Sunday, April 10, 2016

91 Days.

July 9th, 2016.
Otherwise known as what might be one of the worst and best days of my life(but mostly worst).
Why? It's the day I have to say goodbye to the hundreds of people I've met here and some of my closest friends. The day I have to take my 3rd and 4th flights which I'm not looking forward to - well, at least not the eight hour one. The day that will probably mess up my sleeping schedule for at least the following week.
It will be a day I remember forever. Trust me, despite my previous paragraph, I can't wait to hug my parents(and cat) again. I can't wait to make them stop at Chipotle on our way back home from New York(because does anything in Hungary really compare to a Chipotle burrito? I'll tell you: it does not). I can't wait to see how messed up my English is when I'm surrounded by native speakers.
Now, if you're a math person(or have a countdown set up like my mom probably does), you're probably thinking, "but Rachael, July 9th is in 90 days, not 91!" And you would be correct, but more so than July 9th, 2016, I'm excited for July 10th, 2016.
The day I arrive back to the states, I probably won't reach PA until the evening, leaving little time to visit anyone. July 10th, however, is a Sunday, also know as(in my family, at least) church day - and yes, mom, you're taking me to church. My entire family attends the same church, not to mention my youth group, or my second family.
And that's something I can't wait for. That's the day I'll truly celebrate being home.

Monday, March 14, 2016

#MusicMonday: My Favorite Kitchen Appliance.

Microwaves are possibly the best invention of all time. I mean, who doesn't use them on a near daily basis at the least? They make our lives easier; they let us be lazy. Don't feel like cooking? Pop leftovers or a frozen dinner in and nuke it for a few minutes. Problem solved. What would the average college student/young adult do without one?

As exciting as it would be for me to write a full article on the wonders of modern kitchen technology, I'm talking about a slightly different type of microwave. One that you wouldn't mind making loud noises that scare you.

Microwave is a 4 person band from Atlanta, Georgia. I discovered them about a month ago on Twitter when the lead singer for a band called The Wonder Years tweeted about them. They were advertising for a future tour and it just so happened that the band was giving away their album "Stovall" for free on Bandcamp that day. Of course, me being a sucker for free music of any kind, I - after first taking a moment to laugh at the band name - immediately got my online copy of the album.
I think I listened to it once, and instantly fell in love with Stovall, which in this case means the first song of the album. After that, I got busy with other things and didn't revisit the album for a few weeks. When I did, however, I fell even harder for this unique sound. So much so, that I chose to write about them in my first Music Monday article!

Below I have listed each track and a link to listen to each as well as their music video if applicable. I state my favorite lyric, summarize the song in one sentence, and talk about how I view and what I like/dislike about the songs.

(Note: All of this commentary is based on my interpretation. It could be entirely wrong or spot-on. I encourage you to discover for yourself how accurate I am!)

1. Stovall (Listen/Video)

  • Favorite lyric: "Sometimes a few more steps is hard to do."
  • One Sentence Summary(OSS): "I wish I didn't have to watch you destroy yourself, but you've made me stay."
  • I think I'm much more a fan of this musically than I am lyrically, but my favorite lyric in this song is my second favorite lyric on the album. I love the melody and listening to the singer's voice. It's the perfect opener to this album.

2. Grass Stains (Listen)

  • Favorite lyric: "And I'll probably never be a famous writer, but I can read and write okay. And I'll probably never be all that successful. Would you love me still the same way?"
  • OSS: "I love you, but I can't change for you."
  • This is hands-down my favorite song off the album. The music makes me want to jump around and the lyrics are on point. It's all about knowing where you are isn't where everyone wants you to be, but you have to be okay with that. Words just can't describe how much I love this song.

3. Labor Day (Listen)

  • Favorite lyric: "You probably thought I wasn't listening but I clung to every word you said."
  • OSS: "You've made it so hard for me to continue."
  • Lyrically, this is probably one of the heaviest songs on the album for me, but musically it's one of the lightest. That seems to be a common theme in this genre of music. Someone close to the writer commits suicide, and it seems the writer contemplates going out the same way for a while. They realize that's not the way they want to go, and it feels like the only way to move on is to forget totally about the person, as much as they don't want to.

4. Something Right (Listen)

  • Favorite lyric: "I can't help but think that after all the things I've done wrong, maybe I did something right."
  • OSS: "I love you, even though I don't like you."
  • Now, no angsty indie album is complete without the Unhealthy Relationship Song. If there's any song on this album that makes me laugh, it's this one. These people clearly hate each other, but they keep coming back and getting deeper into this sticky situation. When one of them ends up pregnant, they try to push their differences aside for their unborn child, because even if they can't stand each other sometimes, they're committed to this family.

5. Mansion In The Sky (Listen)

  • Favorite lyric: "I was told in Sunday school that 'God's got real big plans for you.' I hope it's true."
  • OSS: "Even if my beliefs are wrong, at least I believe in something."
  • The first two-thirds of this song, I relate perfectly. Religion and what I believe in are something that I think about a lot, most specifically about how we can never really know what's real and who's "right" until we're dead. Still, I choose what I believe in and hope that it's right. I hope that there's something great waiting out there for me and for everyone. This is another high energy song that makes me wish I could dance around to it in a pit at a concert.

6. Trash Stains (Listen/Video)

  • Favorite lyric: "I know I said I'd never stop believing in myself, but honestly I've said a lot of s-."
  • OSS: "Thanks for being there for me when everything was going wrong."
  • I almost see this as an ode to an ex-significant other or someone the writer was close to in the past, but not anymore. Everything seems to be going wrong for the writer, and the only person they have left to turn to is their ex-whatever. They talk about hating relying on this other person, but not really having a choice to go anywhere else.

7. Work It Out (Listen/Video)

  • Favorite lyric: "Let it be, nobody's really in control of anything."
  • OSS: "Opposites don't attract."
  • In this song, you have your pessimist and your optimist. Narrated from the view of the pessimist, they can't seem to understand how their counterpart can have so much blind faith that things will just fall into place in life. They find it too exhausting to be around this other person and trying to show them why they can't just run on faith.

8. Tar (Listen)

  • Favorite lyric: "I guess if you're gonna be stupid, then you gotta be tough."
  • OSS: "Even though you messed up, I still want you home."
  • Although this might be my least favorite song off the album, the lyric I call my favorite is my favorite lyric here. I find myself thinking that the person the lyricist wrote this about is in jail. They talk about "the pigs that locked you up." But maybe this person ran away, as the singer begs them to come home. I've spent a lot of time trying to decipher what it means to me personally, but I haven't quite worked it out yet.

9. The Last (Listen)

  • Favorite lyric: "Everybody bleeds the same. Isn't that right?"
  • OSS: "We're more worried about death than our future."
  • This is kind of like a shout into the void song. It prays for something we all want: recognition, for our lives to mean something. No one wants to die thinking that they did nothing to change the world in some way, no matter how small.

10. The Fever (Listen)

  • Favorite lyric: "Am I the only one who feels lonely even though I know I'm surrounded by friends?"
  • OSS: "I'm lost, but that's okay."
  • I interpret this as someone who has lost themselves in a crowd, changed themselves to fit in and as a result, don't know who they are anymore. They feel as though they're the only one in this position. When they finally confide in someone about this, they're more or less blown off. That's when they realize that everyone around them is just trying to do the same thing and find themselves. This gives them the courage to be the person they want to be.

My most to least favorite songs ranked:
  1. Grass Stains
  2. Stovall
  3. Something Right
  4. The Fever
  5. Mansion In The Sky
  6. Labor Day
  7. Trash Stains
  8. Work It Out
  9. The Last
  10. Tar*
*Let it be known that I found it extremely difficult to pick a least favorite.

Why I like (read: love) this album:
It's not super polished, and it feels so original and raw to me. A lot of people might not like it for that aspect, but I think that's what makes it work so well. I feel like the musicians put a lot into this. You can hear such emotion in the words and the flow of each song is superb. I'm truly glad I logged onto Twitter when I did, or I would have missed out on what I now consider to be one of my favorite albums.

You can buy "Stovall" on Bandcamp and iTunes.
You can follow the band on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and subscribe to them on Youtube.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

(Inter)National Coming Out Day?

Sunday, October 11, 2015.
Or, as known in America, National Coming Out Day.
I'm sure you're wondering: Rachael, you can't even make regular blog posts about being abroad - the whole point of this blog in the first place - so why are you talking about an unofficial holiday that your host country doesn't even celebrate?
Simply put...It's important to me.
The LGBT+ community is something I've been involved in for years, and no matter how minutely or quietly, it's a cause I love supporting. Despite the long road I've come down of struggling between this community and the community of faith, I'd like to think I've finally found grounds on which I'm comfortable standing - grounds that don't defy either my relationship with God OR my sexuality.
Yes, my sexuality.
Maybe some of you started reading this post knowing what I would be saying eventually, and maybe some of you have no idea. This is mostly because I've had a very "I-don't-care" esque attitude towards this subject over the years as I've figured it out for myself, and while I didn't actively try to hide it too much, it has never been something I've felt needed advertised. I still stand by this belief, but at the same time, I think a subject such as this is something that people shouldn't feel confined by, much like I have been feeling lately.
In America, I was comfortable. I didn't feel the need to hide. I felt accepted for the way I was, for the most part. And now, as I become more comfortable with my new surroundings in Hungary, I feel as though I should take yet another step outside of my comfort zone and share another part of my life - coincidentally also a hot button topic in the USA as of right now, making it part of my culture as well - with those I've grown close (and maybe not so close) with here in Hungary.
And for those of you who have strong objections to what I'm about to say? Know that I'm totally okay with not being accepted by you.


Let's just start with saying I decided to make this post because pretty much everyone I've met in Hungary has asked me at some point if I have a boyfriend.
I don't.
I also don't have a girlfriend. However, I consider both of those options to be possibilities for myself.
I'm pansexual.
Let's back up for a second, and take a look at a basic prefix.
According to Pan a combining form meaning “all,” occurring originally in loanwords fromGreek ( panacea; panoply), but now used freely as a general formativepanleukopenia; panorama; pantelegraph; pantheism; pantonality),and especially in terms, formed at will, implying the union of allbranches of a group ( Pan-Christian; Panhellenic; Pan-Slavism).
Now that we've learned the prefix in question, let's return to the whole word. Pansexual refers to an attraction to all genders(ex. male, female, non-binary, etc).
Maybe now you're thinking: isn't that bisexual?
Depending on who you ask, the definition and differences between bisexual and pansexual are varied. Personally, I often refer to myself as bisexual because I then don't have to go through the explanation above, and most people outside of the LGBT+ community will think of them as nearly the same.
Two things I AM NOT, though, are GAY or STRAIGHT. In the past, when I've come out, people immediately assume I am just a confused individual that falls under one of the two categories.
No, I am not confused.
...Okay, maybe I'm confused about a lot of things, but this is not one of them.

So, now you know, and don't be afraid to ask me questions. I'd be more than willing to help anyone who wants to understand more!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Important Places with Important People.

I will always have a special place in my heart for the people of Eger. I mean, look at them!
Saying goodbye to the best class I've ever been in was anything but easy. Maybe it was only for a month, but these wonderful people welcomed me into their class so easily and I won't ever forget how great they were to me. Also, they bought me chocolate so I guess they're pretty cool...
Seriously, though. Moving from the town I have grown to love so dearly kind of totally sucks. The good news is that my new home of Gyöngyös isn't too far away for me to come visit, and some of my friends even live pretty close to me! Even though I won't see them every day, I'm hopeful that we will maintain friendships throughout the year. And something to look forward to is starting at a new school and making new friends, right?
Also: have some pictures from the sightseeing my "hangos (& nagy) család" (or my big and loud family, aka my exchange family) went on!
Our first stop was at the Collegium in Eger. We went to the top to look over our beautiful city!

Next, we found ourselves at the Marzipan Museum. Keep in mind as you look at these beauties that as we were about to leave the museum, in walks the creator of all these pieces! He was a really nice guy! :)

Our final stop was at the Minorete. Climbing up 100(okay, 97) steps through a narrow, winding corridor was a bit of a workout, you could say. And maybe a bit terrifying when we finally reached the top. Did you know that the structure is so narrow that only 6 people can be in the place at a time?

Monday, September 28, 2015

I suck at blogging.

I really do.
I kind of have excuses, but not really.
I've been tired and busy and I've had to change host families which was just fantastic. (But if anyone in the Eger area has an extra room, I'm still looking for a permanent host family for the year...)
On the bright side, I've made some fantastic friends in my class and I absolutely love them! I had been really worried about making friends in school, especially after hearing about the "unfriendly" stereotype of Hungarians, but the people I've met have made this place feel like home to me already. I'm truly in love with every part of this city. It reminds me a lot of the one and only York, PA, which keeps the homesickness at bay. I have been so totally blessed with this experience and I'm happy to finally be able to get out and do more!

Also, on a side note, I HATE British English.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I'm a King.

I kind of sort of went to a castle yesterday. A my town.

So this beautiful ruin called the Eger Castle is currently undergoing renovations, but in the places we were able to go, we found rich history and beautiful views. I don't have too much to say about it other than THERE'S A FREAKING CASTLE IN MY TOWN.

Here's me with the four other students in the Eger chapter of AFS Hungary! Szia!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Long Awaited Travel Story.

Well, I've made it.
I've arrived to my beautiful house in the lovely village of Ostoros, Hungary, just outside the town of Eger. The trip was a long one (possibly the longest week of my life - of which I'm still recovering from) but I could not be more excited to be here!
Let's jump right into my journey. After a 5 hour car ride with my (natural) parents on Wednesday, we found ourselves at a hotel in New York, only ten minutes away from JFK airport. After a difficult goodbye, a short overnight orientation ensued. Although more than a little boring, I met many great people and made friendships I hope will last.
The next afternoon, at around 3 pm, myself and the 4 other Americans departing for Hungary, along with people going to places such as Belgium, arrived at the airport. Now, you could say I was more than a little nervous, as I had never been on a plane before this and only had the expectations of the horror stories I'd been told. However, we made it through baggage and security almost totally without incident, much to all of our relief.
Our flight to Munich, Germany, started boarding at 5:30 pm, and after that was when the troubles started. Before we left the ground, we were delayed for two hours! Everyone became irritated quickly, as we were not allowed to move around or do much of anything. I, not even having the attention span for a single movie, passed much of my time both in the ground and the air starting and stopping movies, listening to music, attempting to sleep, watching our flight, and playing games. It got a bit tedious towards the end, but somehow I survived the 8 hour flight.
The Munich airport came with much excitement. We only had to endure another hour of flying before we arrived in Budapest! After almost not making it through customs, the rest of our journey commenced without any issue.
AFS picked us up at the airport in Budapest, and with students from Germany, Malaysia, and Thailand, we rode a bus to our orientation camp, where we would stay for two days. Every student going to Hungary from all over the world was there, and it was amazing to meet so many different cultures in one place.
Now, the one stereotype I heard time and time again while at this camp was that all Americans know how to line dance and break dance. The five of us there could do neither. We COULD, however, dance to Cotton-Eyed Joe. So what, exactly, did we do for the cultural talent show we were forced to participate in? Show everyone how to dance to Cotton-Eyed Joe!
As Sunday came around, anticipation was high as this was the day we would finally meet our host families. We prepared a small paragraphs about ourselves to say in Hungarian and got a flower to give to them when we first met. My host father was the only one to pick me up from the camp, but he instantly assured me that everyone else was waiting at home for me!
This family...first of all, wow. I have four energetic siblings that definitely keep me entertained. They always try to speak to me in Hungarian (or Magyar, as they call it here) and even though I have no understanding of it, it warms my heart that they're so happy I'm here! I've been spending a lot of time exchanging the learning of a Hungarian word for the teaching of an English one, and it's a lot more fun then I thought it would be!
All in all, I have nothing but good things to say about the journey here. I've met a lot of new faces and already done things outside my comfort zone. If my trip was indicative of my year here, then my time will be a fun (and exhausting) experience!