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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ráhel: 1, Magyar: 0. Haha, just kidding.

11:12 pm CET

This morning the other students and I took a tram to the university on our own. We were all groggy and awkward; making small talk occasionally, but mostly listening to the radio on our phones (I found a lovely classical station that surprisingly played part of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack later in the morning--I got really excited). When we arrived at the university, we got lost trying to find the room (of course it would happen on the first day), and--once found--waited outside the locked door for our teacher to show up. As aformentioned in the last post, today was my first real encounter with the Hungarian language. It was... interesting, to say the very least. I can't speak for my fellow BSCS members, but I have the feeling that this is going to be a long and taxing journey. Once we perfect the pronunciations of the forty-four letters in the Magyar (pronounced MAW-jyawr) alphabet, our teacher Teréz (Teri) said that it's really quite phonetic. I suppose that's legitimate, but it's sure as hell going to take a while to get used to the fact that the same letters we've spent our entire lives with now represent different sounds.

So after our lesson (Teri was difficult to gauge; I'm not sure if she thought we did well or if we did downright awfully), our group of fourteen--which I may start to refer to as the G-14, just for shits and giggles--split up to do our own exploring. The three Carleton College girls, Yoana from Bulgaria, my roomie, and I crossed the Petőfi híd, one of the many bridges that span the Danube, connecting Buda to Pest. Aside from our little bar adventure the other night, I had never been to the Pest side of the city before. It is without a doubt one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen. The architecture is astounding, and one could easily (and happily) become lost in the labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets. We walked for four hours straight, stopping only for lunch at a tiny and secluded pizza parlour. We passed several shops and continued through a small gated park, after which we found that we had gone in an enormous circle. We found a street crammed with tourists, expensive souvenir stores, and even more expensive cafés. I had the surreal feeling then, surrounded by people on vacation, that I was no longer one of them. The fact that I live here now certainly started to set in at that moment; sure, I can't pronounce half the words I see on buildings or streetsigns, I don't know the public transport routes yet, and I can barely walk down the street without being immediately pegged as a foreigner. But I live here. For the next five months... I live here.

After walking around Pest for a while longer, we crossed the Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge) back to Buda, took a tram home, and rested for the remainder of the day. I had thought it was going to rain again today, so I failed to bring my camera to class with me, thinking I would return to the dorm and sleep. That said, I still have no pictures to share, but I hope to change that tomorrow. After class, I plan to cross the bridge again and walk around Pest some more, snapping an obscene amount of photos as I go. There is so much to see and do, and I am incredibly excited for it all.

Assuming I'm not braindead after tomorrow's language lecture, that is.

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