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!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


The last few weeks at school have been anything but routine. The combination of hot weather, burned out students (and teachers), and construction that seems to intrude more and more on the physical space and noise level of the building (the last week I had construction workers on scaffolding outside my classroom windows- shirtless and sweaty which was far more than my hormonal 13 and 14 year old girls could handle!) has meant that we haven’t done much in the way of regular lessons in a while. There was a week where on any given day half the school was away on a trip, and an afternoon where I (and the other English teachers) took 95 students to the movies for a special screening of The Queen. The Monday after I returned from Balaton was “Teacher’s Day” and I was showered with gifts, chocolates and flowers from my students followed by a faculty appreciation banquet where we ate, drank, ate some more and drank some more. A few students read poems, played the flute and sang us a song before thanking us for all our work and giving us each a single rose- very sweet. After this there were speeches from the headmistress and a special goodbye to 4 retiring teachers and 1 more who was leaving- me. I was told that the headmistress’s speech was very nice (but I couldn’t understand it myself) but they gave more gifts and flowers and there was a champagne toast- all so nice.
This week, however, the final week, was the most odd. On Tuesday it was the teachers’ chance for a field trip and 40 of us loaded onto a bus at 8 am. This being Hungary the first order of business as we pulled away from the school at 8am was to serve martini’s in plastic cups- it’s never too early in Hungary. Unfortunately do to bad traffic we arrived at our destination 4 hours later (instead of the expected 2.5) but it was a fun trip and everyone chatted and listened to music and laughed and, of course, ate an uncountable amount of sandwiches wrapped in napkins and pulled from bottomless bags. Our destination was Komoron, a small town on the North Western border of Hungary, just across the river from Slovakia. Here we toured an old fort built after the 1848 revolution and later used by the Soviets as a prison and artillery storage. The fort is built mostly underground and the few above ground buildings are covered with earth and wild grasses that allow it to blend in with it’s surroundings. We wandered the extensive tunnel system and even got a bit lost! But Szabo Bea and Satzi (with the help of an old railroad track and ancient rail cart) found our way out. Next we drove to the small town of Tata, famous for hosting the European kayak and canoeing championships.
We had an ice cream (or two) and jumped back on the bus- martinis in hand- to head back to Gyöngyös. Unfortunately about 45 minutes away from home the buses fancy computer automated air-conditioning broke down and the heat came on full blast- this combined with a long day of walking around in the sweltering heat meant everyone was soon feeling ill and we had to stop the bus every 10 minutes so that we could all get out- cool down (or throw up) and then get back on. The heat must have gotten to the ladies heads because pretty soon they were laughing and pouring their water bottles down their dresses and then all broke out into song- an old Socialist era song they all knew from school because they said the situation reminded them of the days of Socialist Hungary.
Wednesday was another special day. There was a school wide scavenger hunt that was spread over the entire town. At each stop the students had to answer questions or perform special tasks such as counting park benches, measuring the mustache of the statues in a square or answer a quiz about their teachers. My job for the day was to help and walk around with class 7a (my favourites, but shhh don’t tell the others!) I had a great time chatting with the kids and walking ALL over town.
Norbi, Marci, Réka, Mark and Soma
Thursday and Friday were mostly spent with the 7th and 8th graders preparing and practicing for the big graduation ceremony on Saturday and the 5th and 6th graders scattered across various parks in town playing games so I mostly had the two days off to sign final papers, complete my naplos (the daily registers for each class where I must enter the lesson number and topic and sign it daily- I will be having nightmares about the Naplos for years!!)
Thursday night was a final goodbye and celebratory banquet for the graduating 8th graders at a local restaurant. The kids were all dressed up in suits and cocktail dresses and gave speeches and sang songs. They thanked us for our work and presented us each with a signed copy of their class picture. Then they moved aside the tables and the place became a disco. The kids soon dragged me in and I ended the night rocking out to “Eye of the Tiger” with my 8th graders. It was a fantastic way to end a year that has been- where class 8 is concerned- a rough one. Tomorrow morning (Saturday) I will go to their Ballagas- the traditional Hungarian graduation ceremony which, as I’ve heard, is an experience to look forward to.

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