Sziastok! Amerikai vagyok, de most Budapesten lakom. Diák vagyok. Tanulok magyarul a nyelviskolaban és matematika az egyetemen. Beselek angulul, franciaul, és egy kicsi magyarul. Most, tanulok magyarul 9-tól délután 4-ig! Szerintem, Budapest szép. Boldog vagyok lenni Magyarorságon.
I know there are many mistakes, but that was my first attempt to introduce myself in Hungarian: Hello! I am American, but now I live in an apartment in Budapest. I am a student. I study Hungarian at the language school and mathematics at the university. I speak English, French, and a little bit of Hungarian. Now, I study Hungarian from 9 until 4 in the afternoon! In my opinion, Budapest is beautiful. I am happy to be in Hungary.
I’ve been in the language school for six days of class so far. It is very intense and exhausting but I really love it. Hungarian is incredibly different from French and English (and for pretty much every other language I believe!) both in terms of grammar and words. There are very few cognates to help me memorize vocabulary, and I’m having a hard time trying to find other ways to remember the words. The instructors are great, though, and we are not translating so much as learning to think in Hungarian which is super cool and different from how I was taught French in public school. We learn our new vocab sets using pictures and actions instead of just translating word for word. Which is particularly important I think because the word order and sentence structure of Hungarian is so different from English that you just sort of need to be able to think in Hungarian to some extent. Because of the different grammatical structure, translating English —> Hungarian word-for-word isn’t going to get you all that far in terms of being understood.
Something that really is surprising me is how often I am thinking in FRENCH here. Apparently my French and my Hungarian are stored in the same place in my brain, in some sort of “foreign language” compartment. Often, if there is a word of phrase that I don’t know in Hungarian but I do know in French, I find myself saying the French one instead without even realizing it! ,,Kerek két almast és… c’est tout.” (H: I would like two apples and… Fr: that’s all.”) I have heard of people mixing their French and Spanish foreign languages, but I didn’t think that would be an issue for me because French and Hungarian are so different.
The Hungarian flashcards I had created and had been studying at home were mostly food words, partly because I really enjoyed playing this game that another WordPress user had shared with me. :) I thought it seemed kind of silly or unnecessary to have so many food words, but I am so glad that was the case! Going to the grocery store is one of the most difficult everyday events for me here. It takes a lot of energy to shop for food in a language you have only been studying for two weeks.
Going to the grocery store is like being a little kid again– like a kid who can’t read, you’re very reliant on pictures. You stare at the cases and cases of foods only to realize you will never figure out which one you actually want. So you pick the yellow box of yogurt because, well, it’s yellow and that seems as good a reason as any. Trying to go grocery shopping becomes a gambling game and you just sort of get stuck with what you get and hope it works.
Despite the struggles with language (which, thanks to class are getting easier every day) I’m really happy to be here. The other students are so nice and fun to be with, the city is beautiful and easy to navigate, and I feel safe. The math semester begins in about a week and a half. I feel like I’m finally settling in and am very excited for what is to come!