I don’t think there are words to succinctly summarize my past month and a half in Budapest, but here’s my best shot. I’m sitting, laptop out, in a small square in the Palace District of this capital city. Beside me, a cobblestone street winds its way towards the twin spires of a church nestled between residential buildings and cafes. I can count more than a dozen colors adorning the buildings surrounding me, with nearly as many architectural styles. As I type, foreign languages and their practitioners rotate through the coffee shop tables around me. It’s the first day since I’ve been here that the temperature has breached 60 degrees, and everyone is out to enjoy it.
That’s just one snapshot of an afternoon here, but I think it exemplifies what I love most about studying abroad: incredible new sights, languages I don’t speak a word of, and every day different than the last. Today, I set out to spend my two hours between classes in a famous public library I’ve been wanting to check out. As I neared the library, my attention instead turned to the pastel and brick streets beckoning around the corner. A quick peek turned into wandering through a neighborhood I’d never seen before, gawking down every alleyway and avenue, all the way to this small wooden table where I now sit.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, the most consistent trend over my time here has been unpredictability. Every day is an adventure, and there’s no guarantee I’ll see or do any of it again in my life. There’s potential everywhere waiting to be seized, and great company to do it with. There are around 30 students enrolled here in Budapest through the same program as me, API. We all went through orientation the week prior to the beginning of classes, which did a great job of making us all comfortable in our new home, and with each other! When we’re not enjoying Budapest and its insanely cheap prices (think two dollars for a half liter of beer), we’ve been making our way to other countries for weekend trips.
So far, I’ve been to Bratislava, the capital of neighboring Slovakia, Brussels, and Amsterdam. Amsterdam has been my favorite—the entire city was so peaceful and rejuvenating. The past few weekends I’ve hung around Budapest; there’s more than enough in this city of almost two million to keep me busy. I’m currently deciding between Vienna or Zagreb for an overnight solo-trip this weekend. However, what I’m most excited for is some upcoming travel during spring break and the following weekend, but I’ll write more about those later!
We’re nearing the halfway point of our stay in this wonderful central European country (we were warned some people get testy if you call Hungary eastern Europe!) and already time is moving too quickly. I think I’m beginning to understand why people reminisce on studying abroad with such reverent tones—this experience has been profoundly unlike anything else in my life. I can’t imagine where the next two months will lead, and frankly, I’d rather wait and find out.