Ready for an update? …it’s a lengthy one
My least favorite part of the upcoming school year is that I need to leave the house at 7:40 to walk to the elementary school in time for my 8am class. Somehow I must have deluded myself into thinking I would get to sleep in late everyday and not have to work until, say, 10am. Nope, it is 8am on Mon-Wed and Friday, and 7:50am on Thursdays (at the high school next door). But I must remember that the good news is, even with lots of hour-long gaps throughout the day, I get out no later than 2pm every day. And in contrast to NOVA, where the school day would end at 2:35 and I would sometimes be there working until 4ish, it appears acceptable here to head out the door right after your last class ends…my point being that my work day actually ends no later than 2pm everyday.
The elementary school (grades 1-8) I am at is considered the best in the city. There is a really good vibe inside and all of the teachers (2 in each room) seem really excited about my being there. My first day was 2nd grade, and the way this will work is that I have a different grade (1-4) each day. The class of 30-ish is split in half. From 8-8:45, 15 students and one teacher left, and the others stayed. Second period (9-9:45), they switched. It was very structured, in that there is a teacher’s guide and workbook that they will follow, so I have the material already determined for me and the procedures I need to follow are described, but I get some freedom in it… The first teacher gave some good suggestions afterward and the second period went even better. I think I will enjoy the structured aspect because I wouldn’t know how to plan lessons for small children as well as they deserve. The teachers also offered help whenever I need it, and I left with about 10 books – teachers’ guides, CD books, and student books for all 4 grades. I will need them to preview and plan my lessons. My bag was quite heavy on the 10 minute walk back to my home.
After a short rest at home,I headed over the the HS for my first class, 11th graders. The language classes are in small rooms with about 14-16 students so there will hopefully be some good rapport building. Remember, this is a conversation class, so my task will generally be to allow them opportunities to converse using what they have recently learned in their English (grammar) class. At orientation, we were advised to break each 45 minute lesson into 3 parts: using what they just learned in grammar class, a fun game or activity, and something related to English-language/USA culture. For each of my classes’ 1st meetings I am doing the same introduction. Students have to introduce themselves and tell something that they like. Then I choose 2 volunteers who sat at the front of the room. Other students had to ask questions about me, like favorite food, age, etc. and the two volunteers had to answer as if they were me. There were lots of laughs, especially when the girl thought I was 27 and the boy followed later with the announcement that I have two sons, age 14 and 16. There is a little bell that rings when there are 10 minutes left in class, and to finish off the class, I asked students to tell me about Kaposvar…good restaurants, things to see, etc. I got some good tips.
In between my two classes, I had an hour-long break. I decided to instigate more “our internet still doesn’t work” conversation. Shortly thereafter, I had the computer network man, and the vice principal, and the teacher who apparently helped last year, oh..and a maintanence man in my living room. They were able to see first hand that the cable modem is lit up, the router gets power, and there is “no internet connection” to my computer. They confirmed with billing that the account has been paid, and ultimately we disconnected the router and they said to leave the computer directly connected to the modem for 4 hours to see if it establishes a connection. (It didn’t and I already emailed them, so hopefully they will initiate a service call). I also believe a separate issue is that the modem that is here is an old modem, for a MAC. Though I am able to connect to it, I can’t help but think a new-technology router made for a PC would be the right way to proceed. Routers are actually cheaper here than in the USA, so I will probably do it anyway, once we establish the internet connection.
To summarize the internet interaction:
What I wanted to say to everyone trying to help: As a teacher in the USA, I made 7x what I am making here. I can afford whatever the service call costs, so let’s stop trying to figure it out and just bring in the professional so it can be fixed today.
What actually happened: As mentioned above, I waited 4 hours to see if the connection would establish itself. Meanwhile, I walked back to class where my contact teacher, Arpi, said “good, now the process has been set in motion and the internet will hopefully be working soon,” and later I emailed the VP about the lack of success so that we can hopefully make some progress on Monday.
As we have been told, everything is slower in Hungary…
Graciously, the VP (Balint) lent us his USB modem stick for wireless internet. It has a data limit so I can’t download or stream anything big, but Hallelujah, we are sitting in our home, not at McDonald’s. I have made sure to emphasize several times that we don’t want to keep going to McDonald’s for internet and that we need fast internet at home to communicate with friends and family.
Some things I learned during our introduction game in 11th and 12th grade classes:
No one has been to the US. There is a “sport park” with a running trail nearby. There is a city pool and a city ice hockey rink (but electricity is too expensive for anyone to have a clothes dryer), Nirvana is popular, the drinking age is 18, no one knows who Will Ferrell is, but everyone knows Natalie Portman and Jim Carrey. No one likes Lady Gaga, but people like the movie “Hey Dude, Where’s my Car?” No one has seen a baseball game, and if you didn’t know this, my favorite actor is apparently Steve Martin.
As the day came to an end, the teacher was in Colorado last year through the Fulbright program introduced herself. She came over, looked at our washing machine, translated and told me how to get it to work correctly and spin dry at full speed (it works now), and then asked if I would tutor her 5th grade son in English because he picked it up in Colorado and would like him to keep learning from someone who doesn’t have an accent.
Tomorrow I will fill you in on the full weekend. Cooler weather coming mid-week. It was mid-90s today.