My New Expat Life Budapest, September UPDATE

Views From Budapest Eye
our new home, Budapest

September UPDATE on the Hamori Family in Budapest

So where to begin? School…

I have never felt more excited to go to school before! So challenging, everyday different and new people to meet at every turn. I love a fresh start!

Last night I had my first parent teacher interviews where I was the teacher! I entered into a classroom full of parents sitting at desks. I had to introduce myself and tell the people what my intentions were for English class this school year with their children.

What are my main objectives?

I had to speak in French, then Hungarian and then English to make sure everyone understood my little sermon. I felt charged at the challenge and although I could have prepared for it better (like taking some notes or translations with me) I decided against it. I am who I am, flying by the seat of my pants and better for them to know right off the bat instead of me pretending I am something I am not.

I am only me, no more, no less…

ESL teacher in Budapest Hungary, live with your English teacher, Angol Otthon Itthon

I was happy to tell them how smart their kids are, which ended up in roars of laughter. I assured them I was not joking. This was a challenging group of preteens, no doubt, and having their parents hostage for a few moments I wanted them to hear what I had to say.

They like to act up in class when they are bored. And I know exactly why. After years of our linguistic sejour program the same reasons apply to the classroom setting. Students are getting smarter and smarter because of their access to vast amounts of information online. Attending class requires most of them to slow down their thought process, and find a way to cope with the slow information being presented which they need to absorb.

Children are learning at a phenomenal rate, nothing like when we were kids.

I often feel for my students having to sit in one spot for 55 minutes as I teach a lesson which seems to drag on in monotone for me as well, someone who didn’t grown up in this technological age.

I try hard to make the lessons interesting, varied and from different angles. I hope they enjoy learning with me. I want to teach the students to think for themselves, to come up with their own answers and to be more creative during class. 

It is also very important that they all get time to speak in class to practice their accents. A French or Hungarian accent is tough to curb, and mimicking a native speaker can be the answer.

During class, I keep things moving along to grab their attention, I find relevant lessons they can relate to. I try to keep up with the current events and music of their generation. If students are having a hard time absorbing the stale curriculum that teachers have been spewing for the last fifty years, isn’t it time we start teaching this generation in a new way that they understand.

I notice this the most with my CE2 class, my grade three students. They are forced to do the same activity for hours; cutting, colouring, pasting, and my job is to teach them something simple like colours, seasons, numbers, letters etc… That was week one and here we are still on seasons three weeks later. One child said, Oh no please no more glueing!! And he threw himself onto the ground kicking his little feet.

I wanted to throw myself on the ground next to him and start the same protest! NO MORE GLUE!!

I had one little girl whose hands were covered in cotton balls after accidentally touching the gluestick first. Her hands looked like an albino Chewbacca’s. I started laughing at the chaos in my class, the lack of focus and discontent! I asked myself, what can I do to make this class better?

So, I changed direction and put on some classical music, played a game, and got them talking.

These kids are exposed to rapid-fire speed information coming at them from every direction; their TVs, iPads, mobiles, computers…etc They we ask them to sit still for 8-10 hours learning mediocre drab from text books. Honestly if I had my wish I would take them outside for a walk, or to the theatre to watch a movie on the big screen in English. That would take them on an adventure both mentally and physically. If we went to the zoo to learn about animals, or to the planetarium to learn about planets they would learn in three dimension. The world is tactile, malleable, and waiting for us to experience it.

Imagine a changing classroom; field trips based on visiting the places we learn about in books; the planetarium, historical museums, art galleries and the aquarium.

What I find is that these kids shut down after lunch.

Some start their day as early as 5:00 am to get to school on time, while others only arrive home after their parents are finished work after 7:00 pm. These little ones are not designed for this kind of tiresome days. They are more like puppies who want to play and run free in the long grass in an open field.

Even my own kids who are 10 and 12, they are also having a hard time keeping up with their schedules.

Overall, the school is a great fit for our family both for me as a teacher and the children as students. Daniel and Angelina are happy as clams, making new friends, and meeting their new teachers.

All the teachers in this private school are very good, and many use many different alternative methods to get the children learning (it all seems very Montessori to me). Most teachers supplement the curriculum with interesting activities, and happily give extra lessons for both those who are struggling and who are advanced.

We have found our people.

What we do after school…

Wednesday is a half day here in the French school too! Yesterday Alfonz and I insisted on a long walk after school but poor Angelina was so exhausted I had to practically carry her the whole way home stopping for snacks and rest along route.

We walked all the way to the parliament buildings where they built a beautiful new park with monuments for all to enjoy. The sun was shining bright, and the tourists were still coming in droves at the end of September.

It really is a stunning city especially along the blue Danube River.

The leaves are changing colour and they are striking against the clear blue sky. The temperatures this week hit 28° and felt like summer. The bridges over the river are so remarkable and lead towards the castle on the Buda side. It stands on guard looking over us on the Pest side.

Have I found my place yet? Not sure. Am I happy? YES! I am always happy! 

On the house front…

We have managed to put in an offer that was accepted. We paid our deposit when signing the papers with the lawyers and this week we transferred some of the money to pay the portion of debt leaned against the house. The remainder goes into the seller’s bank account and then the deeds and the keys are placed into our names and our hands.

The whole process takes about two weeks. Not fast enough for our family spending hours in the car each day making our way across Budapest to the French private school in district II.

This move will trim off two hours in the car each day from our routine, and give us an extra hour of sleep per night. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… not long now!

We cannot get in the new house fast enough!!

Buying a new car

I need a little car to get me back and forth from Pest to Buda. My schedule is not full time. I have 12 classes per week, and am at school all day Wednesday and Friday and only a few hours on Tuesday and Thursday and a split day on Monday, two hours in the am and one hour in the afternoon. Alfonz is acting as chauffeur which is exhausting for him and a full time job in itself. Once he starts the work on the house he will be there for most of the day until the house is ready for us to move in.

We are looking for a VW Polo. Cute right?


What needs to be done on the house…

We basically bought a brand new house with the last 20% left to be finished; gas, water, and electricity. This part needs a new permit which takes two weeks to acquire taking us into the middle of October.

After the gas is fitted, the water heating system is put in and the electrical heating units are in place. By then we will be nearing November and the cold weather.

Next we put down the laminate floors, the tiles, bathroom fittings and the wood kitchen. The kitchen needs to be custom made and ordered a week in advance and we are looking at a white wooden IKEA kitchen with wooden countertops or granite if we can find some.

a photo from ikea
My IKEA kitchen

The painting will be partially done before the heaters are mounted, and partially done during this last phase of construction.

My colour choice for the interior of the house is Silver Sage, a little reminder of our Pacific roots reminding me of the morning ocean mist.

inside the house colour
My Interior House Colour, Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage

Lastly we will furnish our 2700 square foot home on three separate levels, with five bedrooms, a recreation room and a dining/living area.

The hobby room on the first floor will be set-up for students and made into a fun place for the kids to play video games and watch films. So recreation/media room.

Downstairs is my laundry room, a spare bath with shower and perhaps a place for my sauna. My arthritis is definitely bothering me here, but nothing an infrared sauna can’t cure.

Upstairs will be our dining/living space and a spare room/office which also seconds as a guests room for friends or students.

The top floor has our three bedrooms, a private bathroom and lounge space/sitting area/kid’s computer desk on the landing which is open and bright; perfect extra space for my growing children.

We hope to be living in the house sometime in November, long before the cold winter months.

Big plans for our expat life in Budapest, and so far we are loving the new challenges.

our expat adventure Budapest
Our new home, Budapest


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