So it’s been three weeks since I last posted. This is not because nothing interesting has happened, but because I’ve been simultaneously too busy and too lazy to write new posts and edit photos. I’m going to do separate posts for those events that I feel need them, but other than that, here’s a general list of what I’ve been up to:
- Went to the first “pub quiz” (trivia night) hosted for the international students. It was crazy crowded and a lot of people did not know enough English to participate, but it was fun. My team came in second.
- Read a bunch of articles about canine olfaction.
- Went to the international student’s orientation. Was not oriented. (They just tried to sell us a bunch of stuff we don’t need - a stark contrast to BU’s orientation where they gave us a bunch of free stuff that’s useful)
- Tried to register at the university. After filling out the paper form and finally getting it to the lady who’s in charge of all the (600) international students (so naturally she only works four hours a week), she said she would send me an email with my username the next day. It came two weeks later. Then I had to go to a separate office where they gave me my password. What a hassle.
- Wrote up a protocol for the experiment I’m going to do.
- Sat in on some classes. They were ok.
- Visited my grandma in Debrecen for her birthday.
- Rewrote my protocol.
- Bought stuff at Ikea.
- Went hiking in Dobogókő and drank from streptococcus infected bottle.
- Re-rewrote my protocol.
- Went to the National Gallop and the surrounding festival. Felt conflicted about how horse racing is probably not the greatest thing, but how it’s also so cool…
- Went to the second pub quiz. We came in second to last. Apparently Thanksgiving is the 4th Thursday in November and not the 3rd. Damn.
- Re-re-rewrote my protocol.
- Got strep throat. Woooohooooo!
- Did not run the 5k race I had been planning for (and already paid the freaking entry fee for).
- Watched the premier of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 12 hours after it aired despite the fact that I’m six hours ahead.
- Re-re-re-rewrote my protocol.
- Realized I should probably update my blog.
So that’s that. I’ll post some pictures soon and hopefully I won’t put this blog off for so long any more because nobody reads the long posts. No promises though.
Thursday night was the first official event for the university’s international students - a seven hour long pub crawl. (I don’t think I need to point out the differences between the European university-sponsored mandatory drinking games and the American university zero tolerance policies…). We went all over the city to various pubs, most of them in beautiful 200 year-old buildings. My favorite was the Tip Top Bar, which had a beautiful view of the city, the mountains, and the sunset (above). We ended at Corvinteto for a Freddie Mercury celebration (it was his birthday), but they only played lame remixed versions of his songs, so we left early and I managed to catch the last bus home. Hurray!
Today I went up to the town of Veresegyhaz where my great-uncle lives. After a huge lunch, he took me to the “bear park” for their annual end-of-summer party. The park started off as a sanctuary for retired circus bears and bears that they rescued from other abusive places, but today it functions as more of a zoo with other animals (wolves, ostriches, horribly obese raccoons, storks) as well. They had a small petting area with a blind bambi and a South American coati (Nasua nasua, family Procyonidae). The coati was really cool (especially compared to its obnoxious raccoon cousins) but it didn’t really like going near people - that is until it fell in love with my backpack and decided to climb all over me. He hung out for a while, then he bit me and ran away. It was fun. Hopefully I won’t get rabies.
The Australian Embassy is moving out of Hungary for some reason and since I know people who know people, I too got to go to their going away party. In the beginning it was mostly people in their 30s/40s, but later into the evening we younger folk found each other and talked for a good while. They tried to convince me that Australia really isn’t that dangerous as long as you avoid the brown snakes, the blue ringed octopi, the box jellyfish, the red back spiders, the great white sharks, the tiger snakes, the funnel spiders, and the cassowaries, (and a few more that I can’t remember right now), all of which can kill you within a few minutes if you come in contact with them, and almost all of which can be found right in your backyard. It wasn’t the most convincing argument, even after a few drinks, but we had a good time anyway. They were all super sad to be leaving Budapest, and it kind of sucks for me that everyone I’ve met so far is leaving within a week (I went to a Portuguese party last week where the same thing happened), but it’s still cool to at least talk with people from all over the world.
This is Barry. Barry was the first dog I got to help do an experiment with. My job was to raise his oxytocin levels so that we could see what effect that has on his food-related decisions when presented with various human signals. What does that mean in non-sciencey terms? I played with Barry for a good ten minutes and then he ate a bunch of food while we recorded whether the experimenter’s actions had any effect on which plates he chose. It was pretty awesome.
Today was my first day at the university. The semester hasn’t technically started yet, so it was pretty empty, but I got a good feel for how things are going to go. I talked with some people in the Ethology Department and we discussed some of the projects that I’ll be helping out with. The good news is that it seems like research-wise I’ll really get to be in the thick of it, working on some of hottest topics in this field. The bad news is that administration-wise no one has any clue what’s going on. Literally, no one. I take back every complaint I ever had about BU’s administrative policies/practices because it does not even compare to the level of incompetence that’s happening here. Hopefully everything will sort itself out soon.
Went to explore the neighborhood/buy stuff for the flat, and saw this in a storefront. Guess I’m not so far from home after all. Go Sox!
After a hectic couple of days with the wedding, the holiday and various birthday celebrations, I finally moved into my apartment today. It’s a nice little flat right between the super sketch and the super nice parts of town, and it’s right by the Varosliget, which is a big park in the middle of the city. So far I really like it, let’s hope it stays that way!
August 20th - Saint Stephen’s Day Fireworks
August 20th is one of the most important national holidays in Hungary. It commemorates the founding of the Hungarian state in 1000CE by the first king, Saint Stephen. Every year this day is celebrated with various parades, festivals, parties, fireworks and so forth, similar to the 4th of July in the US (in fact I saw a family who took the whole “it’s a Hungarian 4th of July” way too literally and was completely decked out in American flag gear and patriotic colors - it was pretty awkward…). I was lucky enough to get to view the Budapest fireworks from a boat right in the middle of the Danube River, which was pretty awesome. We were right behind the Erzsebet Bridge so we got a good view of the famous Chain Bridge (the one in the distance), the Buda Castle (to the left), and the Parliament (to the right, but you can’t really see it in the video). Thanks to everyone who planned (and payed for…) this amazing experience!