Hmmm…current events have brought to mind the misquote of Mark Twain “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. (‘The report of my death was an exaggeration’. It was his cousin James Ross Clemens, who was seriously ill and he was confused with the author).
Reports of our leaving Hungary have been greatly exaggerated. It is funny; I resigned from ELTE at the end of the semester. Wednesday was my last official day at the university, where I spent close to five hours administering thesis defenses with three of my colleagues. After each student defended, I kept thinking this is the last time I will have to do this. The night before, I was awake most of the night, so this was the one thought that energized me through the tedium of the exams. When we finished grilling the last student, there were two hours to spare before a faculty meeting scheduled at 2pm. I gave serious thought to skipping out on the meeting; whatever they discussed no longer pertained to me. However, it did occur to me that there was still a paycheck hinging on my being cooperative, so I decided I had better go.
After everyone was there our department head announced there was a long agenda. As it turned out the faculty meeting was a ruse for my goodbye party. She said that my students will probably remember me for many years to come and of course I had to add that I hope that some of those remembrances would be positive. This provided a chuckle.
She reminded me that I should take all of the equipment I have purchased over the years, since it is mine and not ELTE’s. She didn’t know was that my office was wiped clean weeks ago.
The television that sat in there for the last 5 years, which I had purchased for my classroom was given to an orphanage in Göd. They also received a large bag of Legos I used in my Critical Thinking classes. My printer went to a former student. I took home my laptop, speakers, and of course the projector; all of these were my purchases. Every book that had accumulated on my bookshelf, came home in small easy to carry bundles until my bookcase space only had old theses I advised and books donated by former Fulbrighters.
At the party, all of the women colleagues gave me a hug, while the two male colleagues who showed up, shook my hand. The ‘refreshments were Hungarian pogácsás, a tray of chocolate chip cookies, but the highlight was special. One of my colleagues thought enough of me to go out to buy three pieces of diabetic cake.
My going away presents were a novel by a Hungarian writer translated into English. Another present was a travel coffee cup with the ELTE insignia on it. I was assured that the top could be flipped around to I would not have to look at ELTE any longer.
Funny, but each of my colleagues had a different version of what my plans were now that I have left the university. They ranged from my leaving the country to move back to the US, to South America, to another European country, to sailing the blues seas in a life raft.
So I am officially or unofficially no longer working although my contract continues until August 31. I’m not sure what I’m going to do beyond that, but as always, I have some ideas brewing.