This Spring semester (2018) myself and several other students taking Professor Swanson’s History of Minorities in Eastern Europe class had the unique opportunity to travel to Hungary. This was my first time travelling outside of the country and it was no doubt an experience I will never forget. We toured multiple cities and villages, and were exposed to an array of beautiful scenery and architecture I don’t think anywhere else has to offer. Aside from the general touristy activities I had expected to participate in, my class was able to meet with members of the communities we were researching and interview them for a documentary. Budapest was the most beautiful city I have ever been. The Danube river cuts right through the heart of the city and is a sight I had a hard time ever walking away from. We took train rides through the country and were surrounded by cascading hills along the way. Having the opportunity to actually discuss and learn from people’s perspectives that we otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet was invaluable.
Studying abroad, even briefly, both reiterated my beliefs about the importance of travel and challenged any preconceptions I may have had prior about what to expect. You can think that you have a decent amount of knowledge regarding the history of a place because you maybe took a class about it but that pales in comparison to being immersed in that place’s culture, language, and communities. Getting to actually speak with the Roma communities in a village we learned about and attend a Jewish service at a small synagogue in Budapest were experiences that made me feel so much more connected to this world and the people in it. I cannot do justice to or fully describe how this touched my life but I can truly
say that I grew as a person from this trip.
We are conditioned to think that everyone is so different from one another and that humans are all a certain way but that simply is not true. While there are certainly differences that make us unique it is important to recognize that these differences should not hinder our ability to learn from each other and going to Hungary really emphasized that for me.
Amy Gugliemino is a double major in Humanities (International Studies) and Anthropology. She participated in an Honors College/History Department faculty led trip to Hungary during Spring Break, 2018. She will be participating in another faculty led trip to China during Summer, 2018.