As Garland Greene, Steve Buscemi’s character in the romantic comedy Con Air, would say, define irony: To effectively immerse ourselves in the culture, we are attempting to learn the language without taking time away from the many opportunities that God continues to provide. So on the days Bret commutes alone to the office, he dons earbuds and listens to a Hungarian language instructional audio program (and tries to avoid scaring the surrounding passengers as he mouths the responses silently), thus shutting out all of that culture in which he’s trying to immerse himself.
Commuting, shopping, or just wandering around, it is an interesting sensation to hear so many conversations and interactions swirling around you and to be completely sure that (a) none of it is directed at you, and (b) even if it was, you wouldn’t be able to understand it. We’re making progress, but it still feels a bit like walking off a plane into a crowded terminal before your ears have popped. Which made this evening all the more unusual when, as we were waiting for a bus to return home from a shopping expedition, a car pulled up to the stop and the driver asked us if we wanted a ride. First, we had to plug back into the live audio feed of this thing called “real life,” and then get past the 45-year-old filters about accepting rides from strangers before we realized it was a colleague from our office. Talking to us. In English. How do you say “Sure!” in Hungarian? (Persze!)