This past weekend, I met up with some friends for a trip to Budapest, Hungary, and Vienna, Austria. Both cities were amazing and were unlike anything I had ever seen before.
Budapest was probably one of the largest cultural shocks I had experienced during my time in Europe, with a language unlike anything I had known before, a history and culture I knew very little about, and a currency with vastly skewed conversions (1 US dollar = 285 Hungarian Forint). We were able to explore the historic connection of Budapest to WWII and communism through visits to the Memorial of Shoes on the Danube River and the House of Terrors, respectively. In addition, we were able to marvel at the beauty of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion and the top of the Citadel. I enjoyed trying some local cuisine (which was a bit difficult being vegetarian), but the meals I had were delicious. At night, we explored some of the famous ruin bars, which were repurposed from abandoned buildings within the Jewish ghetto of the city.
Vienna was one of the most peaceful cities I have ever been to, with beautiful buildings and parks to allow for a casual stroll through the streets. The architecture of the city was exceptional, and I was able to incorporate what I had learned through my course in Paris to the buildings, such as the Rathaus and the Hofburg Palace. In addition, I was able to see one of my favorite art pieces, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, in the Belvedere Museum. Seeing the piece in person gave me a newfound sense of appreciation for it and allowed me to see details that I never was able to notice beforehand.
Although my time in Budapest and Vienna was amazing, I was looking forward to returning to Rome, especially after a long weekend of early flights and train rides. Throughout the beginning of the week, I was able to walk around the heart of the city (shoutout to Rick Steves!) and stumble into some random churches and monuments, which I heard was very typical of Rome. The program staff and my teacher had all explained the beauty of getting lost in Rome, a city which is extremely easy to orient yourself in. With the warm weather and the mindset of just exploring, Rome was a nice break from the colder weather that I was getting used to in Paris and had experienced again in Budapest and Vienna. My friends and I explored Villa Borghese, a large park right in the middle of Rome, and walked along the main shopping streets.
So far, in order to get used to Rome, I have had to really interpret their relaxed (and often times disordered) culture. With my life back at home in a large metropolitan city and the last six weeks in Paris, which I felt was similar to Chicago, I had grown used to a certain level of order and reasoning in combination to a sense of “rush”. However, the Italian culture seems to be much more laid back then what I had been used to and often times transportation systems or scheduled meetings have been delayed, which required a lot of effort to understand and work with. This has definitely allowed me to reason more with how different cultures can shape individuals and their day to day routines, which will be extremely beneficial while working with future patients.
This weekend, my study tour through my program will take us to Alghero, on the island of Sardinia! I am looking forward to seeing all of the natural beauty of the island and to learn more about the culture of the Italian island.