It’s a cloudy Friday afternoon in Budapest as my roommate and I sit on our respective beds, listening to the Black Keys, our laptops open to Facebook, and the dull sounds of a restless dorm are lulling us into well-deserved naps. I have been in Budapest for just under two weeks and it is safe to say that I am loving every minute of it. The first thing I want to tell you about is the city.
Budapest is actually two cities – Buda and Pest. We live and go to school in Buda, which is west of the Duna or Danube as it is known to the rest of the world. We live at the top of a hill in Morticz Szigmond Korter. The hill is not unlike the fair Acadian hill that K is built on! We have to hike up it every day when we come home from a long day at school or at night when we have been out exploring Pest’s nightlife. It welcomes us along with a doorman who holds our keys on a wall – kettoszaztizenketto – 212!
The dorm, Eotvos Collegium, is an old building with peeling paint and a grand stone staircase. Our room is quite large and has two windows that look out on to the rooftops of the Korter. I singlehandedly killed all the plugs in our room when I was using an American hair-straightener on the wrong conversion setting. Hopefully that gets fixed soon. We share the dorm with the other people in the Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science program and the Hungarians who attend Eotvos University. Everyone is very polite and helpful. The offer a kind szia! in passing. It means hello. They also tried to explain the German washing machine to us, but we mostly ended up figuring it out ourselves.
When we are not lounging around in our rooms – and not doing homework, because we don’t have any – we like to go exploring. Budapest is an extremely navigable city. Nothing is much further than a twenty-minute tram ride away. We take the same tram basically everywhere. To school, to Pest, etc. Pest is the exciting side of the city. We have found excellent restaurants, markets, and the famous ruin pubs over there. You can walk to Pest via the Liberty Bridge from where we live. We have been enjoying some incredible weather and the warm evenings make the city even more fun to explore at night. MoSzig Korter has everything we need within walking distance. The mall, Spar – grocery store, cafes with $0.85 cappuccinos, the Copy General, $2 gyros at the ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’ (open 24 hours a day), and McDonalds for a late night American fix.
Everyone told me that Budapest was beautiful, but no one said Hungary’s beauty would bring me to tears as I looked out to a 360° view of Hungary from atop the Basilika in Esztergom. The city, the country, everything is breathtaking and has welcomed me to my home for the next five months in so many unexpected and unimaginable ways.