Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday Morning...before 7:45am

I slowly come to consciousness...(thinking to self) oh, ya! Book club this morning...alarm hasn't rung yet, I have time to go to the bathroom and make coffee before they call. (5:30am)

Padding off to the bathroom in my slippers... oh yea, I have 2 substitutions today, and I have 9E again 1st period, and I don't know what I am going to do with them. Get the coffee going...turn on the computer...oh, good still have time. Check email..a few emails, but nothing from the kids.

Turn on skype. Nope, book club is not on line yet. Oh, others are, and they might call me...hope they don't cause if book club calls at the same time, it will go directly to voice mail. Oh, the alarm...forgot to turn it off since I woke up before it rang.

Hmm, still no call, get coffee, better think about 9E. What the heck am I going to do; I've got them at 7:45? Peruse their text book. Ok, can/can't; could have; emotions... Already reviewed can and can't yesterday in two of the three classes I had with them...start searching Internet...wait, is book club on yet? nope, search internet...nothing free, nothing new....hmmm, they are 10 minutes late. Call Sandy's home phone. Recording. Call Shawna's cell phone. Direct to voice mail. search "ESL feelings", not much. Darn them. Call Sandy's home phone, leave message. Call Shawna's cell phone, yea, she answers! Having hard time with wireless on her computer at Sandy's patient...if they can't get it to work, Shawna will call me on her cell and put me on speaker phone....back to kitchen, water and vitamins, hmm, do I have clothes to wear? Yep, ironed on Sunday...ok, don't need to wash hair this morning, but really need to figure out what to do with 9E. And 11E and 10E later, but will have a gap and will worry about 10E then...oh, yea, classes are just 1/2 an hour today 'cause potential students and parent meeting this afternoon....ok, what's in that 9E book again? Ah, why'd I search "feelings", should have searched "emotions"...yea, phone rings. "Hi....hello?....hello?" dead air. click. wait. phone rings. "hello, can you hear me this time?" Yea, "HI MARGIE"! Half hour of chatting with my book club friends, catching up with their lives; the new baby, the baby-to-be; the tri-athlete; the retiree with the new job; and the ol' standbys - Shawna and Louise. Lots of laughs, chatting, and good feelings. Multi-tasking: still looking for work sheet I can use...oh here's one I can alter, print. "Sorry, making too much noise with the printer."...oh good, something I can use...and I can review "Itsy-bitsy spider" that we did yesterday...even the boys liked that one.... "Ok friends, goodbye". Oh shit, getting late, must hurry. Milk on the granola to start softening it; clothes from the closet to the bathroom...grab the granola, sit in front of the computer, alter the worksheet, print, oh, here's a wordsearch that will work too...print. Run for bathroom, sponge bath, dress, grab books, pens, white board markers, printed worksheets, earrings in...pause: ok, is that everything?! Yep, sunny day, going to be a fun day...maybe I'll wear my clogs instead of my tired of winter boots....out the door.

"Yo reggelt", "Hello", "Good morning" as I pass students on my way to the main building...oh, there is Aniko, haven't seen her at all this week since I haven't had dinner in the canteen. Need to get pictures of Friday's event to her...cute pic and video of her. Ok, into the teacher's efficient...only a few minutes...grab copy paper from my desk, coat off, grab originals, off to the copy machine...good, no line..."Good morning Marianne"... better make a few extra copies....whew, no jams, copies done, back into the main room. Hmm, men are in suits! Oh, yea, parents meeting this afternoon. Lot of activity....2 minutes to the bell...oh, I've got THAT room, so I need the key. Quick look around, no one with key is in the room. Aw, Monika is coming back in, I signal to her that I need the key. She looks at me, says something to another English teacher, and Edit behind me says, "Oh there is no 1st period, we are going to church for the first day of Lent."

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Today I journeyed to Debrecen, about an hour to an hour and a half from here by train. Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary and is on the Hungarian Great Plain. I went armed with a travel book and information I got off of the Internet.

Debrecen is a Protestant city and a university city. It was once known as the "Calvinist Rome". So, of course there is a large church to see there. It wasn't too exciting compared to many of the churches I have been in, however there is a large organ, so I got pictures for my two organ playing friends. Also, I decided to climb the clock tower. It wasn't as steep or narrow as some towers, but it was still scary enough for me. Great views of the city.

My main drive to go to Debrecen though was the De'ri Museum and this proved to be exactly what I was looking for. There was a great display of pottery from the region and from other regions as well that arrived here through trading. There was a very odd shaped plaque like ceramic collection that I asked about, but the woman who knew what they were spoke German, not English, and the gal who spoke English didn't really understand what they were used for, or didn't know how to explain it in English. Luckily, in another part of the museum there were more of these, but this time made of wood, and they had an English explanation! They were used with pasta dough to make snail like designs. They are flat, about 4-5" tall, with the top shaped like a fancy Asian style hair comb and the bottom, also like a comb, but filled in between the teeth.....sorry, that's the best I can do! Unfortunately, photos were not allowed, so I don't have a photo of these. I have searched on the Internet as well to no avail. I will ask about them tomorrow at school and see if I can get another name for them.

There was also a large area dedicated to displays from the different types of workers guilds. Fascinating. In addition to some of the standard: harness makers, leather workers, metal workers, wool weavers, etc., there were also guilds for button making, felting and embroidery, hat making, and (again, I don't know that name) the fancy embroidery-like embellishments that are put on clothing, often around the collar or down the front. (I'll see what I can do to figure out what this is called.) Anyway, each of these different guilds had their own design for wooden boxes/trunks to hold the tools of their trades.

Another fascinating gallery was one showing different common household furnishings for each of the rooms in the houses. Fancily painted baby cribs, wooden display racks for ceramics, kitchen tables, etc.

There were other wings to the museum which I really didn't care for as they were focused on Egyptian and Chinese antiquities -- it just seemed out of place.

After spending a few hours in the museum, I headed for more modern activities: shopping. There are two shopping malls in the center of town and I was able to shop for clothes and ended up with a pair of jeans and a new shirt. All in all a very successful but exhausting day.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Attitudinal Differences

Well, my last couple of posts/pictures have elicited some email comments already which makes me realize I need to explain some of the attitudinal differences when talking about some of the activities here.

First, Clothing:
Teenage girls and women in general dress very provocatively here. It is an accepted way of life. Dresses, shirts and other tops are worn very tight and with cleavage showing - a lot of cleavage showing. I have seen some clothes worn to school that we would only wear for very dressy occasions, such as shirts and sweaters with the neckline off of the shoulders. I think most bras here come with transparent straps, as this is what most girls wear. Again, this is not thought of as pushing the limits, but is just acceptable everyday wear for women. Basically, if they have a figure, they show it off and it is quite acceptable. If some of the girls dressed this way at school in Juneau, they would be sent home. Here, it just is. Their boots and shoes are often high heeled, and usually stiletto type heels. Pointy toes are also common and I've been told, the pointer they are, the sexier the wearer thinks they are. I will try to get some pictures of the boots before winter is over. So, the girl in the very skimpy outfit performing at the Farsang event was nothing out of the ordinary. She walked around like that the rest of the evening.

Second, personal responsibility:
Everyone is responsible for their own safety, etc., and it is not the responsibility of the school or store, or public works. For example, I had a student who had her chair pulled out from under her by another student, and she landed on the floor quite hard. She complained about her tailbone hurting. I reported this to another teacher and asked what I needed to do. The response was if she was hurt enough to see the Dr., she should let her parents know when she went home and they would take her to the Doctor and that it was none of my business!!! If you were to fall on the ice on the sidewalk in front of a store, at the school, etc., well, you should have been more careful. It's no one else's fault but your own. So, the snowball throwing that I allowed my students to do, was no big deal. I noticed and thought about this earlier when we had our first snow. The kids would make snowballs and launch them at each other between classes, and there was no adult out there yelling at them to put the snow down, or to stop throwing snowballs "because someone might get hurt". If you don't want to get hit, don't go where the snowballs are being thrown. And, just don't throw them in the door of a building!

Friday, February 20, 2009


Tonight is the dance for the 9th and 10th year students for Farsang (carnival). First the homeroom teachers did a performance and then each of the classes did a performance. Except 10E. And boy, are they going to get it! Somehow their CD with the music got lost, then found, then broken! They did not want to do the performance in the first place and were threatened with no class trip if they didn't do it, so I am not sure what is going to happen now. Except I do know that the teacher already signed the contract for the bus (but the kids don't know that!)

I have posted photos on Picasso:

I am now sitting in my flat, about 30 feet away from the gym where the techno music is blasting from until 11pm tonight.....just an hour to go! This gives me time to reflect over and over again on the success of the two worst students in 12A beginners - well, worst of all my students actually. Today, they successfully recited the 6 lines required for making a hotel reservation on the phone. I would have hugged them, but they were in the back row, so instead I blew them kisses! And gave them stickers. I couldn't believe they actually did it. I was so excited it really made my day!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And the week marches on... (updated 2-20)

Well, the snotty little girl in my 9E advanced class was very nice and participated in the work on Wednesday. And Wednesday's lesson at the dorm was fun, as I taught them some nursery rhymes and kid songs like hokey pokey. These are mostly 9th and 10th grade girls, so they thought it was fun, and we worked on two songs in Hungarian for me. One was about a cow with spots,no ears, no tail, but needed to be milked and another was about a duckling riding on it's mother's back. Good way for me to work on my pronunciation of their confusing letters. One of the girls gave me a hug when we were done!

I also had a one-on-one lesson with David and we talked about the differences in houses and appliances between here and the US. We ended up walking down to the appliance store and looking at appliances and talking about the differences, why, and how they work. Kind of fun for both of us.

Today one of my class lessons was on persuading, and when I walked into the room, they begged me to go out to have a snow ball fight. So I told them the lesson was on persuading, and to persuade me and they did a pretty good job. So out we headed to the playing field and they threw snowballs until their hands were frozen!

I can't believe I forgot this! I shared peanut butter in my two 10E classes on Wednesday and Thursday. It was NOT a hit. I think out of all the kids, only one at the whole piece of bread (which was just a quarter of a slice). All the rest really did not like it. They associated it with Nutella which is sweet, so were surprised when it wasn't. One boy even gagged a little on the smell! How can this be so different here? But, I told them I was not too excited about all of their chicken liver paste that they make sandwhichs out of, and they couldn't understand that....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fun Monday & Tuesday

Woke up to a beautiful sunny day this morning and a conviction to be a better teacher this week, i.e., have my lessons better prepared. And my three classes went well today and were fun - what a difference preparation makes! I just couldn't get into it last week for some reason.

I did an extra lesson with two students at the end of the day and we had so much fun! They are preparing for a competition in English and want the extra time speaking on each of the potential topics. I had prepared shopping phrases, such as sell out, stock up, shell out, etc., on a worksheet and we had so much fun going through them and talking about everything else that came up along the way. The 45 minute lesson turned into a hour and a half!

These two students couldn't afford private tutors so I have agreed to do this for free. But, when I told them about the school dinner and dance in Mariapocs and that I needed to learn how to dance the Hungarian (?), they volunteered to teach me. One of them took folk dancing lessons for years.

My first class today was the advanced 9E and I couldn't believe the gall of one of the students. The students keep trying to do their homework for other classes in my class, and I waited until all the notebooks were put away. Then, this one gal in the back kept talking to her seat mate and she had out her cell phone. I told her to give it to me, but she said "no" and put it in her pocket. So, I moved her up to the front of the room, and the next thing I know, she is talking on her cell phone, using her earpiece and trying to hide it all with her hair! I asked her to step --- no, I told her to step out side into the hall with me, and in the hall I took her phone, told her she was rude and that she needed to do the work. I told her from now on, when she comes into my classroom she has to turn over her cell phone for the class period. I have them again tomorrow and I am going to be so all over her. I told her form teacher what happened as well, so I am curious to see if she will be apologetic or not...probably not.

This afternoon, Mary Frances and Dana, the couple I met in Nyiregyhaza on Sunday, drove up to see the country side and to visit. I walked them through town and then we went to have tea, but the place I wanted to go to was closed. So we ended up at the coffee house close by and about 5 minutes after we sat down, about 20+ of my students walked in! They were all very polite and said hello, and I introduced one of them to Mary Frances and Dana. We had a good visit there, talking about some of the things we've both had to adjust to, including British English. Mary Frances is a speech therapist, so it really impacts her work. She said she had to learn right away that to call someone is to visit them and to ring them is to call them on the phone. She travels to different towns to work with her clients and has to schedule appointments, so it was a bit confusing to begin with. They are heading into Budapest tomorrow and I was able to help them with the train schedule and gave them a map to have when they arrive. I was great talking to fellow Americans close to my age, although it was a bit short.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Winter Storm and Mariapocs

In spite of the snow, I was able to leave for Mariapocs right after school on the 1:40 train from the small station. It started snowing late Thursday night and snowed through the day Friday. It was still snowing on Saturday in Mariapocs, finally stopping in the evening. This is the biggest snow storm all winter, and apparently the most snow in a number of years! And here I thought we were smooth sailing to spring with those snowdrop flowers in bloom and the daffodil shoots up a good inch....and yet, I can't really complain, as this is less snow than I've ever had for winter (ok, except the year in Sacramento) AND I haven't had to deal with it in terms of shoveling, etc.

I met Tara in Nyiregyhaza and we went to Tesco and got supplies for the weekend, including pancake mix (!), taco seasoning, shells, and ground beef (!), and Irish Cream for our morning coffee! We then met Jamie back at the train/bus station and rode the bus to Mariapocs, a 45 minute ride. Saturday morning Jamie, Tara and I went to the store and looked around the village some. The churches were closed and I found out that the weeping statue of the Virgin Mary has been temporarily moved elsewhere, so I couldn't have seen it anyway. We spent the rest of the day sitting around the living room, comparing teacher stories, the differences between Hungary and the US/Canada, and giving Tara feedback on the fairy costume she is making for Farsang (Carnival). I got to play "Mom" and made every one pancakes after Emily and Briggi arrived before noon. One thing we didn't do that we should have, was to take naps.

The charity dinner and dance began at 7pm, so we put our shoes, wine, water and soda into bags and walked across the street through the snow to the school. Tara went a bit earlier to see if there were last minute things to do, so she met us at the door. The cute dress that she bought to wear to my ball a few weeks ago and to this ball as well, was already being sashayed around the school on another teacher! Yes, another teacher was wearing the same dress as Tara! Luckily, Tara had worn a small black sweater wrap on top of hers, and was able to leave it on all night, so no one knew they had on the same dress.

At our table were the 5 of us and another couple, Zalan and Judit. Tara does English lessons for Zalan, as he hopes to go to the US to teach through a program in Chicago. Both he and his wife are biology teachers in a nearby town. Unfortunately, I don't speak enough Hungarian, and his wife doesn't speak much English, so we weren't able to talk much and I felt pretty bad for her as she seemed quite bored. But the rest of us had a great time, first watching Tara and her students perform a number of songs in English, then other students do dance routines. We had live music which played all night. Dinner was again more than enough, and was a pork steak with mushrooms, a chicken breast and both rice and potatoes. And as is common here, pickles were served for a vegetable. Although we had brought our own drinks, the principal had a number of bottles of wine and other drinks delivered to our table, on him which we had not expected, as he also covered the price of our dinner tickets. We did our best to spend a lot of money on the raffle tickets to help cover the costs of our dinner tickets and drinks and of course we hoped to win a few things as well.

But before the raffle, there was first dancing for all and a performance by the teachers singing a few songs. Then we had our midnight second dinner!: cabbage rolls, a few other meat finger food items, a few salads and cakes! Then we finally had the raffle. I won a bottle of brandy and bottle of Tokaj wine, Briggi won a nice set of coffee cups and saucers, Zalan and his wife won two vases and Jamie also won a ceramic vase. Most of us were more than ready to leave immediately after the raffle, but only three of us made it out the door. It was past 2am and the teachers wanted to know why we were leaving so early! Tara and Briggi stayed a bit longer and when they were leaving, Tara promised to go back after coming home to change her shoes and didn't finish dancing until around 4am. When the principal came to give us a ride this morning around 10am, he said he didn't leave and lock the school doors until 6am! They really do go all night....and we should have taken naps!

Our ride back from Mariapocs to Nyiregyhaza was by train. A one car train! That goes very slowly! It took longer to make that trip than it does from my town and my town is further away than Mariapocs. I went shopping at Tesco which was a thrill, but I bought too much stuff and struggled on the walk home from the train station when I got to Kisvarda. At the Tesco though, I met an American couple who are living and working in Ireland. She is a speech therapist and I don't recall what he does. They are here in Hungary for dental work which is quite common for people to travel here for. They are getting in a bit of travel as well. They gave me a ride back to the train station in Nyiregyhaza which was nice. They will call me tomorrow evening and let me know if they will drive up here on Tuesday to see Kisvarda.

Then, as I was heading to the platform at the train station, Mike (the other CETP teacher in Kisvarda) caught up with me, and we were able to visit all the way back to Kisvarda. As usual, it was good to see him and we shared some laughs.

You can view the photo album of the dance and train ride back here:

(if it doesn't work, make sure the # sign is in the browser address field.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's snowing...and Sarah's last day

I woke up to clear skies and a light wind and now 12 hours later it is snowing. The weather changes here must faster than at home, and more often luckily! I really can't complain about the snow when I keep hearing how much snow there has been in Juneau this year. We've barely had any on the ground for more than a few days. Yea, I'm liking this idea of winter!

Today was the last day for Sarah, the AFS exchange student. She was only signed up for a six month exchange, so is flying home next week after the weekend in Budapest with the other AFS exchange students who are here in Hungary. It was also her 18th birthday today. There is actually a boy from Juneau here in Debrecen, not far from here (relatively). We said goodbye to Sarah in one of my classes and they gave her a really nice little photo album that had a picture of each of the students in it along with something they wrote. I'll miss her, as we compared our experiences on a weekly basis. She is the first exchange student they have had here and it was through default as her first home in another town did not work out. She was hostted by the headmaster's daughter, who is a local dentist. Will be interesting to see if they pursue an exchange student in future years.

I used the Brach's heart candies sent by Patty and the heart stickers sent by Mom in many of my classes this week. They students act like little kids, trying to get more than one sticker out of me. It was a lot of fun trying to explain what the sayings on them met: "u go girl", "cup cake", "mad 4 u", "too hot", etc. I was accosted in the hallway from one group who got candies wanting the stickers to put on their mobile phones.

School is becoming more and more routine as well as my attitude towards it. I've got the classes who really don't care to learn English, and I put as little time into preparing for these classes as possible; I really don't see how I can change their attitudes when I can barely communicate with them. According to some of the English teachers, this is a poor use of my time and I would agree; I should be matched with more advanced students who want/need the experience of listening to and learning from a native speaker.

Then I have the classes in which we really connect and have fun challenging each other. Some won't let me move on to a new subject until I pronounce a word or phrase correctly. They participate in the activities and I love to hear and see their creativeness. This also brings out new twists and turns that I wouldn't have thought of.

The kids aren't supposed to eat in class, but I have allowed them to as long as they ask me politely before they start. This morning in one of the classes in which no one did the homework, I would not let them eat until all of them had done the work in class. Great incentive! (Students seem to have at least 2 sandwiches in their backpacks and are always trying to hide them and eat them during class. One of the other CETP teachers had a pretty determined kid in her class who wouldn't put it away after many requests, and the teacher finally took it and threw it out the window! She hasn't had a problem since!)

Yesterday I had a lesson with David from the dorms, so instead of sitting inside, we walked around the town with him telling me about his family, showing me different houses that are being built, etc. On our way back, we ran into a number of students hanging out smoking. I asked how much the cigarettes cost, and they explained not much because they are black market cigarettes from the Ukraine and they only cost about 200 forints a pack - less than $2.00. Later, I ran into some other students smoking and I asked them about their cigarettes and theirs were not black market and they paid close to 300 forints for theirs. So many kids and adults smoke it's a way of life. There is a smoking room for the teachers and an area outside for them to smoke as well. The students are not to smoke on school grounds, but once off, there isn't much that can be done. I usually just tell them that it's bad for them and their boyfriend/girlfriend won't want to kiss their smelly mouth! After dinner the dorm students often smoke in the courtyard area and the teacher doesn't say anything, so I don't either...I really try to stay away from that role.

Will head to Tara's for the weekend for her school's charity ball. Three other CETP teachers will attend as well and we will buy lots of tickets for their raffles - just want they want as they are trying to raise money. Tara lives in a very small village of about 2000 people called Mariapocs. It has a statue of the Virgin Mary that bled tears eons ago and is a place of pilgrimage for many people. Will be interesting to see the village.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Oh, where to start?

Had such an awesome weekend...which actually started on Friday morning when I went into the teachers' room between the 2nd and 3rd classes and they had a cake with candles, flowers and a

beautiful necklace for me. Istvan made a short speech, and then the kissing began...or the cheek pecking, or whatever you call it. Left, right. Left, right. And the Happy Birthdays and the Buldog Szulete'snapot after each one!

A couple of my classes wished me Happy Birthday as well, with flowers, drawings on the board, cards, and attempts to sing Happy Birthday in English...there's a bit of confusion about the third refrain "...dear Margie" part: all classes stumbled on it!

I took off out of here immediately following my last class, with Istvan and his wife giving me a ride to the train depot and helping me get my tickets and onto the train. I made it to the ballet just in time. Met up with Hannah and Briggi and Briggi's contact teacher, Eta. The ballet was Anna Karinina, so a bit of a downer at the end, but beautiful costumes, dancing and music. This is the second ballet I have seen (other than bits of Swan Lake and Nutcracker), and both of them incorporated traditional folk dancing. This one had great Russian folk dancing, reminding me of the Sitka Russian dancers. After the ballet, we went to a place and met up with Lyla and Lauren, and I had a fantastic salad with duck breast and then on to another place for desserts. It was great to compare our teaching stories, discipline problems and funnies.

I spent most of the day, Saturday in the baths at the Gelle'rt. I never made it to any of the baths in Budapest last time I was there, so this was very nice. Although it reminded me of the baths in Baden-Baden that I visited with Jeanne and Molly when Molly was in Germany, this was quiet different. There was not a set routine, instead you could just make use of the two thermal pools, the sauna, the steam room, the swimming pool and the "sparkling" pool at your own pace and order. And the other difference was that here, you were allowed to wear your swimming suits, and required to wear your swimming suits in the combined areas of the swimming pool and sparkling pool.

I met Hajni (CETP coordinator) in the early afternoon for coffee and then went back into the baths with Hannah and we were later joined by Franny and Jon who came up from southern Hungary with delicious cookies and candies for me.

We chose Iguana's for dinner and margaritas and it was a good choice. So goooood to have Mexican food -- probably what I miss the most from home. (Briggi gave me a couple of packets of El Paso taco seasoning mix for a gift - yea!) Unfortunately, I think I spent too much time in the baths, 'cause I faded early after we went to a place for dessert and we never made it out dancing. Not a good sign on your 50th, but I will blame it on the baths, and not my age!

Sunday was another quick dip in the thermal pools, then off to the bookstores that I knew had books in English. I spent too much money, but now have a few novels and more travel books to help me decide on future travels.

Today a few more classes sang Happy Birthday, still problems with that third refrain. My 9E classes went together and got me a matching set of earrings and a necklace that matched my sweater today, so I wore those all day. I also received another box of up to five boxes! Hmm, might have to share them!

This afternoon David and Agnes came over bearing a home made card (David loves MS Publisher), candles and more candy!

David also brought me food from his family's processing of a pig for meat this weekend. His grandmother sent a piece of the skin, small fried hunks of fat - a crisp little "treat", some type of a very small biscuit made with the pork fat, and a container of sausages made with rice and the liver (no blood).

Okay, the funny for the weekend was with my clothing. First, on Friday I only had 20 minutes at the hotel to change my clothes and freshen up before going to the ballet. I asked for an iron, instead the maid came and took my clothes! I tried to explain I needed them quickly, and she acted like she understood, but seemed to be gone forever. I was standing there in my underwear while texting the gals waiting for me at the Opera House that I was hurrying! I made it with a minute to spare! Then, during an intermission at the ballet I tripped on a step and kind of fell. I was wearing my cheap Fred Meyer boots with the three inch heals and could barely walk the rest of the night. The next day my big toe was all bruised. Then, on Saturday I decided to try for an iron again and was told I could use the one in the maid's room on my floor. I proceeded to iron my top for the evening and on the 3rd or 4th pass, the iron must have gotten it's full heat, because it melted a 3 inch round hole in the middle of my shirt! I ended up wearing the shirt from the night before again. So, when I left the room on Sunday the trash can had my boots and my shirt in it!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Just took a long walk from the Hospital back to the school and I saw "snowdrop" flowers blooming in a number of yards right up against the houses! Seems early, but it was last spring that I fell in love with Hungary, so maybe/hopefully I will be able to enjoy a long spring this year.

Today was my 6 class day - 7:45 until 1:05 with 10 minute breaks between the classes. The day sure does go by quickly! I printed a Bullwinkles Pizza Parlor menu and used it in one of the classes today. They need to be able to order pizza (and maybe other food) for their final exam. So I had fun, answering the phone, "Bullwinkles Pizza, how can I help you?" They put corn on their pizza here, and it actually tastes pretty good! We had pizza in the teacher's room on Tuesday for the headmaster's name day and it had a white sauce and the corn, and I loved it. Also, they do cut their pizza into slices like we do in the US, which I did not see in Germany or Italy.

My third period class wrote Happy Birthday on the board for me and gave me a box of chocolates and a flower. This is the same class that sang Happy Birthday to me for Molly's Birthday too. They are really sweet kids, but could study their English a bit more!

Went to see the ENT for the second time due to my ears. They ran two tests and determined my hearing is fine and my problems with my ears all stem from sinus congestion -- which just doesn't seem to want to go away. Got a different spray and will use for week, plus put dry heat on the right side of my face and hope it will finally clear up.

Mom sent me Valentine's Day stickers and smiley face stickers that say "Good Job", etc. I passed them out to kids in two classes today as they did their work. They loved them! These are high school students! What an incentive. Will use the Valentine ones next week.

Have a busy evening as I need to do laundry, pack for Budapest and make sure I am ready for my classes tomorrow. I will leave right after 6th period. Looking forward to the weekend.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Feature

I've added links to blogs by other CETP teachers. If you care to read more about people's experiences in Hungary, just click on the link and it will take you to their blog. Take a look near the bottom in the right hand column.

I guess I've let this sit...

I knew it had been awhile since I wrote, but didn't realize it had been so long! As usual, busy times with school and extra curricular activities.

Two weekends ago we had a "charity ball" at the school for the teachers and parents as a fundraiser for the school. It was a dinner and dance and a raffle with many gifts donated by the parents and businesses throughout town. I bought 20 raffles tickets and it paid off! I won 5 prizes! I was a bit embarrassed going up to get them, but then another couple ended up winning more, so I felt a bit better. My friend Tara, another CETP teacher in Mariapocs came over and stayed the night and attended the ball as well. It was a great time and fun to socialize with the teachers for more than 10 minutes between classes!

On Saturday before the ball, I met Tara in Nyiregyhaza to shop for a dress for her for the event. We went to a mall that I hadn't been to yet, and it was very busy with a huge Lego display! Apparently a Lego factory has opened in the last year near Nyiregyhaza. The displays included a life size basketball player made out of Legos, a pirate ship that was at least 3 feet tall and 4 feet long on a body of water that moved, and various other incredible things that my kids never made with Legos!

On Sunday I went back into Nyiregyhaza with Tara on her way home and we went to the Tesco, a huge "one- stop" store. It was like being in a candy store! There were so many things, we filled our baskets too full. I got some food items I couldn't find here in Kisvarda and Tara got office supplies and shoes. I've got mixed emotions about going back! I really don't think I NEED more things in this flat, but it sure was nice to have a variety to pick from.

Last weekend we had to work on Saturday to make up for one of the "gas days" we missed. About a third of the students didn't show up and then I had two students ask to leave early from the last class, as the buses didn't run as often and if they couldn't get the noon bus, they would have to wait until 5pm. One day off makes for very two long weeks! The teachers and the students are all dragging a bit this week.

On Saturday night I went to dinner at Dora and Mark's. Dora is one of the English teachers, and Mark is the CETP teacher who was here two and three years ago. Dora was his contact teacher and they ended up getting married! Last year they went to Scotland for him to attend school, and this year he is teaching in Budapest at one of the Universities. He doesn't have classes on Fridays, so he travels back and forth to Kisvarda on the weekends. They have a nice flat in the middle of town and it was fun talking with them and sharing experiences with Mark. Dora made a great lasagna with meat and spinach and then much later we had cabbage rolls as well!

I have been spending a lot of time planning my days off over Easter. And it keeps changing. First, I was told I would have April 9-14 off. I decided Amsterdam and the Netherlands would be a great place to go to see the spring bulbs in bloom and to see more of Van Gogh's art. Before I bought tickets, I doubled checked with my contact teacher and she told me I could actually have the whole week before Easter off, as the first three days of that week the school would be having a religious retreat and there was no point in my attending. (The whole not knowing the language thing.) So, then I started looking at where else I should go: longer in the Netherlands, add Brussels, or go to Poland on the way there....etc. Yesterday I mentioned this to other teachers, and they said they thought the dates of the retreat had been changed. So, we followed up and sure enough, the retreat is now the W-F, 2 weeks before Easter. This means I will have April 1 -5 off, work April 6 - 8, and then have April 9 - 14 off. So now I am not sure what to do, and feel like I should wait a few days to see if this is really settled or not. I will probably end up with one big trip (ie, Amsterdam) and one trip not so far away.

This weekend is my 50th birthday and I have a busy fun weekend planned. I am taking the train into Budapest right after school. I will stay at the Gellert Hotel and Baths - a real splurge to stay in a hotel as I have been staying in hostels. Then on Friday night I will go to the ballet - Anna Karinina - at the Opera House with a couple of the CETP gals. Saturday more CETP teachers will join us in the Baths all day. Then Saturday night off to a Mexican (!) restaurant for dinner and margaritas with 10 of us, before finding a club to to dancing. I also hope to get to a bookstore that sells books in English and also takes trade-ins on used books. Should be a great weekend.

I often wonder if anyone other than Anne F. and my Mom read this blog. I guess the longer I go without posting, the less likely people are to continue to check it -- sorry. Anyway, would love to know if anyone is reading this, so please just post a comment! Would love to hear from you.