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Monday, April 18, 2011

"I'm happy to report that my inner child is still ageless"

Last week, our match play finally ended with a victory as we secured 7th place in the top women's volleyball league in Hungary. After a somewhat challenging first professional playing experience, I was somewhat sad to see the season finish. Living in Bekescsaba for the past 4 months has provided me the opportunity to meet people and experience a culture that otherwise would have gone unnoticed on my world radar: witnessing a pig slaughter, chicken talons floating in my soup, the Hungarian language; among other things.

For those of you who don't stalk my life, cough-you know who you are-cough, my birthday was last Thursday. In the weeks leading up to this blessed event, I am always super giddy and overjoyed with excitement, but once the big day finally approaches I tend to simmer down. I have a super sneaky friend here who, during that week, had many random "jobs" to do around town. Insert here my first ever surprise party. Niki had planned this, probably right in front of my face since I understand very few Hungarian words. I was told that Thursday night, she, Zsoka and I had would hang out at Zsoka's house and talk about the season, maybe speak about plans for next year, but just have a good evening. Of course, I thought nothing of it. As we walked into her apartment, I was greeted by the whole team and a lit birthday cake, as they sang a Hungarian birthday song.


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After the initial shock and awe, I was told "boldog születésnapot" by each member on the team before receiving the traditional cheek kisses. Kajla had made a dirt mound cake, similar to our worms and dirt cake that we Americans enjoy as children. We drank, ate, and enjoyed our end of season/surprise birthday party together. Zsoka made me a special sandwich consisting of pig fat spread like butter (of course from the pig slaughter I had witnessed) and onions. Despite how it sounds, it really wasn't all that bad. We went around the circle, asking everyone on the team what they planned to do for next season--information I am not at liberty to divulge--and what was happening in their lives. Unlike the team at UT, the team here doesn't spend every waking moment living together, so our lives are not so intertwined. It was a great evening and definitely a birthday I will never forget thanks to my many Hungarian friends!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Don't hét us 'cuz you ain't us

Sunday, April 10, the BRSE took on opponent Albrect VSC-Misi Miskolc at home, defeating them 3:0 in under one hour. After jumping on Miskolc (pronounced Meesh-kolts) in the first set, 25-9, we let up a little in the 2nd, winning by a much closer margin of 25-15. Finally regaining our composure, we put an end to the match with a 25-12 victory. According to some of my teammate's, the best player for Miskolc was sitting on the bench. We found out later that she had been skipping practices for the past few weeks, and that the coach was punishing her for doing so. Brava!

Side note: Miskolc was the 1st place team from the second volleyball league at the end of regular season, allowing them to move up to the first league for playoffs. The 8th place team from our league dropped down to the second league. Not sure if anyone remembers the wildcard playoff match that we, as the 7th place team from the 1st league, played in January/February against the 2nd place team (Kaposvar) from the 2nd league...but whatever, that determines who else moves within the two divisions. Clearly, we won, so HAZZAH! we stayed in the top league. Now back to the regularly scheduled entertainment...

Wednesday, April 13, we traveled almost 4 hours to the northeast part of Hungary, allowing me my first glimpse of the Hungarian mountains. The gym is crazy small, the roof is maybe 30' high, and the floor was super slick. Oh, and did I mention that the gym was FREEZING? Needless to say, these were perfect playing conditions! As most of you may know by now, our team tends to have frequent mental lapses--constantly varying between highs and lows throughout matches. Its fair to say that we never know which BRSE team will really show up. That said, we lost the first set 20-25. Miskolc's best hitter, who was benched on Sunday, was playing and definitely helped their team; however, we were able to pull it all together, winning the next three sets: 25-10, 27-25, 25-20. It should be said that the 1st and 3rd sets we played on the colder side of the gym, so its possible that the dramatic temperature drop slightly affected our play. Regardless, we came out victorious, securing the 7th place in Hungarian Women's Volleyball Extra Liga for the 2010-2011 season!!

For those of you who don't know, the number 7 in Hungarian is "hét" - pronounced "hate". Just in case you were wondering.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's see how many times can I say "lawn mower" in one post?

So it's apparently the "Unofficial Lawn Mowing Day" here in Bekescsaba.

On our walk back from lunch, Niki and I came across a 20-something year old man mowing his front yard area. Most of the yards here are pretty small, so it takes roughly 7 minutes to cut the grass. This guy obviously decided that today was as good a day as any to mow his lawn. As we approached, Niki gawked at the guy, trying to figure out if/where she may have seen him before while I stared, mouth agape, at the lawn mower. Sure, the guy was tall, so maybe mildly attractive--clearly that's not where my attention was--regardless, I was much more concerned with the lawn mower. I know that I sound like such a boy, staring bewildered at his lawn equipment, but you weren't there.
First, there was hardly any sound, despite the lawn mower clearly running. It made just a slight hum, and an occasional crunch as it passed over a twig. Then, I noticed an orange extension cord. Apparently their lawn mowers are plugged in, like a vacuum. Hence my confusion. Do we have electric lawn mowers in America??
We continued walking, turning down the next street, Niki laughing at me for only noticing the lawn mower machine and not the lawn mower person. Despite my efforts, she refused to accept my reasoning, claiming that I was a "weirdo" for checking out the lawn mower and not the guy. The next street over, we saw two more of these electric-style lawn mowers. Naturally, I whipped out my iPod to video this anomaly. Enjoy.
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Oh, and the final "lawn mower" word count is 11. In case you were curious.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Its already April...how did that happen?

It's been a couple weeks since my last post. It seems surreal that my first overseas playing experience is coming to an end. Anyhoo, I decided it was time to update everyone with the latest news from Hungary...here goes:

1. It's officially springtime! Yes, my dear friends, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the flowers are blossoming. The trees here are absolutely gorgeous, covered in white, yellow, and pink flowers. Living in Florida for the majority of my life, I have only experienced the hot-really hot-hot as hell-back to hot cycle that we claim to be our 4 seasons. Having finally endured my first real winter, I can truly appreciate the spring weather that much more. Niki and I have been spending more and more time outside, just sitting in the sunshine, wearing our fancy sunglasses--to which I have a slight addiction, but its fine--and eating ice cream. Its crazy how many more people seem to live here now that the weather is warmer.

2. Our trainings have begun to wind down. We have our last home match (hopefully) on Sunday against Albrecht MVSC MISI; Wednesday we will travel to Miskoltc (pronounced Meesh-kolts) to play again. Remember: you must win 2 matches in order to win the series. If the matches are 1-1, we return to Bekescsaba to play the final match April 20. We are fighting for 7th place in the Hungarian extraliga, or the top league in Hungary. Many girls, including myself, have been fighting off colds and some viruses, but hopefully all will be well for the matches this week.

Ok, so when I sat down to write this blog, I was sure I would have more than two points to share with my now not-so-captive audience. Whatever, I guess its better than nothing. Really this blog is more to prove to my friends and family I'm alive and somewhat well, having a grand ol' time living abroad. Or to help you procrastinate doing whatever it is you're supposed to be doing with your day.