First week down of my summer in Hungary and there have been quite a few ups and downs; both physically and emotionally – it’s been a steep learning curve but I’ve truly enjoyed all of it.
I biked 73 km in 3 days, hiked around 9 hours in the surrounding hills and logged about 24 km of city walking in Budapest. Needless to say, I’ve been more active this week than I have in the past couple of months and it has felt really good. I’m happy to be moving, taking time for myself, learning more and spending time with family.
It doesn’t go without fault though and trying to communicate in a foreign language with very little existing knowledge is hard. There were times this week when I felt good about getting hard sentences out and I was really proud of myself… other times where I was frustrated at myself yet again that my aunt or uncle had to tell their neighbor “She doesn’t understand everything”. I’m my harshest critic and until school starts next week and I get weekly quizzes, it will be difficult for me to see my progress and I think that I will continue to go through major highs and lows. But I know it’s a process and I have no expectations, but I do want to get better – just gotta keep reminding myself that it takes time.
Starting off the week, my friend Heather who has been doing a foreign exchange in Budapest, came out to the Duna Bend area (where I’m living) to go on a bike ride. It was a gorgeous blue sky day and it was so lovely to talk for a few hours as we biked past 13th century castles, a Countess’ mansion and a group of scouts canoeing on the river. On the way back we stopped for some fresh fish and chips and it was the perfect way to spend that beautiful sunny day.
I spent the next morning giving my legs a quick massage after the long bike ride before hiking up a hillside to a viewpoint with some crosses, a tradition for Good Friday. Then my cousin and I went to Budapest to do another viewpoint hike, this time over the entire city at Normafa Park. And it was such a clear day that we could see about 20 miles to the area that we live in. As we took the train back home, my brain and body were exhausted and I couldn’t even speak english well anymore (yikes!). It was an early night for me.
Then came Easter.
Easter is a HUGE deal here. On Easter Sunday I went to church with my cousins and to be honest, that was my first really overwhelming language experience. It was a mixture of things that made it difficult but between trying to understand the language and trying to understand what religious motions I needed to make, I felt lost and behind and kept questioning why I thought I could simply ‘follow along’. Not knowing when to say certain phrases made me stand out and not in a good way. I had gone to Hungarian church as a little girl and all of those feelings came back to me, including that the longer church went with me not understanding anything, the more excited I was for lunch.
Ham and eggs were served and after some time to myself to relax and revive, the family joined up for a long bike ride to the best ice cream in the area. Very long bike ride, but very good gelato. 2 scoops for $1.50? Take that Italy.
And that sounds like a pretty great, pretty complete Easter, right? Wrong.
Easter Monday is another day of festivities. This time with some old, traditional, fertility symbolism. Boys come to the doorsteps of houses with marrying-age girls in them, say a poem and dump water on them. In exchange, the boy gets a red egg, some drinks and some sweet treats. Dumping water is a bit old fashioned though and now some sprays of cologne suffice. Before 10am I was smelling like the perfume section of a department store and my 3 year old cousin was over the moon when he received a red Kinder egg from me. It was a very fun morning!
During the afternoon, my cousin and I went on a long bike ride and then hiked into the hillside, riding past cows and horses on unused roads. We even spotted a group of four boys dressed in nice outfits holding empty buckets… the poor girls that they must be visiting.
I spent one morning babysitting my 3 year old cousin and I began to recognize how important it is to have someone learning at nearly the same level as me. He probably understands more than me but we both take in new words every day and sometimes don’t understand situations – although having a 3 year old as your classmate doesn’t seem superb, it boosts my confidence quite a bit.
I rounded out my week with a giant hike to the third tallest mountain in Hungary. My aunt and uncle’s community group had been planning the hike and she wanted me to take part in it but I had no idea how steep or long this would be. 3 and a half hours of a nearly straight uphill climb – I felt out of shape beyond belief when a 60 year old would trot past me with their walking sticks in hand. Sure, that guy has climbed Everest, but still! Unfortunately the view at the top was clouded over but it set a gorgeous tone to the top of the mountain with large dark trees creating a romantic, gothic temple look. At the top we all quickly snacked on our sandwiches in the cold weather while everyone passed around to-go shot glasses of homemade palinka. I passed on the Hungarian schnapps and explored the roof of a watchtower, just in case it could show a view above the clouds. It did not – I was greeted by the freezing cold wind instead.
On the way down it was a lush forest of vibrant green and we were careful not to step on any black and yellow salamanders that wandered into the pathway.
A gorgeous trip, a great end to my first week, and definitely a great night of sleep.
~Ez a hét volt nehéz és jó is. Volt Húsvéti és sok sonkat és tojást. Később, voltam Királyrét és sétalok hét óra nagynéném és nagybácsimvel. Tanulok magyarul könyv egy kicsit de gyakorlok sok családomval. Nagyon szép hét!~