Friday, August 25, 2006

Finally in Hungary

So, I’m Emily.  I’m in Budapest.  “Why?” you may ask.  Well, quite honestly, there’s no specific reason.  I wanted to do a semester abroad.  I didn’t want to go to London for it (let’s not get into the reasons there).  France would have to wait until next year, and I have other plans then.  So, it was this year, and Hungary sounded pretty interesting.  So far, I have not been disappointed.  But I should start at the beginning.  A very good place to start. 

I started packing on Saturday afternoon, August 19.  I probably should have started that sooner, but I did get all done before leaving home, so I guess it worked out.  Tuesday morning, the 22nd of August, some of my friends went out to breakfast with me, which was so wonderful.  I would have been so stressed out if I had just been sitting around at home.  Then my parents and I drove to Chicago, where I was to meet up with the group of Calvin students going to Budapest.  I was so relieved to see one of my favorite people from Calvin last year in the check-in line only a few people behind me.  So we got checked in and then waited about an hour for our flight, which left right on time.  We each had our own television set on the seatback in front of us, and could choose our own movie.  So I watched a movie and then slept for awhile.  Paris was a little harried, since we had to rush through the airport in under an hour, but it all worked out all right, and everything went smoothly, including our flight into Budapest, meeting our professor at the airport, being driven to our dorm, and moving in. 
I live in an apartment with seven other girls from Calvin.  The other eight girls are in two large dorm rooms down the hall, and the five boys are upstairs in two more dorm rooms.  Our apartment gets free wireless internet (although it comes and goes), so it’s quite the gathering place for the Calvin group.  We also have a fully equipped kitchen, two bathrooms, and a nice living room.
  Our living room
We’ve only been here for two and a half days, but I already feel like I’m getting to know the city pretty well and I feel comfortable on the mass transit systems. 
  Me on the tram
  The #49 tram - I take this ALL the time
We have passes that work on the bus, tram, and subway.  There’s no need for personal transportation, because you can get anywhere in the city on the mass transit systems.  They’re so well organized, too.  If you miss the bus you need, all you have to do is wait two minutes for the next one.  Amazing.
So here are some of the interesting things I’ve noticed so far:
-The traffic lights do turn yellow before red, but the also turn yellow before green.  It’s like a warning for both ways.
-There is grafitti EVERYWHERE.  After the fall of the Communist regime here, the Hungarians have expressed themselves with grafitti, and don’t clean it up because it shows their freedom.
-“hello” means goodbye.  That’ll take some getting used to.

I can’t think of anything else right now.  I’m sure more will come to me later. 

So…what have we seen so far?  Well, our first afternoon in the city we went up to the top of a hill and saw the whole city.  Quite impressive.  Yesterday we didn’t do much except go to the supermarket.  That felt almost as though we were back in the United States, only no one spoke English.  Then last night some of my roommates and I got on a bus and just walked around the square at the end of the line.  We found a little pizza place and ate dinner downtown, and just worked on familiarizing ourselves with the bus system.  Today the whole group went to sign up as students and get student cards, but the university system had crashed, so we explored the city for awhile.  We went to a covered marketplace where I bought a pint of blackberries for under a dollar (oh yes, did I mention that everything is SO cheap here?  Tonight, our gyro and soda suppers cost about $3 each).  We also saw a beautiful cathedral that some of us will return to for Sunday morning mass.
  The covered Market
  St. Stephen’s Cathedral

But enough for now.  We continue to figure out what schedules will look like, how to navigate the transit system, and how to speak to the people all around us.

Posted by Emily MacLeod on 08/25 at 04:20 PM
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