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She’s Editing What She Hears Into What She Wants To Hear

, , , , | Related | June 22, 2020

I need to do a small skit with my two younger brothers for a youth group we’re in, and I am explaining to my mother how it will work out.

Me: “We need to take two videos, and then later, someone in the youth group will combine them.”

Mum: “Why don’t you combine them? You did that for French class, didn’t you?”

Me: “Yes, but that was putting together five separate videos that didn’t need to look natural at all. It wasn’t like this, where it needs to look natural.”

Mum: “But it should be just fine; that’s exactly the same thing.”

Me: “No, it’s not. It is not the same thing at all.”

Mum: “I think you should do it anyway; maybe it’ll be better than the other person who’ll do it.”

I’m still in high school and the other person actually does video editing for a career.


Mum: “Okay, you can try it later. Thanks for agreeing to do it!”

Me: “…”

Not Trying To Be A (Buda)Pest

, , , , | Right | January 10, 2020

About six years ago, I went on a family vacation to Budapest on Portugal’s flag carrier. This happened on the flight back home.

After climbing for about fifteen or twenty minutes, the Captain made an announcement.

“Hello. Unfortunately, we will have to return to Budapest to pick up some passengers who did not board. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

We turned back, landed twenty or so minutes after the announcement, and taxied to a gate only for the doors to open and a four-member family to board. They were not famous and they were not important; they were a family on vacation in Budapest, just like mine.

Later on, we found out they made a mistake and entered the wrong bus, saw our plane depart, and spoke to the bus driver who passed the information along for everyone to coordinate the return of the aircraft and boarding of the passengers. It was nice to see that, for a change, an airline didn’t have a “Your mistake, your problem, buy a new ticket, we won’t waste our money with fees and fuel” attitude, but were rather truly interested in getting all their passengers from A to B.

In Gulag We Eat Goulash

, , , | Right | July 18, 2018

(Our professor tells us this story about her student visiting Hungary and going out to eat.)

Student: “I’ll have the Gulag, please.”

Waiter: “Excuse me?”

Student: “Gulag.”

Waiter: “Oh, you mean goulash. You don’t want to say that other word again.”

(Goulash is a traditional stew. A Gulag was a Soviet work camp.)

Hungary For Some Medicine

, , | Healthy | December 6, 2017

(When I left Germany for a semester abroad people warned me that every foreign student has at least one horror story to tell from their experience. This one is mine. I go to Hungary. All my classes are in English, and most of the people I interact with are fluent in either English or German, so while I only know the most basic Hungarian — introduction phrases, greetings, how to order food — my Hungarian is not good and I communicate in English most of the time. Two months into my stay, I wake up with massive pain in my ears, and they are wet, like liquid is coming out of them. I call my mother, a nurse, who tells me it might be a middle-ear inflammation and that I need to go see a doctor immediately. But since my European insurance only covers emergencies, I have not been to a doctor so far and have no GP in town. I start searching online for an English-speaking doctor I can go to. I eventually find out that my best bets are the so-called “emergency centres” of each town district, apparently some kind of doctors’ offices where you pay cash and later are reimbursed by your insurance company. I decide to call the centre of my district. The person who answers the phone hands me over to the doctor on call. I describe my symptoms and my suspected diagnosis and she tells me to come to them right away. I take a cab to the office, where I only find a nurse unable to speak English.)

Me: “Hi! I called earlier; I am here to see the doctor.”

Nurse: “No doctor!”

(With both of us using translator apps, we end up establishing that the doctor is not here and I will have to wait two hours. So, I wait in pain, cold, with my nose running like crazy, in the “waiting room,” a room completely empty except for one metal bench. The doctor arrives more than 90 minutes later. While she gathers her tools, I describe my symptoms again. As soon as I mention pain in the ears, she stops and turns around.)

Doctor: “You are in the wrong place. You need to see a specialist.”

Me: “I’m sorry, what? I told you all that on the phone; you told me to come here!”

Doctor: “No, you need to go to the hospital.”

(She gives me a paper that I hope describes the reason she is sending me away, and the name of a hospital. The hospital is way closer to my place than the emergency centre is and I am quite angry, sick and miserable as I am, that I wasted more than two hours when she could have told me to go there on the phone. But it is already past noon by now, on a Friday, so I hurry, as normal business hours will end soon. I reach the hospital. The receptionist, again not an English speaker, motions for me that I am in the wrong place.)

Me: *using my translator app* “I was told to come here!”

(The receptionist brings me inside where a nurse can translate for me that I need to go to another entrance, two buildings down. I thank them and am on my way. By now, I am suffering even worse. My head feels like it will split open, my ears just radiate pain, and my nose is basically dripping like a faucet. I reach the right entrance and hand the paper I got at the emergency centre to the receptionist.)

Receptionist #2: *pushes the paper back to me and talks fast Hungarian*

Me: “Please, I do not speak Hungarian. Beszelek nincs magyarul!

(She turns around and ignores me. I use my translator, type in, “Hello. I think I have an middle ear infection. I need a doctor; can you help me?” and hope the app will not mess it up too bad. I show the result to her, but she just looks away. I try to hand her my phone so she can type an answer in the translator, but she pushes it away, too. She ignores all my other attempts of communication. In my desperation, I use my last resort: I call the emergency number. As I am in a European capital, they should have some people speaking English. I finally end up talking to someone that understands me. By now, I am desperate and crying.)

Me: “Hello! I hope you can help me; I need an English-speaking doctor. I went to the emergency centre in [District];they refused to treat me and sent me to [Hospital]. But here, they won’t treat me either, and no one can tell me why! Please, I am in pain; I need a doctor!”

Operator: “That is no problem. I will find the closest doctor! Hmm… Yes… Okay! You need to go to the emergency centre in [District].”


(I am full-on crying now. I collapse to the floor, sobbing. The foyer is empty except for the receptionist that still ignores me.)

Operator: *sounding angry* “You need to calm down! I cannot understand you when you shout! I told you where to go, so go there! Emergency centre in [District]!”

(Finally, someone notices me. While I disconnect the call, a young med student runs to me, offering her help, and asking me what is wrong. I hand her my paper, explain what I have just been through, and tell her that the receptionist refuses to tell me where to go or to communicate at all. She goes and talks to the receptionist and returns with another piece of paper.)

Student: “Everything is all right. Your doctor sent you here because the ENT-walk-in clinic is here. But the clinic closed at noon. So, you need to go to the surgical ENT-ward. It is really close. I’ll write down the address for you. You go in there, hand the receptionist there your papers, and they will bring you to a doctor.”

(The address is just around the corner from my building. I go there, but when I see the building I lose all hope. I am not standing in front of a hospital; I am standing in front of a fast food place. I just want to go home, but I know that I need pain meds and antibiotics, and the search for a doctor will not get easier on the weekend. So, I enter the next pharmacy I see.)

Me: “I am so sorry, but can you help me? I have been searching for a doctor for more than four hours now. I am in pain, but everyone refuses to treat me! They gave me this address at the hospital, but there is only [Fast Food Place] there! And I know what they say about antibiotics in cow-meat, but I’m pretty sure I need more than a burger right now!”

(The pharmacists rush into action. One leads me to a chair and brings me water while the other one starts using the phone.)

Pharmacist: “Okay, I just talked to the hospital and found out what’s wrong. You need to go to [Address] Square, not [Address] Street. It is about 200 meters down the road. They can help you. Come by after and let us know you were taken care of, sweetie!”

(I finally find the right building. The nurses of the ward won’t talk in English, but with the help of my papers they find me a doctor. He is amazing; he even types up my medical papers twice, one time in Hungarian and one time in English. He even allows me to come back to the ENT-ward the next week for my checkup, so I will not have to go through that trouble again. I go back to the pharmacy to get my meds and the pharmacists hug me and tell me to go home and rest. Sadly, that is not the end of the story. I feel way better after a while. Next Friday I return to the ward for my checkup 20 minutes after they open. I hand the nurses the papers the last doctor gave me, but they seem confused. My translator app message, “Hello, I am here for my checkup with [Doctor]!” is ignored again. A man in scrubs notices me.)

Man: “Can I help you?”

Me: “Yes, I was here last week, [Doctor] told me to come back for my checkup.”

(He talks to the nurses and turns back to me.)

Man: “Someone will be with you in a minute.”

(I sit down in front of the window of the cubicle the nurses sit in and start reading a book. I am in plain sight all the time. I eventually even finish my book. More than two hours have passed. Further communication with the nurses seems futile and I am considering what to do when the man from before comes around the corner again. He sees me, turns red, and starts shouting at the nurses in Hungarian.)

Man: “I am so sorry; a doctor will be with you in a second.”

(As it turns out, that man was the chief resident. My doctor from my last visit had been called out of the ward and the nurses were supposed to tell a different doctor to see to my checkup, but they did not. The other doctor was there in two minutes. I know that I cannot expect all locals to understand English when I am the foreigner in a country whose language I do not speak. But even if you do not have a common language, try to help. Get someone to translate, try to use translator apps, or even use hand movements. But please, do not just ignore a crying girl that is asking for your help!)