By Grace Heneghan
---- — With the holiday season, I can’t help but feel a little sad. The absence of Thanksgiving makes me crave turkey and black Friday shopping; the awkward family gatherings that always end in laughter and a long drive home.
Luckily for me, my autumn break was the last week of October. Instead of “trick-or-treating” on Halloween, it is Hungarian tradition to go to the graves of dead loved ones and pay respect. My host parents went to Lake Balaton while my sister and I stayed at home.
On my host mother’s birthday we ate a fantastic meal of duck with orange sauce and potatoes, and for dessert a peach-gelatin cake. I mention this only because my host father cooked it. The old gender roles are still prominent in Hungary, so it was nice to see him being domestic.
I don’t feel as if this culture difference really affects me, but it is interesting to see. To be honest, it was hard to find things to write about this month. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything worth writing about, it’s just that my life seems normal now — boring even. According to “The Exchange Student Survival Kit,” this is normal and known as “deepening the relationship.”
I realized that my actions are slowly turning Hungarian. An example of this is when at the last Rotary meeting a fellow American exchange student asked me how I was doing. Note that I didn’t really know her past her name and where she was from. After I answered she looked at me strangely and I realized my reply had been somewhat gloomy. She wasn’t expecting me to actually tell her how I was feeling. Instead of giving the generic American “good,” I treated her like a Hungarian.
The language is still a challenge, but I found that a mixture of Hungarian, English and hand motions usually produces a conversation. Soon I will have to change host families. This is exciting, but I will miss the familiarity of my home now. There was talk of me changing schools, but that is still unknown.
The reason for this is that I am the only exchange student in my club, so I may have to be switched with another club’s hosts. I’m not sure if this is something I want, though. I have been getting along with my host family well and making friends, so it is sad to think that there is a possibility of me having to leave.
What ever happens, it’ll be an adventure. I feel like the time is going too fast, because as soon I know it, I’ll be back in America. I don’t want to come home.
Grace Heneghan is a Cooperstown Rotary exchange student who traveled to Hungry. To read more about her adventures, visit her blog at www.graceheneghantohungary.blogspot.com.