It’s been one week since I arrived in Budapest and I’ve been settling in rather quickly. I spent my first night at a bar making friends and watching some handball games and that next day walking through a snowy Budapest to buy some groceries and see some tourist hot-spots. Unfortunately, the jet lag had me for a couple of days there and I was sleeping about three hours a night. In fact, the first time I slept for more than 8 hours I was so thrilled that I almost shrieked when I noticed it was actually light outside.
When I first arrived in Hungary, (Rick Steve’s guidebook in hand) I had planned on what I wanted to do and sights I wanted to see, thinking I could see something new every single day. My first three days or so held strong to that tourism, sight-seeing factor, but it started to fade as I went to Budapest highlights by accident with my new group of friends. Solo, I visited Castle hill and the Jewish quarter, reading a walking tour from Rick’s guidebook the whole time. On the hill I spent some time at Ruszwurm, a little cafe that has been around since 1827 that my grandma took me to and her grandma before that. It’s a very special place in my family, so I always make a point to go there on every Budapest visit and they have delicious typical Hungarian desserts… it’s heaven.
With the new group of friends I went to some ruin pubs, watched the handball finals, and most recently, went ice skating near the famous Hero’s square. I definitely want to go back to that area again soon if not only for the baths but also for another walking tour.
On the weekend I spent a full day with family in a little town north of Budapest called Kismaros. I saw my great aunt and uncle plus plenty of cousins and it reminded me how important learning Hungarian is for me. I want to be able to communicate with my family (the older generations hardly know english) and I want to gain more of my culture. The new ‘handball-loving’ friends that I’ve made speak a mixture of Hungarian and English which is excellent practice but it doesn’t provide that yearning for the language that being near my family does. I had been invited to spend the night but my jet lag was very strong so I decided to head back to the apartment in Budapest for the evening instead – next time I’ll definitely stay longer.
Dotted throughout the week was grocery shopping, clothes shopping, laundry and dishes but I also started my Hungarian language programme, better known as Magyar Iskola. I’ve only spent 3 days there so far but it’s your typical class set up of the know-it-all, the guy on his phone, the one who has a story for everything and the little group of language nerds. After having studied in a Spanish language school before, I know that it’s really important to speak as little English as possible so I think I’m being known as more of a ‘quiet person’ (shocking) because I really want to focus on my Hungarian. The teacher, Alexa, is amazing and has used her language teaching skills in this school but also to help refugees. What a worthwhile job. We’ve learned simple phrases and some basic grammatical units but it should amp up by the middle of next week. We’ve already had plenty of homework and studying to do and I want to do a bit more of tourism next week so I hope I can make that all work.
I finished my snowy and blustery first week with an evening with my cousin. Gabor and I ate gyros and met up with some of his friends for foosball and it was a really fun time! We’ve already made plans to see eachother twice before next week is over so hopefully we can make those plans come to fruition. Okay, off to class!