Monday, September 10, 2007

The lull before the Math


Christina and I went to the National Gallery – the big art museum full of work by Hungarian artists from the past several centuries. The percentage of art that depicts war and war heroes is indicative of just how war torn Hungary has been. It also served to remind us just how little we actually know about Hungarian (and European) history… There were many names and events that clearly ought to have been familiar, but which we did not recognize. On the other hand, we were rather excited when we were actually able to understand the Hungarian titles of some of the paintings.

A view of Buda from near the Museum

After the museum we decided to make dinner and invited several friends over. Dinner parties are much more our style than going to bars ;-). We were very excited to find brokoli at the Match (local grocery store chain) so we made an alfredo sauce with trappista cheese (the best description I have heard is that it is like a really nice white cheddar), pasta and steamed broccoli as the main dish. The paradiscom (tomatoes) here are very cheap and amazing, so we made a tomato and mozzarella salad and garlic bread to go with it. I was very pleased with the outcome. On top of it being delicious, the ingredients for the whole thing came out to less than $15 and we had left over ingredients. I really like the cheap produce here. After dinner we decided we wanted cookies, so I raided the supply of half bags of ingredients again while a couple of people went to get a chocolate bar to break up into make shift chocolate chips and we concocted a batch of oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies. I probably shouldn’t be, but I am still surprised at how well the cookies come out when I am just adding ingredients until it “looks right” and not measuring anything.


We had the orientation session for the main portion of the program. Some of the bad scheduling conflicts present in the initial version of the schedule have been worked out, so my current plan is to start with Geometric Graph Theory, Set Theory, Topics in Geometry (which is going to be an algebraic geometry flavored class), Conjecture and Proof and Intermediate Hungarian. If I find that any of the math classes are not as exciting as I expect or that I am spending to much time working I will drop or switch to auditing one of them. I wanted to take the Hungarian Culture class, but it conflicts badly with some of the math, so I am just going to make sure I explore the culture outside of class. I am really excited for math to start! After the orientation they had a reception where we could meet some of the professors. It was kind of funny, I talked with the geometry prof and one of the geometric graph theory profs (it is being cotaught) and the first thing either of them asked me about was my background and whether I really had the prereqs – including things like linear algebra. I had to stop and remember that at places other than Mudd you can’t just assume that by junior year everyone knows how to work with eigenvalues and eigenvectors…

In the evening Christina and I decided to explore the outer boundary of the castle. We were reminded of when we were little and would go to playgrounds and climb around the play castles. Now, as big kids we find ourselves in Budapest climbing around a big castle with a similar level of excitement. We wandered around the outer wall, taking random stair cases just to see where they went. It was great fun and we got some really nice pictures too, though taking pictures at night is rather tricky.


Chelsey and I made dinner for a large group of people again. This time it was Mexican themed. However, tortillas proved difficult to locate here, so Chelsey made tortillas while I concocted something that approximated a vegetarian chili. It came out delicious, but there does not seem to be anything actually called chili powder here. Instead we used something labeled paprika that smelled about right. Thus we ended up with "chili", rice, chewy (but amazing) homemade tortillas and various vegetables, cheese, and sour cream to pile on the tortillas. I love cooking :-)


Christina and I met for breakfast and then went to the Lutheran Church again. It was exciting because we managed to understand enough to recognize one of the readings (the fruits of the spirit) despite the fact that it was in Hungarian! I also caught that part of the sermon was about students (by the words for student, school, studying, etc...), though I do not know exactly what about students.

In the afternoon we decided that it was too nice a day to stay inside and that we should go on an adventure. We took the metro to Moskva Tér and then rode the 56 tram out to its terminus in the hills. After wandering around we found a marked trail and went for a nice walk through the woods :-)

A pretty tram stop and a nice view of Buda

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