Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Control, homesickness and acceptance...otherwise known as an average day

This week has been a strange tangled up week.
I was accepted to the Grad school I wanted to go to, without funding. I also realized, I need to find a place to live, before August.
Interviewing potential roommates, and checking over places online has reaped interesting results.
Yesterday, after having an awful class, a wave of homesickness hit me, maybe accompanied by stress and a lack of sleep. A strong wave, that sent me to sit in the Tanairnői WC and quietly weep. However I didn't do a good enough job of faking the bright smile that I usually have on, and when questioned in the Tanarszoba what was wrong, I broke down again. Now I am embarrassed.
The CONTROL, whenever the other teachers say it, you can hear the capital letters.
Today Schwester Ester and the posse came. They descended on our school like ravens at a feast. Everything has been perfected, and all t's are being crosses, all i's dotted. There was even a tablecloth at lunch. We got the observation schedule yesterday. My name was on it, in fact the second lesson on the first day. Today.
I was lucky in retrospect. Both of the Máriakas gave suggestions, and Zsóka sat with me the afternoon before and made sure I was ready. Because it is a lesson I share, Frigyes had a lesson plan already typed-well the one with the subjects, I plan my own lessons. Albeit it had Raji's name and not mine on it.
When the time came, everything went well. The students acted like angels for once. There was no food, and thus no begging to be allowed to eat. There were no cell phones and no MP3 players. They worked, asked questions and behaved. Even the after interview was good. It was heaven.
I wish we always had control.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Every Friday I bring in what I bake on Thursday night.
Every Friday my colleagues ask if it is my name day,
and every Friday I explain that no, I bake because it is stress relieving, and it stops me from going nutty.
This week I baked Cookies and Special K bars. Celebrating using the last of the ginger-flour and doing an internal happy dance. However, as I was sitting at the computer typing to future potential roommates, one of my colleagues sat next to me. He is the colleague, who doesn't speak much English, and whenever he doesn't understand something (which is often) says "I do not understand, but you have a beautiful smile".

This time the spiel was different. Holding a special K bar he turned to me and said "My wife out. She leave...I marry You. Shuti delicious."
My response: "I can give your wife the recipe, its very easy"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The most glorious human invention

Coming in out of the nice weather, I was greeted by a wonderful sight. There on my desk was a sleek, white envalope from my friend Phil. There is nothing so satisfying as a letter from home.
Mail is, as Phil writes, that most glorious human invention.
My sister arrived in Hungary on the 15th, and her week here is almost over. She was like Saint Nicholas, as I greedily opened suitcases full of teaching supplies, candy, spring clothing and bunny ears. She has been photographing everything, and every morning I jelously watch as she gets to sleep in, while I trudge to school.
It has not been a good week. I spent too much in Vienna. I am exhausted, despite doing little other than sleep. One of the teachers, Márika, walked up to me and said "I don't like you today". I later found out that this was in reference to how I looked... "too pale and tired, are you sure you have no problem?"
My students have, in multiple classes, suddenly decided (as of Friday) that sex and porn are hilarious, and should be discussed at every opportunity. I crabbily ratted out one of my classes to their form teacher, and they were in trouble. Parents were called, and I feel somewhat guilty, but only somewhat as I only wanted him to speak to them in Hungarian and it was his choice to take it further.
Cheerleading for the teachers vs. students football game, not only did we loose for the second time, but I got hit on the arm, leg and in the middle of the forehead by the ball. Cheerleading really is a dangerous sport.
My 8th grade didn't show up on the day that I was prepared with an awesome game, and 12th grade discusses dating...or at least I hope that is what they mean...with my sister.
Inspectors come next week and I am not prepared. I fear the decent of wimpled nuns and prayer-bead bedecked priests more than any child fears the boogie-man.
I miss and crave vegetables as a meal more than any pregnant woman wants chocolate.
Still no one knows when I can move. I am going slowly batty, living with students who do not view me as a teacher.
But all of the stress and distress is somewhat lessened by that beautiful white object with AIR MAIL scrawled across it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A weekend alone..or why I should not be allowed near hair dye

I woke up this morning, and grouchily hit the snooze button wondering where the weekend had gone. About a half an hour later-when my brain woke up - I remembered .... this was a short weekend because we had to work on Sat. So really the weekend was only Sunday.

Working Saturday was not fun, but at least I had something to do. The rest of the weekend was spent wondering what a Madel alone should do. Couldn't call Zsóka, she is sick or in Szeged (I am a little confused on this point) It was a quiet, and boring weekend alone in Gyula. I did go swimming in the thermal baths. However, if you ask my students, apparently I had a wild weekend.

My 9ny class and I have been working on the past tense. So on Mondays I routinely ask "What did you do this weekend?" and then "What did I do this weekend?" Asking what I did allows them to be more creative. I have also begun asking "What will you do next weekend?" and "What will I do next weekend?" Apparently next weekend I will be a wild woman. I will go to a party and drink too much, then I will chop down all of the trees in Gyula with an ax, I will go to the Toyko Hotel concert with 2 of my students, and then I will kill the entire 9ny class for speaking Hungarian in class. I don't know what to say to that, except they may have come up with the last one as I actually took and had Élenózó (spelling?) written in today. I feel no remorse, as I warned my students that if they hit people in class, they would do it.

9ny were also the first ones to mention the hair. On Friday, I was bored....and this always leads to trouble. I was not only bored but also in possession of brown hair dye. The trouble came when the dye seeped through the glove staining my finger. I spent about 1/2 and hour to 45 minutes scrubbing my finger, then I looked at the directions. The little clock symbol had 15 minutes marked on it.

I don't have brown hair... I have a slightly brown shade of black hair.

On my program's new blog, I love the about us section:
About Us: We are CETP. We teach. We will eat your souls, and the souls of your children.

The Teaching Section:

Classes are going fairly well. I am in the middle of a story unit with 9ny. It is hard to motivate them, and while the pretend that they are not creative, the stories I have received have been really good. Three of them were fantastic.

The one thing that my classes really like are pen-pal letters. They love writing to someone real.

Also I used the crazy alien game with my 7th grade (see CETP Newsletter site), but I had them roll dice to decide the numbers of body parts. I also asked them questions about the aliens.
- What is your alien's name?
- What is your alien's favorite foods?
- Where is your alien from?
The boys were really creative. One said that his alien had no friends because he ate them, and that its favorite food was man-meat.

In 8th grade, we have been working on travelling vocabulary and made passports. They had to describe themselves in the passport. The next lesson they had to pass passport control to get a sticker in their passport.

Friday, March 9, 2007

And on the third day, Brieggy could light the oven all by herself...

March 8th was not only International women's day (all of the male teachers pitched in to buy the women flowers), but our director's name day. And there was much feasting in the Staff Room. Polgácsa, Cookies, Juice etc....
Flowers aside, thursdays are already my favorite day. I have only *3* lessons. The first being first period - the 9 Nyek class who I see everyday, and they are usually pretty good. The second lesson - last period - is the 8th grade. They show up whenever they want, because it is an aditional class, and all we do is play games, albeit vocabulary games. The third being after school for which ever teachers, or sometimes teacher's spouses want to come.
Durring my long break, I am free to do whatever I will, I went to the Erkl Museum accross from the Dormotory. I didn' really understand that much, but it was interesting to see the costumes and photos.
For the teacher lesson, we went to the castle. It was pretty interesting, especially as we discovered that Erzébet Batory spent some time there. The rest of the time Gergő made jokes about "more blood" while I showed them my impression of vampire teeth. Next week we are going to the 100 year confectionary house for class. I love teaching.

Also Csütörtök is suti-nap. Every thursday, like clockwork I bake cookies. If you need to find me after 7:15, the Szent Anna kitchen is a safe bet. Due to my adventures with scales and Dekkagrams last week I had alot of spiced flour, so I made the ginger cookes again. In fact I made 3 batches, although all of them were different (and I still have flour left). Instead of orange juice I used honey, and the porportions were different in all three. They turned out pretty good, and Csaba said that he liked them better than last week because they were less sweet. Although I don't know how I managed that as last week I used white and brown sugar, whereas this week I used white sugar, brown sugar and honey. It's a mystery. But the big excitement for me, was that I was able to light to stove by myself. It only took 3 weeks and Katanini the nifty showing me where the big matches are kept.
Katanini is my hero, but more on that at a later date.
Oh and aside from my cookies, there was another name day, so there is once agian much feasting in the staff room. I don't think I will ever eat again. Sometimes I try to avoid the mass quantities of food, but if Maria (the only english teacher I don't share lessons with) doesn't see me eating, she puts stuff on my desk. It is shades of Judit again.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Somethings are easier....

Last night I went to my bi-weekly dance class. Hungarian folk dancing may look easy, and may even be easy if you are at all co-ordinated, know your left from right or can understand what they are saying. I however, do not fit into any of these categories. So yet another evening was spent sweatily watching other people's feet, and being told "Nem, jobb!". The fact that we meet every other week is made up for by the fact that dance class is somewhere between 3 and 31/2 hours long.
Last night I was fairly happy as we began with the Chardas (I am not sure how to spell any of the dance names), but instead of continuing on with the crazy spinny one which I never do correctly, we did Romanian circle dances instead. These are much easier. About the 5th dance in, I began to notice similarities, and I realized that I had done these, albeit better for about 3 beers, back in the Gyula Renaissance Festival with the Turkish re-enactors. Some things are easier when aided by liquid courage.
On the way home, Csaba and Edina's husband (whose name I never remember, but is awesome) sang drinking songs, about wine bottles crying. I laughed almost the whole way home.
Working for a catholic school is different from the other CETP experiences that I hear about. One example was that today instead of teaching, we had a religious day. This means that we sat in the library and listened to a priest and a nun, while students were busy somewhere else with other priests. In the break we ate Polgácsa and drank tea. Then at 11:15 we went to Mass. This was both fantastic and awful. Fantastic because Wednesday is my busy day, when I teach 6 classes and I got to skip it. Awful because I managed to leave my papers in the church and have to wait until 4pm for someone to unlock it for me. Hopefully they are still there, but it also means screwing around with my tutoring schedule. ack.
Well at least the weather is nice. Blue sky and 20 degrees Celsius.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Mondays - the forgotton tenth circle

I have a special hatred of Mondays.... and Chalk, but that is a slightly different rant.

This weekend I visited Ben in beautiful Szentendre. Emily and I joked that you could replace the word perfect from the old Walgreens ads with Szentendre, and have it make more sense.
I also met new CETPers in Budapest, although after I had enjoyed a little beer, so I think I was a little giggly or I spoke too much Brieggyese (a complex combination of English, German, a little spanish - which I don't speak, a little french - which I also don't speak and Hungarian - which I butcher on a daily basis) so I don't think I was all that comprehensible.

I also have a special hatred of the dormitory washing machine. I began a load last night and at midnight I still couldn't open the door of the machine. This morning I could, but water poured all over my pajama clad legs. Ewwww.

If I ever re-wrote the inferno, I would have to add in the levels of hell which Dante forgot.
The tenth circle - Mondays and funky washing machines
The eleventh circle - chalk.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Things that work and things that don't

So much of teaching is figuring out what works and what doesn't. This is probably because this is my first teaching post, and other than tutoring and volenteering in classrooms, I have no experience. I love working for a program like CETP, because the other teachers have such great ideas, that if I am stuck, I can turn to them.
What works:
1) The ball game - toss a ball back and forth, the person who catches it has to give a vocab word. If you repeat a word or throw the ball too hard, you are out.
2) Fortune tellers - On the train home from Hernádnemeti, Emily folded a fortune teller to pass the time. It is creepy when the answers are truthful. Anyway, I used them in 11th grade to practice forming future questions. This is great for practicing "going to" and "will be + verb-ing".
3) My cold water. While dying my hair, I slipped and somehow fixed the cold water knob in the shower, so now I don't scald myself every morning.
4) The Sweetheart Valentine's Day exercise.

What doesn't work:
1) Cell phones when you temporarily lose the pin code after turning it off.
2) My asking about an apartment. Sometimes I think that it is a figment of my imagination.
3) The directions game.
4) Giving out the candy after only explaining the exercise once.

There are more things that don't work, but those are the major ones right now.