Friday, November 25, 2011


For Thanksgiving yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to spend the day with Americans! On my flight here, I met a family of missionaries from the US who lived in Estonia and then moved to Hungary last summer. They live in a city called Érd, which is about 30 minutes by train outside of Budapest. They invited me and any of my exchange student friends to come to their house for Thanksgiving and spend the day with them and some of their American friends!

Jill, Alex (from Michigan), Terry (from Pennsylvania), and I all took the train together from Budapest to Érd. When we got to the family's house, it was just like being at home. It truly felt like we were in America and it was such a strange feeling. Hearing their children say "mom" and just being with a real family made me really really miss mine and just being comfortable. But anyway, we drank hot apple cider (which was soooo good) and all talked about our experiences in Hungary while dinner was being prepared. We ate at around 2 and had turkey, green bean casserole, some kind of corn casserole, rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole and it was all delicious. I haven't had turkey at all since I've been here and I forgot how much I love it!

After dinner (which was actually more like lunch), we went into the basement and all the kids played Apples to Apples. We also went around and talked about our most embarrassing moments. It was really cool just hanging out with other Americans who aren't exchange students, because for once the conversation wasn't about host families or learning the language! Also, it was crazy not having the pressure to speak Hungarian. I never really noticed how much it stressed me out until I didn't have to worry about it. It was just super nice not feeling guilty about speaking English or not understanding what someone was saying. I definitely miss that feeling already.

The boys started playing Xbox, so the four of us went upstairs and had pie and talked to the mom. We talked about what living in Hungary is like, complained about our problems, and discussed what it feels like to be so far away from home. It was pretty emotional, but really nice to get to just talk about it to someone on the outside. Sadly, we didn't get to talk much because we all had to start heading for home. We all really enjoyed the day though and were so grateful for the opportunity to have a day of just relaxing and not stressing about the day to day exchange stuff.

So, obviously I've been thinking a lot about how much exchange has been affecting me. I mean, really, I don't even notice it, but I'm constantly stressed about learning the language or whether I'm spending enough time with the family or not. It's not that it's a bad thing, but it's just hard to get used to. It's hard to feel normal. I think this will get easier with time though. For now, I'm going to try to just relax and take everything one day at a time and not put so much pressure on myself!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Colleen and Bailey's visit!

Yesterday and today Colleen and Bailey were here! They're doing a year of university in France this year and were in Prague, Slovakia, and Budapest this week, so they took the train down to Szeged to see me :D.

I picked them up from the train station at 10:15 yesterday morning. My host dad met us at the train station to take their bags and then we walked around the city for a bit. I showed them my school, the university where I take my Hungarian lessons, and we ate some delicious pogácsa. We walked down to the Tisza River and sat along the edge and talked for a bit. My host dad then took us to my house to eat lunch with my family. We had a traditional Hungarian meal which was chicken with paprika and these little potato dumpling things that are hard to explain. 

After lunch, we went back into the city to walk around a bit more. We walked to the mall and looked around for a bit. When we left the mall, we met with Armando and continued to walk around. When we were walking, we saw an accident between a car and a tram, where luckily no one was hurt or anything. We went into the Votive Church in Dóm square, ate Chinese food for dinner, and ended our night in a really cool bar. We played air hockey and talked and it was just super fun. We got home at around 9 p.m. and then went to my room and talked and looked at my pictures until about midnight. 

This morning we woke up around 8 and ate breakfast before going to the train station. They needed to change their money from Euros but the station didn't have a place to exchange money. We ended up walking all the way to the center of the city to an ATM and then all the way back. There was a man asking if someone spoke English so I volunteered to help him. He was very strange and wearing a yarmulke and a bright orange safety vest with Hebrew on it and a Star of David. When I was done helping him, he thanked me by kissing my hand and saying, "God bless you." So, I walked Colleen and Bailey to their train and we said goodbye. I didn't cry like I expected to, but I'm very sad they aren't around! It was SO good to see them and talk about old times and be around people that know me!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shopping attempts

For the past week or so I've been on a determined search for a winter coat, boots, gloves, a scarf, and a hat. Right now the weather is unseasonably warm... it's only in the high fifties and low sixties. Next week it will drop dramatically and right now I'm not sure if I'm excited anymore or not. Anyway...

Yesterday Jill and I went to pick up our Rotary allowance's and then went to Árkád. We went to a store called "dm" which is like Walgreens kind of... or part of Target. We both needed to restock on shower supplies and such since we haven't bought any since we got here. It was probably the most at home I've felt since I got here... except the prices were in Forint and we couldn't read any of the labels. Still, there's something really comforting about shopping for toiletries and I'm not sure why. After that we looked around for coats and ran into Anna and her friends. Anna left them and came with us and pretty much lead the way for us. The only thing I ended up buying was a book called The Budapest Protocol that I'm super excited to read. In the end we spent about 4 unsuccessful hours at the mall.

Today my host mom and Dori and Jill and I went shopping. We went to this really sketchy outdoor market that looked similar to the ones in China and even had Asian people speaking in Hungarian! So we wandered around that for a bit and I made Dori hold my hand because I was afraid she'd get kidnapped or something. I'm not being dramatic.. the place was creepy. Then we went to a small mall and looked around there. Everything that's cute is expensive and not warm, and everything that's cheap and warm is really ugly and puffy.  I will honestly be surprised if I find something that is cheap, warm, and I like.

Shopping in Hungary is not exactly the same as shopping in the States. For the carts you have to put in 100 Ft (about forty cents) for them to work and then you can use them. You get the money back once you're done with the cart, so I don't see why you have to pay in the first place. We also went to these stores that kind of remind me of a really small Walmart, and people there are crazy. Everyone was really determined to get to what they needed really quickly... even if that meant running into someone to make them move. I would be totally fine if I never went to another one of those stores.

So, besides all the shopping, I've been on a break from school all week! During the weekend my host family and I were in the mountains and we came home on Monday. We didn't do anything for Halloween, but Anna and I put make up on to look like cats and then sat in my room and took pictures. Tuesday I helped Dori and my host dad rake leaves (which was in vain since now there are more leaves than there were originally) and then we played outside for a bit. Yesterday and today were filled with shopping, but I think I'm going to go into the city after I clean my room. And tomorrow Colleen and Bailey are visiting me!! I'm so so so excited and I'm literally counting down the hours until they get here! They will leave Saturday morning and then Saturday night I have a Rotary party. Sunday my host dad's family is coming to celebrate my host mom's birthday (which was last week). The next few days will be really fun and I'm super excited.

Blah blah random ending about how I write too much and I'll post when something happens... I'm so creative okay bye.