Flinn Scholars

On the Road 2009: Day One

May 25, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

Each summer the Flinn Scholars Program takes an entire class of Scholars to Budapest, Hungary, and neighboring Romania for a three-week seminar on the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. Here’s a day-by-day account.

Danielle Bäck (’08):

Houston, we made it to Hungary! After a seven hour layover in London, 18 sleep-deprived Flinns wandered off into Budapest to experience Central Europe.

Today, after a lovely Hungarian breakfast, including homemade breads, delicate jams, tea, juice, and meats for sandwiches, we set off to the orientation for Hungary at the IIE (Institute of Iternational Education) offices.

As part of the orientation, we learned survival Hungarian, which includes: Igen (yes), Nem (no), Szia (hello!), Koszonom (thank you), Kerem (I would like), as well as some basic food names like water (viz), chicken (chirke), and meat (hus). Agy, our contact at the IIE offices also explained that Hungarians are fond of saying, “Igen, Igen, Igen” to agree vehemently. To our amusement, we got Agy to say “Nem, Nem, Nem” (what we thought would be a vehement no, but actually isn’t used in Hungarian).

For lunch, we were treated to a traditional Hungarian meal at Mokka Restaurant. My meal included a fruit soup (imagine a really sweet berry smoothie, poured into a bowl), a chicken and grits entree (but the grits were more like creamy mashed potatoes), and peaches and tapioca pudding for desert. Yum! We also practiced our Hungarian, thanking the waiting staff over and over again for their services (KOSZONOM!)

After lunch, we went on a walking tour of Budapest. We saw St. Stephenás Basilica, built in honor of St. Stephen, who ruled Hungary and converted its ctizens to Christianity. The basilica also houses a relic–St. Stephen’s right hand.

We also saw A Jewish synagogue in Budapest that borrowed from the Islamic style to emphasize the cooperation between the faiths of Judaism and Islam. Inside, there is a giant organ, covering the back wall. This synagogue is one of the largest in Europe.

One of the most interesting things I saw was a beer garden-space that is rented (oftentimes a garden or an empty lot, and hence, the name) for short periods of time, such as the summer rush, and turned into a bar-restaurant. Because the beer garden is rented for such a short time, the beer garden is pretty much in its original form, with uneven cement floors and no roofs.

After the walking tour, we met our Hungarian student hosts for a Danube cruise, enjoyed classical Hungarian guitar, and ate more delicious (and incredibly heavy) Hungarian food. Goulash was a big favorite, as were the Hungarian desserts. After the cruise, we hung out with our Hungarian student hosts.