Do you ever see those memes on Facebook that say things like, what if I just packed up and moved away today or what if I just got in the car and drove instead of going to work today? Or the articles about quitting your job and moving abroad today? I feel like that’s exactly what I did. Not quite as quickly as the memes suggest, but more or less the same. It’s very surreal. As I get more settled into my home, the excitement is wearing off and real life is settling in. It still doesn’t feel real that this is my life now, but I suppose it will eventually. Getting everything unpacked into my home has helped this feel more concrete. With real life slowly taking off the rose tinted glasses I have had on since booking my flight, here are some real life things I have been facing and find frustrating. This isn’t meant to complain but rather for everyone who tells me they wish they could take off from their life to understand that with exciting moves, comes not-so-exciting, daily struggles. And it’s also meant for me to look back on in a few months when I have a routine and know more things and I can laugh at all the stupid things I did to begin with and be proud of (hopefully) how much easier many things are in the future than they are now. After I started writing this, my CETP group began sharing their struggles. I think we are all at the “hump day” of moving to a new country and this post seems appropriate now. I hope I manage to write this in a tone that gives you the impression of a mixture of laughing at myself and accepting the way my life works rather than whining. Because I am really very happy even with the small and big frustrations.
Tuesday night, I thought I had a great idea. I would get my coffee pot ready for Wednesday morning so that I didn’t have to deal with it when I have morning fog brain. Genius, right? WRONG. Something to do with it setting all night made the process go really, really wrong. Honestly, I should have videoed it. I thought the pot was going to explode. I had this vision of water going everywhere and having to scrub coffee off my ceiling. Really, I’m sure my face was priceless. Water was coming out of every opening and while I turned the heat off, I couldn’t move the maker off the burner even with my tea towels I have for oven mitts due to how hot the metal parts get. So I had a huge mess and the metal didn’t cool down in time for me to make another pot of coffee before my longest day thus far. Lesson learned. Continue in my ways of procrastination and laziness and don’t get the coffee pot ready the night before. Today’s cup of coffee did not try to attack me while I was still half asleep.
For the next unfortunate event, please refer to the picture of my shower for understanding. I think the shower will go one of two ways for me. Either I adjust to taking really quick showers or showering becomes the least favorite part of my day. So the lip of the shower floor is very shallow, maybe an inch or two and the drain does not work well. How I wish I had noticed that before I showered Wednesday morning. I finished my shower and opened the curtain to find a swamp in my bathroom. I sort of wished I could yell in to the next room and call my mom to deal with my mess, but I also knew she would’ve been disgusted with my airheadedness and made me do it myself anyway. When I got halfway done with cleaning up my in-house swamp, I knocked the bucket over and had to start over. ugh. so frustrating. I doubt this is something I will let happen twice. The way the plastic bottom makes noise when I stand in the shower makes me feel like one day I will fall right through it. While I’m taking a shower I switch from thinking the floor is giving out to panicking that I’m there is another self-created swamp. Will let the blog know if I fall through my shower floor someday. As the guy who lived hear last year was over six foot, I’m sure that the shower floor can support me if it supported him.
It’s been less than 72 hours since I moved into my place, but I already can’t count the times that I have burned myself either with the faucet water or from the pipes leading to the hot side. I have no idea how long it will take to break the conditioned thought from home that only turning on how water is okay, but I think I might be extraordinarily slow at learning this due to my own carelessness and/or forgetfulness. Either way, my hands will be really happy when I break my American habits.
Today I told Judit, ” I understand everything we just talked about, but sometimes I am so confused.” She agreed with me and also made me feel that it is okay. Before coming, Mom told me that I better prepare to be thoroughly confused for the first few months. She wasn’t wrong. I am confused most of the day. I sat through my school’s opening meeting today. Three hours of listening to Hungarian and not understanding a word. Judit is nice and would tell me when the topic changed to something else, but overall I sat there not knowing what was happening after the first five minutes when I was asked to introduce myself. Which was, of course, translated. Oh, and when Judit made me raise my hand after an apparent question. She told me the question was “who had missed the spring physicals?”Obviously I had missed them and I’m glad she is good at remembering that I don’t know what is going on.The school kindly let me go home during the break because they understand that I don’t understand. Yesterday, Judit and I went to get my work and residency permits and open a bank account. I felt very helpless as Judit spoke for me at all the offices and ensured everything was as the government needed. It’s quite an odd feeling not knowing what is going on but hearing my name mentioned often. I’m spoken about, not to, much of the time. My coworkers talk to me rather than about me most of the time and for this I am very appreciative. The one’s who know English talk to me as their level of fluency allows. It is so nice to hear any level of English at this point and it’s only been a few days. I am so thankful American music is popular in other countries so that when people listen to the radio I have a good chance of knowing what it is. I think I’m going to a wine fest near Budapest this weekend and I cannot wait to speak English full speed with someone who understands. I am currently singing along to my music just to hear myself speak English. All of this together really just motivates me to learn Hungarian faster. And many coworkers have expressed wanting to better their English which makes me want to start an after school class for them more quickly.
One of the strangest things I will ever say: sometimes I dont know how to flush the toilet. Sometimes, they look like the ones at home, and sometimes they are different. I’m guessing that everything here is just an older version of what I am used to in the states. Today, the problem toilet was at my school. The tank wasn’t on the back but rather hanging higher than my head on the wall. I stared at the bowl for a few moments in humor/confusion/embarrassment before I thought to look up. As the chain hung down in front of me I prayed that it was to flush the toilet and pulling it wouldn’t cause some type of problem. My luck was good and it was how I should flush. thank God. On a related note of confusion about appliances, I’m still confused about my gas stove. I thought I would have to light it with a match (really happy that I don’t!) I thought that was what made something a gas stove. I don’t know. but I can turn it on, I’m not sure if the burner gets warmer if I turn the knob to a different selection, but baby steps. Also, my microwave has a dial rather than setting it for say 45 seconds. I often open the microwave before the dial is finished and then am startled when it runs again when I close the door. Some day I will learn to turn the knob to 0 before I scare myself. Some day.
Today, I expressed to Judit that I didn’t have any room for another lunch to come to my house. My fridge is so full right now from everyone’s kindness and the lunches that come. So she talked to the head of school and it was decided I wouldn’t get a lunch today. I returned the containers I’ve been getting lunch in and walked to the store I haven’t seen yet. On my walk back I pass the cafeteria and I ran into one of the cafeteria workers. She went to look for me to tell me that she left another container of todays lunch on my porch like it has been the last two days. As she spoke only Hungarian, this took several minutes and the involvement of an innocent bystander who also became flustered that I speak English. So I had another lunch today. Which was also confusing itself, I think it was pasta with cream of wheat mixed in? I’m not sure but it was alright. I’m not crystal clear yet on how the lunches work. I know they come from the school cafeteria next to my house (the cafeteria is not in the school building, confused? me too) and that I don’t need to pay for them until October. But I’m not sure why I don’t need to pay for them now. I think during the school year I will eat at the cafeteria with the kids but also I can maybe go to my home for lunch. I think it depends on how my schedule is.
I had some confusion cleared up today for me about my teaching. I thought I would be teaching 1-8th grade. what I am teaching is 1-4th grades with a co-teacher and only 5-7th on my own. Enrolled in the school is only 178 kids. This makes me feel so much better. However, since I have never taught before I still am unsure of what I should be doing to get prepared and I think I really won’t know until I see the fluency level of the 5-7th graders. For 1-4th grades, at least right now I don’t need to have a lesson prepared for the week. so that’s good news. I don’t really know what Gabrielle (might have misspelled her name) wants me to do besides introduce myself at the end of class so it’s a wait and see there too.
I keep getting texts from my cellphone company that I don’t know what they mean. The worker who relied on Google Translate at the T-Mobile store said the text meant that my “free gift” of 500 MG data was used up and not the data that I purchased for my 4G plan. But other Hungarians are confused as to what the texts mean. I’ve decided I won’t worry about it until my data stops working. Hopefully this doesn’t happen while I’m in the middle of traveling. Oh well. Not all confusion can be dealt with; there isn’t time in the day.
Overall, I feel like some sort of invisible puppy. I follow Judit around when I am doing something at school or in the community with her and people don’t talk to me much because of the language difference. But I also feel very happy. I get lots of alone time and I kind of like living by myself which is new to me. Tomorrow starts school and I’m not clear on what happens after the opening ceremony. I think the kids go home and I have to stay there? Maybe the kids stay there if they don’t have a permission slip signed to leave? Don’t know. I’m really wanting to get a routine going and looking forward to school starting on Monday. I want to know what my life will look like, start a class to help my coworkers improve their English, and start giving private English lessons. That being said, I’m sure as soon as I have stability I will get bored of it and want a change again. Such is life.
At risk of feeling sounding like I’m complaining, here’s some problems I don’t have: I don’t need anything. All of my basic needs and beyond are met. My wifi works well, more or less. I was able to change to this time zone easily enough. I’m not homesick for anything other than my own pillow (The pillows here are such weird sizes). Even in the rain or cold, work is five minutes away. At the school meeting, we celebrated the headmaster and one of the teachers being re-elected for their positions (not clear on exact details) which happens every so many years in May so we had food and champagne at the meeting. Yay! Everyone is friendly and welcoming. I feel confident that I can learn to take the bus to the next town easily. I cannot stress enough how kind everyone has been. I have not any person who was mean. the people at the permit offices were nice, the cafeteria worker who made sure I knew where my lunch was was nice, everyone is beyond their call of duty friendly, except the people I say hello to when I pass them walking through town. They say hi back without a smile in what I am told is true Hungarian way. I know my address after days of having no idea. My mispronunciation of Hungarian is met with a welcomed smile that says “I am happy you are trying.” I am happy with the hasty decision to move somewhere I knew nothing about.