As you can guess from the title of this, I’ve arrived in Budapest! I’m studying abroad at Corvinus University and will be here until December 20th. It’s been a busy whirlwind so far and I haven’t had much time to sit down and write. I can’t believe I’ve been here a week already!
I arrived to the Budapest airport last Monday afternoon. The university assigns us each a tandem partner, who is a local student that helps us assimilate and get to know the area. I took a cab with my tandem partner and another DePaul student to the dorm. My dorm is on Ráday Utca (utca = street), which is one of the best streets to find some great cheap food on the Pest side of the Danube River. It is a very convenient street to live on when you get hungry.
The currency used in Hungary is the Forint, which works out very well for us Americans. One dollar is approximately equal to 280 forint, which makes things a little hard to calculate, but everything is extremely cheap here. My first meal of Indian samosas and a mango lassi was only $4. A few nights ago I had a delicious traditional Hungarian dinner – three courses was only $12, tea and tip included. Pretty groovy, eh?
I live in a dorm with lots of exchange students and some Hungarians as well. One of my two roommates is Hungarian; she has been super helpful with navigating the city, knowing where my classes are, and basically just answering any random question I have. It’s been really fun to live with all my friends and just go down the hall when I want to get dinner or go somewhere with someone. I never lived in a dorm during my first two years of college, so I’m calling this my dorm experience I never had.
We’ve done so much so far that I can’t really go into detail about everything; we’ve hiked up Gellert Hill, toured the Buda side of Budapest, watched the sunset while drinking wine, gone to clubs and ruin pubs, walked around Margaret Island (a huge Island in the middle of the Danube with so much to do), tried traditional Hungarian foods, toured a winery, and probably drank a little too much for our own good. Speaking of drinking, my Hungarian roommate suggested I try Maci Fröccs (pronounced “Matzi Frosh”), which has now become my favorite drink – wine, sparkling water, and some raspberry syrup… dangerously good. Don’t worry though Mom and Dad, classes started yesterday so I won’t get too reckless. I have yet to try Pálinka, which is a traditional Hungarian liquor, but by the face that most people make after taking a shot of it, I don’t think I will be trying it anytime soon.
One of my favorite experiences so far was going to the Szechenyi thermal baths; it is the largest medicinal bath in Europe and the water is supplied by two thermal springs. The entire establishment is beautiful and there is a circular area with jets that push you like you are running around a track – it’s kinda novelty but quite fun.
Does this all sound too good to be true? Don’t worry, celebrities are just like us! We’ve also tried to attend events in groups so big that it’s like herding sheep; we’ve stood in front of metro maps utterly confused because no one has data on their phone and we all survive off Wi-Fi whenever we can find it; we annoy restaurants when we try to split checks or use large bills that they don’t want to break; we all have pockets full of coins because the Forint has too many silly coins; we’ve fumbled while trying to speak Hungarian; we’ve tried to do laundry the Hungarian way – with a washing machine that takes 2 hours and hang drying all our clothes. Plus, I’m 5’2″ and I think the shower is extremely small.
Most of us have also been riding the fine line between not buying too much stuff because we can’t bring it all home, but buying enough to get by for three months. We split packs of the kids silverware from IKEA and use a mug as our cup, bowl, and plate. I had put a cucumber on my grocery list, only to be reminded by someone that we have no sharp knives to cut it. Thank goodness eating out is pretty cheap or else we’d all be broke. But I do see lots of PB&J sandwiches in my future. Please don’t think I’m complaining though; I’ve been embracing these challenges as part of the experience. I just want to give both sides of the experience to show that it’s not all rainbows, butterflies, and artsy Instagram shots.
Oh yeah, and classes started yesterday. I forgot that I came here to study and not to just sightsee the whole time. My professors are pretty cool and I love having class with students from all over the world. My strategic management class has Americans, Germans, Italians, Slovenians, Norwegians, a Canadian, French students, Mexicans, a Belgian, an Indian, and only one Hungarian. I may have even missed one or two nationalities. It should be a fun learning experience to interact with such a diverse class.
Nonetheless, this week has been amazing and I can’t wait for all the adventures to come. There is so much more I could write about, but this post is getting rather long so I will wait until another time.
To leave you, here are some of my favorite photos I’ve taken so far:
Until next time, sziasztok!