Orientation at My New Position: The Ups and Downs of Living Abroad That first glorious call that I had been waiting for came in this morning; the first school that I had interviewed with wanted me to come in for an office orientation this afternoon. They had a student for me. The meeting was set for 2:00 pm. I had to reevaluate the four shirts and three pants we had brought with us to see how I could look a bit different than the first time, but still somewhat professional. A different sweater with the same pants and different tie would distract the eye of those that saw me the first day. Plus on the first day, I did not remove my coat during the interview, so I was most covered anyway. The rest of the morning was devoted to reading and writing for me. Ron finds little projects for himself along the way. He spends a lot of time in the grocery stores, pastry shops, coffee shops, and lately reading. He has investigated Hungarian classes, chose the school he wants to attend and will start in February. Ron has also really taken control of finding an apartment using the realtor I found on the Internet. He regularly checks their listings and goes to look at the buildings exteriors. Many of the apartments have photos on the Internet, which saves the realtor of showing people numerous apartments that you may not be interested in. When he found one that met my requirements of being close to the tram or subway, he asked to be shown the apartment. We did have to have a discussion about his looking for work. Though he is retired and I can respect the fact that he does not want to work full-time, it has become evident that he needs to find a job in order to get a work permit, which in turn will allow him to get a residency permit. As of January 1, 2002, the law has changed similar to the rest of the European Union. We can only spend ninety days out of six months in the country. After ninety days, you have to leave for six months before you are allowed to reenter. Ron had two choices: find a part-time job or ask our friend Randall if he wanted a roommate in Slovakia for his outcast time in Hungary. He admitted that he was phobic about interviewing, so we did practice sessions of typical questions to help ease his nerves. Upon my arrival at Ameuropa, the school that hired me first, I immediately had the sense that something was wrong. The receptionist asked that I sit in the library to wait. While there, I could hear the director on the phone in an animated voice using multiple octaves of expression. My inner voice said that this was about me even without understanding a word of Hungarian other than igen, which is ‘yes’. When she finished the call, she and her assistant came in to meet with me. She apologized profusely stating that the first student she had assigned me decided that he only wanted a teacher who was fluent in German. This student is the CEO of the largest construction company in Hungary and is from Germany. His last teacher from this school was from Germany and has since returned. When she left, he put his lessons on hold and now was ready to resume them again. He felt that she was able to explain things better to him in German when he did not understand them in English. Although this is missing part of the point of learning a language, if you are a high powered CEO, you get to make demands. Therefore, I was on hold until they have more enrollments. My fear has been that we will not get positions that will give us what we need for our Work Permits, which are necessary for our Residency Permits, which are necessary for us to stay here over ninety days. None of the permits can be initiated until I have my original diploma and Ron is in the same situation. His original is neatly filed in New Jersey also. As of January 1, 2002, the new law is that you have to have this initiated within the ninety days of your tourist visa or you have to leave the country for three months and then return. The other glitch is that you are supposed to return to your country of origin to have the Residency Permit issued. In our case, we would have to return to New York City or Washington, D.C. to have them done. It only takes one hour to complete the process, but flying there and back for one hours worth of work seems ridiculous. I e-mailed my friend Daphnee asking her to go to the storage unit and dig our all of the official forms that we could possibly need: diplomas, birth certificates, and in my case my name change certificate and then Fed Ex it to us. She and her partner are the only ones who have access to the unit. With the director being such a warm and kind person, I had no problem with sharing these concerns with her. I also said that I had read on the realtor’s website, this suggestion about foreigners starting their own business here in Hungary. This gives them tax advantages, residency advantages, and the opportunity to purchase property. She strongly recommended that if we were planning to stay for any length of time, we should think about a business and buying property within the next year or two. She said the economic forecast is that the property is going to skyrocket when Hungary joins the European Union in 2004. She also gave me the name and number of another American teacher who just did the same thing. Like my mind is not already on overload, this just gave me more to think about. When I returned home, Ron was already there. When I asked how the apartment hunting went, he said one apartment, which is on the web, had a circular bed in two bedrooms, with a canopy covered in a sheer material. The bedspreads were made of red velvet and the rest of the apartment was decorated in the same vein. When he questioned the realtor about the previous occupant, it seems that this was owner occupied by a single man. Nix that apartment! The other apartment he went to see, he remarked, “I hate to tell you about this one.” Thinking that it was just as atrocious as the first, I responded that we would just keep looking. Ron said that the second apartment was wonderful and then went into detail about its attributes. We agreed that if he liked it so much, we would go together to look at it and see if it was worth pursuing. He called the realtor before I had finished the sentence. Discussing what I had been told about starting a business, we decided that it was probably a good idea. The one drawback is that we have to have $10,000 in a Hungarian bank account for at least two weeks while the paperwork goes through. We are going to be even more grateful for the Care packages we received, since it will be a really tight budget for the next few months. I called Joshua, the American teacher who started his business and arranged for coffee for the next day, so that we could pick his brain. Then the phone started ringing and two more schools invited me for interviews. It is amazing how things start happening all at once. Due to this heavy increase in activity, I had to go purchase a date book to keep everything organized. Our social life is picking up as well.