I am trying, rather desperately, to perfect my Hungarian. It is not working well, and I feel mostly like the frog in sixth grade math class who climbs two feet up the side of the well, then slides down three (...how many feet did she climb?). Wading through Hungarian bureaucracy has theoretically been good practice, but has only served to confuse me more This has been well-documented previously, unfortunately.
However, there are occasionally bright spots. This morning I had my first department meeting conducted entirely in Hungarian. I somehow lived to tell the tale. I was able to answer specific questions when asked, and, believe it or not, I could even volunteer for the specific time slots they needed! All while understanding most of what was going on...I think.
The best part came at the end of the meeting, when one of the senior psychiatry researchers came up and asked me, "So, are you second or third generation Hungarian?," with the emphasis indicating it was clearly a one or the other question. When I responded that I neither, solely "száz százalékot amerikoi" - one hundred percent American - she tried to clarify.
"No, I mean your parents or grandparents. When did they come over from Hungary?" I again insisted they were from America - perhaps a few generation back from Ireland and Alsace-Lorraine. She was dumbfounded.
"But then how did you learn Hungarian so perfectly?"
Dear senior researcher: you have just made my week. I will pass out however many surveys you want me to, at whatever ungodly hour you desire (7 am on the other side of town?!? Really?!?). Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.