Last Day of School

Last day of school for the 2021-2022 school year and the last day of school for me at AISB. What a strange feeling it was to close the door of my classroom for the last time. I left a note and a guidebook to Budapest in the desk drawer for the incoming EAL teacher. (For a while she’ll be known around school as “the new Lindsay.”) I hope that she loves Budapest and AISB as much as I have.

The traditional last day of school farewell to students as they depart campus for summer.
Last night in Budapest before heading out for the summer holidays.

Packed Out

The movers came Tuesday and packed up my things for my shipment to Thailand. So much thought and preparation went into this move that I can truly say I feel one thousand times lighter now that it is done. I started back in January by getting rid of the winter clothes that I knew I didn’t want or need in Bangkok. I went through all of my clothes and purged as much as I thought possible. (And then I repeated that process about five more times throughout the year, each time finding more and more that I could part with.)

I started making lists of what I needed to make sure to keep with me and not send in my shipment, and I made mental notes of how and when to get rid of things. I sold things to colleagues and made many trips carrying things from my apartment to my car to the school building. I meticulously made lists of what was in my pantry and made my weekly meal plans based on what I had left. Just before the movers arrived, I packed my suitcase for my summer holidays in Italy (the first time I have EVER packed a week in advance) and then packed two suitcases with the stuff I would take with me directly to Bangkok to hold me over until my shipment arrives in mid-September (hopefully!).

With all of those preparations, I was ready for the movers! They arrived at 11:30 am (I took the day off of school) and I followed them around as they packed just to make sure they didn’t mistakenly pack something that belonged to the apartment. By 3:30 they were done and the paperwork was signed and I said goodbye to my things until we meet again in Bangkok. Now I sit in an empty apartment with four suitcases packed to the brim. Sunday I leave for Italy and then on July 21st I’ll come back to collect my Bangkok suitcases and head to the airport to begin the next chapter.

Two and a half weeks left in Budapest. It doesn’t feel real. School is winding down (and at the same time ramping up with all of the end-of-year activities). In a way it feels like any other year getting ready for summer break and that it’s only “goodbye for now.” It’s not quite sunk in yet that these really are the last weeks that I’ll be living in Budapest.

Slowly, I have been getting ready to move. A few months ago I started paring down my belongings, selling and donating more than I thought possible. I have been systematically eating through my very well-stocked pantry and freezer, and I’m happy to say that both are almost empty. My beloved red Mini Cooper has been sold (though I get to keep it until the last day of school). The movers are scheduled for exactly two weeks from now and before then I need to sort my things into: one bag for my summer hols in Italy, two bags for Bangkok (mostly clothes and some household essentials), and the rest for my shipment. I have notes in my phone that I’ve been adding to for weeks as I think of what I need to pack into each category. Originally my new school said that we couldn’t expect to get our shipment until October 31st as that was how long it would take to get our work visas sorted, but today I got the happy news that that can be moved up to September 15th which will make getting settled in Bangkok a lot easier.

Today I had the first conversation with a colleague where I could feel some sadness creeping in. Apart from feeling a burst of emotions right after announcing back in the fall that I was not planning to return, it’s been only feelings of excitement since then. I’m sure that is about to change as I say goodbye to this place that I have loved for 8 years.

This week’s interview is with Stephanie, a first-grade teacher in Hong Kong. Stephanie is another friend that I met in the Literacy Coach Cohort. We discovered that we actually have a fun “small world” connection. Stephanie taught in Guatemala with Kelly who I met while traveling in Guatemala in 2007. (Kelly was just about to start her international teaching career when we met and she’s still at the same school today!) Kelly was also the first teacher that I interviewed for this series. Since starting out in Guatemala 14 years ago, Stephanie has taught at an impressive string of schools around the world:

  • American School of Guatemala, Guatemala (4 years)
  • American School of Doha, Qatar (4 years)
  • International School of Beijing, China (2 years)
  • American School of Bombay, India (3 years)
  • Hong Kong International School, Hong Kong (1 year so far)

Next year, Stephanie will move into a new role as the Lower Primary Literacy Coach/Coordinator at her school.

What made you decide to teach internationally?

I had done a few international trips during and after college and caught the bug! It’s so cliche, but I loved exploring new cities, navigating cultures different from my own, and learning about cultures by EATING! As a first-generation Chinese-American, I had grown up feeling “othered.” My neighborhood elementary school was in a majority Irish/Italian Catholic neighborhood, and I was one of a handful of Asian Americans in the entire school. Thus, traveling/living/working abroad did not feel super different to me as I had already grown up feeling like that. I am interested in how people might do the same things, but in different ways (cook, eat, parent, teach, dance, sing…).

At the end of my six years teaching in a public school system (my first job out of university) in Massachusetts, USA, I had also just finished my Master’s degree and was trying to make decisions. I then started researching schools specifically in Guatemala, which had been the site of one of those international trips during college. I eventually became a late hire replacing a late retirement announcement. It was only supposed to be two years! The rest, they say, is history.

What’s challenging about teaching at a new school in a new country?

Teaching at a new school is basically like being in a new country. There are things that every school does, like report cards, fire drills, cafeteria duty… but every school does them in a different way! Every school has its own culture and vibe. You have to learn the acronyms, you learn where the good (private) bathrooms are, and you learn names.

How is teaching at your current school different from previous schools that you’ve worked in?

Some schools I’ve been at have been amazingly diverse. At one point for a few years in a row, I had 22 students in class but around16 home countries represented. That was a very special time for me, to be able to work so closely with children to help them develop a community. At a different school, I once had a Hindu and Muslim student hugging each other and singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” as loudly as possible– in a country that was not majority Christian. They did this for a week. Those are the moments that stay with me because they are so different from how I grew up.

What’s it like living in Hong Kong? 

My city is vibrant. There are so many different things to do for all moods and lifestyles– in one weekend, I can sit at a gorgeous beach for sunset, go on a beautiful island hike, enjoy a meal at a very small local family restaurant, or then go for a hotel brunch. There is nightlife… and day life. All of this is easily accessible by public transport and bilingual signs.

How easy is it to meet locals and integrate into the local culture?

My very dormant mother tongue is Cantonese, so I can communicate a tiny bit with locals. I sound like a 5 4 3-year-old, but I laugh and they laugh. Sometimes they switch to English. I think if you are generally extroverted, you can meet anyone, anywhere (local or expat).

Do you still get culture shock? How do you experience re-entry?

I have traveled and lived in so many places that I’m not sure if I experience culture shock in the same way as I used to. My re-entry into the US does involve some reverse culture shock– mostly going to supermarkets or big box stores and seeing an entire giant aisle devoted to one thing (like laundry supplies).

When you are looking for a new job, what do you personally look for in a school and country? Has that changed from your first international job search?

After 20 years of teaching, I know there are no perfect schools or places. There will be pros and cons to every setting and when I try to let go of my pride/ego, I can enjoy it all. During interviews, I do look for links to my educational philosophy and use the internet to check if the new location is a fit for my indoor and outdoor hobbies.

How do you go about making both your new accommodations and your new country your own? 

I think walking is one of the best ways to get to know a place well- you start seeing more and more details even after passing by the same spot daily for months. Only some businesses have an online or social media presence. I find the more interesting businesses– the ones that have been in the neighborhood forever– are found on foot, like the tiny hardware store or the small cart selling local food. Through walking, you notice the local businesses, the spaces, and the people who make up your host country. My accommodations in each location have been composed of things I’ve hauled around in my travels and things I pick up locally (usually found on long walks about town!).

How do you know when it’s time to leave?

When the little annoyances feel like they are greater than the benefits, it feels like it’s time to leave.

What has been your favorite teaching location thus far? 

They have all been so great for me for so many different reasons! I have enjoyed the diversity of climates, food, religions, music, and most importantly, joy.

What tips or advice would you give to others thinking about making the leap to a career in international teaching?

Most things are not permanent- try it out with an open mind and see what happens. 

Find the full series of Interviews with International Educators here.

If you are an international educator and you would like to be featured on The Present Perfect, contact me at thepresentperfectblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

It finally happened

Well, after more than two years, Covid finally got me. I was almost starting to think that I was somehow magically avoiding it. Oddly enough, this week was also the same week that a handful of friends back home and another handful of people that I follow online all announced that they got Covid for the first time making it seem like EVERYONE was finally getting it now.

While it’s never great to get sick, now was probably the best possible time for it to happen to me. I took two trips earlier this year for school breaks and getting covid then could have really messed up those plans and cost me a lot of money. (Actually, just before each trip I had that paranoid feeling of “tingle” in my throat, but both times it turned out to be nothing.) In a month, school will be out and I have a fully booked summer and will be moving out of my apartment, so definitely not ideal for getting sick. After that, I’ll be moving to Bangkok and I will be in a new city, new country, new school, and looking for a place to live. So, that’s why, for me, this was the last best time for me to get covid if I was going to have to get it. Hopefully now with some immunity and added precautions, I will be ok for the next several months.

So, how did I get covid? I’m still not sure. I started feeling that “tingle” in my throat on Sunday evening. Like I had done several times already this year, I planned to go to the nurse in the morning for an antigen test to see if I had a positive result. When I got to school, I found out that a student I had been at an event with on Saturday had tested positive (though we hadn’t been in particularly close contact). My antigen test came back negative, but because my throat was feeling slightly sore and I was at an event with a positive case, I went home immediately before the school day even started. Tuesday I felt a little worse, and that night I did a home test and got a positive result. Wednesday was the day I felt the worst, but it really wasn’t terrible. (Now thinking back, the reaction I had to the first vaccine was way worse.)

Our health liaison at school told me I would be able to come back to school on Monday if I had three symptom-free days, but Friday morning I woke up with an ongoing sore throat and stuffy/runny nose, pushing my return date to Tuesday at the earliest. By the weekend, I felt much better aside from a lingering sore throat. My return to school was finally agreed upon for Wednesday as long as I no longer had a runny nose and any cough was gone or at least a “dry cough.” As I sit here and write this on Tuesday, I am happy to say that I WILL be going back to work tomorrow! So did I get covid from the student at the event on Saturday? Seems unlikely since we were not in close contact. On the Friday night before that, I had gone to a wine event indoors, but I checked with all of the other attendees, and I was the only one who got sick. Maybe from school on Friday? We only had two cases in the middle school and I’m not sure when they occurred, so small chance there as well. I guess this is just an unknowable thing.

The international educator interviews series is back! First up, I want to introduce you to my dear friend Kate whom I met during a literacy coaching program that we participated in from 2017-2019. Kate and her family recently repatriated to the U.S. where she works at a private school in Houston as the head librarian. In her 14 years in Education, Kate has taught English, Humanities, World Religions, and Photography I and II.

What made you decide to teach internationally? How did you land your first overseas teaching job?

I always knew I wanted to teach overseas. I grew up in Bandung, Indonesia until I was 18 years old. After moving back to the States for college, I knew I wanted to move back overseas as soon as possible. I was teaching at a private school in Minneapolis, Minnesota and thought maybe I would take a break from teaching to be home with my two children. I will never forget the day I got an email from the American Community School in Amman, Jordan, asking for an interview. We decided within a couple weeks to sell everything and move overseas! 

Where have you taught overseas and how did you end up back in the U.S.? 

I worked at the American Community School in Amman, Jordan for two years, the American International School of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia for four years, and Bandung Independent School in Indonesia for three years. We decided to move back to the U.S. for many reasons, but the main one was the pandemic. Being stuck overseas away from family for so long was very trying for our family. My husband was looking for a job, which is very challenging to do overseas, especially during a pandemic. Although we were offered teaching jobs in other countries, in the end, we felt it was the best decision to move back. We are very glad to be in the U.S., closer to family. 

How is teaching in the U.S. different from teaching abroad?

Teaching overseas is a truly wonderful experience. The students I had in my classes overseas were diverse, respectful, and inquisitive. I was privileged to work with some amazing educators. Because international schools often have teachers coming and going, there are always opportunities to take on new leadership roles and really grow your resume. The professional development opportunities through groups like NESA and CEESA are exceptional.

How easy/difficult is it to meet locals and integrate into the local culture in the places that you have taught?

Every culture is very different! Jordanian culture is warm, accepting, and vibrant. I really loved the people there and felt very comfortable living in Jordan. It was easy to make friends and it is really diverse. There are incredible sites to see and it is a good hub for traveling through Europe. Saudi Arabia was probably one of the safest places I ever lived. With two small children, we lived on a compound and really enjoyed the slower-paced life of having all of our friends in one place with a playground and pool, and store right there. It was very hard to meet local people, though we did through my children’s classroom friends. Indonesia is my home and the people are genuinely the nicest people you will ever meet. It is also incredibly beautiful there with jungles, volcanoes, beaches, and rice paddies. The challenge there is the frequent bouts of sickness with poor health care. It is easy to make friends with locals and they will be friends for life. Language is a barrier, though Indonesian is a language that is not too challenging to learn.

What is a myth about living abroad?

There are lots of stories about how living overseas is dangerous, but honestly, I feel more nervous in America! We definitely had some scares when we lived overseas, but I never worried about school shootings or people carrying guns.

What have been the challenging parts of returning back to the U.S. to teach?

There have been many challenges with moving to Texas. First, the schools where we worked overseas took care of our housing and furniture, and our children went to school with us. That is not the case in the States! Also, because we were overseas for so long, we really are starting over in so many ways. 

What’s it like living in Houston? What’s your favorite thing about living there?

It is wonderful to drive again after so many years of not being able to (in Saudi) or because it was difficult (in Indonesia). The convenience of the States is a nice benefit, as well as the good food! Yet it is the bigger things of coming out of a pandemic that make us so grateful. We spend lots of time with family and friends. We go to the opera, museums, farmer’s markets, breweries, dance performances, all of those things that were not available during the pandemic. Much of those things were also not available because they did not exist in the countries where we lived. We are finding a rich and wonderful life here in Texas. 

How do you spend your holidays? How often do you visit home/travel?

When we lived overseas we always traveled for every holiday and vacation. We would visit Minnesota in the summers, of course, that could not happen during the pandemic.

What has been your favorite teaching position/location thus far?

I loved something about all of my positions. I loved living in Jordan and the students were amazing. I loved being a literacy coach in Saudi and really felt like I was able to make a difference in the reading program. I loved living in Indonesia, and the school was such a lovely place to work. Now, I absolutely love being a librarian! 

How do you know when it’s time to leave?

We knew it was time to move back to the States when we had offers from other countries and did not have the peace to accept them. The thought of moving to yet another country was overwhelming. After we said no to the offers, we had such peace. For us, it was clearly time to move. 

What tips or advice would you give to others thinking about making the leap to a career in international teaching?

This is just my experience, but one of the hardest parts about moving around internationally is making the tough decision of when to leave and where to go! It is really wild to think that every couple of years you can uproot your whole family and move to a completely different country and start over. It is hard to choose to take the leap, but with every decision we made, I really felt peace.

You can follow Kate on Instagram @greenindomac and on Twitter @katemachall

Find the full series of Interviews with International Educators here.

If you are an international educator and you would like to be featured on The Present Perfect, contact me at thepresentperfectblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

Instagram vs. Travel Reality

Day one of my spring break trip and I am already being reminded that traveling is not all sunshine and rainbows. Over the last two years of not traveling, I had almost forgotten about the unpleasant side of traveling just wanting to be magically transported to the colorful scenes of Instagram travel. This trip, my first big one since South Africa in February of 2020, was one that I’d been particularly excited about because it combined a place I had wanted to visit for ages (Tunisia) and a familiar one that I haven’t been back to in a while (Palermo).

The travel day started out with one of the things I hate most about traveling: a 6 a.m. flight. Every time I take one, I swear it will be the last, but sometimes it really is the best (or only) option. Since I had trouble getting to sleep the night before, I was starting the day off with about three hours of sleep. A layover at CDG had me running to the gate to get to my flight. (I should have known better than to book a flight with only a 50-minute layover, but I guess I’m out of practice.) I landed in Tunis to find the biggest mob at passport control that I’ve seen in a while. It was chaotic for a while with the mass of people trying to push their way to the from until you got to the part where the lines were actually guided by barriers; then it was just incredibly slow moving. Two hours later my passport was stamped and it was off to collect my bag. My initial elation at being able to finally get out of the airport dissipated when I got to the luggage carousels and was met with another chaotic scene. Every carousel had bags piled up around them apparently having been taken off to allow for the other bags that were now circling around. It had been so long since my flight arrived, that the flight number was no longer listed on the screens, so I didn’t even know where to begin looking for my bag. I did a quick scan of all the bags scattered around on the floor and then went back to every carousel and did a slow and careful check. I wondered if my short layover was the cause of my missing bag and not the chaotic scene at the carousels. I went to the lost baggage office, and yup, my bag was still in Paris. The lady assured me that my bag would be there by the evening. (Though I’d have to come back to the airport to pick it up myself. No delivery service in Tunisia.) Well, at least I was finally getting out of the airport. You didn’t think that part went smoothly, did you? Because I was so late getting out of the airport (about 3 hours), the hotel driver I had arranged had long since left leaving me to have to haggle with taxi drivers – another thing I dread about traveling.

Things started looking up when I finally got checked into the hotel and I got a call from my walking tour guide. The day prior I had gotten an email saying he had to cancel (so I was going to be on my own for the first day in Tunisia), but here he was telling me that he was ready for the tour and he didn’t cancel. None of it made sense, but I was happy to have something go right on this day. Mouin met me at my hotel and then expertly led me through the medina of Tunis pointing out symbols on wooden doors, explaining the different types of minarets rising above the landscape, and showing me how to recognize real artisan crafts from tourist junk. Finally, I was able to get to the good part of traveling! (Or the aforementioned “Instagram,” if you will.)

Oh, and I eventually did get my bag back! Shout out to Air France and their amazing communication letting me know when my bag was on a flight so I could time picking it up perfectly before the luggage office closed.

On to new adventures this week and hoping that all of my MISadventures for this trip are behind me.

When choosing a new school, one of the things to consider is where the school is located relative to where you might end up living. If the school is far from the city you might have to choose between a hellish commute each morning and living far from the action of the city. On the other hand, if your school is centrally located, you could have a lovely walk or bike ride to school. Or, maybe your school is far from the city and that’s just the way you like it!

In Beirut, I loved that my school was located in Hamra which is also a great place to live. I lived a short 10-minute walk from school which not only made “commuting” easy by not having to deal with the Beirut traffic but allowed me to go home for lunch occasionally! Here in Budapest, my school is a way out of the city but it’s not too far that it makes living in the city center undesirable.

The website International Schools Community has a series called “The Journey to School” where teachers share their morning commute for the very purpose of helping teachers who are looking for a new school to get a sense of what it might be like to live and work in various places. Since I only have three months left living and working in Budapest (!!!), I thought now would be a good time to contribute a post about my own journey to school each morning. As I start to think about living and working in Bangkok, I’m really looking forward to changing things up again and having a short walk to school. (Fingers crossed I find just what I’m looking for in an apartment within walking distance of my new school.) You can read my post on the ISC blog here.

On a side note: I love this website for getting information about international schools. Unlike the very popular ISR (I’m not linking it because I’m not a fan) which tends to get reviews from mostly unhappy teachers that post long rants (and has a very negative vibe overall), the International School Community website asks teachers to post “comments” answering very specific questions about all aspects of the school (pay, benefits, curriculum, new teacher orientation, city life, travel opportunities, etc.). This also helps as a job seeker because you can narrow in on exactly the information you are looking for. If you are looking for a new school, I highly recommend that you check it out. And if you’re not looking for a new school but you’re an international teacher, please head over and leave some comments about your school!

Life Update!

Going on eight years now here in Budapest, my blog header about being a “semi-nomadic teacher” was starting to lose relevance. BUT, I am happy to announce that that is no longer the case as I have accepted a job in a new school starting in August!

How did we get here? Well…my goal always was to teach and travel around the world, so I really had no plan to stay in one place for so long. I also had no idea that I was going to land at such a great school in such a great city. For the last 8 years, it has been a dream working at a school I love in a city I love. Budapest – and Europe – has really felt like home, and I hadn’t been able to make the leap to seriously thinking about leaving. Early on (maybe year three), I started thinking about doing a so-called “soft search” where I imagined I would browse some vacancies, and if my dream job came up and I was offered the job, I would take it. (“Whoops, guess I’m leaving.”) But each year when fall rolled around and recruiting season started, I would drop that idea immediately because I was just really happy with life where I was at. Towards the end of last year though, I really started to think about moving. I was ready for a change both personally and professionally. In my International Educator Interviews series, I’ve asked a lot of teachers about how they know when it’s time to move on and now it was time for me to really think about that for myself. I guess for me, it was a feeling of having done a lot of what I wanted to do here, friends having moved on, and life becoming pretty routine.

This hiring season turned out to be a lot different for me than what I had previously experienced. Although I enjoyed my two experiences at job fairs in the past, I was hoping this time to be one of the lucky ones to land a great job early in the hiring season so that I wouldn’t have to go to a job fair. In the past, I had been in a position of not needing to give up my current (great) job before the job fair, so I knew this year was going to be extra stressful having to potentially decline my contract renewal not knowing what was coming next.

This year, I started applying to jobs in late September and by mid-December had applied to 16 schools, truly a worldwide search with schools in South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. My hope was for a really great school, location was less important. My very first interview was with an amazing school in Bangkok that was a top choice for me. Being asked to interview so early in the season and with such a great school really gave me a boost of confidence that my resume was looking good enough to be noticed by the kind of school that I wanted to work at. In retrospect, interviewing at one of your top choices right out of the gate isn’t the ideal scenario when you haven’t interviewed in eight years. I definitely didn’t bomb the interview (or even do that badly at all), but I KNOW that I got better as the season went on. I didn’t get called back for a second interview, but it was still really early in the season, so I felt ok about that. And if I am being honest, although this is a top school in my top destination, I was hesitant about the fact that it was quite a way out of the city when I know that I am more of a downtown city girl. There was another top school in the center of Bangkok (NIST), but there was no job opening for my qualifications, so I applied to the other school knowing that I would be thrilled to accept a job at any great school in a city I was keen to live in. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Fast forward a few months to November. I applied to a lot of schools that I was very interested in, and although I got close, nothing materialized before the contract renewal deadline for my current school at the end of the month. I got a short extension, but in the end, I had to turn in my resignation without having anything lined up. I grappled with the decision during my extension time, but I knew that if I decided to stay in Budapest, I’d just be waiting for next year’s recruiting season to roll along and I might end up in the same position of resigning without an offer in hand. Going through the recruiting process thus far had really solidified my feeling of being ready to move on. I was ready to embrace that unknown period of being without a job and to start preparing for a job fair.

Plot twist. The day before I had to turn in my resignation, a few more schools that I was really interested in posted job openings in my specialty, including the school that I had truly wanted all along – NIST, Bangkok. After submitting my resignation, I quickly got to work on the new applications and continued to have a few more interviews and follow-up interviews from schools I had previously applied to. Then the next week, I got an email from NIST wanting to schedule me right off the bat for two back-to-back interviews on the Wednesday before winter vacation. I prepared like crazy (with the help of a friend who had previously worked at the school) and felt pretty good about how the two interviews went. The next day while on a field trip with my students, I got an email from NIST asking me for contact information for my head of school for a reference check. It felt like this was really going to happen, but still, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Friday morning, I got an official email offering me the job. I immediately went to tell my friend who had helped me prepare (his classroom was down the hall from me) and we did a little celebration jumping up and down in the hall as his students were watching a film in the classroom. I immediately accepted the offer and then floated into winter break 1000 times lighter.

In retrospect, it is interesting to see how two doors (schools I had really been interested in but ultimately didn’t get) had to close to end up where I really wanted to be. It’s also interesting to look back on my last trip to Bangkok for New Year 2018 when I took a walk around the neighborhood where NIST is located and thought to myself, Yeah, I can see myself living here.

Walking along the canal behind NIST in 2018.

Four months left in Budapest now and a little more than five before I land in Bangkok. New adventures await . . .

I am back in Budapest and fully vaccinated! I do not regret making the trip at all. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from being alone in my apartment. Not only did I get to see my new house that I recently bought and furnished and my family, but the weather was amazing. Sunshine is SO good for the soul! Not only that, but Arizona was “open” for the most part, so it was possible to eat out, go shopping, and do other activities. This was probably my first visit home ever that I didn’t want to come back. I could have stayed a bit longer since we are still teaching remotely, but two weeks teaching in the middle of the night was more than enough!

We are supposed to go back to in-person teaching on May 10th, so that’s just one more week of working from home. I really hope that that date holds and we get to go back. I definitely like a lot of aspects of working from home, but I am ready to mix it up a bit and finish out the year with my colleagues and students. When we return, we’ll only have six weeks left until the end of the year. It’s going to fly by and I am very much looking forward to summer vacation.

As for the situation in Hungary, daily cases continue to drop and now more than 4 million people have been vaccinated in the country (out of 9.7 million). Things are starting to reopen and I was thrilled to be able to sit on a terrace for the first time in a long time. That said, we still have the worst death rate in the world, which is pretty scary.

The next frontier is vaccine passports (or immunity cards as they call them here). There are already problems with that for those of us who are not Hungarian, not to mention the odd decision that the government made to give the immunity card immediately after the first vaccine dose even though people are not fully protected until two weeks after the second dose.

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