It’s Sunday. It’s 7:30 PM. Clueless is playing in the background, and I am eating my first home cooked meal in my new home. It’s such a pleasure how comfortable I feel right now, especially considering how I felt extremely out of place not only a few days ago. Let’s rewind.
Wednesday, Day 1
When I arrived in Budapest, I was all alone. And I don’t say that for shock factor; everyone in my program came alone, but this was the first time I’d truly been alone in another country. I’m a baby. When I arrived, I was very tired and hungry. I had almost missed my flight and was stressed because somehow my baggage was STILL overweight (even though I already lugged out a load of clothes back in the states), to the point where I had to pay an undisclosed amount of money, which I am not made of, to ensure that I wouldn’t have to leave anything behind in a foreign country. However, I was very lucky to have spent the week prior to my arrival in Hungary in Istanbul, so the flight wasn’t that long and I didn’t have to deal with jetlag.
From then on, though, logistically, everything went pretty smoothly. I had made sure to book my transportation from the airport beforehand to alleviate any extra stress on myself upon my arrival, and I already had someone waiting to give me the keys to my apartment. But, reality really set in the second I walked inside.
My place is really nice, don’t get me wrong. But when you walk into a place that you know is going to be your home for the next ten months and it doesn’t feel like home at all, it’s really easy to panic. So, what did I do? I busied myself and got myself some food, that’s what I did. I knew there was an ALDI nearby, and I knew of a restaurant that delivered straight to your door, so I was set. I talked to myself a lot, started to unpack some things, talked to literally everyone I knew back home (because I knew no one here), and got to bed around 2 AM. Great. Day one: done.
Thursday, Day 2
Day two went a lot better. I knew that 1. I had a lot of things to get done, and 2. I didn’t want to stay in my apartment for too long in the condition it was in. So, I went on some adventures. From my previous experience abroad, I knew how to get around pretty well with offline maps. But, let me be clear on one thing: I am terrible with directions. Even in the US, I can get you wherever you need to go, but I guarantee it will always be the scenic route. And that didn’t change here at all (until I finally got a SIM card and access to Google Maps). I did days one and two completely on foot, so that means that IKEA was not an option. Instead, I found a couple of smaller shops and got the essentials: towels, a loofah, some dish soap, detergent, etc. All in all, my errands took all day (with intermittent stops back at my apartment for wifi and to rest my feet). At the close of it all, I met up with some girls from school (finally, socialization!), and we had a very cute and interesting meal at this restaurant I couldn’t even tell you the name of.
This lovely meal was warmed up in the microwave (not the salad) by a lovely Hungarian woman with a cash box. But you bet I ate that. #hungryhippo
After that, I concluded my night back at my apartment and planned my next day. I’m getting the hang of this!
Friday, Day 3
Day three gets interesting and fun! My roommate came back (she got here before me, but is actually from Hungary and went to visit family for a few days), and with her dad….and a car! I was so lucky to have a car take me to IKEA; it would be awkward, if not impossible, to carry all of the things that I bought back home with me on the metro.I got some great things! And my room finally started to come together. For a moment, I did think “wow, is it really worth the investment to get cute things for a temporary home?” And, not too long after I thought, “yes.” While the dwelling is temporary, the home is home for the entire time I am here, and it’s important that it feels that way. Needless to say, my room is SO much better now! And don’t worry, I will dedicate an entire post to how I made it look (when it’s finally done, of course).
The rest of the day went swimmingly. It was really nice to have another person around, and going out in Hungary is a great time, although much different than what I am used to back home in the US. The nightlife here is like nothing I’ve never experienced before. In the states, or at least where I’m from, everything shuts down at 1 or 2 am. But here, people are on the tram going home for the “night” as others are on their way to work. That’s a bit much for little ‘ol me who can barely stay up past 10:30, but when in Hungary, do as the Hungarians (once)! Regardless, it felt really nice to walk around and truly feel independent in probably the most prevalent way I’d ever felt in my life. So this is what “adulting” feels like, huh?
Finally, it’s Saturday! My first weekend living in Budapest. This was probably my busiest day of the entire week; my roommate and I got lunch, and then met with another student from our school. Interestingly enough, she went to a school not too far from my one back home (like 30 minutes not too far), so it was really cool to have someone who’s familiar with how things are back home. We grabbed lunch, visited Office Depot (yes, that’s a thing here!), and made our way……..back to IKEA. Look, if you’ve ever been to IKEA, then you know how much fun it is. More things for the room, and more socialization! I’m really getting the hang of this whole living abroad thing. Later that evening, I “cooked” my first meal in the home: ramen (thanks to my friend back home who made sure to give me the good stuff). Following dinner, another night out in the city, and this time with more students! This night ended much earlier, and I got the best sleep I probably have in my time here so far. That’s the stuff.
As we come to a close, I’m here on Sunday evening writing my first blog post from the country I now call home. Tomorrow starts orientation for my Master’s program, and I’m really excited. I know that my experience here will be like nothing I’ve ever done before, and it will be challenging. But I also know that I chose this place and this program for a reason, and I will come out of it with so much more than I did when I came in. I’m so happy that I am able to have the opportunity to study in an entirely different environment than I’m used to. I’m excited learn, and I’m also excited to share with you! With that being said, I’ve got an early start tomorrow, so I bid you adieu.
All the best,