School Etc

Do you like Game of Thrones?

After I was first introduced to my classmates at Berzsenyi Dániel Gimnázium I knew to expect questions. But I wasn't prepared for the first one that came my way. Sure, I got all the questions about where I was from in the US and why I had come to Hungary, but that first one stood out from the rest. Then again, not two days later, my Hungarian Literature class was discussing they play they were studying (Bánk Bán) my teacher looked at me in and said in English "Do you know Game of Thrones? I'm asking because this is kind of like Game of Thrones." So I was sitting there listening to my teacher making literary comparisons between this 200 year old Hungarian drama and Game of Thrones and I could think is that I really need to read past the first book.

So anyway, Ciao from Hungary!

Budapest, Day 20

I left off the last post right before going to Lake Balaton with my host family, aunt, uncle, and cousins. My group arrived late Saturday night and had all of Sunday at the lake. The cabin itself seemed torn straight out of suburbia, rather than a proper lakeside house, and I don't know if my sleep was affected more by the house's proximity to train tracks or my proximity to the girls' room. However, the lake itself was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting apocalyptic crowds, not "US national park" level crowds. I don't even remember spotting trash floating in the lake. We swam, then rented a "water bicycle" (a sturdy plastic boat with a built-in waterslide and two sets of pedals.) The water was clean and fresh, if not clear, and Hanne and I could stand for quite a ways out (the short people, not so much.) All-in all, it was a relaxing prelude to the events to come.

So, apparently I'm in Berzsenyi Daniel Gymnasium class 11C, the math-focused class. So far, it's been going pretty well. The students seem pretty cool, no one stands out as a total douche, and the school lunches are surprisingly decent. At AFS orientation I was informed that the food, and I quote, "literally tasted like shit." So far, it's been a variety of colored glop that actually tastes pretty good. The low point is the "let's chop up a baby carrot and three peas, chuck them into some vegetable broth, and call it a soup" soup.

The main difference between my class schedule and one from the US is that it is devoting less time to a greater number of things at once. I constantly need to reference the schedule because each day is different. Each individual class gets at most 3 45-minute periods per week. The math focus comes from two separate math classes in parallel - statistics and 3D geometry, plus sciences (Physics and Biology) and Informatics (a computer class - so far we've been learning Excel.) Those also happen to be the classes I have the 2nd through 6th easiest time understanding, not in order. 1st is English class, where my only issue is when I disagree with the textbook. I raised my voice over "literally" being used as a generic intensifier. My teachers' response? "Maybe it's a British use." The resulting argument was as fun as it was completely unwarranted.

Speaking of completely unwarranted, the particularly astute reader may have found my "ciao" incongruent with the situation. After all, "ciao" is an Italian word, not a Hungarian one. That's because I'm apparently studying Italian now, and trying to take it seriously. Because that's a reasonable and sane decision when I'm in the middle of Hungary and supposed to be learning Hungarian. The best part is that day 1 of Italian made more sense to me than Hungarian. Turns out Italian is really similar to Spanish. Internally, I lost it. As far as other understanding goes, I can understand a lot of the classes because they either involve equations or are material I've learned before. Thus far, Informatics has cemented itself as my favorite class, thanks to the hands-on problem solving and the fact that I can have a Google Translate window open. Hungarian Literature and Hungarian History are pretty much lost on me though. Big surprise there.

Speaking of learning Hungarian, I'll take a moment to point out something about the language that strikes me as very strange. See, Hungarian has apparently picked up "Hello" from English. However, since Hungarian's native familiar greeting, szia, is also a goodbye, they use "hello" as a goodbye as well. No, seriously.

I'll finish this post with a short story about how amazing I am at shopping in Hungarian. Earlier today, I attempted to purchase an A4 sketchbook for my art class (which no one seems to care about, just like in the USA.) So I walked into a paper store, and searched for one. I couldn't find one, so I went up to the lady with a B4 sketchbook and tried to ask for "like this, except A4." She looked at me like I was an idiot. I fell back, did another round of the store, and then nearly facepalmed my skull in. Of course she didn't know what a "Bee-Four" or "Ay-Four" sketchbook was. She knew them as "Beh-Negy" and "Ah-Negy." I tried asking again in nearly-cromulent Hungarian, and she explained that the store did not, in fact, carry A4 sketchbooks.

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