I learned quickly that it’s not the big stuff that can make me feel incompetent—I expected not to know or understand certain things, like the Hungarian language. It’s the little stuff that gets me, like not knowing how to dial a telephone number. In Hungary, you call mobile phones and land lines differently.
It’s also not understanding how to work the washing machine or being stumped by the oven. I stood in the store for about five minutes staring at the detergent shelf before I decided which product to buy.
At work, my computer keyboard is deceptively similar looking to those in the States. But there are a few differences that get me every time, particularly the fact that the @ and “ buttons are switched. The number sign is elsewhere too.
Many doors open the opposite of what I expect. Too often, I feel like I’m in one of my favorite Far Side cartoons: Midvale School for the Gifted.
The 24 hour time cycle (also known as military time in the States) and time difference with the States can also stress me out. I scheduled my first Skype call with my family for 10:00 am their time, which is 4:00 pm or 1600 my time. (Even now, I have to triple check that conversion.) I worried throughout the day that I would miss the call.
Coming up: Food markets