In Which Ariana Goes to Hungary. Obviously.

Month: January, 2012


City Park is one of the largest parks in Pest, and it is a nice place to go walking. It contains two museums of art, a bunch of monuments, the skating rink, a castle, and the Széchenyi Baths. It’s a bus ride away from me, up in the 14th district, but it’s been a fun place for us spend weekends.

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A Ruin and a Bath

Last night, a bunch of the BSM/AIT kids and I went to the baths again. It was awesome being in the water, but getting out to get dressed was miserably cold. Last night was actually our coldest night yet, -5º C, so no wonder.

The steam rising off the baths made it so difficult to see that three parties of BSM kids wandered around for like half an hour before finding each other.

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Q + A with Mom

Did you bring enough warm clothes? Yes, although it would be really nice to have some gloves that are warmer, perferably glittens. My hands get so cold! Also really glad to have the silk pajamas and sleeping bag liner because our house is definitely not warm at night

How are your new sneakers working out? They are awesome. I wear them almost every day, and they blend right in. Hungarians totally do wear trainers, though. So there.

Do you like your roommates? I only have one so far, from St. Olaf. She is really nice! She is an excellent cook and exactly as neat as I am. We will get a third next week when she comes back from her vacation.

Have you met students from other colleges or other countries? There is a girl from India who is really cool, and a boy from Bulgaria who I don’t know well, but they are all students at American colleges. Claremont is definitely the biggest representative, with 6 students (three from Mudd, two from Pomona, and yrs. truly). Upstate New York’s colleges sent a bunch of students too. It’s a great group of people–we’re all getting together tonight, which should be great.

When will you take a cooking class? I signed up for one on Saturday! We are going to go to the Vasarcsarnok to buy ingredients, and then head over to the cooking teacher’s apartment on the Buda side by taxi. We’re making potato soup, beef stew, and dessert dumplings. More on that Saturday.

Have you rented a violin? Working on it. One of our pianists literally walked into the Lizst Academy and asked to be directed to the practice rooms, so he’s doing ok. The other musicians are still figuring out what to do. I might try to split a violin with the other violinist.

Does already knowing Spanish help you learn Hungarian? Yes, in that I know what to expect of verb conjugation. But otherwise, it’s totally unrelated.

Have you learned enough to help you grocery shop yet? Nope. Definitely spent half an hour looking for capers today and never found them. I did buy more delicious cheese, though.

Do many people speak English? About 70% of the people I have met speak English really well, which is great. I hope to get better at Hungarian though.

Why is Hungarian difficult and other questions

Hungarian is crazy. But it also makes a whole lot more sense than the other languages I know. Yes, there are irregular verbs, but only 3 really irregular ones (to go, to come and to be), and then 15 ‘irregulareesh’ as my Hungarian teacher says, ie irregular but predictably so. It’s also really, awesomely specific. There is a verb for ‘to drink’ and a totally different one for ‘to drink beer’. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to Cook

Having a kitchen more or less to myself is kind of a new experience and I am kind do flailing around with planning meals etc. Tonight should be counted a success, however: we made chicken piccata with pasta, and ate the last two pieces of last night’s eggplant parmigiana as a side dish.

We’re very lucky to have a fairly complete kitchen- colander, steak knives, two cutting boards, cheese grater, and corkscrew- most of the other students don’t have half as much. What I miss: sharp knives and the food processor. How are we supposed to make bread crumbs? Woe is me. Also, this oven has no broil setting, which I never thought I would be without.

Since we bought the chicken at the Vasarcsarnok, it came in a giant whole breast, meaning we definitely have tomorrow night’s dinner all ready if we buy a little bread. Cooking for two is so weird!

Also at the Vasarcsarnok I bought my roommate a persimmon because she had never had one before. Really, that market is a never ending source of interesting things. Hooray Europe. It’s great to be able to buy wine for recipes, too. The chicken piccata would not have been right without it-and it’s nice to have a glass with dinner, too.


(photo from google images)

Hungarian things

Went shopping today. It was an interesting experience. Apparently you have to weigh your produce yourself and get a ticket or risk a scolding from the checkout ladies.

This is a local dessert(?) called Túró Rudi. It’s basically cheese wrapped in chocolate, and I know that sounds really weird but it works. The cheese is kind of pleasantly lemony and buttery and the chocolate is really rich and smooth. It’s probably the most popular dessert in Hungary, and the government recently declared it a part of traditional Hungarian cuisine.

(photo from google images)

Another delightful tradition in Hungary is the mulled wine you can buy pretty much everywhere. It’s hot and sweet and quite cheap (650HUF, about $2.70 for a glass), and since there are no open container laws, it’s totally fine to wander around the park with your wine.

School tomorrow, from 9-4 as per usual. Learning Hungarian for that long really pulverizes my brain. It’s so difficult! Good thing I’m taking it this whole semester…

Castle Hill

Today we walked up to Castle Hill on the Buda side.

The views are incredible. The Buda hills rise straight up from the western river bank and roll off to the horizon. I’m sure they will be beautiful in the spring. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh my gosh you guys

The sky is blue! I can’t believe it.


Longer post coming later, I have to go outside and stand in the sunshine for a while.

Amerikai vagyok

On Tuesday, we walked downtown and visited the Great Synagogue in the old Jewish quarter.


It was really impressive. The synagogue, which is the biggest in Europe, was built in the 1850s, used as a stable and radio station by the Germans during WWII, and then repaired within the last ten years.

Here’s a detail of the cupola:

We then went to the largest open market in Budapest, the Vasarcsarnok, and bought food for dinner. They sell everything you could possibly want there, if ‘everything you could possibly want’ includes cabbage and tripe, and excludes Asian condiments (no soy sauce in the whole city! darn.)

Today I had to go to Hungarian class. There are about fifty students from the BSM taking the class, and they’re all really nice. The classes are great, too- Hungarian (dispite not being an indo-european language) is not quite as insane as you might think, with the exception of some of the more ancient words–ie ‘goodbye’ lit. ‘until we meet again:’ Viszontlátásra!

(photos in this post from google images; my camera was broken.)

It’s snowing

Only lightly. But it’s enough to make me want to hole up in here with a good book and some more tea.

Six  of my fellow BSM-ers and I went out to lunch here It was pretty excellent. That’s the New York Cafe, a coffeehouse built in 1894 and reopened about ten years ago. Very touristy, but the food was good and it was a good place to get out of the cold.

Then we all walked up to the Szechenyi Baths in City Park. The city is built on hot springs so there are dozens of baths like this around, and it’s not even the biggest one.

Now I really want to visit them all.

Not sure what I’m doing today. Possibly napping. Cheers.

P.S. If you feel like sending me a letter, my address is:

Ariana Brand
College International
Budapest Semesters in Mathematics
1406 Budapest 76
P.O. Box 51

For packages:
Ariana Brand
College International
Budapest Semesters in Mathematics
1071 Budapest
Bethlen Gábor tér 2

(photos in this post from google images; my camera was broken.)