Snoel Abroad

Sara is abroad again and this time it is in Hungary! I am here in Hungary (in the small town of Gyöngyös) teaching English at a primary school through CETP- the Central European Teaching Program- Follow along with my crazy adventures in teaching and traveling. Szia!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March 15th

Tomorrow is a national holiday in Hungary. A remembrance of the 1848 freedom fight against the Hapsburgs and the Austrian empire.

(from Wikipedia) The 1848 Revolution (1848 - 1849)
Main article: Revolutions of 1848 in Hungary
The revolution started on March 15, 1848, with bloodless events in Pest and Buda (mass demonstrations forcing the imperial governor to accept all demands) followed by various insurrections throughout the kingdom, which enabled Hungarian reformists to declare Hungary's autonomy within the Habsburg Empire, under the governor Lajos Kossuth and the first Prime minister Lajos Batthyány. During the subsequent civil war, the Magyars, and with them foreign revolutionaries that came to fight after their own revolutions were crushed, had to fight against the Austrian Army, but also against the Serbs, Croats, Slovaks, Romanians and Transylvanian Germans living on the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary, who had their own ethnic-national movements, and were unwilling to accept a Hungarian dominance.
Faced with revolution at home in Vienna too, Austria first accepted Hungary's autonomy. However, after the Austrian revolution was beaten down, and Franz Joseph replaced his mentally retarded uncle Ferdinand I as Emperor, Austria again refused to accept Hungarian autonomy, and a civil war followed. Initially, the Hungarian forces (Honvédség) defeated Austrian armies. Because of the success of revolutional resistance, Franz Joseph had to ask for help from "The Gendarme of Europe", Czar Nicholas I, and Russian armies invaded Hungary, causing antagonism between the Hungarians and the Russians. Julius Freiherr von Haynau, the leader of the Austrian army who then became governor of Hungary for a few months of retribution, ordered the execution of 13 leaders of the Hungarian army (only a minority of which spoke Hungarian) in Arad and the Prime minister Batthyány in Pest. Lajos Kossuth went into exile.

It also means I get a 4 day weekend- woo hoo! I'm off to Romania for a few days (in attempt to avoid Budapest where riots are expected.)

Also, I've uploaded some pictures of Bratislava on that post.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

more surprises

Today is Women's Day. I hadn't heard of this before but apparently it isn't just Hungarian but International Women's Day. The desks in the teacher's room are piled high with flowers and chocolate (and chocolates made to look like flowers). My students keep giving me gifts and wishing me a Happy Women's Day. It's pretty cool. So Happy Women's Day to all of You!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ich Bin Eine Berliner!

The goings on at my school never cease to surprise me. Today I judged a pronunciation and reading competition- not at all abnormal- I've been asked to do a few before- at various levels: school, city and county. This one was different- why? it was in German?!
"Sara, your German is that good?" you are all probably asking...the, not at all, but despite my insistence and despite the fact that the German teachers know this (because every time they speak to me in German I understand but must answer back in a broken disaster peppered with Hungarian) Nevertheless, I judged and even stayed after to discuss the winners and sign all of the certificates (apparently my signature is on them because I was the "special guest judge") How did I do with the judging? well I figured that if I could understand them then their pronunciation must be pretty good and if I couldn't then they were probably saying something wrong (I crossed my fingers that there weren't any students whose language ability surpassed my own!) In the end my scores were about the same as the other judges so I guess it all worked out.

On another note...all of the German classes have only 4-8 students each and they all seem great and well behaved- Can I trade?!?!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

school pictures

This week may turn out to be one of the longest I've had all year (at least at school) partly because it will end on Saturday (see "things currently pissing me off") but also because yesterday, Monday, we had to stay till 6pm (I usually finish at 12:30) for meetings- yuck. First there was a faculty meeting/ training which I was exempt from- woo hoo! except that I had a 90 minute private lesson anyway so I was still here, then we had the "behavior grade vote" a process I'm still getting used to but am able to participate in more and more each time it occurs. Basically all of the teachers get together and go through each of the students (yesterday it was class 5) and together decide on one over all grade for that students behavior and one for their general "diligent work" I can handle this pretty well as it mostly consists of students names and shouting out numbers- which I understand- this meeting was slightly less boring than past ones as I am starting to understand a few more words so I was able to understand, and appreciate, the side comments such as " you think we could tie him to his chair?"
Following this meeting we had to stay for one more hour for parent-teacher meetings. The last time this happened I did speak to a few parents (through a translator) but this time I had no visitors (apparently the novelty of "lets go see the American" has worn off) but I was assigned to the computer lab so I got to spend my waiting time on-line (not replying to the many e-mails that need replies but instead trying to translate the upcoming movie schedule- time well spent.)

It was seeming for a moment that all of the little quirks that amused me before were starting to become routine and semi-normal for me, and then, this morning, it was time for a faculty picture. We all gathered in the library (after the bell had rung for first lesson of course, we never waste our own breaks- only class time) everyone was milling about and I assumed we would line up for the photo- but no! this photo was to be a fake set up! so we all sat at the tables, some with blank white sheets of paper and pens pretending to write, some with random open books pretending to read (including me which was especially funny since it was a big Hungarian text book) and one teacher was even standing next to a blank white board pretending to write- with a piece of chalk! ...I did all I could to stifle my giggles.