Entry 5 – February 1, 2010

Saturday was a bit of a busy day again. We did get to sleep in, but after breakfast we set off to sweep, vacuum, and mop our entire apartment. We hadn’t done that since we moved in and, since no one took their shoes off while viewing the flat, the floors were quite dirty. Now we can walk around in socks/barefoot and not get totally gross! We also got over a foot of snow that morning, so none of us really felt like going outside. There isn’t really any green space here, so all the snow just turns to nasty brown slush.

After cleaning the floors, we did some grocery shopping. For the big things which are hard to mistake for something else, it isn’t a problem; for things that require reading a label, such as baking soda, baking powder, flour, etc., the language barrier kicks in a little bit. Next time we go shopping, we will have to make sure we translate our list before we head out.

The plan was to go to UPC and then IKEA in the afternoon, but we were already getting a bit tired, plus Cam and Andy were going to have a bunch of the other international students over in the evening and we wanted to have at least a little energy for that, so we decided to postpone the UPC/IKEA trip.

Sunny and I headed off to Cam and Andy’s about 7 (Matt stayed back to enjoy a nice, quiet internet date). We weren’t actually sure if they would be home, but set off anyway to give Matt the flat. Luckily, they were home, but quickly informed us that the party had been moved to someone else’s flat only a few blocks from our place. We waited for an hour or so for John-Carlo, a student from Italy who hardly knows any English, to meet up with us, and then we set out to Leena and Liisa’s flat. Slowly their flat filled up with more and more students until the place was packed. I think I might remember half the names, if I’m lucky. Being a bit of an introvert, it was a bit tough being in a room packed full of strangers. It didn’t help that I don’t consume alcohol and everyone there was enjoying beer/wine. Still, it was good to get to meet some of the other students we will be seeing at school in a casual setting.

At about 12:30 am, they decided to head out to a club or concert or something, after which they intended to go to a 32 hour party that was in progress somewhere in the city. I was pretty tired at that point and had planned on going on Skype before bed, so I headed home alone. I think I’m getting to know the city pretty good already as I didn’t need my map at all and the flat I was leaving was on a street I’d not been on before. I did get on the tram in the wrong direction, but I caught the mistake after the first stop.

Yesterday I slept in after the late night. I don’t think any of us changed out of our pj’s all day. We managed to get a little bit of internet, so we caught up on some of the stuff we do there, played a few games (SET, attempted to solve various Rubik’s cubes, etc.), and then Matt and I watched a fan film based on Zelda: the Ocarina of Time. It was actually extremely well done and about 2 hours in length. Throughout the day I had been trying to install Windows 7 on my laptop (I need it for school, otherwise I wouldn’t bother) and decided during the process, since it was being such a pain, that I might as well toss Linux on there as well. I’m not quite finished setting it all up yet, so we’ll see how that all goes.

Today was a bit of a gong show. We went to university to talk to the professor we are working under just to clarify some things regarding the project, and that went fine. We decided to check our email before we went to our next destination and found an email from ESN (Erasmus Student Network) saying that there was something happening at 1, so we decided to mold our plans around that. We tried to get our student cards, but the people who were to do that were on lunch.

Around 12:30, we showed up at the building mentioned in the email and there were a bunch of people standing around in the lobby waiting. One of them I recognized from the weekend, so I figured we were in the right spot. Eventually, the crowd formed a line and we didn’t really know what to do. We went up to the specific room where the presentation was to take place and found more people we recognized.

We went into the presentation at 1, not knowing at all what was supposed to be happening. After the short presentation discussing a few things about BME and Budapest in general (aside: the inventor of the Rubik’s cube graduated from BME and both Matt and I have been playing with various Rubik’s cube while here) they asked everyone to bring forward various papers to do registration things and get student cards. We though “Perfect! We missed them before, but they basically came to us!” so we get in line to get our paperwork filled out, only to find out that we are not ESN students. Only people from Europe are ESN students.

At this point, we have no idea what is going on. We were somehow put on the ESN mailing list and have pretty much this whole time been banking on the fact that we are a part of ESN. We were supposed to get T-Mobile SIM cards for our phones with them and everything. We decided to stick around for a little while to see what else would happen. After another short presentation talking about ESN, everyone broke into groups and wouldn’t you know it, our names were on a list for the ESN groups. We were then thoroughly confused.

Luckily, our group leader understood what was going on. North American students aren’t a part of ESN, but they generally like to socialize with the ESN students, so we were added to the ESN list for the purpose of knowing when fun things were happening. Our registration procedure is different, but we get to hang out with each other. It even sounded like we could still get a free SIM card, so not all is lost. We met a group of Americans that were even more confused than us, I think. The groups were supposed to be a mix of different nationalities, but all the Americans ended up in our group because they all wanted to find and speak with Eszter Kiss regarding their registration, so our group became pretty lopsided.

After a tour of the campus, we went to a local restaurant for some drinks. Sunny and I had to leave to pay our rent before the rental agency closed, but Matt was in a different group. Serendipitously, Matt’s group had chosen the same restaurant and they were just entering as Sunny and I were leaving, so we headed off to pay our rent and did in fact make it there before closing time.

We went home, had supper, and just hung around for a few hours. At 10, all the ESN students got back together to go to a music pub, so we went to join them. Bar/pub/club atmospheres aren’t usually my cup of tea, but I wanted to meet people so I figured I might as well go at least for a short while. European pubs are much louder and more crowded than I think North American pubs are. Lots of thumping euro music and karaoke from the 90’s. Also, I think tonight I had the most second hand smoke I’ve had in my life. Smoking is still very common in public here, but it was crazy in the pub. Matt and I left around midnight and promptly showered and threw all the clothes we were wearing into the laundry. I’m glad we got to meet people, but I don’t think I’ll be going to too many more places like that.

On our way back to our flat, this guy approached us on the street and said something like “you guys look like you know French.” Turns out he was from Canada as well, Ottawa or Montréal or something, and was actually looking for the pub we had just come from. We pointed him in the right direction and he tried to get our Facebook accounts, but we politely told him no and went on our way.

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