I’ve found that it’s always the banal, everyday things that get most complicated in a place where you do not know the language. While here in 2015, I wrote of my post office adventures (December 2015); I can still hear that accusatory cry of “toll, toll.” This week I had to deal with my new Vodafone plan for my Hungarian phone. At the airport they sold me a plan with data and some minutes, but hadn’t explained it thoroughly and I, being too groggy from lack of sleep, failed to ask enough questions or about alternatives. Of course, although they have an English website, all documentation and texts come to you only in Hungarian, including the 4 page terms and conditions. I figured out some of it on my own and had Réka look, and she decided I should switch to a different plan to better suit my needs. However, when we tried it, it wouldn’t work. So then I went to Vodafone at the mall here. Now it must be said that in places such as this, you get a number when you get in and wait until you see it called. The young man who assisted me there told me it would be 30 minutes. Miraculously, it was only 20 and I started explaining my question, in English of course, only to find out that this clerk didn’t speak English that well. So then another 20 minute wait, after which I spoke with a very friendly clerk who said that the plan Réka suggested was indeed the one for me. The problem was I would lose my data if I switched, so he advised to use up the data first and then switch. He also expressed some frustration that the airport Vodafone put everyone on that plan and then they came to him and wanted to switch it! One problem is the first plan is a recurring charge plan, which doesn’t work if you are only here for a month. And the recurring charge for useless data would have taken all the money I had on the plan for calling or texting. So I’m hoping this will work when I try to switch. Otherwise, back to Vodafone!
My other adventure has been with the washing machine at my Airbnb. I had difficulties figuring out my washer when I was in the Herman Otto apartment, and had to look up the instructions online. Thank goodness for wifi and the internet, where it truly seems sometimes that you can find anything. I just searched for the model number of this washer and lo and behold, I found an English language manual. Let’s just say that the washers here are not at all intuitive to those of us used to a basic American washer. Indeed, these are far advanced in their water and energy saving capacities, not surprisingly, but they also offer a confusing array of options that the neophyte definitely needs a manual or direct instruction to figure out! Even once I got it, I had the phenomenon of the screen not reading end at the end, but instead flashing and flashing, and nothing I pressed seemed to stop it. Today, however, I inadvertently selected a different cycle and at the end it said ‘End’ exactly as it was supposed to. Ta-da! Some days it is the simple victories that keep us going. (Actually, it may be most days that this is true!)
I have been getting better at grocery stores and such; sometimes I actually understand the amounts they tell me (I did quite well at the farmers market yesterday), but I also make sure to look at the readout. And at restaurants I try my awful ‘Hunglish’ on them. Of course the problem when one starts with a bit of Hungarian, such as a simple “Jo napot” (polite form of greeting–good day, essentially), it tends to lead to questions in rapid (to my ear) Hungarian that I don’t understand. And then we are back to Hunglish or the English language menu! (Was there ever a foreign language that did not seem to be spoken in double time to the untrained ear? Probably not; I always have the same issue in Mexico, although my Spanish is way better than my Hungarian.) I cannot imagine ever learning enough Hungarian to get by, but I suppose I could if I put my mind to it and was going to spend enough time here to make it worthwhile.
Well, enough adventures in Hungarian for one post. Today I am hosted for lunch by Réka and Robi, which will be wonderful, I know (from experience). My stay in Szeged is winding down; I leave in a couple of days for new adventures in travel.