This past spring break, I had to opportunity to study abroad in central Europe, or eastern as some may view it. I never considered traveling farther than popular western European destinations. Minorities in 20th Century Europe: Jews, Germans, and Roma provided a chance to learn about other minorities in the world. In a short 11-day trip, I experience different cultures, tried a variety of foods and traveled around Hungary and Slovakia. We traveled to Budapest, which is where we spent the majority of our time. We traveled by train to the southern part and stayed in Pècs. Budapest is a lively beautiful city, with an amazing night life and shopping districts. I spent time in the Jewish Quarter, which is known for awesome ruin bars and one of the largest synagogue in Europe. When we traveled to Pècs it was so calm like a breath of fresh air from crowded Budapest. We traveled to a Roma village and two German villages on the outskirt of Pècs. Each location had a different atmosphere and at times I forgot I was in Hungary because life is so different for everyone. It was easy to get acquainted with Hungarians, I was treated with great hospitality and I did not get a different treatment as a tourist.
To future students who plan on studying abroad, take the opportunity to travel to a place you would not normally go to. Experience a different culture outside of the mainstream media and popular destinations. Life is so different in America compared to other parts of the world, but most of the time we are sharing similar experiences. It is an opportunity I hope students take at least once in college. Personally, studying abroad has changed my perspective on life and I hope some of you take the chance to broaden your horizons.
Besides the food and shopping, my favorite part of the trip was going to Gandhi, a Roma high school and Gilvánfa, a Roma village. As a minority myself, I realized that different groups of people had experience similar oppression throughout history. Some are still going through it now; particularly in Hungary, the Roma minority (Gypsy). I learned how every day is a fight for equality for Gypsies. This group constantly experience racism from the governments and regular people. Even some Hungarians act as if gypsies are non-existent or do not belong in “their country.” Despite their current situations, every Gypsy I encountered was positive and full of life. I loved the vibrant energy from these people and this is an experience I will forever share going forward in life.
Zareya Moore is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in History. She participated in an Honors College/History Department faculty led trip to Hungary during Spring Break, 2018.