Paige's Return to Deutschland!

Hallo Berlin! This blog will be a place for friends and family to get very occasional snip-its on Biggs' life in Germany.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hungary: not Germany

I just passed the one month mark of being here in Hungary. Adrian mentioned that yesterday then immediately said, “maybe I shouldn’t have reminded you of that.” The problem is I don’t have much to show for my one month stay in the way of speaking Hungarian, understanding Hungarian culture, or more importantly, for my primary purposes for being here: finding a thesis topic or internship.

The first hurdle I encountered was that my main contact here was gone until the 20th of August, so I had to wait a few weeks before meeting with him. Ultimately he was very friendly and even brought his daughter along so I could have a friend, but then told me that I should talk to his assistant—who was gone on vacation but would be back in ten days—about further work. I met with her last Friday and she said that basically there isn’t much I can do since I don’t speak Hungarian.

To clarify, the problem isn’t so much that I lack a firm grounding in the history of Hungarian literature; it’s more that I’ve been here for a month and can’t even count past ten. It’s embarrassing and not like me. But, I just poured myself into German and it’s almost like I am so bummed out to be starting from the very beginning again that my mind won’t let me learn. During Adrian’s four-day race in Budapest I even spent most of the off time looking at the Hungarian phrase book. In the end I don’t really remember anything. I think you have to love a language first, or at least have a couple friends you want to talk to, before you can honestly take a stab at learning it. I really wanted to be able to speak German to my parents’ friends and to my German housemates. Spanish was always my first love—the music, the food, the literature, everything. But Hungarian hasn’t yet made that connection with me.

I do like Hungary though. I feel comfortable here even though my communication is very limited. I thought there would be more people who speak English or German but have been surprised that most (at least in Pecs) don’t speak anything but Hungarian. Women seem better at languages here than men, which I guess helps me a bit because female friends are easier to meet. But in the end you should bear in mind that all my insightful commentary about Hungarian culture is based on observation rather than interaction.

One of the things I like most here is I never have to worry about how I am dressed. That might seem like a silly thing to say, but in Nicaragua women have to swim in their clothes, while women here dress pretty scandalously wherever, whenever. I don’t think I would ever get to the extremes of the corset-shirt-things that I see some of the women wearing here, partly because that is the fashion for Berlin prostitutes, but I do appreciate not worrying about wearing tank tops or super long/short skirts. The only people that dress conservatively are the frumpy Mormon missionaries (particularly women) we sometimes see wandering through town. Adrian says they look like salespeople from electronics stores.

Another thing I appreciate is that Hungarians come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I got to the point in Germany that blond babies started to look ugly—there was just no variety—all blond curls, blue eyes, and rosy cheeks. I think pretty much anyone who comes here could pass as a Hungarian. Except if you wear crocs like me and everyone thinks you are wearing gardening shoes. Ha. Oh, and did I mention I like Gulyash and Galuska?

Hungary has still been a challenge though, maybe my biggest one yet. I have never left home to move to another place and then honestly considered returning. A few weeks ago, Adrian left me alone for a night in Pecs because he had to travel to a race. He told me before leaving the team would spend a few weeks in Italy this September. At the time, it appeared that I would have many days and nights alone in Pécs in the future (It turns out he will be here for most of September so that is no longer a problem). When he came back, I had all but packed my bags. He eventually convinced me to give it more time. My main reasons for wanting to return were to see my grandparents and go to a wedding, but Kate’s wedding was the Friday before last and my grandparents will be leaving Eugene next weekend, so I’m here to stay. I guess the filing will continue to pile up at my mom’s and dad’s offices in the mean time.

So why am I staying? For starters, it would be a little ridiculous to fly home for a few weeks then fly back to Europe in late October to start school again. But honestly the main reason is Adrian. It’s important for us to hang out now because after this time in Pécs it appears that we have at least another year apart. Adrian will be in Italy starting this November for at least a few months, then once racing starts he’ll be constantly traveling all over Europe. That’s great for him, but working in Italy doesn’t count towards the nine months of work experience necessary for my Master’s. Thus, I will be taking classes through March and then will start to look for an internship abroad.

I also apologize to all the people who would be thrilled to just hang out and float along—my brother for example. I think Connor would love just hanging out in Hungary, walking around the city, and not doing much. In fact, he has been known to just chill in towns, namely Missoula, that while cool are not half as interesting as Pécs. There are also many people—mostly women of past generations (plus a few stalwarts in modern times)—who would be happy being the bread-maker for the bread-winner. But I am not so great being a house girlfriend or a full-time cheerleader, and not just because I am a lousy cook or because we don’t have a washing machine.

In fact, I think that maybe Adrian would be happier following me around. He is better at cooking, much better in fact, and he can reach all of the stuff in the kitchen. His blog ( now even has a following, which is a good sign because he’s always thought a writing career could happen in the future. That would be great because he can do it anywhere and it makes people happy, especially me because then I’d get a live-in cook. HA. I am going to keep encouraging him because I think it is good for his brain to get some exercise along with that body.

More about Adrian now. He’s also much better at chilling. In fact, he asked me yesterday if I had a Buddhist phase. We agreed that most kids of our generation in the States have one during high school. I kind of had one around 15 but was too into Jesus to start burning incense and talking about the “journey.” But part of his Buddhist phase was realizing the difference between people who are happy simply by “being” and those who are happy only when “doing.” It turns out that I’m better at doing and he is better at being. We decided I’m a “do-er,” because unfortunately I have no job, friends, or a stable place to live, and I’m not succeeding as a “be-er.” The other side of that is Adrian is probably the happiest person alive right now. He has the job of his dreams, interesting teammates, and a little cuddly blonde that lives with him. There are some ups and downs of course, it’s just funny how content he is when things are weird for me.

Ultimately, things with Adrian are good. And that’s good, because if they weren’t then I’d have no reason to be here. The best part is that I don’t wake up in the morning feeling like something is missing, which is how I felt when we were apart (although I would like to wake up not on the floor). Also, living with an athlete has perks: good food, naps, free equipment, etc. But the down side is Adrian sleeps like a toddler—ten or eleven hours a night or whines like a toddler. In the future he’ll go to sleep and then a few hours later I’ll find my place on either the floor or bed—depending on the rotation—and sleep my appropriate amount. Oh, and we aren’t being puritans about the sleeping arrangement, but as luck would have it, our bed is actually smaller than a dorm bed… it’s kind of like one of those beds they have for little kids that fits inside a race car. But alas, minus the race car. It wouldn’t be a problem if we were living separately as planned, but it’s only two months and finding housing here is like finding a Hungarian radio station that doesn’t play rock ballads.

So, there was some candidness about what’s going on in my life. Silence on the blog, email, or phone conversations is usually because I’m busy. Unfortunately, this time it was because things weren’t going so well. Hopefully the next update will be uplifting and include tales of interesting jobs, friends, etc. But if not, at least I am learning a lot, working on some future projects, and spending time with Adrian, all of which are important. I was always told in college that one learns more outside of class than in. Well, the good news is with no class or job I must be learning a ton.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see, your good for nothing brother who lazes around under the guise of 'chillin' eh? Lest we forget Tucson, Chicago, San Fransisco, LA and various administration buildings. Thanks for the shout out. Hope all is well.


6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linda montgomery called it, she sensed that you might be unhappy, but sister hang in, you are a fource capable of so many wonderful things its hard for me to think of you couped up somewhere. Read the Alchemist, its all about following ones true path in life. As I am sure the older generations have told you, this is your time to do whatever you want, you have your whole life to settle down and be a "cheerleader."
It must be hard living in such a different culture, so props for sticking it out for so long. I appreciated your honesty on this blog, life isn't always rosey, some of your other blogs have been a little too "perky" if you know what I mean.

As for me i am leaning towards LA at the moment, the JOB situation is a lot better, but my head never stops spinning, off to Mexico with my costco hommies for labor day. NY has bad mexican food and the margaritas are nasty.

Love you and hope you had a great bday

11:09 PM  

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