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.
Hugh Chung (’09)
Today, we began what Kata called the true “Day 1” of the trip. After breakfast, the class was split into two groups, one to go on a walking tour and one to discuss travel plans at the Institute of International Education (IIE) office, with plans to switch roles after lunch. Personally, I chose to go to IIE first while the others explored the Pest region of Budapest. It was very interesting to learn about the background of the organization that made all of this possible. IIE’s goal is to give students abroad avenues to expand their minds and perceptions by getting them involved in a large scope of activities regarding a particular culture.
After having a thorough overview of the travel plans, I can confidently agree that they succeed to fulfill their goal. We meet some of the most respected people of the country as well as people of the struggling class. We get pampered with incredibly nice restaurants, but also have very down-to-earth experiences (literally) with picnics. Overall, I find that this will be a very eye-opening experience for all of us.
After the meeting we went out to lunch. I have noticed a recurring theme of soup, course, and dessert, but this was the first time many of us had ever tried a fruit soup, peach in particular. It was interesting to see how their culinary tradition was structured and how diverse it was. In addition, we were able to see the workers at the restaurant make their own strudel, which was also a unique experience for many of us. They also had various flavors not familiar in the states, such as poppyseed strudel.
While the group that visited Pest went to the IIE meeting after lunch, the rest of us saw a few sights in Pest, then took the bus and headed off to the more hilly and rural side of Buda. It was interesting to see the immense amount of history in the area and how it survived so many different social and political climates, including the two world wars. At the end of the day, we were able to meet with the foreign ambassador of Hungary. What was particularly interesting was that it was his last day in office. There we learned a lot about the political struggles Hungary has had with its neighboring countries and how dynamic its history is.