Trivial agonies of expat life, a mishmash of missed updates

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Biggest parliament Hungary
Parliament Building Hungary

Selling the Walnut apartment and freeing up funds was the start of a very productive company for my husband. Me going back to school was also a personal development project, just less profitable short term! Daniel’s testing and building the Balaton house and the latest project completing the apartment projects were the biggest challenges in the last few year, but of course Covid-19 really stuck it to us!

Selling the apartment was a hard decision to make, especially having bought it in 2007 and using it as a landing point whenever we came to Hungary before moving here. It has been a great source of income for us being one of the first to sign-up for AirBnB here in Hungary. As of late, the government has been cracking down heavily on private rentals, so I feel we got out in the nick of time. It has been consistently rented out over the years providing us with a trickle of income to get us through leaner times. Budapest Hungary was booming in tourism before the COVID-19 hit in 2020 February. Now, it is eerie walking through the downtown core of Budapest and seeing our favourite restaurants closing their doors forever and the streets empty except for a few brave tourists from the green zone countries. There is simply nobody anywhere. It feels like the whole city is deserted, in some dystopian future place after the end of the world.

Another milestone was when we decided to find some solutions for Daniel. Well put mildly, he hated school. For such an intelligent and well rounded young man, his aversion to school has been a mystery. We always blamed technology, perhaps an addictive personality, or even the school system itself for not being able to teach my precocious son. The answer is most likely some combination of them all. So we had him tested to see if there are some learning barriers that are stopping him from learning in school. What came back from the hours of testing was surprising. Going in we thought he had classic signs of Attention Deficit Disorder; not able to sit still in class, impulse control issues, and a hard time staying focussed. He is a bright boy with a high capacity for learning, just holding his interest is difficult. After analysing his test results his teacher was correct in suspecting a high potential child, but paired with issues with phonetics, phonics, and differentiating sounds. There can be two different causes for his disability. One, an inner ear infection early on that didn’t heal and caused a temporary lapse or a developmental delay in understanding. This most likely caused behavioural problems in school, as a hearing impairment can cause many learning gaps, misinformation and could have been misdiagnosed as a difficult child, not one that needed special attention. They say he will eventually catch-up, and this development is 100% correctable. That’s the good news.

Two, the other cause may be changing his languages so many times in Daniel’s life. This may have had a negative impact on his understanding which letters makes which sounds, which directly affected his writing. He stuck to short sentences, hated the act of writing and sometimes completely misunderstood instructions and oral directions. He needed more explanation for him to think the ideas through. Along the way a few teachers may not have had the patience in helping Daniel to learn the basics in French when he started. His first year in France was dedicated to learning the language, and thankfully his grades were not counted. Remarkably, both children were fluent after that first adjustment year. I guess we thought that that was enough, but now it turns out Daniel was missing some of the basics. This came to another teacher’s attention, where she also said there might be a comprehension issue. Although this is his 10th year in the French system, there are still sure signs of issues.

We found a specialized treatment using earphones and sounds at a learning institute here in Buda. This program retrained his hearing to collate certain sounds. It is the same treatment many children with ADHD and dyslexia have found profitable, as children with many learning disability often have the same frustrations and symptoms during class. They say after the two week intensive training program, plus ten week morning and evening exercises, there ought to be an enormous difference for children. Some even say it is 100% curable. I am just glad we finally had him tested and are found some solutions to cope within the classroom environment.

Today, two years after the initial treatment, Daniel has caught up to his class. Now, he is not at the top, but smack dab in the middle. He is one of the youngest boys, so grade 12 at 15/20 rating is at the 50 percentile. We are pleased. He is taking GeoPolitics and English as electives, and hope for a very productive graduating year. His plans are International Business in 2021 September. Just not quite sure where yet. Who knows what the future holds.

Working as a teacher has been an interesting development for me, and I am still loving it! However, I don’t know if this is going to be my end game. I am too old for school yar politics, and think working alone might be best. I want some peace in my life. If I am honest, I love the teaching part, the parents and the students are such fabulous people here in Hungary, but I don’t like the style of teaching. I want my classes to feel fluid, adapting to individual needs because the class is always full of different levels and ages from a multitude of countries and backgrounds. I like letting the children bring their personal experiences into the classes and sharing in their new language their opinions and perspectives. These kids are already so smart. What they need is not more grammar lessons, but time to use their new langauge. I want them to talk in class with each other and not to be afraid to talk to me in English.

Anyways, got to get back at it… still pursuing happiness in Hungary.


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