Becca in Hungary: Trying to Find my Way

January 27, 2015

I have been in Budapest for two weeks, and mainly I have worked on finding ways to get around the city. Growing up in Ohio, I was not exposed to public transportation, so trying to figure out the public transit here as been a learning experience. Budapest is equipped with trams, buses, railways, and metros which makes the city easy to navigate.

As I practice navigating the city I have also seen many beautiful sites! I am sure I will say this thousands of times, but Budapest is truly one of the most beautiful cities! Budapest consists of a unique blend of modern and classic architecture. Because Budapest has been under the control of the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire,  Austria, and the Soviet Union, all of these countries and cultures have left an interesting mark on the landscape. For instance, during the invasion of the Turks many bath houses have been built throughout the city. Today Budapest is known for their array of baths and spas. Yesterday, I was able to soaked up the warm water in the Szecheny bath, a popular outdoor bath. The baths are an awesome way to wind down after a day of class, and hang out with some friends.


The Szechnyi Baths in the Center Park"

The Szechnyi Baths in the Center Park

Another thing I have enjoyed in the city is the plethora of churches. Growing up Roman Catholic, I have a tradition of lighting a candle at each church I visit as a prayer to bless my travels as well as my wonderful family and friends that have allowed me to make the travels possible. While in Budapest I have been able to visit three beautiful churches. Each one provided a safe haven for me to reflect on all my blessings. My goal for the trip is to be able to visit all the Catholic Churches in Budapest. So far I have a good start!

Lighting candles at various Churches in Budapest to give thanks for my family and friends.

Lighting candles at various Churches in Budapest to give thanks for my family and friends.




Because it was raining during the weekend I stuck to mostly indoor adventures. The main things I visited were the House of Terror and the Parliament building. The House of Terror is a museum that displays what Hungary was like under communist rule after WWII. After WWII Hungary was placed under Soviet Union control. The Soviet Union were extremely cruel to the Hungarian people and killed anyone that tried to defy their rule. I found this museum to be extremely thought-provoking and emotional. It blows my mind that the violence inflected on the Hungarian people was not only so recent but also so wide-scale. For almost 50 years the Hungarian people lived in fear, and it wasn’t until 1990 that they were able to gain independence. By visiting the Parliamentary building the next day, it made me realize how far Hungary has come and how hard they have fought for their independence. I am excited to continue to learn more about Hungarian history!

Pictures of the Parliament building. Much of the building had to be restored after being attacked during WWII.

Pictures of the Parliament building. Much of the building had to be restored after being attacked during WWII.

This weekend I am looking forward for my program to actually start. As stated previously, I am currently enrolled in an independent language school. The language school has been a great way to learn Hungarian and begin to learn more about Hungarian culture. My actual program begins on February 2nd and this weekend will be the program’s orientation. Be on the look out for updates about the official start of my program!

Becca in Hungary: Feeling Hungry in Hungary!

January 20, 2015

I made it! For the past couple days I have been roaming the streets of Budapest, Hungary. During my time here I have been feeling really… hungry. I am hungry mainly for two things: exploration and FOOD.

Ever since landing in Hungary I have been so HUNGRY to eat food. When I first got here there was just so much to do that somehow I forgot to get dinner (something I NEVER have forgotten in my life!). Luckily, I packed some snacks for the flight, so I tried to craft a meal out of the snacks that night. Even with these snacks, I woke up that night at 2AM absolutely starving! I think my internal clock was telling me it was now dinner time because 2AM here is 6PM back home. Every night I have woken up at 2AM ready for my fourth meal of the day. Today I am hoping I will be able to break this cycle.

On my second day here (oh course I woke up starving) I tried to go to cafe to order breakfast around my neighborhood. Quickly I realized that not everyone knows English here and that if I want to feed myself I would need to learn a little Hungarian. Currently, I am enrolled in a 2 week language immersion course where I am learning basic Hungarian. I definitely wouldn’t say that the language comes naturally to me or to most people in the class. Hungarian (what locals call Maygarul) is universally accepted as one of the hardest languages to learn because it is one of the most unique languages. This is because Hungary has been under control by so many different powers that their language has become a unique blend of these languages. Because the language is so unique no one in the class has a head start in understanding the language which makes me feel a lot more comfortable when I continuously mispronounce even the most basic phrases (for instance goodbye in Hungarian is Viszontlátásra). When I go to restaurants I always try to speak Hungarian to the locals, and it is obvious that they truly appreciate the effort even when my pronunciation is way off.

Also being the food lover that I am, one of my favorite qualities about Hungary is there food is so inexpensive!! Yesterday I was able to buy a large sandwich for about $2!! I also recently went to a more upscale restaurant with a group of new friends and each plate was about $10! Because the food is so cheap it cost about the same to go out to eat each day as it is to cook for yourself. I may have been hungry when I got off that plane, but now knowing how cheap and accessible food is here, that will not be happening again!

Enjoying a traditional Hungarian meal for less than $20 for two people

Enjoying a traditional Hungarian meal for less than $20 for two people

I am also just so hungry to explore! For the past 4 months I have been making list, charts, and diagrams of all the places I want to go and experience while in Hungary. Now that I am here I feel like I just want to make as many of those ideas possible. So far I haven’t had much time to really dive deep into this list. The main exploring will happen this weekend. On Saturday, I plan to do a walking tour in the Buda Hills and then learn how to make authentic goulash ( a popular Hungarian dish). On Sunday, a smaller group of us will explore the Pest side of the city. You may be wondering what I mean by the Pest side of BudaPEST. The territory of Budapest actually originally use to be two separate cities – Buda and Pest – that are split by the Danube River. It wasn’t until 1873 that the cities merged to form Budapest, the largest city in Hungary. The Pest side is know for their beautiful castles and amazing views of the city.

a picture of the chain bridge that connects the Buda and the Pest sides of Budapest.

a picture of the chain bridge that connects the Buda and the Pest sides of Budapest.

Be sure to tune in soon for updates on these adventures and potentially a video of my apartment and neighborhood.

Becca in Hungary: The Journey Begins!

January 9, 2015

I can’t believe the time has come! In less than a week I will be boarding a plane to study abroad in Europe… for five months!! Growing up in rural Ohio, I unfortunately was not exposed to a broad range of cultural diversity. My family always joked that our trips to Canada were our way of experiencing “Europe” since a trip to Europe did not seem to be a card that would be dealt to our family. That deck of cards changed for me when I was a junior in high school. My Latin teacher proposed a trip to take his seven Latin students to Italy and Greece, so we could learn more about the Ancient Roman Empire. This trip changed my life because it sparked my desire for international learning and travel. When I was a senior in high school prowling the internet for my future college, I came upon the University of Richmond. One thing that I loved about Richmond was their focus on international education. The school strives to not only bring international students to America, but also give UR students a chance to go to another country. That was one of many reasons I choose to go to Richmond.

Now as a junior here at the University of Richmond I am proud to say I am taking full advantage of Richmond’s international education program. Some of the first students I met and befriended here were from India, England, and beyond. This upcoming semester I get to take part in Richmond’s incredible study abroad program. My destination will be Budapest, Hungary!

One of the main questions everyone has is “why Budapest”? Budapest is definitely not the most common study abroad destination, but since I was a freshman I knew I wanted to study abroad there. For starters, I LOVE Hungarian food! My great-grandma was Hungarian and with her came all of her wonderful recipes that are stilled used with my family. Second, Budapest is beautiful! Many tourists refer to Budapest as the “Paris of the East” because of the city’s breathtaking sites and views. And lastly, I want to learn a lot of math in Budapest. You read that right! I am going to Budapest for a math and computer science program. One branch of mathematics I am interested in is graph theory. I won’t go into all the details of what that is, BUT it just so happens that almost every graph theorist is Hungarian. While I am at this program I will be able to learn about graph theory from the people who basically invented it! So as you can see, Budapest is perfect for me. It will provide pleasure for my stomach, beauty for my eyes, and curiosity for my brain… Can you really get better than that?!

But for now, my life consists of just three things: packing, planning, and preparing. Be on the lookout for an update on my arrival to Budapest!

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