This morning at the Children’s House there was a cute little guy who was learning to walk. His wobbly little steps couldn’t get him too far before his dad had to catch him from falling, but he was determined to walk everywhere. There were times when he walked short distances on his own; his dad would let go of his hands and he would take a few steps only to fall into the arms of the person to whom he was walking. He would laugh with pure joy at his accomplishment and turn around to walk back to his father where he would get a big hug as recognition of his great work. Everyone in the House filled the space with smiles and laughter as we all watched the little guy.
While watching the little cutie wobble around I thought of how alike my experience is to his. I often feel like I am just learning to walk because, more often than not, I am fumbling all over, unsure of my footing. Everything here in Hungary is just so…foreign. Though I have been getting more used to what is around me, I still have a hard time navigating my surroundings. Not only does the language present a huge challenge, but the food is really interesting sometimes, grocery shopping can be quite the adventure, and I am not able to find some things I use on a regular basis in the United States. I am able to get along just fine of course, but at times it is hard to adjust.
As for Hungarian, I am understanding a lot more now so I usually have a pretty good idea about what is happening. There are still some surprises, but I normally have a broad understanding of what is going on (which has done wonders for my stress level). I am even able to understand stories people tell me: I now know how my friend got his speeding ticket; I know that a couple of my friends stay out fishing until 11pm the other night and by the time they got home to bed, they only got 3 hours of sleep; and I know that my friends’ dog ran away last Thursday and he came back on Saturday morning. I can definitely understand more than I can speak so I often respond to the their stories with one or two word phrases and go through all the things I want to say in my head, trying to think of the Hungarian to convey my thoughts. By the time I have formed a short, probably incoherent, sentence, the topic has already changed. Speaking is a challenge.
I receive lunch from the meals-on-wheels program through the church, so every weekday at 1pm I get a little container of food. Usually I am able to identify what I am eating, but there are some days where I ask myself: “What’s in the sauce?” “What’s wrapped up in this cabbage leaf?” “Are these noodles?” “What kind of meat am I eating?” “How do they make spaghetti so greasy?” There have been some pretty interesting meals, but I just eat and hope for the best. Other than the fish soup incident, I have not gotten sick from the food.
I have more control over what I eat when I cook for myself, but there are some times when I have no idea what type of food is inside the packaging—despite the pictures on the labels, canned goods make me nervous. After a failed attempt at orange juice, wherein I just had a bottle of orange flavored water, I found actual orange juice with pulp! It was really exciting! The European version of peanut butter is only available at one store in the next town over, and there no such thing as corn syrup so I will have to get creative when I try to make caramel for everyone here. Speaking of ‘no such thing,’ I have not seen floss anywhere; I’m sure glad my mom threw some into the package she sent.
I am managing just fine here in Hungary, but there are days when I am stumbling all over the place trying to navigate my way around. Every day is truly an adventure and even if I was confused through it all, I am happy every night because I have made it through another day! Just like the little guy walking around Children’s House, I need some guidance as I stumble through the day, but everyone here is willing to help me out. I am adjusting, slowly but surely.
Well, it’s lunch time now. Let’s see what it is…