I mentioned in my previous entry, I had an adventurous life between graduation in 1986 and beginning college in 1988. After graduation I received an order to serve one year in the Army. In addition I had to serve in the military base furthest from my home. What is the connection between the communist army and the English language? I’m going to tell you. On Friday (January 17th), this story is available in Hungarian as well. Former soldiers are speaking about their experiences in the army on the Hungarian Milstoryblog.
My first day in the army was really frightening. There are several books and movies on this topic; I guess they’re similar. I met scared hairless guys like me, and yelling officers. In addi-tion older soldiers were smiling and rejoicing at new ones’ misfortune. It is said that the time can change even the worst memories, but its impossible relating to my first day in the army. Fortunately days after the first one weren’t as terrible as I expected. Back to the first day, there were rules for allowed items that a soldier could keep with him. To keep books was al-lowed of course. Our belongings were checked several times. I had some thin English books with me, because I liked English. My English books didn’t survived one of the checks. “Soldier! What the f…. do you think? You are not allowed to read our enemies’ language! US and UK, they are the evil! Keep in mind.” I had to send my English books home despite the rules.
Of course my books got back to the military base a little later. No one minded if I learned English in the army; however, I didn’t have too much free time for it. I could learn during the duty in the tower. Of course it would have been prohibited, but who cares?
The first little signs of the upcoming new eras were slowly coming. There were some new allowed activities that were unimaginable earlier. When someone wanted to take language exam, he got permission for some days off. I asked the commander if I could go home to take a English exam. “Soldier! In your opinion, is English a foreign language? YES???? Don’t ask stupid things. Go home! Take exam, show us the certification.” I applied for an English exam for a medium degree. I knew I had no real chance to pass it, but I could spend a week at home. I tried the medium degree exam. I wasn’t successful in medium degree, but I got a certification for a successful Basic level exam. Hurray! I showed it to my commander. “Soldier! You brought glory to your military base! I will give you 7 days off to rest as a reward!”
Well after this story the next topic will be serious.
I would like to introduce you Tiffany. She was kind to review and edit my entry. She is available on italki.
Dear Tiffany, do you have any comments?
Thank you for translating and sharing your story in English! I enjoyed reading your personal and historical account of your time in the Hungarian Army. For those reading this article and English is your second language, try translating something you wrote or a short story from your language into English. This is great way to practice English when you don’t have some-one to speak English to, and it will build your skills.