Being abroad has been more amazing than I ever could have imagined. I knew it would be a great experience but since I went into it with an open mind adjusting has been really easy. My first few weeks over here traveled but now I have had time to explore Budapest and it’s been amazing. You can really see the impacts of communism on the people which is very different from home, but the city is beautiful, and people are nice. Communism in Hungary made people wary of others, so they mostly keep to themselves, but no one is rude, and people are always willing to help you. The city is so easy to navigate, and my program included a travel pass, so I take the tram all the time and enjoy its views of the Danube River, Parliament, the Chain Bridge and many other beautiful Budapest attractions. Since being abroad I have found that since English is the language of travel many people speak it or have enough understanding for you to get by even in cheaper areas that are almost all local people. My time here is already flying by so quickly and I want it to last forever. Budapest is an amazing city and I will definitely miss my walk to school along the Danube the most. The weather in Budapest has been great and I walk every day since we have been lucky enough to avoid heavy rain. The city is gorgeous and just getting to walk through it every day looks and feels like a dream. Hungary is also super cheap, and I hardly ever spend more than $5 for a meal so I will definitely miss the cheap cost of living when I return back to the US. Academics in Hungary are very different. A vast majority of your grade comes down to a midterm and final which I haven’t had in any of my classes at Alabama thus far. Also, participation is part of your grade, only 10% but you have to talk a good amount in every class which is also something I hadn’t experienced yet at the college level. Teachers are very picky and do not always tell you what you want so you have to go out of your way to have a basic understanding of any expectations.
Traveling around Europe has definitely been an amazing part of being abroad. Many schools offer an ESN card which gives you a discount and free bag on 8 Ryanair flights. Without the discount the flights on the discount airlines are so reasonable. Even booking less than a week before my trip would happen, I never paid more than $100 for any flights, you need to book at least one month in advance to use the ESN card. Depending on where you study, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of what is close. In Budapest I had access to so many interesting Eastern European countries that many people do not visit like Servia, Slovakia and Croatia. These countries are beautiful and easy to get to by a quick bus or train. I have traveled to over 10 countries so far. I travel every week which is exhausting but definitely worth it as I had never left the country before and am experiencing so many amazing cultures that I had only read about or seen on TV. I have been traveling alone which is a really great chance to get to know myself and see what I am capable of and how strong I am. Traveling with friends is also fun and I met friends in one city but when you are by yourself you get to pick your entire itinerary and eat as low budget as you desire and can make your plans as flexible or as firm as you want. Whether with a group or by yourself it’s definitely a great time to take advantage to being able to travel to so many countries so easily. It is hard adjusting to the different languages of each country. Everywhere I go I make sure to know how to say, “Thank you” and maybe a few other phrases and then I return to Hungary and forget that I am supposed to be speaking in Hungarian. My program requires a mandatory Hungarian class which everyone told me would be super hard and terrible, but it is actually really interesting. I hope to keep practicing the language after I leave so when I come back to Budapest I will remember how to say enough to get around. That being said I am definitely not ready to leave yet. I wish I could stay in this amazing city forever. I know once I return home, I’ll be happy to be back but for now I am trying to enjoy my remaining time in Budapest so that when I get back, I have no regrets. I would hate to spend my dwindling time left only missing home and not remembering to enjoy the amazing place I am in. Now I need to go back to walking around this fairytale city I live in…must soak up every minute before it is too late.