To take a break after three and a half hours of Hungarian, each day when I ride back home on the tram I've been rewarding myself with being able to read my current book (rather than forcing myself to keep going with the vocab or grammar). I'm halfway through James Clavell's Shogun and this book is awesome. I wish I had read this prior to working with several Japanese companies over the past several years. Shogun provides a glimpse into the way the Japanese think--and how different their priorities and customs are from those of the West. The story is extremely exciting too and the historical background about Japan and Europe in the 1600s that the author provides has been very enlightening and fun to read about
The first week of Hungarian class has been great--and rather "intensive" as they promised. I like how the structure of the classroom has both forced and enabled me to learn quite a bit. The good news is that it's been very satisfying so far and fun to a degree too. There are five other students in my class: three women in their fifties--two from England and one from Switzerland--and a nice Chinese guy named Wang in his mid twenties and an equally nice Russian woman who's about thirty. Wang, the Russian girl and I are off to a pretty good start--it probably helps that we're younger, but perhaps we're also a bit more competitive. In fact, sometimes I imagine a bit of international power politics is being played out in miniature--kind of like the Olympics where you want to prove your country is better than the others. All the students are very nice though and it's been a good group.