My semester in Budapest, Hungary
At the end of August 2016, I finished my wonderful internship at Google LA and packed my stuff up to move to Budapest for a semester abroad. To be honest, I was worried. I was already studying abroad in the US and endured difference and comfort there, why was I doing this to myself. I was a senior in College and a year of moving around ( Iowa -> California -> Hungary -> Tanzania -> Iowa) was thrilling but I own too many clothes to be lugging them around like this. I was realizing my privilege and coming to terms that I had this beautiful opportunity in front of me but at the same time, I talk a ton and making new friends is always a rollercoaster. Was I ready to be me in Hungary?
In my mind, I was going to blog regularly about each step of my travels but I somehow avoided that till this moment, 3 months under my belt and two weeks left in my program. But I read an article on LinkedIn about how being uncomfortable is part of growing pains and a sign that you’re being challenged, which reminded me to take some time to reflect.
This semester has been interesting for a variety of reasons:
- Job searching (online midnight interviews and travel galore)
I was given the opportunity to go to GHC2016 as a Facebook Scholar and taking time to travel intercontinentally was fun but exhausting. More on that soon.
I’ve had the worst time translating my availability for online interviews to ET, CT and PT. The week Europe went off Daylight Savings and America didn’t was not fun. Major shoutout to tech companies for being flexible and willing to let me interview via Skype. Also getting a Google Voice number changed the game.
- Interesting slew of courses.
Hungarian is a really interesting language to learn, Theory of Computing is hard and I remember why I don’t like math, Design Workshop has me folding paper with a smile on my face and Applied Cryptography is compelling
- Being black in Hungary is an interesting but not entirely unpleasant experience.
I should be more used to it, going to school in Iowa but Americans and Hungarians are different. I mean so much more time in “public eye” in Budapest, where I notice that less than 10% of the people I meet, look like me. Also staring is cool here so my slew of changing hairstyles gets looks on public transport #BlackGirlMagic. I’ve only had one negative experience and they were mostly shouting in Hungarian so who cares.
- Traveling with my Tanzanian passport means slight uncertainty, but thankfully my program helped me get a residency card.
That residency card changed the game, I am able to travel anywhere in the Schengen Zone and have been taking advantage of it. Sorry to my friends in the UK and Ireland, getting a visa was way too much time, effort and money for a weekend trip.
- The paramount soul-searching that happens during senior year
Am I ready to be a real adult? What do adults do? I’ve managed feeding, cleaning and delivering myself to places, but there seems to be more.
- I’ve made so many good friends
I’ve met great people through AIT Budapest and some outside of it and they’ve made an impact in my life that I can not begin to explain but I’m happy it happened. #budaHaus, the name of my apartment, and my roommates are godsends and beautiful women I want to continue being part of my life ❤
- Budapest is an amazing city
With my friends and the occasional family visitor, I’ve taken time to explore the wonderful, beautiful city that Budapest is and I’m in love. From the medicinal baths, to the bridges and the Danube and not forgetting all the magnificently detailed buildings (Parliament, Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle especially), I’ve enjoyed it all. I also found an amazing karaoke bar with cheap cocktails where the bartenders know I favor Pina Colada’s and Beyonce songs.
All in all, I’ve had a magical time, filled with personal growth and love this semester. I’m sad it’s coming to an end but I’m happy I had the experience. This reflection feels incomplete but I do still have those 2 weeks…
Edited: March 2nd, 2021. Originally Posted: December 2nd, 2016.
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