Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Even if we remain in the European Union, things will never be the same again.

On Thursday, the United Kingdom will make the biggest democratic decision on its economic and cultural future in a generation. Maybe even a lifetime. We have had this internal discussion before though, namely in 1975, when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland decided to stay within the framework of the European Union with a favourable majority of 67%.

However, the scales are tipping and the latest polls show that the race to a majority is extremely close, moreso than most people had predicted and certainly way more close than I had ever imagined. At 45% Remain vs 44% Leave, the undecided voters will swing it. 

Both sides have fought extremely dirty campaigns: scaremongering is everywhere, false facts circulate social media like a virus and the figureheads of each camp seem as bad as each other. Boris Johnson seems to be eyeing Downing Street given a Leave vote this week, Nigel Farage is fanning the flames of xenophobia, despite having a German wife and David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn, the new(ish) Labour leader, even shared a podium to try to unite the nation after this week's assassination of an MP by a reportedly right-wing follower. It's been a long time since these two opposing parties actually had anything to agree on and i'm happy that unison came in such a dark time in British politics.

Just like this unsual coalition, it is my firm belief that we should be united as a country instead of being split down the middle. Will either side fully admit defeat or will this heated debate just keep turning?  If we vote to remain, will Nigel Farage give up his anti-EU fight? Probably not.
If we leave the EU, can we do it without sticking our middle fingers up to the rest of the world and isolating ourselves even more? 

Personally, i'm voting to remain. It's my future at stake here - given all of the false promises in the Scottish independence referendum we shouldn't trust the hearsay that Britain has this glorious future outside of one of the largest trade and cultural unions on the planet. If we stay at the table, we keep our position firm and our opportunities open.

I'm very proud to be British. I will always stay that way whatever the outcome, but I don't want to cut off the chances for my great country to do even greater things in the future.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Why the hell would anyone want to learn Hungarian?

Hungarian as a language is freakishly complicated and you'd be talking out of your own arse if you disagree and say that it's easy.

It tops most 'hardest languages to learn' lists on the Internet, Budapest Facebook groups are screaming with foreigners who need translations and after just saying good morning to a barista in a café he replied in English before I even had the chance to continue pretending to be a native born round the corner.

However despite all of that (and you'll probably think i'm talking out of my own arse when I say this too), it actually ain't all that bad.

Language learning is like driving through heavy fog. The more words and stuff you know, the brighter your fog lights become. The fog will always still be there, and it will still be terrifying at times, but at least you can make your way through to the other side.

I'm not gonna bore you with all of the grammar points or cultural odd bits (and it's also a little bit more complicated than this) but in a nutshell:

  • You put almost everything directly onto nouns and verbs instead of 'around' them like English:
    anya - mother -> anyám - my mother
    beszélni - to speak -> beszélek - I speak.
                                    beszéltem - I spoke. ('t' lets you know it is past tense)
  • There are loads of brand new vowels, and to a born and bred Geordie they all sound verrry similar: a, á, e, é, i, í, o, ó, ö, ő, u, ú, ü, ű
  • Sometimes you just leave out the verb, it's actually grammatically incorrect to have it there. Don't ask:
    Gareth angol. - Gareth (is) English.
    Viktor nem angol, ő magyar - Viktor (is) not English, he (is) Hungarian. 
  • Swearing in Hungarian is awesome:
    Lófasz a seggedbe! Fuck off! (Literally: A horse dick into your ass!)
    Nyald ki a seggem - Kiss my ass (Literally: Lick my ass)
  • City names are awesome too:

    Hódmezővásárhely is a town in Southern Hungary literally translated as 'beaver field marketplace'.

That's certainly not it, but I have an entire notepad of grammar rules wrote down and I still need space since there are more exceptions to the rule than rules themselves.
Once you have understood the concept of most of the grammar rules it's fairly easy to use them. Learning the vocabulary then becomes your Everest.

If you're learning Hungarian and you're a secret grammar freak like me, I definitely recommend HungarianReference.com. It unfortunately hasn't been updated recently, but it's a brilliant start to teaching yourself or as a companion to your study.

Monday, 30 November 2015


Since my last post on this personal blog of mine, my life has changed dramatically. I now somehow live in Budapest, Hungary. I never planned to end up here after living and working in Vienna, but life is funny in that way I guess. That's a good thing by the way.

I've been living here for half a year and visiting very regularly since the middle of January, but i'm still struggling with the language a lot. It's kind of a shame because I used to be mega into learning languages and opening doors for myself, especially the language of the people I would surround myself with.

To my defence, it is one of the most disconnected languages in the world. It isn't similar to any other European languages in any way and people call me crazy for even attempting to learn it. Even some Hungarians who I know tell me not to bother.
For example, the translation of camera is 'fényképezőgép'. The struggle is real, ladies and gentlemen.

Anyways, recently I haven't been improving myself as much as I want and it's been getting me down. I would sit down to write and the pen wouldn't even touch the paper before I gave up or I realised that I had to procrastinate somehow. I literally became a pro at crastination.

I'm now learning some basic programming code, loving my work more and more, really getting back into learning the language and i'm even beginning to write more frequently, something that I would love to do for real money.

Hungary is a weird as fuck country and I have loads of content about that in my mind, maybe I will write about that next.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

2014 / 2015

This last year has been a turbulent one indeed. I dated twice, fell in love once, had two very different jobs in two very different countries, finished my degree (thank fuck), met new friends, lost old ones, burned bridges and created strong foundations to build more and more.
Most importantly and most notably, I moved to Vienna in September and began a (possible) new career in teaching.
At the start of 2014 I was incredibly apprehensive about my future. 4.5 years of university education actually left me unmotivated, unchallenged and feeling negative and cynical about that 'world of work' that everyone was banging on about.

If it wasn't for the majority of the people I met at university then I wouldn't have even (wanted to) finish my course.

You need to find a full time job Gareth and you need to find one now. You need a car and a mortgage and how on earth are you going to afford all that and still be happy?

Apart from a few golden moments it's truly been my annus horribilis this year. 2015 has to be better, without a shadow of a doubt. It can't be much worse.
I was sorely tempted to make a high-level Latin / gay sex joke here butt I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Thankfully I got my degree, got a job and then proceeded to leave the country for good. Even if that sounds melodramatic it's an incredibly soul crushing process to systematically tie yourself down at the same time as living the life someone else wants for you, not your own.

So I quit my full time job, packed up and fucked off. I started working at my two schools straight away and it's refreshing to have so much responsibility and to be able to take charge. I'm no sit-in-the-back-and-make-comments sort of teaching assistant, I actually teach.
I'm more than often working alongside the teachers to prepare the material but 100% standing up in front of these doe-eyed teenagers and fuck me I do it well if I do say so myself.
I've heard anecdotes from former TAs, as well as future applicants who praised the ability to get paid a decent salary for doing fuck all but I've worked hard to distance myself from them and will continue to do so.

So it's been a fast moving year indeed. We're in the middle of January and it's already 13° here. People are wearing sunglasses and taking their clothes off by the canal outside my apartment.
Bear in mind that over the last few weeks it's been -5° on average. That's mind boggling.

I have to decide whether to stay in Vienna for one more academic year soon; whether I want to risk the security of having a job waiting for me after summer or to go somewhere brand new and try my luck at finding a life, love and building happiness in this new place.
I just completed my first freelance translation job with more to come this month which I am very proud about and I am starting to really get into the swing of the work/social life balance here. I give (very well) paid private tuition here, have been recently asked if it's possible to do more and i've been offered a 30€/hr teaching day in Carinthia in February near to the Slovenian border with Austria.

2015 is shaping up to be something indeed, god knows what will happens but hopefully it's better than how shitty 2014 was.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

'Cultural Differences'

Have you ever met someone from a far-away country and asked them about their country, their culture and their upbringing and all they want to bring to the table are positives?
Call me a pessimist but that's just a heap of shit. Every country has its own dark secrets, dark alleys, shady and its ridiculous and annoying habits, and they're often the most interesting parts to examine as an 'outsider'.
“It's just a cultural difference” is the go-to phrase to paste over all of these features with rainbows and unicorns and happiness.

This is a short introduction to just how ridiculously shitty Vienna can be:

People can be really fucking miserable here.
Vienna (or Wien as it is known in the German speaking world) regularly tops charts as the city with one of the highest standards of living, and the highest quality of life. However walk around the city with anything more than a frown and you will be instantly cast out as a tourist, or worse yet, German. We have beautiful buildings, access to nice parks and the countryside, diversity and a certain middle-size city charm, but yet people here are a little bit distant sometimes, sometimes cold, sometimes just plain fucking rude.

What is it with scooters?
I used to have one of those kid's scooters back in the 1990's. I used to ride down my path on it and I got bored straight away. Full grown adults here ride them through the streets, through the underground stations on them and generally cause havoc knocking into people's ankles on a daily basis. I genuinely saw someone doing their shopping on one. I'm starting to think that Viennese fashion is totally 20 years in the past and i'm just waiting for the day I see some geriatric old lady whizzing past on one.

Need I say more? It's not so bizarre or original but couple together the fact that bureaucracy is and always will be a massive pain in the arse with the massive hurdles that the German language presents to its users and the Bürokratiedschungel (jungle of bureaucracy) can be a real depressive experience. To get money, you have to have a bank account, which means you also need a place of residence and a proof of this (including stamped forms by the main owner and more forms and more forms). To get a place of residence you need to pay huge security deposits and essentially be financially set-up for life prior to moving to this country. To get a salary to allow you to keep eating and keep living. you need all of the above first. It's impossible sometimes.

Horses. Everywhere.
Vienna is a grand touristy city, that's a given. And i'm sure here's nothing quite like a midnight ride in a horse carriage under a fur blanket. But when they park outside your apartment block on a main road and basically shit everywhere, there has to be a line. If you're not being ran over by adults on kids scooters or pretending to know the rules of the road, you're gonna get fucking chewed up and spit out by some angry motherfucking Viennese horse. And if you're lucky and escape all of the above, then you'll just get tutted at by strangers for crossing the street at red lights.

They have really weird words for things.
This is not a negative at all really, since I find it crazy/fascinating/interesting, but strange words like Beisl (Kneipe in standard German) for pub? Or Gusch! (Sei Still) for 'be quiet'? So cool, but so so bizarre. That's gonna take some time to get used to. Bist du deppat!

'Pubs' here are just so wrong.
There must be absolutely no one standing up in a bar. If there are no tables free, people go somewhere else or go home. Table service is basically classed as a human right here; it seems almost unthinkable to actually go and order at the bar -yourself-. How common....
You wait until you clock a free table, then wait until your overworked waiter finally clocks you. Then you have to wait twenty minutes for them to do their thing. And then you have to tip them despite all that displeasure.
If you actually find a pub where you order at the bar, people genuinely queue there, opposed to the brawl at bars in Britain. But they don't dare queue for the bus or in shops or anywhere else. SO SO backwards. Honestly I miss the comfort of a warm pub with warm beer, absolutely zero waiters and some alcoholic in the corner singing sailor's songs, when that's not me.


Everyone stares here. Not just at me or something, but at each other. Like a giant Viennese turf war or something. I've started intentionally making anyone who stares at me feel very uncomfortable in return, just how it feels in the first place.

Wien is, however, one of the nicest cities in the world. But people who live here think of it as boring, people from abroad think of it only in a classical music / opera sort of way and it's not as if the party scene is 24/7 here. But regardless, I love it here. Maybe that'll change come the new year, who knows.