The July Review

The first week of July gave my muscles a run for their money as my body battled the constant workouts of archaeological fieldwork. Relaxing with Belgian Beer, celebrating birthdays and the 4th of July helped soothe the aches and pains and every day felt like a success, no matter how much dirt or shale we moved in the field.

The 7th was a hard day: I had to say goodbye to 20 friends who had turned into family. Once the final goodbye hug was given I already began to feel a sense of longing for more work and more time spent with these people. I realised I had to do something about it and spent the next two weeks planning my way to the US.

In the meantime I worked on the farm (Apricot Season!!), babysat and rode my bike about 2 hours each day. I didn’t go into Budapest as much as I had before Belgium and chose instead to live the calmer, simpler, countryside life. The few days that I did go to the capital, I spent with Paw and Nóra at the Baths, coffee dates with Keve and Angy, walking around, eating Ramen, and then eventually, having a goodbye picnic with a tight knit group of friends on Margaret Island.

Bike rides with Gábor, a festival with my Aunt, Ping Pong club with my Uncle… it was over before I knew it but it also felt like the right time to finish up in Hungary. I had accomplished all that I came there to do. And more! I was leaving with great friends, a better grasp of the language, and a closeness to family that I hadn’t had before. When I was thanking my Aunt and Uncle for everything they had done for me, I handed a wrapped bottle of homemade pálinka to them. My Uncle said “If this isn’t Pálinka, I don’t want it.” And my Aunt said “we don’t need any gifts, you were the best gift we could have asked for this summer.” Those two quotes sum them up, and I will always appreciate this time I got to spend with them.

It was time to start my journey to the US of A. I whittled my two suitcases down to one and was ready for my first stop: Dublin.

Shelby and Neal moved to Dublin about two months prior to my visit and they were very settled by the time I was witness to their new lifestyle. With Neal at work during the day, Shel and I got to spend a lot of time together and I was so grateful for that. As kids we would see each other often, but as we entered adulthood, time for just the two of us has been hard to come by. Day trips to Howth, the nearby beaches, and the city center of Dublin were paired with Neal’s late afternoon return, cozy food and walks with their pup, Luna.

One business class flight (I was thrilled beyond belief) to Chicago and my jet lagged body was soon enough roaming the waterfront of Milwaukee, Wisconsin with two of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. A neighbourhood German Fest, a giant American breakfast and a foreign trip to ‘Target’ brought me back to the US lifestyle before we road tripped to Madison for me to meet back up with the friends I had made in Belgium.

AND BOY, WAS IT GREAT TO SEE THEM! I kept my arrival time ambiguous (partially because I didn’t have exact plans) but spent my first few days, the last days of July, with two of my closest friends from Belgium: Marissa and Tristan. We drank beer on the docks as the sun was setting, wandered through beautiful forest trails, and talked without skipping a beat from when we had last seen each other. These people are really special. August plans include camping with them, a visit to UW-Madison’s Biotechnology centre and a surprise arrival for my Belgian roommate who has no idea that I’m here. Eeek!