Thursday, May 21, 2009

This Time Last Year

How about a trip down memory lane today? My memories to be exact! The mister and I are in the midst of spring cleaning and last night he came across a post card I had sent him this time last year while I was in Hungary. I couldn't believe it had already been a year! This revelation made me want to reflect upon the trip and share with you! Goodness you are lucky! ;)

As many of you know, I teach English as a Second Language to adult learners which I LOVE. I finished up my coursework for my Masters in TESL last fall and am loving being done finally! It took me longer to finish my Masters than it did my Bachelors! Well, one of the required courses is the internship class and I decided what better way to intern than to travel abroad to do so! I LOVE to travel internationally so I hopped on board a trip to Hungary that was being planned and completed my internship in Budapest!

Here's my trip in pictures and cliff notes for you!

Firstly, did you know that Budapest is actually two cities that are separated by a river? We stayed on the Buda side in a little cute apartment in a building that looked pretty scary from the road. Inside of the building though, a sunny and charming courtyard appeared with an efficient and cozy apartment for us to stay in.

I spent many of my evenings reading in the living room while everyone else went to sleep early so I grew quite accustomed to staring out of the window. This is a shot taken of my view from the living room apartment window during the day. See, the buildings do look a little scary from the outside! I've always felt a common feeling in all of the Communist block countries I've been to. Hard to explain but there's just a different feeling...

We interned at two different schools, one of which was a Hungarian public high school. I thought the school looked like a Hungarian Hogwarts! For those of you who don't follow Harry Potter, Hogwarts is the school the little wizards attend. There were twisty stairwells, basement classrooms and a castle-like feel to the school. At this school, we observed around 16 English classes in progress, taught students in small groups, interviewed students learning English and interviewed English instructors. It was so eye opening and informative, I reflect back to all I learned at that school so frequently to improve my classes. The students were ridiculously bright and driven to learn.

See the big mess of blonde hair in the back? That's me before I cut it all off! Don't worry, it will be back like that in a year or hair knows no bounds...

Working in a small group....

The second school we interned at was Pazmany Peter Catholic University. We observed and participated in classes for students at the Masters equivalent level who were learning to teach English in Hungary. It was SO interesting to be a part of these classes and see how other people are taught to teach ESL and EFL!
One of the most interesting things, to me, about this school was the a-freaking-mazing architecture! Everywhere I turned there was something else that made my jaw drop. I would have loved to have gone to a school like this!
Inside their student union.
Random campus buildings. This picture doesn't do the buildings justice at all.

Not only did I learn lots on this trip, but I experienced Hungarian culture! What better way to enjoy a new place but to try the local cuisine?! One evening, we went to our Hungarian guide's house (she was technically a guide but is now a good friend!) for a home cooked meal.
The main course was, of course, goulash which I ate the entire time I was there and loved it every single time! In case you didn't know, paprika is their main spice for EVERYTHING. Many people bring home the pap for their main souvenirs even!
Dessert was fried ewe's cottage cheese covered with sour cream and powdered sugar. It took tons of convincing to get me to try this one and I was amazed how much I loved it!
This little beast of a car was my infatuation for much of the trip as it was always parked on our street, beaming yellow and was just asking for my adoration. I had to take a picture with it :)
Throughout my travels, I try and do different types of pampering that the area has to offer. Aryuvedic massages in India, crazy table climbing massages in Mexico, haircuts in Hungary where the hairdresser spoke no English and me, no Hungarian and finally the traditional Turkish hot baths in Hungary. It was quite a sight at times but boy oh boy did that soak feel amazing. It was such an experience to soak in these beautifully tiled, antique pools with naturally heated spring water! I didn't take any photos inside the baths but this is the lobby of Hotel Gellert where we soaked. You can see how detailed the tile was just in the lobby so you can imagine what it was like in the pools!
I also make it a point to visit the clubs in all of the different countries I visit. Hungary was no exception. With my two cohorts in crime, we club hopped and hopped. I experienced being turned away from a men's only gay club, saw the ugliest drag queen in the history of the world, saw the most convincing Britney Spears drag queen ever, danced my little tush off and stayed up way too late with some kickin' people :)

Just as tequila is to Mexico and Saki is to Japan, Palinka is to Hungary. Palinka is a sort of wine type liquor that I equated to a strong schnapps. Lucky for us, there was a Palinka festival during our stay! Now, the Palinka festival was NOTHING like Tulsa's Oktoberfest but it was still a really enjoyable experience! Here's a pic of me with a super small glass of Palinka and oversized glasses...the glasses had to balance out the small glass! ;)

My guide and good friend :)

Another thing I try to do when I travel is find bead shops! You didn't think you'd get all the way through this without some jewelry talk, did you?!? I spent a few days traveling alone to do some antiquing, beading and hair cutting. I was lucky enough to find TWO bead shops while I was there! I picked up some of this and that and securely packed them in my bag (that would later be gone through in locked airport security while I stood and wondered why with an armed guard behind me! Turns out a few of the small palinka bottles that I had wrapped up looked suspicious in the xrays and needed to be securely checked. THAT was an interesting and frightening quality!) and got them home in one piece!
This first piece uses a really really cool brick red glass centerpiece that I had to have.
This piece uses the large, rectangular black and green beads I picked up over there. I also picked up blue and black beads of the same style but can't seem to find the picture of where I used them! I'll keep looking :)
It really blows my mind that it's already been a year and that it really happened! Sometimes my travels feel like a dream to me! The things I miss about Budapest are its awesome public transportation system, the endless supply of goulash, the fresh baked bread on the corner, the cheap pashminas, the record player that played old music above our apartment and my wonderful friend I made.
Thanks for sticking through this long post and reliving my trip with me :)


  1. i hope you write a book someday...i imagine it being a fiction work...but closely resembling the exploits of a certain enthusiastic blonde :)

  2. Wow, how interesting! When you mentioned being a teacher, I had no idea that you taught adult ESL. That's really cool, do you enjoy it? I think it's exciting that you studied abroad, I've always thought that would be so much fun. Your trip looks amazing. I love the beads you found, and I lol'd at "bring home the pap."