We didn’t waste any time getting into the swing of things. On day two, we toured the international school here that Beau and Didi would be attending. Day three they started school. QSI is a “mastery level” learning school, so they no longer have traditional grades – just narratives. Each of their classes has eight students, they have self-selected activity periods, and they have classmates from all over the world! They love their new teachers and already have great friends – and a bunch of birthday parties to attend!
At the end of the first week we were here, QSI held a fantastic event called “International Tasting” where families from each country represented at the school cooked traditional foods and wore clothing celebrating their cultures. The local Hungarian school even had a small group of children perform a traditional dance that was so lovely! I found myself tearing up with gratitude for the experience unfolding in front of us. A parade of international children, delicious multicultural foods, and a cozy new community that already felt like home. I admit I was still jet lagged and a bit delirious but it was incredibly moving and felt like a welcome just for us!
We rented a car from Papa Support and began our search for a second vehicle. Our van arrived in Papa when we did, but there is A LOT of involved paperwork to complete before it can be cleared for the roads here in Hungary. What I’ve noticed so far about vehicles here: they’re all small, they’re almost all diesel, and they’re mostly standard shift. I can get used to that! But our Honda Odyssey will definitely stand out as it is NONE of those things. Ha! Also, people bike everywhere. Without helmets. In the road. And roads are extremely narrow (yikes!) and very rarely have stop signs – almost all yields! (Love it.) I also will be getting quite dizzy here as the roundabouts (traffic circles) are abundant. Traffic lights are also helpful, as they turn yellow before they turn red AND before they turn back to green! Many also have glowing countdown numbers. Wow! Thanks, Hungary. Safety first!
Currency and Language have been the most obvious “culture shock” learning curves to adjust to. The Hungarian Forint is around 250Ft/$1 so I’m constantly doing calculations in my head. Also, most people deal in cash here except for major stores and gas stations, so that will take some getting used to, especially budget-wise. I always prefer a paper trail for our spending purposes, but it will be fun to use this colorful money! I’m starting to learn a few words but we have been told by everyone that Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn! So far I know that jó (“yo”) means “good,” igen (“ee-gahn”) means “yes,” nem means “no,” Magyar (“Madyar”) means Hungarian, and köszönöm (“kuhss-uh-nehm”) means “thank you”!
Living in the Papa Support apartment is just fine, but living out of suitcases is not. We are getting restless to find a home! We began the search and started to investigate neighborhoods we want to settle in. Houses here have gated or walled in yards or “gardens” as locals say. They’re also mostly built out of concrete, unlike homes in America that are usually wooden or stick-built. In the homes we have seen, we noticed that the finishing work is also really good quality here – doors are solid wood and ornate, door and window frames are sturdy and well made, and windows are SO cool! They open two ways – like a door, and tilted from the top to let air in. This is probably my favorite feature I wish we could bring back to the states with us when we return someday!
We met the local doctor so I feel better about getting support for any medical issues if necessary. The kids started bi-weekly after school sports (mostly soccer, kickball and track and field). Derek started playing floor-ball (similar to floor hockey) and we made some great friends already. I took a pilates class and scheduled a massage (all services here are really affordable!) and asked around about other bucket list items like horseback riding and pottery. As the English-speaking community here is very small, its mostly up to us to facilitate these kinds of activities. We learned that if we want something, generally it can happen if we organize it ourselves! We are ready to start exploring – this weekend we will take a day trip down to Lake Balaton!