“Go home, Go home…Refugees”

“Go home, Go home, Go home” was all I heard as I was sitting on the bus. I looked around and couldn’t imagine what I saw.

I had taken the subway to Keleti train station for the distribution of food. But missed my stop because the subway was forbidden to stop at the train station. I got off at the next stop at the soccer stadium where a football match was being played in a few hours between Hungary and Romania. I eventually found a bus that could take me back to Keleti train station. I got on the bus and sat next to an older woman who was wearing a head scarf. The woman in front of us was sitting with her little boy and they were chatting away in Hungarian. Then all of a sudden I heard English, which is rare on the bus, so I picked it up right away. The woman in front of me was teaching her little boy to say “go home” in English. After a few chants of that, she continued on with some choice words about Muslims. She wasn’t saying this under her breath but she wasn’t saying it all that loud either. I heard her and others must have as well.

Is this what some people are thinking about the refugees in Hungary?

It is a very difficult situation for all involved. The arrival of thousands of refugees into Hungary does not make it easy for the government or authorities here. I do not claim to know much about politics, I know very little. Here are some things I know: Recently Hungary attempted to keep refugees out of the country by building a fence along the border with Serbia. Clearly this has done little to stop refugees from finding ways into Hungary. Hungary has not committed for all refugees to stay in Hungary, far from it. This is only one of the first stopping points in the EU. Then the refugees register before they must try to  move onto the other countries, such as Germany who are willing to take in and help them. However, the main train station was closed off to refugees earlier this week so they were not able to access any trains to other EU countries.

There are two sides to every situation. Fortunately, I have seen more of the other side. The side where average people are working together to help. Volunteers living in Hungary are working to provide basic essential items: Refugee Support in Budapest. People from around the world are donating money. Hungarians and others are forming organizations and taking donations to give to those who need it. A large group of refugees is arriving in Austria after walking along motorways in a desperate act to go.  People are helping them along the way with food, water, and garbage clean-up.

There will be many more people travelling to Hungary and Budapest to seek refuge in the next few weeks. I am sure many refugees would go home or stay home, if they could. But they can’t, so they need our help. And we are here to help, to offer what we can and make their journey easier. I sincerely hope that everyone I meet in Budapest can share this view with me.


They are right here, down the street

Last night I went to a train station here in Budapest. Maybe you have seen the news about the people who are coming to Budapest from war torn countries like Syria and who are trying to get to safety. If you haven’t heard, check out this article from CNN: Europe migrant crisis or this article from Daily News Hungary: Authorities not allowing migrants…or this one from CBC: Migrant crisis. These human beings are so desperate to get to safety that they are willing to risk their lives. They are dying. Then they are removed from one place, a train station, that they would like to sit down and sleep until they can keep going to get to real safety.

There are several stations here in Budapest where migrants are staying. One of those stations, Nyugati, is about a 15 minute walk from our apartment. There is an organization called Migration Aid who has been helping the migrants as they come. They post a list each day of the needed items of food and other things that are needed at each of the train stations. Niall and I gathered a few things that we had and bought and brought them to the station.

Behind the train station, there is a camp set up. There are tents set up sitting open to let the air in with bedding arranged for the few people who get to sleep ‘inside’. Children are running around. One girl is playing with her little brother and they see Hamish as we walk through the ‘camp’. She smiles and shows her brother. He is a bit nervous of Hamish and hangs back but also smiles. We ask some other volunteers where we can find the Migration Aid office to give our items. We walk past a group of men playing with a ball. Around the corner is a shipping container that has been converted into a storage place for donated items. We hand over the small bag we brought with a few towels and some food. The volunteers thank us and continue moving and rushing around with a million things to do. The refugees are standing around waiting for the things they need. One man gets one of our towels and then asks for a few more for the rest of his family. A young boy comes past with a couple ice cream cones from McDonalds, which is right next door to the train station. He sits down on the ground next to about 10 other men who are all charging by plugging into two extension cords on the ground. Dinner is served at 8pm and after that other items will be handed out. Some volunteers are taking other donated items to Keleti Station, the one that was closed by the authorities. There are many more people there. Eventually, we leave. We walk back past the portable toilets where people are lining up and the outdoor taps where people are doing laundry. We are shocked. We are sad.

As we walk home, I think about how fortunate we are. I am grateful that I can go home to my comfortable bed. I am grateful that we live here where we are safe. I am thankful that we have access to good medical care and facilities. We have access to more food than we will ever need. There are a lot of things I worry about in a day. But getting a good night’s sleep in my bed is not one of those things, and neither is eating a good breakfast or needing a towel.

Those people…the people who we talk about and pray for from a distance…they are right here, 15 minutes from where I live. Maybe you are reading this from Canada or from somewhere else and you have seen the news. You see the stories about that faraway place and those faraway people. You may think, “Wow sad! That is so terrible those people have to leave their home. What a shame.” I thought the same thing…until yesterday. But now, I can walk down the street and help them with a few items. Obviously they need so much more than I can even hope to give. But I cannot sit in my house and think about that news story I read and carry on with my day…not anymore.



Laszlo or Zoltan…Baby Gibson’s name?

There is a list of girls names and a list of boys names in Hungary, about 2500-3000 names on each list. Parents that have children are only allowed to name their babies names that are on these lists. The law is quite strict. If parents try to name their child with a name that is not on the list, they will be prevented from doing so. There is a whole government ministry dedicated to researching and checking names for these lists. Each year about 10 names are added to the list. For example, Laszlo is one of the approved boys names. My Hungarian language teacher’s name is Laszlo and his nickname is Laci (pronounced La-tsi). The “c” in Hungarian is said like a “ts” in English. Zoltan is another common Hungarian name, nickname Zoli.

The Hungarian language is similar to NO OTHER language in the world. It has about 1000 words that are kind of similar to Finnish. Yes, the Finnish language that is spoken in Finland. Hungarian is considered an old Asian language, somewhat like Finnish and Estonian. But it is has been influenced by Slovak languages and languages in Siberia apparently. Today in language class we got a history lesson on the Hungarian language. I also learned that knowing no other language in the world makes it easier to learn Hungarian. Hungarian is all on its own in the world of language and it is not an easy language!

I am currently in my third and final week of my Hungarian language course. And I actually really like it. It is challenging and sometimes confusing. I often wonder if I will ever be able to string together a sentence with pausing before every word. But I am enjoying it. I like using my brain this way. It is much different than the way I have been using or not using my brain for the past 10 years of teaching and the past 3-4 years of doing my Masters.

Class is every day (Monday to Friday) for three hours in the morning. We do written, speaking, and listening activities. We are constantly moving mentally. As we learn new concepts or “rules” about the language, we practice them and get to know them well. Then we have homework to do. Homework includes all the learning and practicing vocabulary and rules done in class. The school is called Budapest University of Debrecen Summer Language School. 

As I continue to learn Hungarian, my biggest challenge will be to use it. I am shy to try using out in public because A. most of the time the person I am speaking to speaks much better English than my Hungarian and B. I don’t know enough to just say whatever I might need at any given moment. So the next step is to practice speaking and using all the things I have been learning.



Five Things About Being Preganant

Being pregnant for the first time, there are a few things that I have noticed. Here are some of my thoughts on these things:

  1. Clothes don’t fit anymore. I have heard from others that I can just do various tricks with hair ties around buttons of pants or wear leggings but I am just not finding that is working. It is uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that the weather here has been insanely hot. I finally went shopping last week and bought several maternity clothes items and I have not been so comfortable in a long time! It was such a simple thing that made me so happy.

2.  I got a pregnancy pillow. It may seem like the most ridiculous thing for some of you reading this but I love it. It is so comfortable. It has changed my pregnant life.This is what it looks like:


3. Pregnancy brain or baby brain is a real thing in my life. I have it. I did not know it was actually a thing but now I know. I went to the grocery store the other day and filled up my cart. I finished shopping and went to the checkout. I took all the items out of the cart to check out and realized I had no money and no cards to pay. I had to communicate this to the lady at the checkout who thankfully spoke enough English to understand me. I then waited in the freezer section of the store until my wonderful husband came to pay.

4. Babies kick a lot. And it is really cool to feel. I have had mixed feelings about it sometimes, thinking that maybe the baby really wants to get out. I think the kicking baby has been such a neat part of feeling like there is a real live baby growing inside of me. Sometimes that miracle is still a bit hard to comprehend.

5. Preparing for life after preganancy is important. When the baby comes, initially my life is going to need to be about taking care of this little tiny human being who cannot do anything on his own. I’m a bit nervous and a bit scared but mostly excited.

Doing a Masters- What a Saga!

Here is the saga of me trying to do a Masters program. If you or anyone you know needs any advice on Masters programs in counselling, I have inside knowledge of several different programs. I started 3 different programs and have yet to finish any of them!  I am not exactly sure how it all turned out this way. In some ways I feel a bit sorry that I haven’t finished any of the programs. But I do also remember that sometimes this is the way it goes.

Here is the story:

Masters 1

I started my Masters in January, 2012. The program I was doing was through Lehigh University. It was Masters of Education in International Counselling. I did four courses, two online and two on location in Athens, Greece. This program required me to complete a practicum of about 20 hours per week while I was also working full time. I felt like I was not going to be able to do this in the situation I was in at the time. After finishing the fourth course, I earned a Graduate Certificate and then decided to change to a different program.

Masters 2

In the summer of 2013, I started a new program at Athabasca University. It is an online university in Calgary, Alberta. The new program was a Masters of Counselling, focusing on Counselling Psychology. In the summer I completed an orientation course. In the fall of 2014 and the winter of 2015, I completed three courses. This program also required a practicum. I was not sure I was able to or interested in completing it. The following summer of 2014, I chose to not take a course and I was planning to continue in the fall of 2014.

Masters 3

In the fall of 2014, I again chose to not take any courses and then decided to switch programs again into the University of Missouri. This time the program was Masters of Education in Educational, School, and Counselling Psychology with an emphasis in Educational Psychology and a focus on Student Learning and Well-being. In this program, after the various events of the year, I completed one course. This program does not require a practicum, which was what I was looking for so that I could do all the courses at home and just finish it. Probably not the best attitude towards doing a Masters!

Where now?!

Where I stand right now: I just completed the one course I did with the University of Missouri. I feel a mixture of relief and elation. I am so glad I did it. I am so glad it is done. And I am so glad I don’t have to do anymore right now. For now I will wait. I am not completely dismissing the idea of finishing but I am also not going to continue right now. I am looking forward to some time without coursework and homework and readings and papers hanging over my head. I will enjoy the break and see what the future will hold. Maybe the time will be right next year or in 5 years or never.

In the past couple of years, some of the events of life have made doing my Masters harder, including leaving one country and moving to another, planning a wedding and getting married, and also the accident my parents were involved in earlier this year.

Motivation is key!

I am also trying to figure out my level of motivation. When I started I was very keenly motivated and highly desired studying and learning about counselling. I felt that I had found my next calling and career. I was very passionate. As I have carried on throughout the courses I have done, I am still loving the learning. I am still passionate but not as much. It has been hard to describe and figure out for myself. Do I want to be a counsellor? Or do I just want to learn about it? Or at this point, do I just want to give up on it?

For a person who likes to have a handle on how I feel about things, I find this kind of annoying. I think part of what I am feeling is that I don’t like giving up on something in the middle of it. I have started this Masters and I should finish it. I can’t just stop. But I also need to be realistic and know how I feel. I can stop because I can choose what I am going to do. I don’t have to do something just because I don’t want to allow myself to stop. This is a hard thing to accept for myself.

More learning?

Then there was the desire to do something different. I had been teaching the same subject to the same grade level for ten years. I was getting a bit tired of it. But I have now had a break from it for half a year and I am not sure I am so desperate to do something very different now. The thought of going back to work sometime and having to start in a brand new position and learn about it all is kind of tiring. Maybe going back to something that I am familiar with would be okay. Especially since I have had a break. Maybe I will eventually go back to a different grade level to make things just a little different but somewhat the same too.

Who knows? Maybe I will never go back to teaching. Maybe I will never finish my Masters. Maybe I will. Maybe I will continue writing this blog and I will be able to have lots and lots of people reading it. (So share it with all your friends if you like it)! I am open to the possibilities of various adventures. But for now, I will enjoy whatever it is that I am doing and look forward to a very big new adventure coming our way in December.

Before I finish this story, I want emphasise the importance of education. I am not intending to complain. I have loved all the courses I have done and information I have learned. When I am interested in the subject and I get to read about it or write about it, I feel engaged and in “flow”. I am grateful for the incredible opportunities that I have had to further my education. I know that there are many people in the world who do not have access to the high level of education that I have had and I wish that was not the case. I am truly thankful.

3 years in, and this is what I know.

It’s our anniversary and I really like this blog post about someone else’s anniversary. I think it says a lot of what I would like to say about our amazing first year of marriage! Thank you to “The Art in Life”!

The Art in Life

Today marks three years that I have been able to call James my husband. There are a lot of things that I still do not know at all about marriage or him or love. But three years in, here is what I know.


I know that eating ice cream on the couch in sweatpants is totally a date, so is grocery shopping at 11 pm.

I know that sometimes I will cry about my clothes and he will not understand, and he knows to just back away slowly.

I know that it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love me just because he leaves his shoes in the middle of the floor.

I know that, while I can survive on variations of exactly the same thing, for every meal, for all of time, he cannot.

I know that I become a fire breathing, flesh-eating, dragon-beast-woman when I go too long between…

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The Next Adventure

Adventure can take many forms. I like to view almost anything as an adventure, from travelling to a new country (big adventure) to the next trip to Ikea (small adventure) or the next walk with Hamish (always an adventure).

The next adventure for Niall and I: a baby! This is going to be a big one! But first, being pregnant! Also, kind of a big adventure! Baby Boy Gibson is due to arrived at the beginning of December. We are about half way there with another 20 weeks or 4.5 months to go before he comes along. We are very excited!

As ecstatic as we are about our next adventure, we also worry. I know I do for sure. I try not to but it is so hard. At first there is so much worry about miscarrying. Now every time I go to the doctor, I worry there is going to be something wrong. Then I also think about the actual delivery and I worry if I will be able to handle it and if everything will go well. Even in my daily activities, I worry that I have done something or eaten something I am not supposed to and something will go wrong. I am beginning to understand that being pregnant could be the beginning of a lifetime of worry for one’s child! But I have also decided that I am not going to allow myself to be continually worried and anxious about everything that could wrong. Although this is part of my nature and personality, every time one of these worries comes up, I follow it up with other, more positive thoughts. We will be able to deal with the challenges that we face. There are many difficulties in life and anything can happen at any time. This is one of the reasons that I believe in God and trust in Him. He is with me in the difficulties and I find true comfort and relief in that.

Being pregnant has some disbelief and awe about it for me. As in, I can’t believe it is me, it’s us. And that it is hard to imagine a child coming at the end of the pregnancy. I know it definitely happens to other people but it is just hard to picture our lives with a baby. Fortunately we have many incredible friends who are helping us prepare with books, baby items, and support. Through their excitement and giving, I can imagine that we will be able to handle it! We are getting more and more used to the idea of the baby by talking about it a lot together and talking to the baby bump. Somehow it helps!

This week we are preparing the baby room…or I should say, Niall is. He is painting the room from the ‘beautiful’ pinky-purpley colour it was, to white. We have one piece of furniture, a cabinet or dresser, to put in there. And then we will eventually need a crib. Yikes, it it still weird to talk about it – needing a crib!!

So that is where we are the baby adventure front…less worrying, imagining our lives with a baby, and doing some preparations. We are also halfway through summer in Budapest right now and we are loving it! It is beautiful place to be for heat, sun, and fun in the summer!