Thursday, January 15, 2015

The reason why I buy Dr. Pepper

The MopDog strikes again! Pulis are just so darn adorable, I was surprised one would be homeless in the USA to begin with. They are not all actually this obedient - some are too smart for their own good - and they are very hyper, but yes, they are adorable. I should know, I grew up with them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dear USA, I wish you would quit these 5 things

Dear United States of America,

You and I have been in a relationship for a while now, and I feel like we have arrived to a point where we need to talk about some minor issues. I still like you (don't worry, I won't say the other L word, I know we are not ready for that kind of commitment yet), but I feel like I need to express my feelings and voice my concerns, to keep this relationship healthy. To make this painless and time-efficient, I made a list of the top 5 things I would like to see changed in the near future:

Right on red
I understand that everyone is very important and everyone needs to be somewhere RIGHT NOW, but this "right on red" concept makes me feel insecure. As a pedestrian by European birthright, having to jump in between cars turning from two or three different directions while the light indicates it is my turn to walk makes me feel undervalued and kind of invisible. I mean, I might as well jump into traffic at any given point and pray. I understand prayer is important to you, but this behavior is no way to encourage it.

Toilet doors
Honey, I hate to break it to you, but I have noticed an ever widening disconnect between toilet doors and door frames around here. I am a firm believer in the universal sisterhood of women, but that does not mean that I need to establish eye contact with each and every one of them while I am changing tampons. You might not have this experience, so I am just letting you know.

I appreciate openness and communal sentiment, but frankly, I don't think we should air dirty laundry in front of strangers. It definitely hurts our relationship. Making the presence of a washing machine in an apartment the sign of some kind of adult commitment is juvenile, and I feel like I need to put my foot down about my basic needs. I understand that it is the tradition of your people to parade dirty panties down the street and into the laundromat where they can tumble cheerfully around on full display in the company of their playmates, but we need to find some kind of a cross-cultural common ground.

I need more warmth in this relationship, especially when it comes to drinks (and by the way, soda, pop, coke, please make up your mind). There is a range between "European warm soda" and "shattered upper incisors." I know it is hard to believe, but it is a wonderful mystical land and I have been there.

Shop decorations
I understand that you are enthusiastic about holidays, and I truly like that about you. It's cute. However, sometimes you need to give me a little time to breath and regroup. I simply don't have the energy to wake up from the food coma of fervent Christmas celebrations, and lunge straight into some carefree Valentine's Day shopping spree. I simply can't. Sometimes I just need some animalistic, mindless workdays devoid of emotional attachments. And, honestly, if someone gives me a box of chocolates they bought eight weeks ago, heart-shaped box or not, I will take it as a symbol of contempt, not love.

That is all, I guess. I know it sounds like a lot, but these are all small changes that could be implemented over time with minimal effort, for both of our sakes. Please promise me you'll think about it.

Like you,

(Obviously, this is not a Hungarian themed post per se, but I am Hungarian and these are the cultural differences no one warned be about, so there you go. What were your most stunning sources of culture shock?)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Who would you send to the Eurovision?

It's that wonderful time of the year again! People line up for the chance of representing their beloved country at the extremely prestigious worldwide stage of the Eurovision Festival! Like many other nations, Hungary also organizes her own song contest to decide, and like in many other nations, our lineup also ranges from surprisingly enjoyable to instant aural herpes.
I am curious, though: Which song would YOU, as non-Hungarian listeners, select to represent our odd little culture on the international stage? Which one sounds best to your unbiased foreigner ears?
(And how has no one though before about polling foreigners instead of polling Hungarian audiences?...)

You can find the YouTube videos posted on in two parts:

Fist part here

Second part here

Happy listening! And remember: it is okay to quit a song halfway through.

Friday, October 24, 2014

26 Other Things About Living in Budapest

So, I have recently seen this handy list of 26 signs that tell you that you have been living in Budapest too long, and while it is a fairly good list (number 9 is very, very true), it mostly focuses on food and drinking (the number 1 reason most young people visit Budapest). As someone who spent 5 college years in the city (with minimal drinking), here is my take on the same idea:

1. You know exactly which subway car to get into at any given station so you can get off at your destination right where the escalator is.

2. You get off the tram when a large group of college students get on, and you know what a Yellow Grasshopper is.

3. You know whenever Angelina Jolie's in town. And you know someone who's met her.

4. You know the best places to watch the August 20th fireworks without getting trampled, drowned, or set on fire.

5. You have a three-layer action plan for Night of the Museums. And that's just for getting home.

6. You have been hit by a Beer Bike.

7. You have been hit by a bike messenger.

8. You have tested cream cheese, chocolate cookies, and various other food items at the customer research center conveniently located right next to the ELTE Humanities Department. You have also occasionally pretended to pass by in order to score free snacks.

9. You know how to spot a conductor on a bus before they put their arm bands on.

10. You have gone down the Múzeum Boulevard and hit all the used book stores in one spree.

11. You have had lunch sitting on Roman ruins and didn't even think about it.

12. You have been hugged by the Hungarian Holy Mary. Alternately, you have met Béla the white rat, and his owner.

13. There are streets you have never seen not under construction.

14. "We're going up to the castle to hang out" is a normal sentence you use.

15. You know which streets to avoid when you are wearing heels. (Cobblestones.)

16. You have had your fortune told on the afternoon bus. The spell required some money bills.

17. The smell of chocolate pastries immediately makes you think of a subway station.

18. You can spot a stag party from a mile away.

19. You absolutely loathe pigeons.

20. On the other hand, you know what a magpie sounds like.

21. You still call Széll Kálmán Square "Moskva Square." Because that's what it it's called. End of story.

22. You have a working reference map of subways, trams, buses, trolleys and railroads in your head, with schedules attached. You can figure out the shortest way from point A to point B in seconds. You also know the corresponding nighttime schedule.

23. When you see a weird poster you immediately suspect the Two Tailed Dog.

24. You have tried to calculate the amount of sand in the Hourglass.

25. You have a personal connection with the sloths at the Budapest Zoo.

26. You have traveled across town to catch a movie with subtitles.

(I am sure I'll think of some more later)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

BBC coverage of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

Today is October 23th, the national holiday commemorating the start of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. I play this video for my classes to show them some historical background for the wave of Hungarian immigration to the USA.