I will begin this post by stating the merrymaking of Christmas is almost upon us and things have been crazy at the school and in life. This blog seems to be getting increasingly behind actual current events, so I figure I should throw out a few words about the end of the year. Regarding the first point, there have been events and functions to attend at school. It has all been quite great and at the same time exhausting. Add to that the fact that for the entire last week of school the students are almost completely unable to muster the necessary concentration to hear English words for 45 minutes. This has likewise been exhausting and I would rather burst my eardrums than listen to a single Christmas carol for the next 300 or so days. On the plus side I was able to get a large subsection of my students to start saying “Bah Humbug” about things they dislike. Insert whatever Grinch reference you wish for here.
Secondly, my big Christmas present from my family is togetherness and love. My parents are flying to Budapest to see me through Christmas, and this will be followed by my sister in law coming to see us. This is a beautiful and happy turn of events that I am only happy for. Continuing with the splendor and wonder directly following Christmas all of us will be sightseeing our way through the Czech Republic, Germany, and The Netherlands. This is going to be a grand old adventure that I am ecstatic to share with so many people that I love. However on the slightly less upliftingly happy side of events I eagerly and foolishly volunteered to do all of the planning and booking for this event. Many hours and dollars have thus far passed in the accomplishing of these goals.
On top of these, I have now been set free on vacation from children, and freedom is sweet. However, that sweet freedom breeds lazy, lazy procrastination. It is flaring up again and the fact that these words exist means that I am attempting to kneecap it with a lead pipe. However procrastination is a hearty beast with so many kneecaps filled with a whole lot of tempting do nothing. Damn you many kneed time thieving monster! I will best you with the Leaden Pipe of Productivity! Slothfulness and strange metaphors aside I will try to see if I can get more caught up with current events before the thief of time rips them from ‘neath my feet.
Returning to the past with a softening of the edges of the screen like an unoriginal mid-90s soap opera, we are back at the beginning of this whole adventure. The week of orientation sped by as new information shot past my senses with barely the chance for me to retain any of it. Despite what I may or may not have insinuated about myself imbibing large quantities of the fun juice, aside from this a few specific nights my consumption of social lubricant had actually been near non-existent. Most of the nights I stayed in and got to sleep early like a good responsible nerdboy. I take education a little seriously so I needed to be at full consciousness through orientation. Plus there was the heat conjured up by the foulest pits of Satan’s domain sapping my energy. There were only two days where I stepped out to assimilate my new environs.
For those of you who are not aware or don’t know me personally, I could be categorized under the phrase coined by an issue of the American Quarterly Review circa 1837. (Not familiar with that specific issue? Well it did have a rather limited print and that periodical didn’t really come into its own until a decade later. You probably aren’t familiar with their more indie stuff anyway. ) As a social butterfly I am sometimes filled with the need to spread my wings and interact with the intriguing masses of strangers out and about. I attempted to find other people from the program to hang out and get a drink; however it seems they had all dispersed for the evening for their own purposes. After perusing that stack of pamphlets that all hostels provides I went on a pub crawl alone as my girlfriend had unceremoniously become asleep earlier in the evening.
Summary notes of that evening, I met a nice Irish couple and then promptly drank them under a table. It turns out that this is one of those pub crawls whose attractions sound more like a suicide pact than a fun night out. At the second bar the tour group was given an hour to ingest as much cheap brain poison as possible for free. There were three choices, horrible beer, horrible wine, or a mystery beverage called a Shrek. Somehow, a drink named after an ill-mannered animated Scottish ogre was not the drink of champions that you would expect it to be. I was victorious at an international dance battle. In an unprovoked act of UK rivalry Shrek wreaked his terrible vomitty vengeance upon the unsuspecting Irish. Several probable alcohol poisonings later tour members disappeared into the ethanol ether. I persevered into the wee hours of the evening listening to terrible techno music and making friends with a band of Swiss brothers.
Then there was that night of drunken politics and foosball with a Hungarian receptionist. That was also a fun experience. That night began with me and my girlfriend explaining the finer points, see nonsensical parts, of U.S. history and political system to a Canadian. We invited the Hungarian receptionist to hang out as it was late and all he was really doing was propping up his desk. Everyone else went to sleep, but I continued the political discussion into the wee hours. It was so late that the drunken hordes that went out to explore the bar scene came back and continued the revelry. There’s an interesting viewpoint that I heard from said receptionist and several other young Hungarians who I have had the pleasure to discuss politics with. It is the concept that the figureheads of government are pawns. They aren’t saying that politicians are easily controllable through corruption or nepotism, but instead they are legitimately saying that there is a cabal of world deciders. The presidents and prime ministers of the world are kayfabe acting out their parts like horrible conspiracy professional wrestlers. All political upheavals exist through the pre-written wins and losses. I found this to be fascinating and it made me wonder if this thought process had anything to do with growing up in a country which for the last hundred years has been passed from one superpower to another.
Orientation came to an end because time is a linear construct moving towards the theoretical future. On the last day, the program decided to see us all off with a nice dinner to wrap everything into a nice cyclical structure. The last dinner was again an event at a nice restaurant where the food was paid for by the program. We sat near a group of people that we didn’t have much time to get to know prior, and what began could only be called the saga of a small man with much meatsweat. We learned from the first dinner that if you want to eat in the first two hours of the meal then you order as many appetizers as possible. Essentially we ordered a multi person appetizer per seat. The inhalation of food was legendary and likely reduced the national store of food by a fair margin. The small man near me decided that he would make it his goal for the evening to obtain the most expensive portion of food on the menu. He succeeded and purchased a $50 steak which was larger than his own head. As those around us shared discussions of professional and personal nature I was wrapped in awe of a man doubling his body weight with one plate. It was a true inspirational tale of man vs gastronomy.
The final event was slated the next morning. In a sorting ceremony all of the teachers would sit in a room as the contact teachers from their schools would file in and find their new colleagues for the next year. The Hungarian teachers would then talk to the English teachers and tell them about their new positions, about the schools and the workload. Then each pair would split off and begin their journey to different schools throughout the country. However, our school couldn’t be bothered with such frivolity. We were told the night before that our ride would be there an hour earlier to take the three of us to our living arrangements. Our driver, who in later months we got to know better, didn’t speak more than a few words of English which made the entire process just a tiny bit more disorienting. We had another teacher besides my girlfriend and I who was going to be teaching at our school. So, three people with three individual years worth of luggage were crammed into a car the size of a matchbox. We were then whisked away through a confusing jumble of streets and terrifying driving to our new abode.
Hey, I was right, we’ve finally left the orientation, woo!
Sort of an abrupt ending I know, but I must go soon to pick up my family from the airport. Join us next time as we navigate the oddities of our new digs in Budapest. For now, signing off from Budapest.
Thank you Oxford dictionary and the interwebs for the etymology of Social Butterfly.
English Lessons That I have Learned This Time:
Apparently I have been spelling the word ecstatic wrong for my whole life, fewer x’s than I though.
Intriguing was also a word that I somehow learned the meaning of without ever absorbing its spelling.