Vail Valley student: ‘I feel like a Hungarian’ |

Vail Valley student: ‘I feel like a Hungarian’

Maggie Gilman
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

Editor’s Note: Eagle Valley High School sophomore Maggie Gilman is in Debrecen, Hungary, as a Rotary exchange student. The Vail Daily publishes occasional updates.

DEBRECEN, Hungary – I have had to do a lot of public speaking activities, in school and for the local Rotary Club.

Visual aids help, so I brought my school year book and the kids really took a liking to that. My English teacher made a lesson of me telling my story. The kids were asking questions and mostly they want to know about school, asking if we really have lockers like in the movies.

Kids ask about whether the classes are easier or harder. They will say “have you noticed how much more difficult school is here?” I have also gotten questions about what the people in America are like. They want to know if I think they are rude and always rushing! I actually had some people ask if people acted the way they do on “Desperate Housewives.”

A lot of people ask if I like Hungarian food and when I say I love it, they ask what I used to eat at home.

I tell them they do not know of smoothies, peanut butter, steaks or ribs. I told them I love hamburgers but after that someone told me that I could just go to McDonalds. They did not understand that those are NOT real hamburgers!

I am getting really used to the food and the lifestyle. I thought that I would, but actually do not miss the food back home at all.

Also, kids love that schools in the U.S. are so interactive and fun. Here in Hungary they do not have clubs and the sport teams are not that involved.

I ended up giving my whole presentation in Hungarian. At the Rotary meeting I made a new presentation and learned some new words. By now I was pretty good at describing where I was from, my family, and the U.S.

When we gave the presentations I was the only one who gave it in Hungarian.

I am happy to say that I have made so many friends and they help me feel like I am loved and a part of something here. I make them by talking to them in the lunch line, talking to the people in the bus line or sitting next to me, or just people around town. Being so friendly is a great thing, but now everyone says hi and starts talking to me but I cannot remember who they are.

The Hungarian lifestyle is very different from the American. Here everyone likes to do things at a slower pace and when they want, so things never seem to get done! Hungary has an influenza of the “oh I will do that tomorrow,” and unfortunately I have caught it.

The Hungarian language is crazy. When I left, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Hungarian has so many special rules and the grammar is so complicated. Most of the Hungarians do not know how to explain things to me because they just grew up in the language and never had to learn it. Every day I spend my whole time in school working my tail off to learn new words. Now that I know a lot of words I try to piece together sentences, and that is how I talk.

I can talk with my friends for the most part, and can pick up on some things people say. Everyone always is complimenting me on my Hungarian and saying how well I am doing. The other exchangers know nothing and are having a more difficult time being here. They do not have any Hungarian friends because they have no way to talk with them.

So even though I might not think things are 100 percent perfect like I would like them to be, they are still good. I am so happy to be living in Hungary and I actually feel like a Hungarian!

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