So now that I’m pretty well settled, after six weeks, time for an assessment of sorts.
Things I miss, in no particular order: my bed (okay, so I lied–this is way up at the top for sure!) and my recliner; my friends and family (also up at the top); fluffy towels (air dried towels lack that essential fluffiness); hoppy beers, especially good old American IPAs; my well-stocked kitchen (I can never find what I need when trying to cook here); being able to call my sister or my father without planning it out ahead of time with them; being able to read the ingredients and instructions on packages at the grocery store (though I’m getting a bit better at this); tap water that doesn’t taste metallic; Burger Night at the White Inn with Dani, Carmen, and Phil.
Things I (somewhat surprisingly) don’t miss much: TV (except for some nights when I am bored and tired of work or reading and would like to watch something mindless instead of online news); my car (although it would sure be nice to have it for the trip to Pécs next week–3.5 hours on a bus that leaves at 6:25 a.m., ugh!); “American food” (I haven’t had a burger since I’ve been here, although there are lots of places that actually serve them–I will rectify this soon, I’m sure; hot dogs are also common here); my yard (okay, that’s not really surprising).
My back is almost back to normal, which is good, since I have a busy couple of weeks ahead. I head to Debrecen, a city east of here, for a Fulbright weekend trip. I am proud of myself for purchasing the train tickets on my own today, even though no one at the ticket office spoke English! (Of course, it helped that I had written down the trains and times I wanted, using the online timetable.) Then Wednesday and Thursday I take that early bus ride to Pécs (west of here) to give two presentations at the University of Pécs. And next Saturday I will welcome my first visitor: my sister comes for two weeks!! I am looking forward to showing her around my town, and to our trip to Berlin.
I continue to enjoy my classes, my students, and my colleagues here at Szeged. I look forward to attending part of a conference the American Studies Department is having with professors from the University of Manitoba; unfortunately the Debrecen trip means I cannot attend most of the sessions. I am also enjoying my Hungarian language and culture classes, and making a little progress in my Hungarian. At many restaurants and shops you hardly need Hungarian, but it sure helps at places that don’t deal with many tourists–the train ticket office, the grocery store, the hair salon, the front desk at my dorm, etc.
For the most part, the people of Szeged are quite kind to this alien in their midst. After losing my sunglasses on the train last week, I went hunting for some new ones today. At first the only place I could find them was the optician, and they were quite expensive. But then I saw that DM, one of the drugstores, had a few pairs left. Not particularly liking any of them, I selected the best of the lot, only to find out the price was more than I cared to spend for glasses I didn’t really like. The clerk then kindly directed me to a spot where there were a few pair that were 50% off. I found a pair I liked much better for half the price. Köszönöm szépen, DM clerk!!
Egy kicsit magyarul beszélek (I speak a little Hungarian), which can be dangerous. I now know just enough to inspire people to unleash torrents of Hungarian in response, to which I can still only reply, “Sajnálom, nem értem.” But I feel I am making progress, anyway.