Sunday, August 26, 2012

I'm Baaaackkk! (and Hungarian)

Apologies for dropping off the face of the Earth. I've been getting ready and moving to Hungary and, as is not unusual for my life, I wasn't comfortable getting excited until I was actually here. I arrived about ten days ago and spent a few days with some friends before starting orientation.

Being back in Budapest is amazing. I alternately feel as if I have been gone forever and as though I just left a week ago. Just arriving in London, after a changed flight schedule and an extra night in the US (in a hotel in Dallas which terrified me to no end), I felt so relaxed and peaceful. Even having my luggage lost and not getting it until the next day didn't faze me. This is Hungary after all.

Orientation has been fantastic. I'm making new friends - surprising myself how much I am going out of my comfort zone to introduce (and reintroduce) myself to people - and learning a ton. I'm skipping the Hungarian lessons because I already know enough to get around but the rest of the classes are proving to be very helpful. So many of the cultural differences between the US and Hungary which I was aware of are being explained in ways which I could have never put into words. The thorough (albeit not always perfect English) lectures are fascinating. I am taking more notes than many people simply because every facet that is explained and can be transferred from inarticulate experience into something I can actually describe makes me very happy. And with nearly every facet, I find parts of myself mirrored in the culture.

I am Hungarian. Not that there has been any doubt in my mind through the last ten years but now I have "proof." Hearing explanations for the pessimism that runs in my blood, the tendency to have very little privacy about my personal life (far too many people know far too much about my life and I care far too little about this fact... clearly, I belong in a culture where people would be asking me about all of this rather than my awkward over-sharing of unnecessary blather), the generation gap (although, I often feel on the "old" side of it) while still being able to socialize with a wide variety of people, the list could go on and on.

These things don't usually bother me but occasionally I feel them highlighted and outside of Hungarian culture it can feel uncomfortable. I guess there are simple solutions (largely revolving around keeping my mouth shut when the urge to over-share strikes me... or not blogging about it) but I'm like an addict that can't seem to break the habit.

Because the majority of the new teachers have never been to Budapest, I have been playing tour guide quite a bit answering questions, giving directions, and leading expeditions. Although I make it known that my advice is not "official" CETP advice, there have been a few spats when returning teachers who are helping with orientation strongly disagree with me. While I don't mind differing opinions, it is frustrating to be told I am wrong by someone who has been in the country, not to mention Budapest itself, much shorter of a period than I have.

Lest you think this is all gloom and doom, things are going great. I'm so happy to be back in Hungary. I can't wait to move to Hajduszoboszlo on Tuesday and get acquainted with my new town. I have so many teaching strategies and ideas that I am itching to try out and I am learning more everyday during our sessions on Teaching Tips. Those are especially good because they are taught completely from the understanding that we are Americans who don't know much about the Hungarian educational system. While I have a better understanding of the Hungarian system than most of my classmates, I know much less about education in general than some of the rest. I'm so thrilled to have this opportunity (yes, even to the point of being thankful for all the crap that happened with Szoloto which lead to my leaving and ultimately coming back) and cannot wait to see what the year will hold.