Before starting his mission to “play the Moldovans at tennis” Tony Hawkes mocks his Romanian language phrase book for offering the following as ‘basic phrases’

1. What’s that smell?
2. Who’s dogs are these?

Well, let me tell you – they are indeed important and I’ve needed both of them at least twice in the past week. Fortunately I managed to scrape by with English and in case you’re wondering, the answer to both is “I dunno”.

So, what’s new in Koszeg? Well firstly, I’m typing on an English keyboard again and amazingly – I’ve forgotten how to use it! The ‘ and the @ are causing the most problems so forgive me if you see one in error. Secondly, and more importantly I’m typing this English keyboard from the comfort of my own apartment whilst drinking tea and watching the BBC! Good huh. All I need now is a little “weather talk” and a sink with two taps and I’d have the fully recreated England in Hungary.

My new apartment is conveniently located off the main town square, above a flower shop, two doors from the post office and dangerously close to a bakery that sells mini pizzas, cheesy croissants and hot-dog burek. OK, so the flat is only the size of my kitchen at home but it has everything I need including 4 warm radiators and a kitchen that folds away into a cupboard unit. I’ve never lived on my own before and although I’d prefer some company so far I’m surviving. I mean, when else can you enjoy the freedom of shitting with the door wide open?

So, if it wasn’t for the 100ft torture device (church bell tower) opposite – I’d say this place was perfect. It’s also about 3 inches from our school which is cool and isn’t costing me the earth.

Koszeg isn’t a lively place, in fact sometimes it’s hard to know tell if it’s actually alive but, I’ve been saved from certain boredom by my international posse of classmates from Turkey, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romainia/Serbia, Hungary and Kosovo. I’m a small English minority of just 1 but, I’ve managed to take control of the local Slovak mafia (the “Stinkies”) and we’ve negotiated a working truce with the Turks so so far, so good.

We mostly sit (drinking, talking, eating, talking, eating, drinking, talking…) but we’ve also discovered the new and superbly equipped OXA Gym and might just survive the year without gaining 12 stone. As they do in Slovenia, many places here also offer “Wellness” which makes me laugh. Maybe one day they’ll diversify into “Greatness” and “Happiness” too.

Actually, for its size Koszeg seems unusually well equipped with sports facilities but, unfortunately these aren’t as accessible as they could be. One for example is an all-year (Astroturf) Ski jumping facility and the other is a Swimming pool with a ‘Speedos only’ policy. Maybe I’m being fussy but, if there’s one thing you definitely want when ski jumping it’s snow and, if there’s one thing you ABSOLUTELY DON’T want to wear when you’re swimming – it’s Speedos.

Outside of Koszeg there are mountains, quiet villages, vineyards and Austria. I’ve nominally tested all three but we’ll see what they have to offer later in the year.

Now, since my last ramble I did indeed survive my course on economics and since then I’ve survived one on the foundations of the EU, another on Economics and two thirds of a course on global civil society. Naturally, all this work (cough) means we need a ‘free week’ next week the second half of which I’ll spend in Stockholm at the ALDR annual conference. If you’re lucky, I’ll be back here with further news and a host of pictures soon after this. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to meet Katarina Kresel…

Mafia Eddy.

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