What a year this has been! Not too many complaints really. I think the biggest thing we did this year was take three weeks off to travel around Europe in the van. I loved every second of it. We completely checked out for a little while and took a much needed break from life! We did a few shorter getaways too; a wellness centre, visited our cousins in Bakonysarkany three times, and many hiking, walking and touristy area excursions like Pannonhalma, Villány, Eger and Etyek in search of good wines, fabulous flavours and things to see.
Our main focus this school year and last has been Daniel and getting him prepared to pass his BAC in German, English, French and History/Geography this year, and next school year will be Grade 12 graduation. The French Baccalaureate is the hardest high school graduation exam in the world, and just our luck, the government of France decided to change the whole system this year, so us teachers and parents have no idea what will be on the test or how to prepare them for it! This is making it very difficult for us and Daniel who needs clear structure and goals. So getting through this will be a challenge for all of us, but remarkably he is stepping up to the task with help from my lovely friend Suzanne who is also his private tutor, and Alfonz and I who have him on a strict homework regime. Daniel’s more serious attitude towards school and his added 12 centimetres in height and 10 kilos in weight has been a positive change as his maturity is following suit! He is nearly a full grown man physically, and his brain seems to be playing catch-up. My little boy is not so little anymore.
As a parent we often want them to grow up slowly so we can enjoy every single moment with them, but with education, those with added years have an edge. Many students in Hungary are held back as long as possible to ensure that edge in class; a method that proves true. I on the other hand, pushed them forward even though they are both end of the year babies and late bloomers to boot. Perhaps a mistake looking back now. If they are anything like Alfonz and I, when they are forty and living life with wonderment and excitement, very much childlike, this will be a lovely trait, but here and now trying to get them to perform, get good results on tests, well, motivation and determination are not quite matching others in the grade. Some are already 18 years old in Grade 11, whereas Daniel just turned 16, a baby really. (Ok he is my baby, maybe it is time to cut the apron strings a little). But I am certain he will reach the end of grade 12, and we will be very proud of him for getting through all the trials and tribulations.
The newest idea is for him to complete his high school in 2021 like planned and see through the French system to the end and go back to Canada to live for the following summer, fall and winter, waiting until after he turns 18 to start his university path. Spring 2022 will give him the maturity he may need to take the opportunities of post high school more seriously.
Overall we are happy with our decisions to move around like vagabonds. To his credit he speaks four languages fluently, English C2, French C1, German B2, and Hungarian B2, not bad at all for such a young lad! Plus he has made some incredible friends in all three countries. Above all he is a very nice person. My job is done isn’t it. I see the end, and the person he will become and I am over the moon pleased. Where he takes this upbringing from here is really up to him now. We lay the foundation, and hope it is enough.
As for me, well I am loving this school year at work, our small business and at The Open University. This year I have three groups at the French school: a Grade 7 & 9 class and a Cambridge preparatory class. It is our fourth year in Hungary and I feel I won the jackpot of perfect students, because all of them are fabulous, way ahead of expectation and all progressing far beyond grade levels. For a teacher it couldn’t get any better than this. It could boil down to being more comfortable at my job, but at the end of each day, I feel fulfilled and happy. Watching each student grown and become closer to fluency has been a passion. I still wake up feeling that I have important work ahead of me. I wonder if other teachers feel this way? Such a spiritual connection with teaching. My favourite part is trying different ways to ensure that everyone has a chance to shine and feel great in my classes. I feel that I have not actually worked in ten years. I go to work and play teacher just like when I was a little kid playing make believe!
My private students are amazing too! I have no curriculum to follow, so the world is my oyster! A group of them are also preparing for testing and many are very serious about learning towards C1 or even C2 levels!! I have an interesting method I use that I have created over the years that hit their understanding from different angles. It is a combination of debate topics, writing methods, persuasive speech, grammar and vocabulary builders in context, themes, and trainer worksheets but also games to keep things fluent and fun. Cross curriculum too. Some start barely talking but I watch them slowly open up to me; once comfortable they start trying different sentence structures, playing with word phrases until one day, usually a few months later, they have reached their goals. Voila, all hard work pays off! These intensives are effective, and very rewarding as a teacher. Makes it fun to have students that can discuss beefy topics and news reports too. So many have been with me now for over three years, and over the last ten year, I have followed many of them off to university. My favourite part is when they contact me later on, when they are getting married and ask me to proof read something or when they tell me they just got some incredible job after university. Such pride I feel to be a little part of it all.
LivEnglish has been a full on success since the doors opened too. Sadly, once the kids move out we will shut this business down, I mean who wants to hang out in Hungary with two old farts without children to learn English from. It seems a little weird if you ask me. There is definitely an expiry date on our ten year business. I know when the end comes, I will look back with absolute satisfaction at how we did it. All those students, all those lessons, and all those activities. Not to mention the yummy food! We really saw so many things, met so many interesting families from all over Europe and felt that our work was truly gratifying. Plus our own kids had such a rich, unique experience from helping us host so many different personalities and cultures inside our home. They may not thank us now, but we do things as parents anyways just because we know that it is good for them. Or at least we think we do and do our best.
Alfonz’s business has been a huge success in 2019. Him and his business partner sold the Balaton project and are on to the next two projects but this time in the downtown core. They are renovating two existing sites projected completion dates are early spring! They already have their eye on another project immediately afterwards. I love seeing Alfonz excited about construction, design, renovations, architecture and learning about all the different areas of this beautiful city we live in! He is on fire! That’s my man!
Sad note, a few months back I was ready to go home to Canada, even had the tickets for February ready to purchase. I was ready to throw in the towel. It was right after Angelina’s month long illness and endless hospital visits with her kidney; a difficult time for me as a parent, and a new member of this community. It opened my eyes to things that I wasn’t quite ready to see or believe exists in our new country. I had my rose coloured glasses ripped off my face and saw the horrors of local hospitals and health care. I was tired, frustrated and so sick of not knowing where to turn for help that I wanted to run home to my mommy! Yup even at 46 you can still feel this way!
What I hadn’t realized was just how close we were to finding some sort of security, the finish line was close and some kind of success was obtainable. It really put the expression ‘never give up’ into perspective. Now, I am not saying things are now miraculously perfect, or that we will never go home, but I do feel that we need to give Hungary a fair shake, and running home with tail between legs because we had a little bump in the road to happiness would only make me regret not trying even harder at everything in my power to make this life great.
So this last month, Alfonz and I are making micro plans to make this house more like a home, but also being there to help Daniel and Angelina reach their full potential, and above all to be present at every moment, taking it all in and enjoying this freakin cool ride called my expat life!
Bring it all on in full force 2020, because you know what, together I feel Alfonz and I can handle anything.
Happy New Year to all of you!! Looking forward to a new goal list, finding a little realistic perspective this year, and ready to make the full circle home to research some future options but no hasty decisions the Hamori family might be famous for! I need to slow down, because if we go home, this expat adventure will be officially over.
NEW YEAR”S RESOLUTIONS 2020
#1 Finish my university with over 80%! Last year I did manage this goal but couldn’t double up my studies; finances just simply did not allow! I think the best would be to keep the balance with part time studies, fitness both mental and physical, work and our family. This is a fine lined equilibrium that suits me just fine. With the added task of helping the children find their way after grade 12, I need to make them more space in my life. What’s the hurry with university for me at my age anyways? Honestly, nothing will change with a completely degree. I am already working more than full time and make an honest living. What more can a gal ask for? I should be counting the blessings not always trying to improve, climb, change and grow. I need to stay still for just a moment.
#2 Continue to lose those last kilos, due date August 3! I often wonder it every woman on the planet is losing their final 3 kilos. Just saying!
I managed to lose 9 kilos this year already, but I would like to get back to my normal weight before heading home to Canada. It feels to me that a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips applies to women over forty! I need to think about it before I eat it. Is this really worth the extra 60 minutes on the elliptical. Although I love working out, I only have so much time in the day.
#3 Chess I have started! I am learning! My student Zoli, on his third year homestaying with us, will help me with this come February!
#4 Duck In August instead of taking up my Ili Neni’s precious time teaching me her cherished recipe, one that she recently showed Zdenka her daughter-in-law, I think asking my Mom and my Godmother to teach me while I am home in Canada might be the right thing to do!
#5 50 before 50 List Inplace of fifty before fifty list, I am adding ten to my forty before forty list to make an even 50 things I want to do before I reach the big 5-0 ! Now that’s new maths and something I can get my head around with so much going on and so little time.
#6 House Little things and future big things! Alfonz and I are talking about a giant fish tank; a hobby I love, one that has been a part of my life since Daniel was born. Future? Solar panels! Something I teach my students about in my classes, and should put my money where my mouth is! This here is the lead by example, and those positive changes I was talking about last year!
We recycle, compost, turn off lights during the day, use energy efficient everything, give clothes to the poor; so the next steps should be easy peasy lemon squeezy enough.
Alfonz also has plans for the garden, a supporting wall between the two different heights, a new tree line on the outside of the fence that looks onto the street, and I am sure a few other things… I will be there to help as best I can.
And that is the end of my goals for next year! I may add more, but I want to keep this realistic this year, because as much as I don’t want to admit it, I am slowing down.
3.5/8 crap year for resolutions but it doesn’t feel that way!
X #1 Learn chess
X #2 Write my French proficiency test A2
X #3 Learn to make Ili Neni’s duck!
√ X #4 Finish my second year with over 85% in Psychology and double up the following school year
√ #5 Get involved with some positive changes here in Hungary
√ #6 Continue on the path to health; I lost my weight so big tick!!
X #7 make a 50 before 50 list
√ #8 Workout everyday, no matter what. Health is first. Stretching, walks, it doesn’t matter what you do, just keep moving.