Friday, October 28, 2005

scoot jpeg
You are Scooter.
You are a loyal, hardworking person, better known
as a doormat.

Going for stuff.
"Go For Broke!"

"15 seconds to showtime."

"300 New Ways to Get Your Uncle to Get You a
Better Job "

Coffee, clipboard, and Very Special Guest Stars.

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Big Break

So this week I've been doing Halloween lessons with my students. Next week is our Fall Break, so I figured I'd do something a little easy and light. For one of my 10year classes I was having them take the letters in the words "Halloween Costume" and make new words. I did this with most of my 9year and 10year classes for vocab practice and made it into a competition over which class could make the most new words. The highest count I had had was 112, but this class just blew them away with a whopping 200! It took them about 30 minutes and I helped a bit (as I helped all of the other classes if the Unfair Police are reading this right now). It was so cool. I really wish I had had my camera with me at the school so I could take a picture of the blackboard when we were through. The final bell had already rang and they still wanted to get more. I can't tell you how defeaning the cheering was when we hit 200. It was awesome.

It's totally my favorite class too. Every day with them is like that, where we learn but we have so much fun at the same time. It's great and if I didn't like anything else about this experience (which is so not true) I would love this class and this class would make it all worthwhile. God is good.

In other news: Doth I heareth thy swipe of a credit card-eth?
That's right. Shopping in Vienna baby. Last night the new Outlet Mall had a late night shopping event and I went and spent money. It was great. Clothes and shoes are cheaper in Austria than in Hungary, did you know that? I desperately needed some new shoes. My chuck's are on their last breath. I also got some warm weather clothes for when I go to church. I hear you laughing right now, but I'm serious. Even when it's 50 degrees outside it's freezing in the church. And the heat runs through pipes under the floor so your calves get nice and scorched but the rest of you stays unbearably frosty. It's quite the experience. Maybe it's a test of your devoutness, eh? Ha.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Budapest, once again, was fabulous. I'd have to say my favorite part was when we went in search of a bar, ended up at our hostel's club, and found that it was an underground enclave of the Hungarian Goth scene. Crazy.

I also really enjoyed the chaos surrounding the bed situation. Here's the math: 8 people in Rex Rinne's group + 12 beds in the room + 4 unknown males in the room with us = 8 of us together (men and women nicely separated) and 4 strangers together. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately that's not the way it worked out. A mysterious Frenchman was assigned a bed with us girls. Not to be deterred, we left him a note and "taped" it to the door of his wardrobe. "We'll get back and he'll be sleeping in a bed with the other strange men in the room," we naively thought to ourselves. This was not to be. This mysterious French man was disabled and had to sleep on a lower bunk. So I got to sleep above an old French guy who snored, listened to techno all night, and yelled at us for whispering in the morning. Jerkstore.

Ah well, in the end what can you really do?

And need I mention that Sunday was the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution? It was and there was much going on in Budapest. All day I couldn't get the songs from Les Mis out of my head. "Do you hear the people sing?"

Also, I have a question: why did I pay extra money for an IC (express) train back to Sopron when it was 1 hour late? Yeah, 4 unscheduled stops and 70 minutes past our scheduled time we finally arriveed back in Sopron. Apparently there were engine problems. While I'm glad they stopped to fix said problems, it would've been nice if they could've fixed them the first time and forgone the other 3 stops.

*sigh* Central Europe.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Look at me, World Traveller!

So I totally just bought my own train ticket to Budapest using my vast Hungarian vernacular. GO ME!

Of course I also totally cheated. I started with "Beszel Angolul?" meaning "Do you speak English?" and of course the answer was a resounding "No."

I then moved on to "Egy oda-vissza jegy Budapestre" which means "One return ticket to Budapest"

From there I was completely without language skills and so I pulled out my prepared schedule in written form (Szombat 06:39, Vasarnap 16:25) and badda-bing, I have my train ticket!

Yeah Baby!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

That's Impressive!

Seriously, the coolest thing just happened to me this evening.

So I'm shopping at Spar, my local grocer of choice. In Hungary (and much of Central Europe) you must deposit a coin in your shopping cart in order to get it unchained from the rack. Once you're finished you stick the chain in the handle of your cart (from whence it came) and out pops your coin.

Well, after I made my purchases and was abruptly shoved out the door before I could bag them myself (yeah, they're not too keen on the customer service side of things here) I took my cart back to it's home. As I was fitting the chain back into the handle my 50 Ft (that's Ft for Forint, not Feet as my stepfather, John, would have you believe) coin literally came flying out. I mean, you should've seen the air it got! I made that thing fly across the cool is that?! Yeah, sometimes I even impress myself...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Did I Forget to mention...

Oh, did I forget to mention the firey explosion of doom we here in Sopron experienced just last Friday? Terribly sorry, let me reiterate...

So I'm in my flat. I enjoy my flat. It's a nice flat. Unfortunately, there is some road construction right outside my window. Normally this does not bother me as I am at school when the workers are working, constructing, whathaveyou. Today was the exception.

First I must explain something about the country of Hungary. As we all know they were communist until the early 90's. Before that they were busy fighting wars. Amidst the chaos many roads were built, pipes were buried, etc...and let's just say the documentation of such work was, well, dodgy (as I so abruptly found out on Friday).

So imagine my surprise when I walk home from school and see a blaze of fire, the likes of which I cannot even describe in this humble blog. Furnace of doom would be apt, but it wasn't really a furnace as it was outdoors and down the street. I'd have to say it was closer to the Homecoming bonfire we had in High School only bigger. Much bigger.

What caused this blaze you may ask? Well, it turns out that the poorly documented gas pipeline under the street (which the workers were digging up with jackhammers and sometimes their barehands...I have pictures) was hit by an unsuspecting bulldozer. Does that smell funny? Like gas? Why yes it does!

Indeed, the smell gave it away and the gas was shut off. Unfortunately that is not the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would like to tell it, no. You see gas remains in the pipeline and the gas that remained in this pipeline was set off and a blaze erupted. The aforementioned furnace of doom. Luckily no one was injured, but much chaos was to be had.

If only they had called Diggers Hotline.

If only Diggers Hotline existed here.

Koszeg is pronounced "KEUR-seg"

This past weekend I took a trip to the small village of Koszeg. It's about half the size of Sopron, has a castle, and is generally older than Sopron. Apparently it was also the last stand of the Turks. The castle was where the Turkish army was finally defeated on their quest for Vienna after, what, 150 years of war? Can you imagine a country fighting 150 years? American is barely even that old! Anywho. Here's what you've been waiting

Alas, no palm trees in Hungary...these trees are the closest they have. They remind me of the South Carolina Palmetto...

Speared Pidgeon anyone?

Hark! Be that a moat?

Yeah, Koszeg is a beautiful town. Very touristy which is probably why it's so nice and well kept. It was neat to walk around the castle and imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago when it was first built. I wonder what Mr. Koszeg thought after it was finished and he walked around the courtyard. Probably something along the lines of "Finally!"

Friday, October 14, 2005


You know what really makes me homesick? Sports. Or lack thereof.
NCAA Hockey kicks off this weekend and I will miss it. In fact I will miss the entire season. And it may just be the best season in WCHA history, but if you really want to put a finer point on it...what could top last season? Unless the Gophers took home the title. That would top it for me. And this year they have the best recruited class in the country. Makes me homesick, people.

In other news: It's finally here. Cold Weather (insert dooms day music here) I'm not a fan. To which you would reply, "Um, then why did you go to Europe?" Well, my friends, because Europe is fun. That's why. So eat it.

I'm starting to plug 'n chug as far as teaching goes. I really only have one absolutely horrible class, but that's being taken care of as we speak (as I type?). I have one other class that's borderline terrible, but I'm bringing out the whip and chains and we'll see how long that lasts. I've found that if you just utter the word "examination" they sit up straight, quiet down, and pay attention right away. Must be a Pavlov's dog kind of trained mechanism. I need to explore this further.

I'm starting to think that there's more to life in Sopron than just teaching. Perhaps the Kollegium needs an English Discussion group? Or a Bible study? Although I must admit that I have my doubts about the success of a Bible study. The students are not what we would call religious, and religion in general is not practiced overtly here. Remnant of Communism I'm sure. Maybe I could be sly and start an English Club for the students and then work the gospel in every"Below the Belt Evangelism" I mean, "Underground Evangelism" that sounds good.

In Unrelated News: So I had originally wanted to go to Romania to see Transylvania, but now will cancel those plans. Ex-nay of the Bird Flu-ay. The suspicious side of my nature finds it odd that both Romania and Turkey are stricken with cases of Avian Influenza whilst both are in the bid for acception into the European Union...need I mention that both countries, Turkey especially, have met resistance in their bids from other European Union countries? I could see a good Tom Clancy novel of sabotage take form from such a coincidence. It's just odd that Romania and Turkey are the only 2 countries in Europe with cases of Bird Flu...

Back to more related matters. I'm sick. But not seriously. Just a little case of a cold, if not Bronchitis. I hope it's not Bronchitis. I'm keeping an eye on it for the next week or so to see how it progresses (or hopefully regresses) but I know that for sure I've been exposed to Bronchitis and that after my 6 month bout in college that I am susceptible. So let's hope it's just a cold.

Did I mention the initiation? So yeah, apparently American High Schools are not the only places where freshman (or 5 years and 9 years as the case is here) are subject to humiliating moments of initiation rituals. Here it's much like Dazed and Confused where the school and the entire community condone it. I found out about it by answering the knock on my door last Tuesday. Two of my 9 year girls (clad in swimsuits, sunscreen noses, flotation devices around their stomachs, and flipflops) grabbed my hand and told me they needed me to speak Hungarian in front of the entire school.

Um. Okay.

So we ran the 1/2 mile to school (in less than 3 minutes I must add proudly) and they taught me to say "Mit suc kes zsogy" at least I think that's the spelling...without the accents. That's what I think the Hungarian spelling would be for the way it was pronounced anyway. Am I making sense anymore? No? Then I'll continue.

Apparently this was part of an elaborate Truth or Dare game between the 5years and the 9years. I went up on the stage, said my bit, recieved a thunderous applause from my students, took a bow, and left. Ah I feel accomplished.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pepto Bismal

This is me in a telephone booth in Budapest. They have pink phones. Why do they have pink phones?

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Photo Update N More

This photo was taken in Sopron on Deak Ter. I thought it was funny and immediately thought of the subtitle "They're No Longer on Speaking Terms"

If you can guess what this picture is I will give you a dollar. This was taken during our French tour of Parliament and I got it right on the first guess...even though I was just trying to be funny in saying what it was. As a hint, you will find 4 more of these on various windowsills and in the front each semicircle thingy is numbered. What could it be?

To give you perspective and a sense of scale, here is a view taken from The Chain Bridge in Budapest. The building on the top of the hill is Matthais Church and The Fisherman's Bastion is in front of it.

Ah, the random and not-so-elusive marathon. Why do random things like seeing a marathon the minute I walk out the door of my hotel always happen to me? I don't get it, but I find it humorous.

In Other News:
Some of my students took me out on the town last night. We went to a hip, trendy place called Pub Fiction. It was delightful to see where the kids and young folk hang out in Sopron. Every Saturday they have live music and/or a DJ so maybe I'll check it out with some more students sometime. The girls also invited me to a concert that will take place on Halloween. It's an up and coming Hungarian band that sings their songs in English (good for me!) and the girls know them. They're gonna give me a CD so I can start learning the songs and then I'll be in "sing-a-long city" tip top shape when the concert rolls around.

Ah, good times.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Long Time, No Update

Well, my parents came to visit this weekend which was very nice. We went to Budapest and luckily, Rico came and helped us get the tickets. We stayed at a super nice hotel on the Danube across from the Royal Palace. On Saturday we walked up to castle hill and around and down and around and to Parliament and then back to the hotel and then over to Vaci Utca. It was tiring. But fun.

Randomly, we met a woman from Atlanta who was visiting her daughter's future in-laws. Did you get that? Anyway, we wanted to take a tour of Parliament, but the English tour didn't start for another 2 hours. The Hungarian woman spoke to the guard and talked us into the next tour that was starting. We thought it was a tour in Czech but it turned out it was a tour in French! So I understood what was being said and I translated a bit for my parents. It was pretty cool.

On Sunday we walked out of the hotel and there were a bunch of people lined up along the street. "What's going on?" we thought. Turns out it was the 20th Jubilee Marathon in Budapest and we just caught the start of it. How random is that!?!

We came back to Sopron that evening (after a slight problem with the train...we caught the announcement and the words "probleme" and "diagnostic"). They stayed last night as well and I got to introduce them to my English speaking friends in Sopron. Kati took us on a tour of Sopron and told us the history of the government and the churches. That was very interesting. I don't know why, but I thought Hungary had been Socialist after they were Communist, but no. They were under Communist rule until 1990. That's only 15 years ago! It explains a lot...

I also found out that Sopron had the choice of becoming part of Hungary or Austria. Sopron was the capital city of one of the Austrian counties, but voted to join Hungary instead. The Hungarians were happy, but also concerned that if the Austrians saw Sopron as valuable they would try to take it back by force. That's why Sopron was never really developed as an industrial city. They're now trying to make it more touristy, but most of the work here is service and trading...and now I know the reason why. It's all quite interesting...