Today was the first day of the Hungarian intensive language course. About 40 BSM kids came out of the wordwork of Budapest to attempt to speak their first few words of the hardest language in the world. The classes started at 9 a.m. and we were split up into smaller groups of 7 to 10 people. Each group was assigned to a small seminar room and a Hungarian teacher. It was a breath of fresh air for someone to sit there in front of me and explain the different pronunciations and give examples of simple Hungarian sentences. I have found Rhyme and Reason! though apparently they don't understand what I am saying. The first few words we learned were easy:
diak vagyok, es angolul beszelek = I am a student, and I speak English
o Sam van. Sam magyarul tanul = He is Sam. Sam is learning Hungarian.
Of course, there are several vowel punctuation marks that I'm omitting since I don't want to go type on the Hungarian keyboard. There are 14 different vowels in Hungarian, each with its own unique pronunciation, and a few have sounds that aren't in English at all. We learned a handful of verb conjugations and expanded our vocabulary to 30 words strong. At the very least, I've started to properly pronounce the street signs that I walk by on the way to school. I was the only one in our small group who didn't already speak another language besides English. Several people speak French, a few speak Spanish and German, and even Elan speaks Hebrew. The teacher said that my Latin in high school would help me learn Hungarian, though the languages aren't related, so that's a little comforting. However, I didn't come to Budapest to learn Hungarian, I came to challenge myself.
That's why I'm going to make a concerted effort to study the daily lessons, do the assigned homework, and learn as much Hungarian as I can in these few weeks. I don't want to be visiting Budapest, I want to be living in Budapest (Budapesten elek) for these next five months. To do that, there's no way around the challenge of the language. The only way to overcome it is to tackle it head on. I'm excited of the opportunity to learn a foreign language and directly apply it in my environment. I know it will be difficult, but hey if it was easy, then everyone would do it.
One of the more anticipated parts of the first day of language school was meeting the other BSM students. Everyone was very friendly and eager to meet each other. We are from all over the country and all different backgrounds. There are people from Minnesota, Virginia, Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, South Carolina, Chicago, and Texas. We go to public schools and private schools; big and small. Some of us are seniors and some of us are freshmen (wow). After the language school ended for the day, several people met up at 7 p.m. to walk around Budapest and go to some of the pubs with the local Hungarians. I showed up a little late and joined seven other people at a pub across the street from the Dohany Synagogue called Catapult. By the way, Dohany means tobacco in Hungarian, and the "y" is silent.
After the pub, we walked around looking for a place to eat. I came across a Burger King, across from a McDonald's no less, and decided to get a Whopper. The burger and fries reminded me home, but then it made me miss it more. They just can't make fast food in Europe the way they do in America. You might wonder, How could they possibly mess that up? Isn't it only six ingredients? Well, you can mess up a Whopper and fries and Coke. Now I understand why In 'n Out only opens restaurants within a short distance of its meat factories: to preserve the integrity of the taste. Shame on you Burger King. You need to stick to what you are good at. I don't know what that is. Let me go get a breakfast taquito from Whataburger while I think about. I'll get back to you.