I don’t think I have ever been as anxious, as I was about this trip. After enjoying an amazing summer on the farm, and relaxing (ish) at home for a few weeks, I was terrified for the next step. The entire first morning of orientation, I felt like I might throw up. Nor could I blame myself, moving to a foreign country where you don’t know anyone, don’t have a place to live, and don’t speak the language would make most people nervous, and as a planner, who generally likes to have everything in order it was making me a little sick. A couple days later, I am feeling much more in the swing of things, but still a little nervous, which I probably will be at least until I find a permanent place to stay.
(no, I did not take this picture)
My first few days in Budapest were anything but particularly adventurous. Although I love to travel and wanted to see my new city, I didn’t feel very rushed. I was incredibly jetlagged and well, I have 9 months to see everything here. I had a relatively quiet weekend that consisted of a few nice outdoor meals and several long walks around my new neighborhood. Monday morning I was a bit of a wreck. Strangely the night before (and ever night since), I had been able to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but then woken up in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep for several hours. I was also so freaking nervous. First days of new programs seem so incredibly important. I always feel like if you don’t make friends, you won’t ever. I am pretty sure that isn’t true, but I was still pretty intimidated.
It turned out to be mostly great. I was concerned to find that most other people had apartments already and that according to the school I couldn’t buy a phone until I had a residence permit (which takes at least 3 weeks). Other than that I learned a lot about my program and talked to some really great people. My class is very diverse with the requisite number of Europeans (as it is an EU program), but also a couple of africans, one girls from Singapore, an Australian, four other Americans, and a Central American lawyer. We had our first Environmental Science meeting and a mixer in the evening. Afterwards I went to get drinks with a handful of people. The two Hungarian guys showed us to a bar in a park where we drank beer outside. This is something that the Hungarians seem to love. Most restaurants have patio seating, and some even seem to be mostly patio. The only meal I ate inside was at the schools Cafeteria.
Yesterday we took care of more practical matters. In our orientation meetings I applied for a bank account and a hungarian student card, and got the information to apply for a residence permit. It seems that the hungarian government loves paperwork. After our meetings I walked to a local shopping center with Gitta, the Icelandic girl who is going to be my roommate. We got our passport photos taken and bought cell phones (without a residency permit I might add). Then we came back to campus to call about some apartments, because even though I had contacted a rental agency, they are taking a while. We ran into a lady posting and went to look at a three bedroom near campus. It was a very good location and a very studenty apartment (read, not as nice or new) but it was a very good price. We decided against it because two of the bedrooms were kind of divided by a wall, but with out doors so they weren’t very private, so now we are still on the hunt.
Today I need to move out of my hostel because it is getting “chemical sanitary treatment” which is very reassuring…..potentially because it has a bug problem as I noticed my third night staying here. But fortunately another one of my classmates, another American girl named Erin, offered to let me crash at her apartment until we find one.
So I guess the short recap, is that Budapest is very beautiful and easy to get around. Everyone seems to speak English, even though I still feel guilty that they have to. The only problem we had with this was at the mall, where we grabbed a slice of pizza and a soda. The women at the kiosk could not for the life of them figure out what I was asking for, which is strange, because I am pretty sure “Fanta” is the same in every language. Everyone in my program is really nice, and it seems it is going to be a great year.