Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blowing Noses

In America people will quietly blow their noses in public.
In Hungary people will loudly honk their noses in public.
In China people blow their noses and loogies onto the street.
Koreans will not blow their noses in public - my students ask to leave the room to blow.
In America we keep our snot on a handkerchief or kleenex and save it in our pockets.
In China people do not keep a snotty rag in their pockets. Gross!

Whether it's loud or quiet, in our pockets or onto the street, private or public, what is considered polite nose-blowing etiquette is cultural. So it's no use getting grossed out when the person next to you on the tram blows a super loud snot ball onto a tissue about 10 inches from your face. It's cultural!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

When in Rome...

ancient ruins,

We saw the famous sites...
And even climbed to the top of the dome through spiral stair cases and narrow corridors for a breath-taking view.
I will admit that my fear of heights kicked in at the top, but not too much that I couldn't snap some good pics.

We also saw the not-so-famous sites...
And enjoyed coffee in a piazza or two...
One of my favorite things in Rome this holiday was some of the churches we visited. Not just the famous ones, but the pilgrimage churches containing important Christian relics. We saw the sign above Christ's cross, thorns from his crown, a sliver from his cross, Thomas's doubting finger, and Peter's chains in which he was imprisoned (to name a few).
I will admit skepticism as to the true authenticity of these Christian artifacts, but they were very interesting to see regardless. The faith and spirituality of Rome definitely tugs at my mind and heart, such as when I see people climbing "the stairs" Jesus descended after his trial with Pontius Pilate on their knees.
At the same time it makes me think how corrupt the "church" has been over the centuries as I learned about different popes and the means to which some of the artifacts were acquired and churches were ornamented. Not to get political in this post but... the church and politics mingling - some things never change!

There's more!...
We got outside of the Roman walls to see other sites, such as the Christian catacombs and Pompeii. When we grow up learning about Ancient Rome, Pompeii is one of the stories that stands out - a whole city destroyed and killed instantly from an exploding volcano. We got to see the city and the volcano...
But the best part of all, getting to do all of this with my bro and sister-in-law!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

School Breaks

One advantage of teaching in Europe is SKI BREAK. At the end of the month my international school will break for a full week to allow everyone some time to hit the slopes - Austria, Slovakia, pick a country, choose a mountain range. Of course, some people choose to hit the beach. Either way, it's great for everyone! As I was telling my grandpa about our upcoming holiday, he told me this story...

We didn't have Ski Break growing up, but we had two weeks off in the Fall. During World War 2 (when Grandpa was in high school) the migrant workers couldn't get transport up to Oregon from Mexico easily. Everything was being rationed and transport was limited. In order to get the potato crop picked in Central Oregon at the time, schools let out and all the kids went to the field to pull potatoes and lift sacks and drive trucks and get the potato crop harvested.

I wouldn't really call that a "break", but it was a good story to hear and a bit of history. I think how different our grandparents grew up than us. They grew up working hard, and sometimes I think Americans my age think we have all these rights to things without working THAT hard. Then I think of the kids I teach... If my students were asked to pick potatoes during their holiday (or any day for that matter), they'd throw a fit - literally! We're wimping out in the world, I think. Maybe manual labor should be part of our school curriculums these days.

I always like hearing my grandparents' stories and this one was no different. Thanks Grandpa!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I looked in my closet yesterday and realized...

When I moved to Budapest
I owned 3 sweaters
And a lot of ratty summer clothes
Washed by hand
And dried in the African sun too many times.

When I looked in my closet this week
I saw 11 sweaters
And a few ratty summer clothes
Washed by hand
And dried in the African sun too many times.

Last year at this time
I was wearing a sun dress and sandals to work.

Now it's -7 degrees F
And I'm wearing long underwear,
Trousers (leggings don't cut it!),
2 pairs of wool socks,
2 shirts,
1 sweater,
1 scarf,
1 hat,
1 amazingly warm coat,
And ugly old winter boots from years ago
To work each day.

I looked in my closet yesterday and realized...
It used to take me 2 minutes to get dressed in the morning.
Now it's a full 15 minutes with all those layers.
I'm ready for spring.
And it looks very far away...!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's cold in Budapest!

When I looked at the temperature on Friday, it was colder in Budapest than my home town in Alaska. Winter has come to Hungary!
On Saturday morning it started snowing...
And it kept snowing all day...
We went out and enjoyed it...
A little stroll...
A little shopping...
A little time with friends...
Sunday night is supposed to bring 3 or 4 more inches...
Everyone is hoping for a snow day at school...
I'm not holding my breath...
But I am enjoying the snow in this beautiful city!