Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend at Lake Balaton!

*Just a warning, English is sounding really weird right now, so please excuse any horrible grammar*

On Friday morning, we left to spend the weekend at the lake (also called the "Hungarian Sea"). We stayed at the Telekom Hotel, which is basically a T-mobile hotel. The hotel is in Balatonkenese, which is in the upper right hand corner:

The drive took about three hours, and we went to a small camp site before going to our hotel. My host dad's parents have a trailer there and I'm not sure if they live there or if it's just for the summer. Anyway, there were a lot of people swimming and just lounging around. The bathing suit styles are... interesting. The guys wear cute little speedos regardless of age or size and the girls wear basically what we wear, but the bottoms are shaped differently. Needless to say, it took some getting used to.

After I was introduced to my "host grandparents," we all went swimming in the lake! The water was actually really nice and pretty warm. From where we were, we could see the cities along the coast. It was probably one of the most breathtaking sights I've ever seen. We had lunch from a little booth on the camp site, and I got a hamburger. I'm not quite sure what the meat actually was, and I'm not sure I want to know. It was pretty good though. We swam a little bit more after lunch, and then left the camp site to go to our hotel.

The hotel was right on the lake and huge! It had tennis courts, docks, a mini golf course, a playground, a wellness center, and a conference center with a small bowling alley in it. Our room was on the second floor, and we had two rooms that connected to each other. On Friday night, we ate dinner at the hotel and then went to the room. I don't really remember the rest of the day, but I don't think we did anything exciting.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel. After, we all went to the wellness center. The wellness center had multiple saunas, a swimming pool, and a jacuzzi. Anna, Dori and I swam for a bit, and then went in a vapor sauna with my host parents. Then, we all decided to do the Finnish sauna! For those of you that don't know, Finnish sauna involves sitting in a normal sauna first, and then immediately after you get out, getting into freezing cold water. It sounds horrible but it's amazing. I definitely recommend it!

In the late afternoon, we played a round of mini golf. The course was so much harder than any one I've played on before. It was only 12 holes and I had 70 strokes... definitely not indicative of my mini golfing skills. After dinner, we went bowling with some of Dani's coworkers that were also at the hotel. There were only two lanes, but it was just like bowling at home. When we went outside to walk back to our room, it was raining a bit!

The rain continued all night and Sunday was quite windy and cold. We went back to the wellness center for a bit in the morning, and then in the afternoon went back to the camp site. We all went on an adventure to Tihany (see map)! Along the way, we stopped at the "Balatoni Bob." It's just a random, small amusement park in the hills and the main attraction is a bobsled type track! We only went on once, but it was so fun. As we were driving to Tihany, we were all really quiet in the car and listened to Adele. The combination of the music and the view just made me appreciate where I was and what I was doing. If visiting Tihany to look out over the Balaton isn't on your list of things to see before you die, you seriously need to revise your list.

When we got to Tihany, we went to the top of a hill where a really famous church was. From the top you could see almost all of the lake and beyond it. The view was seriously breathtaking and I loved it. I didn't have my camera, but my host mom took pictures and I'll get them soon. Anyway, we walked around the little shops for a bit and then headed back to the hotel. Anna and I watched Titanic in Hungarian!!! We also had a little pillow fight. Over this weekend, I've gotten so much closer to the whole family and I love it. Anna and Dori and I act like real sisters :).

Monday morning was still a bit windy but not as cold as Sunday. After breakfast, Dani, Dori, and I each went on a little canoe/kayak type thing and paddled around the lake. It was probably one of the best moments of my entire life... I can't even describe how amazing the view was and how peaceful it was! After, Dori and I went swimming for a bit but it was pretty cold. We checked out and then went to the camp site again to see my host grandparents before heading back home. I taught Anna how to play speed and how to shuffle cards and do the bridge after. I won every game of speed, but I think with practice she'll easily beat me. After we left the camp site, we headed for home. We stopped along the way, so we didn't get home until about 7.

Once we got home, I uploaded pictures and then we had dinner. After, Anna and I sat in her room and looked around on Facebook and at some of my pictures from before I came to Hungary. It's 11 PM now so I'm about to go to sleep, but I've had a really amazing weekend! I'm so glad I'm here and everyday I love it more and more :).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jó reggelt!

So, it's really early on Wednesday morning, and I just woke up for no reason.

Things are pretty normal around here.. I haven't done much since Sunday. On Sunday, we walked around Budapest and through a little crafts fair set up on the outside of one of the castles (I think). We got some kind of bread and gelato and they were both sooo good. The drive home was really nice. We stopped for lunch in Kecskemet, which is halfway between Budapest and Szeged. We all had bean goulash and it was also really good.

Hmm.. what else... more swimming yesterday. I'm going to get so tan, I'm so excited. Also, my sisters sat in my room with me and Dori and I practiced Hungarian/English while Anna looked through my yearbook. We talked a little bit and used a dictionary to help us. Then Anita came up and I gave them their gifts and we looked through some of my pictures that I brought with me. It was really nice to share things about home with them and I really feel like we're a family :).

In the evening, we had dinner together. Dani and I talked a bit about politics and other things about America and Fresno. I love having these talks.. he's a very good listener! Both of my parents are getting better and better with their English, and I correct their mistakes. They also help me with my pronunciation of Hungarian words. Also, we all sat down to watch Leap Year together, in English with Hungarian subtitles. I fell asleep about 10 minutes in, and Anita woke me and asked if I wanted to go to bed, and I did. So I slept from 10 to 6, and I'm about to sleep more.

Overall, things are really good here. I'm very happy... boldog vagyok :). This weekend we're going to the Balaton from Friday to Monday and staying in a hotel. I can't wait! I start school on Wednesday, but it will be nice to be busy. I'll probably miss these days though, so I'm going to enjoy them!


Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm in Hungary!

I have been for two days now. It's 10:36 p.m. on my second day :).

Today was very busy.. My youngest sister, Dori, and I went swimming and played tennis and did a lot of things. It's so fun having younger sisters! We also ate dinner at my Rotary counselors house, and he lives around the corner. I got to meet two of the exchange students already here and some rotex... everyone's very nice!

I don't want to make a long post of "and then we did this, and then this".. which is what my emails are like! I'm very tired, even though I slept for nearly 16 hours last night. It's hard to adjust to the time difference, but at least I didn't sleep through the day.

Hm.. I will write more when interesting things happen. I'm sure no one wants to read about everyday things like eating lunch and going for a walk and things like that!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Airport Adventures

So, I'm supposed to be in Szeged already with my new family, going over first night questions and trying to fall asleep. Instead, I'm sitting in JFK, where I've been for the past 15 hours.

My flight to Salt Lake City went pretty well. I was in the back of the plane next to the bathroom but it wasn't that bad. When we landed I managed to find my gate pretty easily and continued to cry on the way there and while sitting at the gate. When we all got on the plane to JFK, we had to wait on the tarmac for a little over an hour because there were lines of planes waiting to leave. We finally got in the air and it was a four hour flight. They told us we had to land 50 minutes away in Hartford, Connecticut because the weather was so bad and there were no available gates at JFK.

We sat at Hartford in the middle of the tarmac for I think four hours. I boarded the plane at 10 a.m. CA time and got off the plane at 7 p.m. CA time. While we were sitting at Hartford, we couldn't get off the plane because we didn't have a gate. I sat in my seat and cried and called my mom and the emergency number of the travel agency. They told me to stay on the plane until it gets to JFK and they'll book me another flight.

I got to JFK at 10 p.m. NY time and a flight attendant took me and another guy to a room where they keep unaccompanied minors. I tried not to cry and texted my mom to call the travel agent to see if I could get a hotel. The travel agent called Delta's reservations desk and they said they couldn't keep me in that room and would get me a hotel. However, the ladies at the unaccompanied minor's room kept saying I wasn't of legal age to get a room anyway and I had to stay there because I was 17. My mom talked to one of the ladies, and she was SO rude to my mom. There were about four women yelling at me and telling me I couldn't get a hotel room no matter what the travel agent was saying.

Eventually, I gave up. A nicer lady came in and asked me if I wanted to change my clothes and get something to eat. I told her yes, and I ate a panini. Once I was in my pajamas, I went and laid down in my cot. They couldn't turn the lights off for some reason, so the room was fully lit. They also worked in the room we were in and the room next to it through out the night, so there was always someone talking or a phone ringing. I slept from 2 a.m. to 11 a.m. Even though it was horrible, it made me feel a little bit better.

When I woke up, they told me I could take a shower in their VIP club. I showered, brushed my teeth and hair, and felt so much better. I've had a headache, leg aches, and a back ache ever since the plane from Salt Lake, but I just bought Advil to feel better. I haven't cried yet today and I feel a lot better. I emailed my host family to tell them what was going on and they said not to worry and that they're waiting for me and they love me :). I talked to Melissa and she said it was the first time she's seen something like this happen to a student. While I'm glad to know I'll be of help to anyone this happens to in the future, I wish I wouldn't have gone through it.

So now I'm sitting at my gate at American Airlines. They've been so much nicer than Delta.. nearly everyone I've talked to has noticed my blazer and knows I'm a Rotary student. At Delta, I was never asked once while I was there, only where I was going. I have 3 hours until my plane boards, so I think I'm going to watch some TV on Hulu and then maybe Rent if I have time. The wait here isn't so bad, especially considering what I went through yesterday!

I'm so glad to be hours away from boarding. It's been such a long night and day and I can't wait to arrive. I know it's going to be so much better finally seeing my family since I've gone through all of this! Next post will DEFINITELY be from Hungary :).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The night before departure!

As I'm writing this, I'm about 6 hours away from boarding my first plane. In almost exactly 24 hours, I'll be stepping off the plane and meeting my host family for the first time. Crazy.

The week leading up to tonight has been both good and bad. Good because I saw so many people and did a lot of fun things.. bad because at the end of each day I was saying goodbye to someone new. It's been really hard but I know it's not forever. I'll be able to see everyone when I come home and it'll be as if I never left.

It's really a weird feeling knowing I'm leaving. I look at my suitcases and my chain-link countdown and I know that it's my last night... but it doesn't feel like it. It feels like something big is happening but I just can't believe it's the night before I leave. I know it doesn't make sense, and it probably won't to anyone that's never been in this situation before.

It's hard to believe I'm at this point. I can't even put into words how grateful I am and how much this opportunity means to me. Even just being a part of Rotary has been one of the best experiences of my life. I've learned so much about myself and the world just from these upcoming months preparing, and I can't wait to learn anymore. I would like to thank the Visalia Breakfast Rotary Club for adopting me and Melissa Mears for making any of this possible!

So, I guess my next update will be from Hungary. I've talked to my host family and they're so excited for me to get in. They just bought a new sofa for my room :). I can't wait to meet them and start learning and speaking Hungarian! I know it's going to be a challenge but it's going to be the best challenge ever. I'm so ready for this year and so ready to just get there.

Time to try to sleep for 3 hours and 45 minutes... I'll post again from the other side!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Going away party!

Tonight (well, last night, since it's past midnight on Friday now) was my going away party. My dad and his girlfriend threw it for me and I'm so grateful! They did all the decorations and most of the planning and I really couldn't have imagined it going any better.

I'm so happy! I have some of the best friends in the world and it's going to be so hard leaving them. They've been some of the most supportive people throughout all of this and I'm so thankful for all they've done for me.

And so now, here I am, exactly a week from departure. My grandma comes to visit this weekend and I've made plans for all of this coming week. It's going to just fly by and to be honest, I'm getting really excited.

I can't wait to be in Hungary!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quality time and shopping

Last night, the student my district is hosting from Hungary arrived in California! His name is Peter and we've been talking since about March or April. He's living in Visalia, which is about an hour from where I live. Anyway, I went with his host family (my friend Karlie's family) to the airport and then to dinner and spent the night with him. We made homemade chocolate chip cookies together and Karlie and I made him a sign. Overall it was a good first night for him, I'd say! This weekend Karlie, Peter, Karlie's mom, and I are going to Disneyland!! I'm so excited and it's Peter's first time, so it should be super fun.

I bought my suitcases last Friday and have gone shopping for small things on and off throughout this week. I just got most of my toiletry items and we bought A LOT. It's hard though because it's all stuff I need! I've been throwing everything into my big suitcase, and I'm probably going to sort through it and start seriously packing next weekend.

I think that's all that's been going on here. I'll probably update after my going away party, which is next Thursday! Peter and Karlie are coming, and I'm so excited to have an actual Hungarian there (...I'm such a nerd).

16 days until I'm on a plane, 17 days until I'm in Hungary!