One Month in Hungary: A Reflection

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t has been a little over a month since I’ve arrived in Budapest, Hungary, and I’m already thinking about going home.

(I know, I know. I have three months left of the semester, but things are already starting to feel bittersweet..)

This premature realization had dawned upon me while I was commuting back to my flat from the school campus. What will it be like when I return back home? I wondered. Imagining it now, I’m thinking of the cold Minnesota weather. It would be close to Christmas over there, and my youngest siblings would likely have started their winter break. Stores would be flooded with Christmas deals. The streets would be covered in snow and my parents would start their routinely early morning shovels as every night pour another 3 inches of snow. Nights would be much longer. And my friends would’ve already left campus and gone back to their home states.

These are all feelings of home for me, but I feel like I’ll be missing a piece of home in Hungary too.

I’ll be missing the busy streets, the old (but beautiful) buildings, the fact that there’s four or five restaurants on every block, and maybe even the pigeons that bobble their heads as they walk down the sidewalk.

To think that I’ll be going back home to Minnesota, where blocks are filled with houses, trams and buses are not common, and restaurants are pretty sparse (unless you’re looking to just eat fast food) is just weird for me…

Will it be a sight that I am happy to see? Or a sight that I am sad to see…? I’m not sure yet.

However, becoming acquainted with Budapest and being able to call it home for the remaining three months definitely feels like a privilege. I have been able to go to local festivals, parks, and grocery stores here, and I have been able to feel at home in all spaces.

People have been welcoming and respectful. (Especially because I don’t speak Hungarian) Moreover, people have been helpful. I have had many instances where I’ve done something out-of-the-ordinary or just completely wrong, and people have been understanding and helpful. These acts of kindness may seem like something that is normal, but in a country where I look different, speak differently, and walk around like a foreigner, there has been much grace given to me. Sometimes, America is more hostile to foreigners…

Regardless, this realization has pushed me to question what is home for me and what it means to simply be comfortable. I had been in Minnesota my entire life and it was home-y and comfortable for me. Yet, I have only been in Budapest for a month, and I’ve already felt acquainted and at home here too.

It’s possible that home is a changing definition that is defined by the people around me, my personal feelings, and the environment. But I’m not entirely sure… And I think I’ll only know by experiencing…

And so I will.