I’ve had a bit of a lifestyle change since I last checked in here on the blog: I’ve arrived in Budapest, Hungary to study abroad for the semester! This past week has felt like a whirlwind, and I’m excited to share it all with you.
Upon arriving last Sunday (one week ago), I was jetlagged, exhausted, and overwhelmed. So many unknowns faced me, which was simultaneously exciting and stressful. Upon arriving at the airport, I met my lovely tandem partner (a student from Hungary who is here to help me along the way). I began unpacking in the dorm, met my roommates, and explored the city for a bit that night. My friends and I found a small pizza place only 3 minutes from my dorm selling huge slices of pizza priced at less than $1 each!! I have a feeling we’ll be visiting this place a lot…
As I finally began to make the dorm feel like home thanks to a couple of much-needed IKEA trips, I began to settle in for the semester. Our week was partially-planned for us due to various orientation sessions at our school here in Budapest called Corvinus University. Within this first week, we were also required to complete a few other tasks, including going to the Immigration Office to receive a Resident’s Permit where I waited outside in the cold for over an hour — oh, what fun! Otherwise, my friends and I were free to wander the city.
Every day consisted of touristy sightseeing and eating lots of delicious food. Thanks to the exchange rate between US dollars and Hungarian forints, I’ve been able to eat my way through this country at a far lesser cost than I imagined possible! I was worried about the food here initially, but it honestly seems like every country and culture across the world is represented by the restaurant options in Budapest. Hungarian food has been delicious so far, my favorite being Hungarian beef stew and dumplings. We also tried out the most amazing sandwich/soup restaurant, a hummus bar, authentic Mexican-American cuisine, and the best little Italian place — among other things.
In terms of sightseeing, walking down the Danube River, hiking to the top of Liberty Statue (SO worth the climb), and just taking in all the gorgeous architecture has been wonderful this week. There’s still a lot left to do here in terms of the must-see destinations, but this week has served as a nice introduction to it all.
Also, since I turned 21 this past week, it was only right that we spend some time in the bars/clubs celebrating. This scene didn’t feel too different from what I’ve experienced back at home, though those experiences aren’t too vast. I was impressed by the ruin bars and a club called Instant which had different themes and music for different rooms. The best part about Instant, though, was meeting fellow travelers from Australia, the UK, and Amsterdam all at once. We sat around a table chatting, and I was constantly in awe that even though we came from all over the world and had completely different backgrounds, we were still able to connect in that moment and experience it all together.
Aside from what exactly I did all week, I’ve also gained great perspective on the differences between Budapest and my home in the US. When it comes to the people, individuals in Budapest are more direct and less smiley with strangers than those back at home. Kisses on the cheeks are the most common form of greeting a friend, rather than a hug or handshake. There is little diversity in this city, even less than at my school in Indiana. The public transportation here is the best I’ve ever experienced, which has made getting to know the city so much easier. And finally, Hungarian is a language in and of its own — from the way its written to the pronunciation, it’s dissimilar to anything I’ve experienced before. To give you an idea, the longest Hungarian word is megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért. Try saying that ten times fast.
Overall, my first week in Budapest has been exactly what I’d hoped for, yet nothing I could’ve ever imagined. This city surprises me and entices me, and I couldn’t be more excited to learn more about the language, culture, and people as my time abroad continues. HUGE shoutout to my parents for letting me experience this incredible opportunity. Stay tuned for more adventures to come!
Next up: my first week of classes and a weekend trip to Prague.
BUDAPEST WEEK ONE