The Tree of Life, Hallucinations, and My Blogging Future

Just wanted to post a quick update to say that, contrary to what a previous blog post said about my being unwilling to pay the hefty fee to enter the Jewish synagogue where the Tree of Life is kept, I was actually able to see it today for free!

As some of you may know, the Tree of Life was one monument that I’ve wanted to see pretty much since I’ve arrived in Budapest, but it costs almost $10 after a student discount just to enter the synagogue (which is the largest in Europe and second largest in the world!), and that’s a bit much merely to go see a tree.

Anyway, the inside of the synagogue was very beautiful, but I didn’t get to savor it as much as I would have liked due to being extremely exhausted and in pain from a week with very little sleep due to the noise levels here. Professor Feenstra and I are discussing more options for how to make my final month here in Budapest more tolerable as far as living conditions are concerned — last night’s symptoms were by far the worst I have ever experienced. That very painful bus ride to Lupeni? Child’s play compared to last night.

Pain that made me want to vomit, black-outs, complete breathlessness, blurry and speckled vision, total immobility, extreme confusion and disorientation, hallucinations — I had it all. I sat with my eyes open, wondering why the khaki-colored batter kept layering itself over like pancakes and “making things worse,” or why the red rose buds supposedly lying on either side of my bed were just so dang heavy. In moments of clarity, I would tell myself, “It’s okay, I know where I am. I’m in Budapest.” But only a few moments later, as I got confused again, I’d argue with myself. “But I don’t know where my body is. Why is it on the bus?”

Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I got to come on this semester and I’ve truly enjoyed it, but I shouldn’t have to live like this because of other people’s actions. It’s their unwillingness to, I don’t know, wear headphones instead of blasting music out of a computer. Simple solutions like that. Their unwillingness to quiet down even after I ask them to respect quiet hours.


Anyway, enough about that. On to happier things. As I was saying before, the interior of the synagogue was beautiful.




We went outside into a small sanctuary where mass graves hold more than 2,000 people.


Then, as we proceeded down the domed pathway, there it was. That monument that I’d wanted to see for months — the Tree of Life.


On the individual metal leaves are names, although some are still blank as well.


It was so nice to finally be able to see the Tree of Life in person! More than half a million Hungarian Jews were killed by the Nazis, and this memorial overtop a mass grave is a great monument to behold.

As a linguist, it was also exceedingly interesting to get a view of a real Torah script as well, once we’d entered the synagogue’s museum:


After that, we pretty much finished up our tour of the synagogue (with a very verbose Jewish tour guide!) and were free to go our separate ways. For me, that meant back to the dorm to get some rest before my exceedingly difficult linguistics midterm the next day. I’ve been studying for that sucker for weeks, I tell you. I love linguistics, and Professor Csides rocks, but that doesn’t make the test any easier. It focuses on phonetics and phonology this time (next time it will be more on morphology and semantics), but the issue is that I don’t speak British English very well and have a hard time using the IPA symbols to transcribe words using BrRP. So, I’ve been using a random word generator and the Cambridge dictionary to practice transcribing any word that I’m given into RP, and so far I’ve had mixed results. Sometimes I can go through and get 10/10 right, other times it’s just a bad list, I guess. I mean, I’m getting words like pharmacy, matter, or democracy right, but for some reason words like bone, goat, or inert are difficult — it’s because of the British sounds. I can’t choose which IPA symbol is right. Just takes some more practice.

I’ve also been practicing which consonants come from where, so that I can list them off quickly if required — bilabial, interdental, alveolar, palatal, velar, voiced or voiceless, nasals, glides, fricatives, obstruents, sonorants, the whole bit. I feel like I’m well prepared, but Csides can throw a curve ball at any time. We’ll see how things go.


So, in the title of my blog I included a little bit of “my blogging future.” What’s up with that? Well, I just want to give you an official idea of where this blog is heading. Don’t worry, you’ll still be getting a lot of the updates that you love! But here’s how it looks, roughly —

Until late December — foreign travel-related posts as I finish up my semester in Budapest. This includes some Silent Vlogs on Mondays and a weekly vlog on Thursdays.

Interim (January 3-28) — sporadic postings on whatever is happening in my life, which always promises to be interesting. 😉 This also includes travel guides for new or upcoming travelers, such as other college students considering a semester abroad. But don’t worry — it’ll be applicable to everyone!

February through mid-May — random postings combined with a weekly installment of the Flagship Niagara retelling. Weekly day for the Niagara posts is yet to be determined — probably Sundays.

May 26 – June 14 — more foreign travel posts, this time about Japan as I spend a few weeks there.

I hope that this upcoming schedule excites you a bit! I know I’m looking forward to it.


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