By the time I got the junior section of primary school called Veres Pálné, it was quite obvious that I was rather slow on the uptake. I was not one of those bright students who can easily cope with difficulties in subjects. I usually studied by fits and starts, which meant I sometimes failed to fulfil the requirements. When I didn’t know the material, I must confess, I used cheat sheets. Besides, I sometimes relied on other students and expected them to prompt. I had to wear a uniform at that school called cloak (gown). This school had five grades and there were extra courses called electives such as draw or music study circle, physical education. There were not compulsory sports, but we could choose some sports like football in spring, basketball or volleyball in winter or table tennis anytime. Different schools’ teams competed against each other in championship tournaments. My mum made some sandwiches me for breakfast and fortunately, I could eat my lunch at my grandmother every weekday.
Hungarian secondary schools fall into three categories: Secondary Grammar, Secondary Technical or Vocational Schools. I myself attended a Secondary Grammar School and I think these schools are very competitive in Hungary. Well, I applied for admission to one of the most known grammar schools in my hometown, where I spent five years. The school was named after a famous engineer called Bánki Donát. I took my school-leaving examination here. Our school building lay in the centre of the city. It was a big, white-coloured, two-storey building with a large school yard and some trees around it. Both the library and the school buffet were in the basement where you could buy sandwiches, milk, cocoa, and the basic articles needed for school work such as books, notebooks, pens, pencils, rubbers and so on. Most classrooms were on the first and second floors while the headmaster’s office and the staff room were in a separate corridor on the ground floor. Our school had also got some special laboratories such as language, physics, chemistry, arts and craft labs. These labs were quite well equipped. In the language lab e.g. we had a television and cassette players with headphones and all the necessary dictionaries. We had also a computer room, where we could study computer techniques and programming. No uniform had to be worn at this school to be more precise it was not compulsory any more.
I liked having my friends. They were all very hard-working and most of them were bright, too. Our class was a good team and there was a good atmosphere. We often helped each other with the homework. Our teachers were satisfied with us and we all respected them. There were no unqualified teachers on the staff. They were all very competent and imparted a great deal of knowledge to us. If somebody lagged behind, the others helped him. We didn’t want anybody to drop out. Anyway, I had a few teachers who just yabbered on but nobody listened to them. They liked some students better than others and had their favourites in each class.
We had two hours’ homework every afternoon and sometimes it took even longer because we had to learn poems from a Hungarian author or texts in a foreign language by heart. All of us were expected to specialise at the age of sixteen in order to concentrate on the subjects that we need for university entrance. Additional lessons were offered to us in the subjects that we opted for and they were usually the ones that we would need for our future career. You are of school-age while you are not eighteen in Hungary. If you are not there, you are marked absent in the attendance register and you will be given a warning later if your absence has not been excused e.g. by a doctor’s note.
My favourite subjects were arts subjects. They came to me easily and I took pleasure in studying some of them. I especially liked history, grammar and perhaps literature, but most of my friends found them very difficult. Because they thought they were useless subjects. Maths was, in fact, the least popular subject in my class. I always hated it, because I have never had got sense of it. Physics was my weak point, too. I don’t even like to think of it. Although I tried to do my best in these subjects too, my efforts were not always crowded with success. Chemistry and music weren’t my cup of tea either.
I was fairly energetic so I did a quite a lot of things in the afternoons. To tell you the truth, studying was quite a demanding activity for me. So as not to fail my exams, my parents set up maths lessons for me. I had to take private lessons twice a week. However, there were things I enjoyed. This was a gymnastics work-out four times a week, which I enjoyed very much. And I quite often had my friends over, played with the computer or just watched television. I didn’t like to overload myself; I liked to have time relax. I didn’t know what I would have liked to do when I left school. One thing was sure I would have liked to go on my studies.
After leaving secondary high school (in the fourth year), I decided to go on with my studies and applied for the local technical school. I managed to pass the final exams and I didn’t get such bad grades after all. Having gone to the technical school, I enrolled for an intermediate-software-operator course. It took me if I remember well, nine months. But, in my humble opinion it was worth finishing it. After leaving the fifth year, I learnt a second trade in Veszprém called text and picture editor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a job where I was promised to be employed. Therefore, I went on my studies and became technical engineer assistant. Although, I have got three trades I’ve been working as a measuring technician for three years.
Sort of schools:
Pre-school education/crèche University of Technology
Kindergarten, nursery school University of Medicine
Primary/elementary school University of Arts and Sciences
Secondary/high school Teacher Training College
Secondary technical school University of Economics
Vocational school Faculty of Arts/Natural Sciences/Law
Academic grammar school Academy of Fine Arts/Music/Applied Arts/Film and
Co-education school/mixed school Theatrical Arts
Boarding school College of Finance and Accountancy
Approved school, Hostel Training College for Kindergarten Teachers
School traditions and experiences
I was fond of class outings. There was a confidential-clerk in my class who was pointed/marked by our head-master. He had to collect the money from each classmate. We usually went to a trip in every year as usual in Hungary. We often visited famous museums, castles or churches. My elder cousins used to regularly go for gathering or vintage from their school. They were fetched by the school-bus and sometimes they got a little salary, too. In my time the repeated occasions were the carnival in February or school-balls and you could apply for the summer’s camp if you wanted to. However, I’ve never taken a part in a camp.
During the year we commemorate all the public holidays and important events of Hungarian history with some productions prepared and performed by alternate classes. Every year in February or March there is a party organised in honour of the school leaving students. Both humorous skits and some serious programmes are performed by the third-year students and each school leaver is presented a blue ribbon marking the years they have spent in school. Then a big school ball is held, the greatest attraction of which are the ball-opening dances. In May the school leaving ceremonies continue and the fourth-year students wander around the school. The last phase of these ceremonies is the final party or school-leaving feast, which is always held after the final exams. Each form goes out to a nice restaurant with their teachers and they eat and drink to their hearts’ content to make the end of the school years memorable.
In addition to it, on these days a serenade is held by the leaving students, which means they go for visit their teachers in their private flat or detached house and they are singing a kind song to say goodbye to him or her.
Készítette: Somogyi Péter – [email protected]