Thursday, March 24, 2011

The expected's just the beginning. The unexpected is what changes our lives.

Three months ago, I began a new chapter in my life. Accepting a job offer to play volleyball in Hungary was extremely impulsive, but then again, what else would you expect from this recent college grad? I have a slight tendency to act spontaneously. For the most part, my decisions are harmless and all part of my coming-of-age process. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, that my choices are all part of my life's journey, blah blah, you get the point.

My life has no constant; my future is unpredictable. I am a brand new “real life” adult. All I have right now is freedom and adventure, both of which are just beginning. I have no concept of time, as everything in my life has always been on a day-to-day basis. I hate making plans, and prefer to create a general outline, allowing for changes to come and go as they please. My goals are extremely broad and general. I am at a point where I am truly just now figuring out who I am. There are very few guarantees in life, even less in that of a 21-year old volleyball vagabond. For now, I will continue to live and play volleyball overseas in the tiny town of Bekescsaba, Hungary. After that, my life plans are pretty much up in the air. My only goal is to live and experience everything I can, for as long as I can before I am no longer allowed to run away from the inevitable grasp of society.

As with most individuals growing up in my generation, I want to leave my mark in the world. I have done some research, and learned some incredible accomplishments that others have reached by the time they were 22. By age 22, Mark Spitz had won 7 Olympic gold medals and Charles Darwin had set sail for the Galapagos Islands. By age 21, Steven Jobs co-founded Apple Computer and Humphrey David discovered laughing gas. By age 20, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and cofounded Microsoft, and Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice (which I still haven't read). By 19, Abner Doubleday created the rules for baseball. By age 18, Billy the Kid was charged with 12 murders (ok this is a little morbid and disturbing, but still, he left his mark). By age 17, Pele won the World Cup match for Brazil, before passing out on the field.

In attempts to create my own legacy, I borrowed a few ideas from “The Bucket List” and “A Walk to Remember”. There’s something about people on their deathbeds in movies that really get you thinking about your own life, and thus I decided to create a list of my own. My goals are solely based on my preferences and meant strictly for my own personal gain; however, many of them would be better enjoyed alongside the company of friends. My list has no order, as life is unpredictable and you never know what will be thrown in your direction. The only stipulation is that the list is to be completed before my demise. My bucket list has ideas about travel, about life, and variations of anything in between. I want to see the 7 wonders of the world, all 50 states, live in 4 countries. I’m not sure why I picked 4, but regardless, I’m halfway there. I want to solve a rubix cube without cheating, ride a mechanical bull, and learn another language. I want to fall in love, start a family, have a dog and teach that dog to fetch beer from the fridge. I want to watch the 10 greatest American films of all time, see the real Mona Lisa, and see a sunrise and sunset in the same 24-hour period. I want to break a Guinness book world record.

Ok, obviously some of my goals are ridiculous, but they’re what makes me “me”. If they weren’t absurdly impossible, than anyone could do them, and what’s so spectacular about that?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pig Killing Day

Yes, you read right. Apparently, it is Hungarian tradition to have a "pig killing day". The slaughter usually takes place in fall-winter, as the cold is required to help preserve the mass quantities of meat. In the past, this tradition was used as a means to obtain food for one's family. Today, this is no longer a necessity, however, it is still practiced throughout European cultures. Zsoka and Niki came to pick me up from the hostel at 6:30 am. We headed to Zsoka's father's house for the pig killing day.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted and immediately walked over to the pig pen. Here, the men attempted to catch the pig using a metal loop/bit thing that is placed in the pig's mouth. One man grabbed it's tail, another used his body weight to help control the animal as the bit is forced into the pig's mouth. I never realized how many teeth pigs have, its crazy...and they're pretty long. Anyways, from there, the men lead the pig out of the pen where they will stun it with the pistol thing. Immediately after the shot, the pig seemed incoherent and fell to the ground. The shot is meant to knock the animal unconscious, and thus minimize the squealing and pain felt by the animal. Unfortunately, my viewing of such activities did not go as planned.
As the men moved to cut it's throat, the pig let out this AWFUL squealing sound. The shot had not worked! Niki and Zsoka walked away from the area, unable to take the pig's cries. I stood, frozen, unable to look away. I stood there, taking in this whole experience. Once the pig's throat was cut, they collected the blood in a bowl, which would be cooked by Zsoka's mother. Mixed with onions and other spices, this is a Hungarian delicacy that is enjoyed with bread.

The rest of the morning, the men prepared the pig: First, they burned off the hair,
next, they washed the pig, removing its outer layer of charred flesh. Then began the butchering. Every part of the pig would be used in some fashion. The non-meat parts, such as the head and feet, would be used in a stew for added flavoring, while the intestines were used as hoses to hold the sausage. The pig's head is removed and the body was cut into two halves. From here the various cuts were made and taken to be cleaned.

Throughout my experience, the men kept posing and laughing as I took photos. Despite the initial shock, as the day progressed I was able to handle the slaughter better--it no longer looked like the lovable pink pig I had loved from the movie "Babe". After almost 5 hours, Niki, Adam (who arrived just in time for the blood meal) and I returned back to Bekescsaba to rest up for the evening's festivities: MMA/K1 fights in our gym!

(NOTE: I have videos if anyone wants to see..they're kinda overwhelming, but just let me know)

Hungarian Championships: Round 2

After a week free from match-play, the Hungarian Championship will resume this week. Matches for the final four will be played March 15, 17, 19, 21, and 23. REMEMBER: In the final four, you must win 3 matches to advance to the finals. Matches for the consolation bracket (places 5th-8th) will be played March 16, 19, and 22. Here, teams must win 2 matches to advance. Competing in the Final Four will be BSE, Vasas, UTE, and Godollo. Last year's final featured BSE and Godollo, with BSE coming out victorious. In the consolation bracket, you can see NRK Nyiregyhaza, Albrect MVSC MISI, BRSE, and MAV.
During this week, most teams practiced, however 4 teams competed in a single-elimination Hungarian Cup. BSE defeated NRK Nyiregyhaza to advance to the finals, where they would face Godollo. Godollo defeated Vasas--Vasas defeated NRK in the 3rd place match. BSE won this match in 4. It is possible that these same two teams will meet up in the Hungarian championship finals, which I know everyone will be eager to see.

Our first match will be played in Shaky-shaky-feyhava against MAV, before we will return home to Bekescsaba to play them again on Saturday of this week. After splitting with MAV earlier this season, we are looking forward to getting a chance to play them again. Look for more Hun-Volley updates as this week progresses.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quarterfinals, Part II

Well, unfortunately we were unsuccessful in our attempts to defeat Gödöllő tonight, losing in 4 again...18-25, 25-21, 18-25, 24-26. The scores were much closer and we played better, but made a lot of mental mistakes and unforced errors when we couldn't afford to. We had many long rallys and put forth a great effort out on defensive plays. Anyways, we will most likely play MAV from Székesfehérvár in our next round of match play. Matches for the consolation bracket (5th-8th) begin Wednesday, March 16 and then Saturday, March 19; you only must win 2 to advance. If we have to play a 3rd, it will be Tuesday, March 22. Practice will resume on Monday.

In other news, its still snowing here--apparently that is not the normal weather pattern for this time of year, despite common misconception. Rumor has it that temperature should be warming up dramatically in the next week or so...something this Florida girl can only hope to be true.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I think we have a slight language barrier issue here..

I have had the honor, nay, the privilege to spend a lot of time with my dear teammate Niki, whom I now can call my friend. During our times together, we have a lot of random conversations filled with various, sometimes strange, topics. Initially, we struggled with some explanations, finding it necessary to bring a Hungarian-English dictionary to find the word we were trying to say. As time has progressed, we have resorted to pantomiming or drawing when words fail us. Our most recent team trip to Budapest provided us with the opportunity to stay together in a room, along with Zsoka. What better chance to talk with a friend then right as you are trying to fall asleep? Cue hours of what American girls call "pillow talk". I have found a few excerpts from that night's conversation that demonstrated just how exactly it is that she and I communicate.

Situation A. Niki: "Green bikini? What is so sexy about the color green in America?" Me: "Nooo, I said whipped cream bikini, you know, like what you put in your coffee. But instead you wear it." Niki: "Oh, yeah that makes a lot more sense."

Situation B. Niki attempted to explain "land pirates", which I still believe are similar to Robin Hood, she was stuck on one word. She described it in Hungarian, and the only part I understood was "szex stílus", to which I immediately guess the word "whip". She looked at me and said, "yes, exactly!" Whoever said that my catch-phrase abilities were useless? Boom. Roasted.

We also compared the differences between pronunciations of names in English and Hungarian. Unfortunately the video is too long to post on here, so you'll have to check facebook--if that works.

Let the games begin!!!

Tuesday marked the start of Március Madness: Magyar Edition. Our team drove to Gödöllő for the first round of quarterfinal matches. In order to advance to the semifinals, a team must win 2 matches. Since Gödöllő is ranked #2, they would host the first match; we would host on Thursday. If necessary, the third and deciding match would be played at the higher seed's hometown.
My team seemed antsy in the lock-room, eager to begin the match. Pregame warmup went well, as everyone looked to be finding their groove well. During hitting lines, Sisco's "Thong Song" played and I knew things were looking up for us. You can't just head songs like that and NOT win. The match started out showing nerves on both side before Gödöllő went on a run; they would beat us 12-25. The second was a little closer, 18-25, but our opponents were in control the entire time. In the third, we came alive, competing hard when Kicsi sprained her ankle. The game was close, both team's point in the 20s. We came together and decided that we would win this game for Kicsi. And we did, 25-23! Going into the 4th set, we all believed that would to take the match. Forgetting about the first two sets, we felt confident and were fighting hard for each point. The scored stayed close the whole game, with neither team taking the lead. Tied at 22-22, the Gödöllő team managed to pull away, sealing the match with a score of 22-25. We would have another chance on Thursday, this time playing at home.

In other matches:
#1 BSE defeated #8 Albrect 3-0
#3 Vasas defeated #6 MAV 3-0
#5 NRK upset #4 UTE 3-0

Match play resumes across the country on Thursday. Stay tuned for more röplabda updates as the week continues!