Everyday life at university in Szeged

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Studying German in Hungary - or: Why coffee, cats and Túró Rudi are part of everyday life at university. A report from Szeged.

by Julia Pater
Graduate of the binational master's program, University of Kassel

Friday morning, 8 a.m.: Slowly, a quiet hustle and bustle spreads in Szeged. Everywhere, people circle puddles that are almost small lakes - remnants of the previous evening. If it rains here once, then it really rains. Today, however, the sun is already providing a pleasant warmth. And that in October! Not for nothing is Szeged called "the city of sunbeams".

We are on our way to the university. Yes right, Friday morning at 8 o'clock! Normally unimaginable, at least in Kassel, but in Szeged the clocks tick a little differently. Sleepily, we first go to the literary studies building. The destination: the coffee machine! Students scurry about. The doorman grumbles that the passage doors are always open. Now we have to leave quickly before we are instructed in quick Hungarian that doors are there to be closed.

Our seminar takes place across the street in the linguistics building. On the way, it is obligatory to pet the "university cat", which, as every day, lets itself be scratched by the students outside, and we are already sitting in Mr. Bassola's lecture. The topic: Valence. The coffee slowly but surely takes effect and Mr. Bassola does his part to keep us from falling asleep again. As native speakers, we are often asked whether the sentence examples are also used in "real" life. Often it is not so easy to judge. We sit in lectures and sometimes don't know how and why we use our language correctly. If there is a "slip of the tongue", is there also a "misspelling"? Why is it "the woman", "the wife", "the lady" but "the woman" and "the girl"? My goodness, somebody help the Germans to understand their own language! In any case, Mr. Bassola, as a Hungarian, tries his best to present us our mother tongue comparatively to the Hungarian. And we feel a little proud when we understand easy Hungarian sentences right away and don't have to have them explained to us.

After 90 minutes, we finally go back to the literary scholars. Time for coffee No. 2 and a delicious Túró Rudi! The small chocolate bar filled with curd cheese is for the Hungarians something like the Ü-Ei is for the Germans. In terms of our Túró Rudi consumption, after a short time we can be called real Hungarians. No, actually, we even beat the country's women and men at it!

We chat briefly with our new fellow students, and then Mr. Csuri arrives. The lecture deals with the fin de siècle and the various "isms". It feels like being in a Kassel lecture, except that here, instead of 100 to 300 German students, about 30 people fill the room. So a seat is assured! And here, too, they are happy about us - the German native speakers who are sometimes asked to read poems.

After the literature seminar, we head off for the weekend. The weekend begins at Pívo, a coffee shop right next to the university, with a chocolate bun and a latte macchiato, which the waitress decorates with colorful sprinkles. Oh really! - Here you just know what's good!