Behind the Scenes

On our blogs we often reflect on our time abroad; the things that surprise, challenge, and force us into changing our perspective. We offer travel and teaching advice, recipes, and occasionally a post about a dog sneaks in, but what we rarely do is write about our day to day, the things that keep us busy after school, and the things we do to stay in touch with home. Today we offer the latter.

Some of our closer friends, or Twitter followers, may know that Danielle has been writing a monthly column for her hometown newspaper, The Sun Prairie Star. Her most recent piece was about the experiences of Sun Prairians living abroad during the holidays. Greg will also be writing outside the Harms-Boone sphere; he was invited to write for the CheapOair.org travel blogs. He is not sure what he will write about yet, or when it will be published, but it will for sure be linked here. CheapOair is another discount airfare website competing with the likes of Kayak, SkyScanner, and others.

At school, Greg launched the first (ever?) English language newspaper at his high school called The Munkácsy Times. The articles were written by a dedicated, hard-working group of 10th and 11th graders. The first issue dropped this week, and it will be published monthly. A download of the PDF is linked at the bottom of this page. At this point Munkácsy students are required to pay almost a dollar for a color copy of the publication; donations and advertising are accepted by paypal! Greg is also working to organize a web design club, and an East Asian cultures club at Munkácsy High School next semester: did I hear Kimchi making experiment? Send forth your recipes, film recommendations, and anything else you can think of to introduce Central European high school students to East Asia.

Other things that have kept us busy have included wild and crazy adventures to Budapest, coming up with a neat way to visualize our travels and experiences using both the Google Maps API and Protovis (which has included Greg getting a crash course in javascript), baking like crazy, and catching up on some television shows we heard were too good to miss (mostly The Wire, and Dexter). Finally, our friends Kristin Pederson and Tyler Ray, who are on their second tour of Korea this time in Daegu, have launched a lovely website, you should visit it and read their blogs about baking and living in South Korea.

Download: Munkácsy Times Volume 1, Issue 1 [PDF]

Ruminations on the Hungarian Language: Take Two

Due to a potent combination of distraction and procrastination, here is part two of a short series on the Hungarian language, belatedly posted and slightly aged. Interested in reading part one? You’re in luck.

Attempts at Hungarian
Who knows how far we'll get with the infamously elusive Hungarian language, but when June comes around, the goal is to at least be able to honestly say we tried.

Not speaking Korean in Korea was easy compared to not speaking Hungarian in Hungary. Korea’s population is remarkably homogenous and there was no mistaking me for a compatriot. As a result, I was rarely forced to speak Korean and, I’m a bit sheepish to admit, coasted by on “Annyeong haseyo” and “gamsahamnida”. One look and the cat was out of the bag that I wasn’t Korean, and thankfully kind Koreans often came to the rescue with English. Suffice it to say the language expectations of foreigners were low.

Yet now I find myself in Hungary, a land of fellow light haired, light eyed people, and the plug on my neon sign blinking, “Foreigner, please talk slowly or stick to charades” has been yanked from the wall. Now when I walk into a store, people don’t treat me like a toddling three year old. Of all the nerve, they treat me like an adult. Continue reading “Ruminations on the Hungarian Language: Take Two”

Nem Beszélek Magyarul: Ruminations on the Hungarian Language

Making my way past the supermarket’s overflowing crates of pale green paprikas and stacked tubs of sauerkraut, I found one phrase sliding through my mind.

That's salt and pepper to you, or pronounced something like "show aysh borsh" to you.

With a storm of graduate school admission deadlines approaching, I’ve been a patchy blogger at best. Forgive me for posting pieces months late (including the apologetic preface that follows). Over the past couple of weeks I have had lots of time, and reason, to ponder the Hungarian language, specifically my inability to express myself in it. Between lack of Internet and the exhaustion of miming in as many ways as I can think of, “Please don’t bite others,” to first graders, among other tiring demands of teaching, I’m a bit behind on updating the blog. This first post was written in my first couple of days in Kaposvár. Even since then, my survival Hungarian has improved. Still, the message on biting and how we should only do it to our food and not our friends has yet to reach at least one member of the first grade. All in good time.

Making my way past the supermarket’s overflowing crates of pale green paprikas and stacked tubs of sauerkraut, I found one phrase sliding through my mind again and again, like a slideshow with a solitary picture: “Nem beszélek magyarul.” I don’t speak Hungarian. Continue reading “Nem Beszélek Magyarul: Ruminations on the Hungarian Language”