"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment... and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn." -Thoreau

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Language Barriers (and some pictures!)

Hello, hello!

It occurred to me that it would be appropriate to start off this post with a Hungarian greeting.... but, unfortunately, my Hungarian remains virtually non-existent. The only words I know how to pronounce or recognize are köszönöm (thank you) and 205b (my room number).
Yes, this is pathetic.

I have decided that perhaps it should be some sort of requirement for people to venture off to a land where a significant (though certainly not impossible) language barrier exists.
It just so happens that Hungarian is a non-Indo-European language. Of course.
What this translates to is utter impenetrability. Never before have I looked at signs, labels, or any decent-sized body of text and had absolutely no clue- or worse, no hope!- of what its contents is. (Okay- never when looking at a language where I recognize the characters.) It's really rather disconcerting.

I have become more used to navigating the local parts of Buda on foot, and am starting to get a vague idea of the whole transportation thing. So it's gotten to a point where I feel more or less comfortable walking around in Budapest, and it can be easy to forget that I am in a foreign country.
And then I get hungry, and decide to look for food.
And then I realize that I am incapable of ordering food or of communicating my desires to a non-English speaker.
And then stress emerges.

Although my roommates and I are now capable of navigating the grocery store without embarrassment, we have had moments where we decide to not buy something because we're not sure it's what we think we is. Scanning the product description does no good... because Hungarian is not Indo-European!
Life is hard.

It's also startling when I find something written in English or hear English music being played. For a moment it is normal, and then I realize, 'Wait! I understand that!'
It is surprisingly comforting.

So. Yes. I think it might be enlightening for some to experience the sense of hopelessness which can emerge when you are surrounded by incomprehensible words and people who may or may not  1) be able to understand you or help you and 2) be okay with the fact that you do not speak their language.
I think I shall certainly be returning to the states with a greater sense of empathy and understanding.

But anyway, my first Hungarian language class is tomorrow! So hopefully I shall improve my food-procuring abilities and prevent starvation!

Other than exciting language barriers, there has been a lot of... taking care of business (buying transportation passes, applying for a residence permit, purchasing a cell phone, etc) and doing touristy things and enjoying down time. Good stuff, I guess. Class starts tomorrow, though. I'm excited, but a little uncertain what to expect.

As promised, I finally got around to taking a few pictures of my new home!
Here is the front of the building:

These are stairs that lead up to where the dorm is...

And some images from the interior...

The last is the view from my window. It makes me happy :]

Well, classes start tomorrow... I must be up early! It is past my bedtime.
More exciting updates and pictures to come soon!

Au revoir!

No comments:

Post a Comment