This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a trip to Budapest, Hungary. I have a great passion for traveling and exploring new places, so I was extremely excited to visit somewhere new for a couple days.
We ended up traveling with a Belgian student who we have become great friends in the short time we have been attending school here. She actually spent a semester studying in Budapest herself, so we were able to have her show us all around the city, including some of her favorite spots she stops by each time she makes a visit .
My inner “international studies major” was definitely thriving off of this environment. Not only was I able to experience and notice cultural differences between America and Hungary, but cultural differences between Belgium and Hungary as well through the conversations we had with our Belgian friend.
Both Belgium and the United States have Latin-influenced languages (English, French), making it fairly easy to get around. In Hungary, they speak Hungarian, which looks and sounds nothing like either of the languages spoken in the United States or Belgium. While Belgians do speak Dutch (also a language separate from Latin), our Belgian friend and I had no clue how to speak to Hungarians if they didn’t know English. Typically when traveling throughout Europe, you find that a majority of people speak English – this was not the case in Hungary. It almost makes you feel helpless at times, but it forces you to problem solve and ultimately in the end, you grow as an individual.
Hungary has also been the farthest east I have traveled. While it is still considered to be a part of “central Europe”, it felt like I was visiting a completely different continent. The foods are much different, the architecture was elaborate, and their currency confused us like none other. Eating at local restaurants, visiting Buda Castle for stunning views of the city, and making stops at sites such as the Hungarian Parliament building made for a weekend full of cultural immersion. Getting to bond with friends over a new experience is one of the greatest things, and I cannot wait for more opportunities to do so throughout this semester.