On the Road 2012: Day Four

May 30, 2012

By hammersmith

Each summer an entire class of Flinn Scholars engages in a group study-travel seminar. This year’s seminar, held in Hungary and western Romania, runs from late in May to mid-June. Here’s a day-by-day account.

Cary Kelly (’11)

This day began with the end of one of my favorite trip experiences thus far: the home stay. However, before I ruminate about my unique home stay experience, I will give a cursory overview of my day’s activities.

  • Woke up at home stay’s house (More details to follow). Returned to hotel by mid-morning. Kicked a soccer ball around outside with Aman, Jacquelyn, and Dylon while waiting for others to return.
  • Lecture from young researchers at Central European University about the following: the origins and operations of the European Union, the Western Balkans and their possible future roles in EU enlargement, and the Eastern Partnership (I was impressed with the magnitude and scope of many of the issues to which the researchers had committed themselves to. The presentations were informative and interesting; one speaker even successfully integrated a menagerie of internet memes into his slides).
  • Independent lunch with Patrick, Aman, Cody, Nick and Eric, jolly good fun. Two hour scenic country bus ride to Felsoors, which was substantiated by a group discussion of the previous day’s museum trips. Lots of provocative discussion about the House of Terror (Loyalty House).
  • Arrived at Snetberger Institute in the evening. A casual dinner and group bonding activities such as volleyball and catchphrase characterized the rest of the night. Pleasant group night hike to a meadow covered ridge. Patrick was lucky enough to get the first tick bite. Bed before midnight – a miracle!

The 30th was a fairly relaxed day compared to previous days of Budapest bustle. However, I want to expand on my homestay experience.

I had the pleasure of staying with Bence Vargas, a 22 year old business student. Bence was reserved, but friendly and eager to connect. He endured my incessant awkward attempts at Hungarian, and even let me play Hungary 20 questions whenever we had a moment to ourselves. Tuesday evening, we basically followed the informal group itinerary: dinner at a casual Hungarian Restaurant called Losche’s and bonding time at a club called Morrison’s 2. In between Bence and I took a brief hour jaunt back to his house to drop off valuables. Those group activities were truly enjoyable, giving me a chance to interact with other hosts and to get a taste of the Hungarian youngster social life. However, the value of the home stay really proved itself when we left the club and returned to his house. Walking in the front door around midnight, we were both surprised to learn that his mom had prepared a large meal for us, and was simply waiting for our arrival. Before I knew it, I was sitting in a disheveled parlor with a mix of grandiose Hungarian paintings, heirloom antiques, and everyday living items–clothing, miscellaneous appliances, and the occasional lonely shoe. I was positioned at a small, dark wooden table with Bence, his mother, his aunt, and his aunt’s sassy German friend. I can’t pinpoint what exactly enchanted me about this dinner, but I was captivated. Between the curious, disjointed questions of his mother, the secret food deliveries of the aunt who spoke little English (I think her mission was to fill every corner of the table with food and drink), and the sarcastic, teasing jokes of the German friend, I found myself humbled and immensely grateful for being at that place at that time. There was Hungarian, German and English flying across the table (all of which my host spoke fluently), and once I learned the German friend spoke Spanish, we added that to the fray. A few hours, drinks, and plates of food later crystallized that dinner in my memory for some time to come.

The next morning was a simple breakfast looking out over the beautiful Buda hills, but its simplicity seemed to be the perfect complement to the previous night’s adventures. The 30th itself was a day well spent, and I look forward to those to come.