Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All Things Come to an End Eventually

It is currently Tuesday. I took my last final of the semester this morning. Christina and Tom and I are most likely going to take a day trip to Vienna tomorrow. Thursday is the BSM farewell party. On Friday I fly home. As usual with this sort of thing, none of it seems real. It still has not completely sunk in that within 3 days I will be back in the United States. The next few days are going to be crazy. This is most likely the last post from Budapest, but I will update at least once after I get back to the US.

I've been working on Christmas shopping, so I have spent a lot of time bouncing between the Christmas markets that have sprung up at nearly every metro stop looking for gifts for everyone. The markets can be a bit overwhelming at times because of the sheer number of people, but they also have a wonderfully happy Christmasy atmosphere and are certainly much more fun than shopping in any American mall.

Saturday it snowed - not a lot, but enough to coat the hill behind the apartment in a blanket of white. I was inside most of the time that the snow was falling. My host mom and I spent all morning cooking and then had a HUGE lunch with her two daughters and son-in-law and two grandsons and Jessie. We then spent most of the afternoon chatting and snacking on some of the extra food. After everyone had left and we got things reasonably cleaned up, I met up with people to go look at some of the Christmas lights that are all over the city. I tried to take pictures, but they are the sort of thing that it is impossible to really capture.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Az Allatkert!

Csütörtökön, Christina en is az állatkert városligetben mentek. Sok, sok állat az allatkertben.

It was very interesting to compare the Hungarian and English names of the animals. For example, the nilius víziló, which would literally translate as the "water horse of the Nile" is the hippo. The mosomedve, literally "washing bear" is the raccoon. The vörös macskamedve, literally "red cat-bear", is the red panda.

In addition, they also had rhinos (somewhat slower than the ones Mudd had me used to)

and a super cute kisoroszlán

There were turkeys roaming around instead of peacocks

a pretty wolf

pelikanok that were trying to eat fish too big to fit in their bills

And penguins which only eat sea fish

On Friday we tracked down the honey festival. It which was much smaller than it was made out to be and thus slightly disappointing, but it was still nice. Afterwards we went to a slightly nicer restaurant than usual since we wanted to try something new and it looked interesting. As we walked, the greeter asked us, in Hungarian, if we wanted the smoking or non-smoking section. I responded in Hungarian without really thinking about it and only afterwards realized that I had understood and responded without consciously translating into English and back.

On Saturday, Jessie organized a "talent-no talent" show which was held at Christina's apartment since hers is one of the few with a piano (though it is painfully out of tune). My talent was making cookies without measuring anything. I mixed up several stages of dough for oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies and held something like a cooking show on fast forward. It was fun and everyone got to eat cookies. The whole show was quite entertaining.

Sunday largely ended up being a HW day. In the evening I went to the California Coffee Company for the first time to find the other people that were working on Geometric Graph Theory (apparently it is a favorite place for some people to work). It was ridiculously American - and thus felt very strange. Coming back to America and realizing just how used to living in Hungary I have become and having to re-acclimate myself to living in the US is going to be very odd...

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Karácsonyi Fa

First a brief note. Sunset is now before 4 pm. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I get out of class around 4:30. On Thursday and Friday I get out at 10 and noon respectively. Given that there is no daylight after class on the first half of the week, I figure it is good for me to get outside after class on Thursday and Friday. This means that I am not spending as much time in the computer lab on those days and is the cause of there not being end of the week math posts. The math is still fun and exciting :-)

On Thursday, Christina and I met up with Blair and the three of us went off to explore the Christmas Market. The atmosphere of the market is amazing. There are stands selling various wooden crafts, and all sort of fabric crafts and several kinds of traditional Hungarian food. There is even a stand where a blacksmith is set up and with several candle holders and cute dragonfly corkscrews for sale. In addition, one of the buildings bordering the square where the market is set up has its windows set up as an Advent Calendar. Oh, and naturally there is a giant Karácsonyi fa - a Christmas tree.

On Friday we celebrated Christina's birthday (it was actually Sunday, but there were some people traveling this weekend. I made and decorated a chocolate cake and we had mulled wine and played our homemade version of apples to apples. It was great fun.

Saturday I spent the morning at home learning to make paprikas krumpli (paprika potatoes) - which is very tasty, but I suspect is going to be tricky to get right at home where I don't have a bowl where I save the oil from frying the chicken for csirke paprikas... In the evening I took the Putnam. It was strange to be starting it at sunset and to finish at midnight. I think I prefer having it in the morning.

After church on Sunday, Christina and I went to the flea market (which was highly entertaining, but there was way to much stuff for me to actually try to decide to buy anything) and then to Tesco to obtain Christmas goodies. Her apartment now has a decorated Christmas tree, an advent wreath and a poinsettia. It feels like Christmas :-)