LaRae, outbound to Hungary

Three weeks. An eternity packed into twenty-one days. On the morning of August 20th I met my family in the Vienna airport and drove an hour south to the city of Sopron, Hungary. Sopron is populated with about 60,000 people and filled with old colourful buildings on small winding streets. In the first week of my exchange I got to help my family prepare for my host brother’s exchange year in Canada.

On the 26th of August we saw him off in Budapest and then spent the day sightseeing. We walked through the city and saw the Fisherman’s Bastille, the Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle, and the Hero Square. Budapest is a striking city and I am looking forward to my next visit. School started on the 1st of September and it has been a very positive experience for me. Many exchange students thing “how can I explore my host country when I am stuck in biology class?” but school has proved to be a valuable part of my exchange. I would never have been able to see so much of the city without the aid of my new friends. I have visited numerous cafes, book stores, and played pool with my classmates in less than two weeks of school. They are wonderful resources for my vocabulary and grammar questions.

My school is an extremely old building near the middle of the city. Over the years it has been expanded into a labyrinth of connected classrooms and thousands of stairs. Since each day is full of different classes in different rooms with different release times, I find myself following my classmates around like a lost puppy. On the other hand, I am proud to say that I know my route to school and I can make the 15 minute bike there without any assistance. I haven’t been hit by a car; however, riding on the road is still a work in process. I have finally stopped flinching when cars speed around me, steep hills are now an easy way to gain speed (no longer a death trap), and the hand signals are becoming a habit.

My Rotary Exchange orientation and language camp starts on the 18th of September at Lake Balaton and I am excited to meet my fellow exchange students, focus on my Hungarian, and see the massive lake. Tonight I am attending my first Rotary meeting with my host club. However, instead of a normal Rotary meeting, we will be taking part in a game in which we are locked in a room and have to use hidden clues to find the key. This is a great way for me to meet my host club’s members. Although I am still working on my Hungarian proficiency, I can ask and answer questions as well as provide an introduction. I am slowly getting used to the way Hungarian grammar works, which is definitely the most difficult part of the culture. Luckily, I am no longer surprised when someone greets me with two cheek kisses or by the sheer amount of paprika in the local grocery store and I am excited for the remainder of my year here.

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