Dear Log Book,
This marks the final entry for our voyage down the Danube.
Today was particularly stressful. In the morning, we attended a lecture by Rebecca Handler on the topic “(Un)welcome in the Promised Land? Competing Ideas of Citizenship: Legislation and Perception”. Her talk largely surrounded the trending topic of immigration to the UK (from the EU). She laid out the scope of discussion in succinct terms, and provided the context in which the EU Treaty was drawn up. The stats that are relevant to the discussion was also clearly stated, all of which suggested that there is a disparity between real numbers and the estimation of the number of migrants in the UK.
Rebecca also outlined the profile of immigration in the UK, and suggested that there is a fear among people towards migration. Surveys show that the perception towards immigrants from Eastern Europe are generally negative, and that from the “western world” are generally positive. The Government is committed to restrict the number of people moving to the UK. To name a few: (i) the number of visas issued by the Home Office is capped; (ii) the criteria in which the spouse of an applicant have been made more difficult to meet; (iii) the criteria in which graduates on point-based tier 4 visa are also made harder to meet. All of the above seemingly aim to resolve the fear and worry people have towards migration. However, it seems to have a greater effect on immigrants from outside the EU than on immigrants from within the EU. What follows was an interesting story sharing session.
Next up, we (allegedly) just started working on the film that are due this evening. Team Magyar once again showcased their astonishing ability to put in 110% of effort into producing work of quality. Among them, some worked on the artefact they wanted to display during the exhibition, and some worked incessantly on editing the short film. The poster team managed to create an amazing piece of art(efact). The film team was also brilliant in pulling off the task. Currently they are still working on it. Let’s all anticipate what they are capable of!
It’s been a truly wonderful journey. We barely know each other two weeks ago; we know nothing about Hungarian; eventually we bonded in vowel harmony. It still seems rather odd now that we have to go cold turkey on the language sessions. But fear not, we are almost there – it’s day Ate! Lettuce work berry hard and produce eggcellent wok! We are team Hung(a)ry!
I donut know what I’m writing anymore. I butter stop.
The day started with A Stream of Languages: Speech along the Danube lecture given by Eszter Tarszoly (also known as the Hungarian group teacher, therefore particularly close to our Hungarian group’s hearts). The lecture showed and highlighted the variety of languages spoken along the Europe’s second biggest river. We had a chance to learn about widely recognised languages such as German and Slovak or less known Aromanian (proto-romanian language spread in the southern Balkans) and Ladino (language brought from Spain by the Jews). The most interesting part was learning how various languages emerged and evolved. Did you know that Serbian and French are actually closer related than Finnish and Hungarian which we tend to associate as similar?
In the Hungarian class we discovered all case suffixes, some of which we have already seen, and used, for the past week. They include aggregational, possessive, accusative and the rest, adding up to probably around a hundred! Quite a challenge for two weeks of learning!
Later we moved to one of the hungarian most famous poems, A Dunánali – By the Danube, written by Attila József. The poem tells the story of a man sitting on the embankment of the river . His mind wanders to the struggles of history and everyday life connected to the Danube – family, battles, the past and the present and concludes
A harcot, amelyet őseink vivtak,
békévé oldja az emlékezés
s rendezni végre közös dolgainkat,
ez a mi munkánk; és nem is kevés.
The great battle which our ancestors once fought
Resolves into peace through the memories,
And to settle at last our communal affairs
Remains our task and none too small it is.
Read it all here: http://www.mathstat.dal.ca/~lukacs/ja/poems2/jozsef-eng.htm#16
We finished the session (and the Hungarian classes) with a song Lángos, tejföl by Kaukázus.
It was a very busy day!
With another day of intense heat and luckily cooled by the air-conditioning in the A V Hills LT at the Medical Sciences building, we were entertained by Michael Stewart’s lecture on Romani communities. It explored issues on the Romani culture and their integration to the “outside” world. Not only was there some healthy competition between peers during (lecturer’s) quiz on Kahoot!, but through images taken in the past provided insights into the rich culture and heritage of Romani communities as a whole despite being geographically separated in the world.
After the lecture, there was the academic tutorial where there was a heated discussion/debate on identity and how we define ourselves ethnically in society as well as the problems behind this.
Further into the day and with some downpours, Team Magyar trekked to the clusters rooms only to find that the room was full, but with determined spirits, we managed to settle down in Archaeology. We focused on editing transcripts in the seriously cool air conditioning in the room, dousing the humidity and heat from outside.
With the organisation of transcripts done, our Hungarian lesson consisted of learning various conjugation endings and how to “make” a verb like kávé-z-ik meaning “has/drinks coffee”. Also I found out how long my degree name is when spoken in Hungarian (természet tudomàny meaning literally “nature sciences”) so will be avoided in future… It was fascinating to understand the history and meanings behind Hungarian swear words. On a lighter note, Ezster entertained us with a Hungarian song (Egy dunaparti csónakházban) which resulted in everyone singing part of the chorus and recommend to anyone looking for an upbeat song.
To end the day, we directed our enthusiasm, with chocolate peanuts to sustain this, in putting further work into the transcripts for the film documentary as well as finalising the submissions for the poster representing Hungary. A job fantastically led by our postermaster and poster team!
We started off the day with a sobering talk about the treatment and position of Jews along the Danube. We were shown old footage of a ship that transported Jews and were shown images of Jews boarding ships wearing yellow armbands with the star of David on them. Professor Gwen Jones mentioned the difference between non-Jews referring to the Holocaust as ‘then’ and Jews of the Danube referring to it as ‘there’; the distinction being, non-Jews seeing the Holocaust as an event that is over and Jews see it as an ongoing thing.
This was followed by some discussion and the distributing of tasks now that the film and poster material had been collected. Along with transcribing all the interview footage we took, we started to think about what message we wanted to get across and which clips to use.
The fifth language session and it feels like we’ve been doing it for far longer. While there are still mistakes made in pronunciation we’ve made strong progress, which was measured in our first test! Looking primarily at the landmarks of Budapest we looked at new vocabulary and how Hungarian words, grammar and sentences are structured. Eszter certainly seems confident in our progress and looking back, just before our one-week anniversary I can say that we’ve certainly gotten somewhere. I feel we have finally learnt to swim after drowning in consonants, accents and umlauts for the past five sessions.
The conference about potentially re-writing the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ sparked a lot of discussion (relevant to the task presented or not) about various problems we found with the declaration. We discussed fundamentally how inapplicable many of the articles are, as they seem to be based on western values and western standards of living. Having people from many different disciplines definitely helped in this, as many different perspectives were presented and theories which backed up and challenged many articles. For example, Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, showing how people in more economically dire situations cared little about exercising their human right to cultural freedom when they don’t have a stable income. We talked a lot about how these articles were essentially based on the League of Nation and the 14 points so American and Western in nature, which is problematic when these articles are meant to represent humanity. The vagueness of the articles was raised, especially since works like “standard” and “adequate” were used throughout and yet the meaning is not definite. However, it was pointed out that these articles needed to be vague so they could apply to as many people as possible and the alternative of having articles specific to certain people and areas would defeat the point of having a universal set of human rights.
Today we were introduced to the basics of film making, which was the first step to producing our short film revolving around a Hungarian immigrant. During the tutorial, we were guided through Adobe Premiere Pro and how we can use it efficiently. Most members of the group had a chance to put what they learnt, such as manipulating light exposure and combining different shot durations, into practice.
In the afternoon we had another language lesson and though it was only our second one, we were all able to say (with confidence..) at least 5 sentences about ourselves in Hungarian!
Today we had two lectures on the Danube region: the first one was focused on travellers accounts, given by Professor Wendy Bracewell, and the second one was on the EU’s Danube strategy from the practitioner’s viewpoint by Edina Csányi, who works at European Investment Bank in Luxembourg.
After having the fourth language session, we’re amazed how much we learnt so far: we can now introduce ourselves and ask some questions. One of today’s topics was the vowel harmony. It’s unique to Hungarian and its rule is somewhat easy to understand once we looked at some examples. In the lesson, we also looked at some of beautiful pictures along the Danube.
Last but not least, we prepared for an interview with Rita, a Hungarian immigrant. We’re excited to shoot a film over the weekend!
The day started with a lecture which further discussed the various ways in which the Danube can be seen: from a link between people to a border. Also, his talk focused on the way the influence of people and regulations changed the way the river behaves. This talk was followed by discussions in the language groups and a lunch break for the Poster Masters.
Afterwards, we all gathered again and assisted to a tutorial on how to use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign to put together a poster. The tutorial was long however it explained the basics of using the programmes. Then there was a lunch break. The Poster Masters gathered and received further instructions on how the project was to be delivered and handled.
Next came the Hungarian lesson. During this lesson we remembered what we had learned during the previous ones, listened to some Hungarian songs about the Danube. Then we rehearsed the language names we had learned. After this we tried to grasp some more the basis of the Hungarian grammar: vowel harmony. The idea of the ending of words depending on the last vowel in the last syllable seemed a bit overwhelming at first as well as the idea that the prepositions kind of “get glued to the end of words”. However, the way in which we practiced our pronunciation and the pleasant company made it a fun lesson to take part in.
This was followed by high-spirited group discussions on the projects. Later during the day, we watched a documentary film on the Danube Delta. This touched on the issues discussed in the morning session, more exactly on the conflict between regulation and people. This film showed the beauty of the region but also the challenges and the different views of the people in regard to the region. This interesting movie left room for thought and analysis and therefore it was followed by a discussion. Afterwards, we went to a reception in the Print Room Café where we tasted some Danubian food. We also had fun and got to know each other better. All in all, it was a long day but it was fun and we managed to see a lot of different sides of the Danube which gave us room for pondering.
Early start and pounding rain, quite safe to say I did not turn up a happy bunny but, soon enough, we settled into our introductory lecture on the danube where one of our first lectures was to draw out the danube onto a map and name the countries on its path which. One would think, as someone who has applied for this course, that I would be prepared for this. Alas I was not which showed me how little general knowledge people have about a most vibrant part of europe that formed the borders between the greatest empires in history from the romans to the ottomans.
Soon after we split off into our hungarian language group and had a crack at a language I’d never heard, let alone spoken, in my life. Trying to learn a language I find terribly physically and mentally taxing. Muscles that for years have never regular use are rudely awakened as they are contorted into unfamiliar shapes to make sounds in the hungarian language that are just slightly off the english equivalent. What I found mentally taxing was trying to reteach myself that ‘s’ meant ‘sh’, ‘cs’ meant ‘ch’ and that (somehow) ‘dzs’ was a g! . All in all though as I write now in the evening of this day I find myself still thinking about that lesson, about those sounds and pronunciations I didn’t get right, about the river and the country and then I think: I want more.