Daily life and Bratislava

I finally convinced myself to go back to the gym this week. Pretty important to my mental health to get out of the house because I’ve pretty much just been watching Netflix after school for the past month or more and I’m pretty sure my brain is now mush. Every other Friday I have only two classes starting at 1:00, so this morning I decided to go to the gym bright and early (read: 8:30) so I can go to the Christmas market in Debrecen tonight and not miss a work out. I really cannot believe how many people were there. Anytime I walk around my town or go to the store or post office on my lunch breaks and apparently go to the gym, there’s so many people out and about. I don’t understand. Do they not work? Do they work weird hours? I stopped at the grocery store on the way to the bus and there was just as many people there as there are at 4:00. Really, I don’t understand it. I always use google to look at bus schedules as it pulls the info right from the bus website and puts it into something easier to read and also into English. I waited for my bus and was trying to hand the driver my coins for my ticket and tell him I was going to Nyirpazony. “No” was his answer. ummm excuse me, no? The schedule says this is my bus! Why are you answering me in English but not telling me anything more than no!? So I tried again with also the bus stop I wanted to get off at. Still his answer was “no”. I took this as the bus wasn’t going to Nyirpazony so I got off and checked the schedule which said I had missed the bus to Nyirpazony and waited 45 minutes for the next bus in the cold with sweaty hair. I wish he would’ve told me where the bus was going instead or something helpful but I just felt stupid and cold while I waited for the next bus. I wonder if people that really live here are happy with public transportation or if it’s their only option so it just is what it is? I really miss my car and being in control of when and where I do things.

Gym habits: At home, very few people I know go to the gym to make friends. Or are very friendly at the gym. Excluding the times I go to the gym with a friend, I can think of exactly one time that I had an actual conversation with someone at the gym. I have never talked to other people in the locker room. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me at the gym, introvert that I am. But I can’t help finding it so weird that people here walk into the locker room and say hi to everyone. I would never greet everyone in the locker room at home. Also, sometimes people in the US don’t wear their shoes to squat or to deadlift. Somewhat normal. Here, people sometimes don’t wear shoes for the whole workout. I don’t know why they don’t. I think it’s so nasty and I wish I could ask them why they aren’t wearing shoes because maybe there’s a good reason. Probably not, but maybe.

Things about my students: One day, one of my kids came up to me in class and said “teacher” me: “yes, Zsombor” small child: “teacher, jackass” me: “excuse me” 4th grade child: “me show you, YouTube” so while they may not pay attention in class, at least they like me enough to want to show me movie clips on YouTube. Which by the way, I did not let him show me. This week for 4th grade art class, we had the whole class instead of just the English students because the non-English teacher wanted to decorate the hallway. They made some snowmen cards. Some of the non-English students had me draw hats for their snowmen and asked me to help them do a couple other things also. At the end of class, they were whispering with the English students and came over to tell me, “Teacher you are very kind.” and a few minutes later, “teacher you are pretty.” I wonder if they know I think about the fact that they actually like me for the next couple days. Probably not, how would they know. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t really have that many people talk to me on a daily basis or if I would appreciate those things that much anyway, but the kids that take two seconds be nice to me seriously become my favorites forever. This week, my kids wrote pen pal letters. They weren’t into it and I couldn’t figure out why not since I explained how it works to them. Finally one asked, “teacher, will a student write back to us” I kind of sighed because I already had said that but I answered anyway. The only thing I’ve seen a kid more excited about here is when i give the best behaved kids a sticker at the end of class. Even with the excitement, one kid drew a potato, you know, just in case American kids don’t know what that looks like. Today I played a game with my 5th graders because the wifi hasn’t been good at school this week so I didn’t feel like fighting with it so I could do the lesson I had planned. one round into four corners and one of the boys flipped me off when he got out. Then the rest of the boys got so loud and rowdy I canceled the game and finished class with 10 minutes of silence. Either I do something they’re not interesting in and they talk and ignore me or I try and do something fun and they get out of control. oh 5th grade.

Customer service: Customer service here is….. different than at home. Pretty much always, restaurants are seat yourself, especially when the outside seating is open. And eventually they bring menus and fairly quickly they want to take the order. But then, the waiting game begins. sometimes food comes out quickly and sometimes it is a very long time. But the real waiting game is the for the check. If you’ve forgotten to ask for it when the waiter takes your food, either you’re sitting there for half the night or eventually get fed up and go and ask the bartender. It’s an entirely different experience than in America and being rushed out of restaurants. I also can’t count the times I’ve gone up to the check out counter at the store or the ticket counter at a place and been told “wait a minute.” these people always finish whatever task they’re doing before helping a customer. Completely backwards from American customer service. While places in America may not tell a customer that they’re wrong, I have a feeling that’s very different here. Some people are very friendly and some people absolutely could not care if you have a good experience and want to come back. Everywhere I go, employees are on their phones. The waitress, the cashier, the personal trainer at the gym, they all use any moment of down time to play on their phones. That’s like stereotypical lazy employee in the states. But here it’s apparently expected. Yesterday, the personal trainer sat down on the equipment and played on her phone since she was apparently bored with having no clients. Kind of annoying since I wanted the equipment she was on but I didn’t care enough to ask her to move. And anyone that works outside also smokes on the job. I can’t count the number of times I have been hoping my waiter will come back to give me the check to look up and find him smoking with the rest of the waiters at the place.

I like really, really hate public transport but there is one good thing about taking the bus in a small town. The bus driver I see 90% of the time has started recognizing me and automatically puts in where I’m going so I no longer have to stumble over the words. It’s such a relief that he knows where I want to go and I don’t have to hold up the whole bus, at least sometimes. Almost every time I get on the bus, there’s one or two people standing next to the bus driver talking to him. I haven’t caught on to see if this is because they’re friends or if it’s just a normal thing to have a conversation with the bus driver when you have nothing else to do.

I’ve been practicing Hungarian a lot this week. When I practice at school, I usually ask the kids to help me. They all think it’s hilarious when I try to say anything. One girl has a broken arm right now so we used gym class for her to teach me to count to 100… I think I remember half of it. but I’m starting to recognize numbers when the cashier tells me how much I owe now. Which is good since it’s usually in the hundreds or thousands, because you know, Hungarian money. It’s still a momentary panic to see my bill coming to 4,000 until I convert and it’s about $15.

I passed one of my neighbors (?) this week while I was walking home from class. She was very, very concerned that I did not have my coat zipped up or a scarf on so I ended up zipping my coat for the remaining minute walk to my house so that she felt better. Really, I wasn’t cold at all, but I guess she was. She seemed very relieved that I was warm enough for the rest of my walk.

I’ve decided I really like teaching the younger kids. I love the 1st and 2nd grade classes the most. The kids are always happy and cute. And they also don’t talk back, at least not in English, so that helps too.

I went to Bratislava with Jena two weekends ago and never posted any pictures. There’s really not a lot going on there. We stumbled on to a small karaoke bar when we got in Friday night. Their idea of karaoke is playing youtube videos and singing over top of them. While leaving that bar, we met some Irish guys who asked Jena if she “wants to do any hard drugs” and then told us to “be cool” when we walked near some police officers. We quickly ditched them to let them enjoy their night of fun. We saw the blue church and a castle and were extremely disappointed when we realized that the Christmas market was still being set up and would not open that night. We decided to go back to Budapest and get a night at that Christmas market in. Sunday we went to a market in a ruin bar where I bought a fruit rollup the size of my thigh. it was great. I still haven’t finished it.


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