Published: January 31st 2012January 22nd 2012
I will likely go back here and get a shot that better represents the scale. Markets like this are fairly popular among Hungarians for normal shopping.
I should have written again earlier, though I am not sure how far I’ve strayed from my first impressions. It's not that I don't have time, it's that writing journal entries doesn't seem too natural to me. I should try to set up something to share it - that might give me some motivation to write, but could also affect what i am willing to say. The first few days of language classes are over, now. I think around two thirds of the BSM students for this year (who I have heard number about 50) are attending classes at Bablion. There are some other students from AIT as well, as well as at least one not affiliated with either. The classes are for the most part following a workbook, moving between learning vocabulary and grammatical concepts. The first thing was to go over the letters, since Hungarian has a few peculiarities in its written form ("s" makes sh; "gy" is one sound that is somewhere between the first and last consonants in judge and beige; a, á, e, é, i, í, o,ó,u,ú,ü,ű,ö,ő are for the most part different vowels, not all of which i can make distinctly yet; etc.). I try
A Hungarian soft drink, which is Hungarian-sour-cherry (=meggy) flavored. I will have to work on clear shots of nearby things.
to practice reading signs, but I'm not sure if I will progress too far on that front.
We have several different teachers, but I think they don't quite share information enough, and so different classes cover different things at different rates. Not a problem, but occasionally frustrating when we are asked to do something we don't quite get yet, or a teacher assumes we have covered something and so does not elaborate. For the most part the method seems to be effective, and is noticeably focused on giving us the ability to have the sorts of conversations that we will likely be having. One lesson was various foods as well as learning about the proper suffix to add to the direct object of a sentence, (e.g, in "I want apples" = Kérek almákot). So far I think the full extent of Hungarian phrases I have used to effectively convey information is "Nem beszélek magyarul", "Angolul beszél?", "Van Túro Rúdí?", and "Kérek olcso telefonot". However, I expect this list will grow, both as I learn more Hungarian and as I venture forth into restaurants without English-speaking staff.
I could go into the language classes in more detail, but I
I'm told this is the largest indoor market in Budapest, and I would certainly believe it. While I'm not sure the multitude of similar produce stalls is necessary, or the upper floor of touristy items, I anticipate doing a fair bit of shopping here.
will be able to give a better summary later. On Saturday, my main activity was going to a dance performance (http://www.botafogo.hu/chess.html
) which was interesting, to say the least. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I went, but it ended up being fairly esoteric, with music in English and Spanish and a strange mix of attempted drama and comedy. Worth going to for 2800 Ft, though, probably. The most interesting part was the clapping, however. It turns out I am not the first to make note of this phenomenon. Hungarian clapping (to show extra appreciation/support for performers, so said the tour guide on Sunday) starts out normally, but quickly becomes synchronized at a rate around maybe twice per second. This then gradually accelerated, but eventually at the faster pace some people started clapping every other clap, until everyone dropped to around the initial frequency. I am not sure how widespread this is, but it makes me want to attend more performances to find out.
Perhaps of more interest is my experience before the show. There were, I learned later, various protests for different causes in different parts of the city happening that day. Picking up tickets at the
Lit up are, I think, Matthias church, a Hotel Hilton, and the Fisherman's Bastion, though it is hard to tell. It's nice that they light up the interesting tourist attractions/photo ops. I will have to play around with the camera to see if I can actually take pictures at night.
theater, which is on the castle hill, the seat of government in Budapest now and historically, I came across a rally. I am not sure exactly what their position was, but they were relatively near the president's (Pál Schmitt's) residence, which makes sense as it was recently alleged that he plagiarised the vast majority of his doctoral dissertation. In any case, I got the ticket without any event. In the intervening time, I ate at a restaurant at the foot of the hill, just across the chain bridge. It was, indeed, fairly touristy, but I didn't have much time to seek out another venue.
The menu items were mostly named after famous artists, and one in particular caught my attention: Fedák. The waiter didn't know who it was, but my guess is Sári Fedák, a Hungarian actress/singer. During the course of the meal, I noticed that a family there was speaking Spanish. There were, it turned out, from Argentina, though I didn't really pry too much further. I wouldn't really have asked at all except that their two children were playing hide-and-seek around the restaurant, creating a more amicable atmosphere I think. At this point I think I had uttered more useful/understood Spanish than Hungarian (outside of the classes).
The next day I went on one of what may turn out to be several organized guided tours in English specifically for our group. We went to the castle hill, of which I had only seen part of the day before. The tour guide was fairly energetic and enthusiastic, despite the cold and wind. We saw a few of the more impressive buildings and statues, and then went to the national museum. I must say the most interesting part of the tour was at the end, however, as the museum's content's itself weren't terribly notable. Our tour guide rather frankly discussed a few of the contemporary political issues in Hungary and in particular Budapest, in light of the (what turned out to be) multiple, rather unrelated protests. The primary conclusion I drew was that a lack of independent public news sources and politicians whose rhetoric goes in lieu of actions are rather widespread problems in democracies.
Afterwards, after dinner, I hung out with a few other students in one of their apartments in central Pest. Specifically, the main group Alex has been spending time with. A fair amount of the discussion centered on music, with this subset of my peers here demonstrating a remarkable similarity in taste (though not with me). There were a few moments scattered throughout where various people came to the realization that they are, in fact, surrounded by mathematicians while they are here (e.g, after finding that, in fact, the person they were talking to DID know what a hashmap was), which while a new experience is a comfortable one. I get a sense I will be spending more time with them, or at the very least Josh, a friend of Emil's from HCSSiM.
There was some talk of going on a trip to some other capital over the upcoming weekend. I also had some conversations with the two other Mudders who are actively pursuing practice rooms. It seems that even if I don't take initiative to accomplish things, someone else here will be working out the logistics...