress someone that much with just a little Hungarian! 

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