Writing the date in international format because I'm in Europe! Actually, in Hungary, we write it 2006-2-16. I have a couple updates for you. See the links on the left to check out the pictures I have uploaded to facebook and flickr. They should be up here soon. Hungary is awesome! I'll post my weekly e-mail updates here, so keep checking back. Sziastok!
Monday, February 13, 2006
Jó réggelt kívanok!
(That's Hungarian for "I wish you good morning")
I think I like this country. Every day has seemed like two days in one, I have been so busy. I am staying at Hotel Góliát, which is a collégium, or dormitory. Although by bus and train it is about 45 minutes from school, it is in a very good part of the city. I can walk to 3 elelmiszers (supermarkets), a Catholic church, a supermarket, and about 5 different bus/tram stops. The public transportation system is great. For most of the week, I didn't even pay for a ticket! However, if I was to get caught riding without one, it would be at least a $20 fine, so I forked over the $10 for the month. Heroes Square, which is bordered by 2 art museams is about 5 minutes from my dorm. Right next to it is the City Park, which includes the zoo, ice skating rink, and best of all: Szecheny Bath. If you ever visit Europe, and are anywhere close to Budapest, the baths alone are worth your visit. For $10, we got to explore over 15 different baths with temperatures from 104 F to 40 F. Some had bubbles and minerals, others had powerful jets that create a lazy river on steroids. There were almost a dozen different steam rooms and saunas. It was amazing! And if you leave in under 2 hours, you get almost half your money back.
I keep mentioning the cost of everything because the cost of living here is very affordable. 200 Hungarian forints is about 1 dollar. I can buy a freshly baked loaf of bread for 100 forints. A bottle of wine is 288. Cookies: 199. I've also noticed that there is less waste here. I haven't bought anything that came in a cardboard box yet. Also, there are very few overweight people. Even at the mall food court, where I had a gyro for lunch, it seemed like everyone was very healthy.
I have 2 roommates in a room with 4 beds. Chris Mohr is from Nebraska Weslyan University, and is studying History and Anthropology. He is a 20-year-old junior from Omaha, NE and lived less than 10 minutes from where I used to live. Andrew Cawrse is from the University of Idaho. He is a 22-year-old junior studying Environmental Engineering and is big into Snowboarding. There are also 3 American girls who live next door. They are studying via the International Student Exchange Program, also. There are a couple other guys named Aaron and Jin who live down the hall. They have already been here for a semester and have been very helpful to us. Aaron's girlfriend is from Transylvania, and speaks 5 different languages. There are other international students, staying at other locations, who are from Finland, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Spain, Italy, and Colorado.
Almost everyone I've met so far is in to outdoor stuff, so I feel like I fit right in. We took a hiking trip yesterday up north near the Danube Bend. Very pretty rolling hills. Reminded me a little of the Eastern Kentucky landscape, except that it was covered by almost a foot of snow. Next weekend we will probably take the same train and head to Esztergom, where we can cross the border to Slovakia.
We also took a bus trip around Budapest with the other 40 or so international students. Budapest is actually a merger of two cities: the hilly Buda on the west side of the Danube and the flat Pest to the east. The view from Buda Castle and Fisherman's Bastion is stunning. You can see the whole Pest half of the city spread alone the Danube. On the trip we passed a disco called LivingROOM where we had a party with all the exchange students. I sang 2 hours worth of Karaoke with my new Hungarian friend Adams, who is majoring in American Studies.
Probably the biggest challenge so far has been the language barrier. Although all my dealings with the university are in English, it is not so widespread around the city. Unlike Spanish or German, Hungarian has very few words in common with English. It is in the same family as Finnish, but my Finnish friends here find it just as foreign as I do. I am enrolled in a language course, and have already began picking up the language, and ways to get by until I learn it. 3 quick tips if you want to sound Hungarian:
- "S" makes an "SH" sound. So I am living in "Bood-uh-pest"
- Almost all words are spoken with an accent on the first syllable
- Igen (ee-gen) is yes and Nem is no.
That is all from me for now. I have to get ready for my first day of class. I'm signed up for 21 hours right now, but will probably drop a few once I find which ones I like the best. My pictures and videos, as well as this message, should soon be up on www.nicksuch.net. We don't have internet access at our dorm yet, but hopefully will sometime this week. For now, the only place I get it for free is at school, and it is very slow. I have been receiving, and enjoying, all your voicemails. Once we are up and running with net, you'll be getting some phone calls!
(A greeting, hi or bye, as said to more than one person. Szia is the singular form. Sounds like "See ya!")
Your Hungarian correspondent,
Kerekes u. 12-20.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Took a bus tour yesterday, so I have some pictures now. The links are
below. Fast internet and toilet paper are somewhat hard to find here,
but everything else is good. People and food are great. I'll send you
more when I have it! Take care, I miss you all.
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
I'm in Budapest, Hungary. I landed at 9am local time (3am for you guys). I'm sitting in the airport waiting for a couple other Americans who land in the next 2 hours. The airport is really nice inside. The radar tower, however, reminds me that this country was under Communist rule not too long ago. It looks like an Imperial Walker (the 2-legged ones) from Star Wars. The flights were all great. I sat next to a guy who works for LG&E on the first one. He knows Shannon Hincker's dad. The second leg was kind of a blur. I slept the whole time, even turning down free food for sleep. Yeah, weird, I know. I sat next to a woman from Delhi, India whose husband lives in Chicago, but their adopted children couldn't get green cards because they are Christian and not Hindu. The flight from Frankfurt to Budapest was almost empty. I had a whole row to myself, and finally got a window seat (aisle's on the other ones). When we were landing, our pilot informed us (in German, Hungarian, and English) that the temperature outside was a -13 degrees. Sure enough, http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/12843.html says that it is -13 celsius, or 8 Fahrenheit. Feels just like Texas. During the ice age.
As far as money goes, I'm feeling kinda rich right now. I gave them a $50 bill and got back almost 10,000 forints. Too bad vending machine flowers cost 2500.
Eleanor II survived the journey, unscathed as far as I can tell.
Laptop battery is going quick, so I'm gonna go now. Just wanted to let you guys know that I survived my first excursion to a country where the language seems to be gibberish, but everything is still in English! I can't wait to meet the other students so we can go explore. We're catching a train then a bus to our hotel, which I think is on the other side of the Danube river from here. I'll let you know more when I get there!