Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Aegean

Today is the start of my Fall Break so I thought I would leave an entry since I will be away from my computer for the next 10 days. Tomorrow morning I leave for Bratislava where I'll spend the day. At 11pm I have a flight to Istanbul. There we'll spend a few days and I haven't decided where I'm going after that. Paprika (her name is Erika but I call her Paprika because that's on the cover of our Hungarian textbook that she helped write) gave me a list of things to do while in Turkey. She also told me that from one of the small towns on the coast, it's only a short boat ride to one of the Grecian Islands. So I might just go to Lesvos rather then head over to Belgrade. I enjoy a good adventure so I'm excited for what I'll do.

Now I'm off to go buy my train ticket to Bratislava.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oh Crap, I Forgot I'm Here to Study

Budapest is a crazy city. Every time I think I have its character figured out, it does something to surprise me.

When I first got here, my routine was well a routine. I got up, did some things, then saw some other things, then went out at night to consume some liquids. The next day, the same routine but in different places. But I would always have some time during the week to recoup and reflect on what I had done. Of course that didn't last. School had to happen. I'm "studying abroad" so of course I have to continually remind myself that I actually have school. I've been here a month and a half now and it still hasn't hit me and I have midterms next week. Although I do really enjoy studying for my law class, which primarily addresses human rights in the framework of international law.

The character that I first ascribed to this wonderful city was that of pessimism, I was wrong. I then thought it was a reflective attitude, always looking back at its empire -- I was wrong. Now I have no idea. On Friday I took a walk through Margaret Island, it was breathtakingly beautiful. Then I spent some time on Castle Hill. These two areas are so different from what I perceive as the city proper I kept thinking I was someplace else. The Island is essentially a giant park.. much like Central Park in NYC where once you're in it, you think you're in an oasis because you can't see the city. In Castle Hill, you get to see the Palace that was built to display all the wealth of the Hungarian side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And display its wealth it does:

Before taking the time to explore on Friday, I was getting antsy. I felt like I hadn't really seen the city where I have lived for over a month and that something was wrong. All I knew was a few areas of Pest and that's not enough for me. One of my greatest fears of leaving Hungary is not having taken advantage of seeing everything that I can see while I'm here. But right now is a weird time for me. I have two midterms and a paper due on Wednesday so I can't really go exploring until after they're done. But Thursday is the start of Fall Break here so I'm going to Bratislava that day, then on to Istanbul, then Sofia, then Belgrade, and back home on November 2nd. So I guess I'll just have to live with the fear until then. But I'll leave you with a few pictures of what I've been up to these past few weeks. Stories will hopefully follow.

For a make up law class, our teacher took us on a field trip to the President's Office; i.e. the White House of Hungary. This is a picture I took while out on the balcony. The tall man in the middle is my favorite teacher in the program.

This is a castle in Transylvania. We climbed this side of the mountain. It was a beautiful view.

On the way back down the mountain we met a guy who let us ride in the back of his cart all the way back to town. My legs were definitely asleep by the time we got out. Because there was such little space in that cart I sat right next to our guide, Zoli. At first his legs were on both sides of me so he made a joke saying that it would be considered sexual harassment if we were in the States. I told him I didn't care because how else are we gonna sit. He then just balanced himself on the side of the cart which was quite a feat because the cart was not stable. After we were dropped off we saw a bunch of cows just walking through the village. Apparently they go off by themselves in the morning and come home at night and walk right into their respective homes. It was really cool to watch.
In Transylvania there is a town were the Roma have built up settlements to what they believed look like wealth. They tried to replicate what they saw the upper class have. Unfortunately the rest of the people in the town hate how they look and want to demolish them. Most of them are empty as well which is kind of weird. They are also unfinished.

As you can see, I don't have much time left to dedicate to updating this blog... especially since I don't have internet in my 19th century apartment.