Life in Pécs through an American’s eyes
Europe or the United States? Which one is the most preferable? Pretty hard question, we could make a survey to see what people say about it but it does not matter what others say. Every single person in this world is unique, all of them have different necessities and dreams. However, there is a general statement that Europeans are dreaming about the USA and Americans are dreaming about Europe. Most of the people love to travel, experience new cultures, but only a few of them are able to settle down in a different environment and feel home, UniPécs reports.
For PTE students, lecturers and also for professors Fulbright is a great opportunity to study or continue their academic work in the USA. During this time they can live the American dream, experience things they could nowhere else. The great thing is that they can also be a part of the Fulbright programme and come to our little country. Mostly the reason behind their trip to Hungary is that they met a Hungarian in the States and that person made them curious so they want to visit this Eastern-Middle-European country. My favorite story is when a lucky man had a Hungarian Physics professor at the university. Can you guess who? Yes, Teller Ede!
Recently there are several Americans in Hungary due to this scholarship, one of them, Robin Valerie Cathey lives in Pécs for a year now.
Why Hungary? Everything started when I became a friend of a Hungarian and, when he moved back to Hungary, I came to see him and I fell in love with the country. This was my very first time to travel to another continent. I knew at that point that I want to experience other cultures and lands. It was a real starting point.
Now I live here for a while and I absolutely love it. The city is wonderful, it is quite historical, there are so many buildings that are just great to look at.
This place is an unbelievable cultural centre of the region. I am also so lucky, because I found a flat at Széchenyi Square, so, when I want to eat something or drink a coffee with my friends, I have a bunch of places to choose from. This city amazes me with its colourfulness, it has everything I need. And the people, they are just so nice and welcoming.
We already know that she did not regret moving here, but what is her aim here? It seems that she wants to teach.
I love to be with people, I love teaching, but not in the sense Hungarians think, or at least most Hungarians. When I decided to take part in Fulbright my main idea was to do something helpful. I wanted to teach, but not at a university. Why? It is easy, just think about it. Those students who could go to a university did not have a lack of good education. Although, now I do teach at PTE at the department of Romology, where my students work really hard and fight against so many obstacles. I hoped that Fulbright will get me to a place where students want to study and also have the facility to learn from a native speaker. This is how we found Gandhi.
Most people do not know anything about Ghandi, so let’s change it. Gandhi is a Gymnasium with an elementary art training and a dormitory all in one. This was the first romany school in Hungary, and even in Europe, that gives high school diploma. The institute was founded in the early 90s with the help of Gandhi Foundation. The main goal of the endowment was to give the romany students similar opportunities that are given to the other members of the community. Now let’s see what a native English speaker, who also studied applied linguistics during her university years, can add to this idea.
Since I am here I am not only teaching but learning a lot, too.
I participate in Hungarian language courses, which are awesome.
I also noticed some basic differences between Hungarian and American education. In Hungary teachers give a well-built curriculum, but the students can not differentiate between important and useless parts. Moreover, I think that they suffer from the lack of communication, even more, I could say, because communication is too one-sided. In the States communication takes the biggest part of conveying knowledge. The “exchange of the knowledge’ could be an even better expression. When our education starts in the primary school we are taught to see everything with a critical eye, be brave enough to express our opinion about something and to be able to give relevant arguments that make our point of view more visible. Personally, I want teach my students to question everything, to be brave to tell their ideas in class. Of course, it takes some time to get used to this type of learning when you are not used to it as a student.
Robin believes that every teacher has his or her style, but every group needs to be treated differently; the teachers should adapt to the class.
I truly believe that they can profit from the mentality I brought with myself. I already see some development: they do well in my classes and, what is even more important, they seem to enjoy those. If somebody enjoys doing something, then that person will continue doing it, that’s 100%. It means the world when somebody understands why we use a tense, a phrase etc. When somebody passes a test with a great result it is a great success for me, too.
Here is an example: “one of my university students passed the ECL with flying colors and it was a wonderful moment for all of us at the department and even the staff at ECL who contributed by waiving the test fee!”.
I really like my students, I see that they give their best, day by day.
translated by Attila Horváth
Photo: Szabolcs Csortos