Having the experience of traveling outside of English-speaking North America has always been a dream of mine and through hard work and also blessings from higher powers, I was able to finally achieve this. The travel abroad program was part of an Eastern European Minorities class under the history department but also included an element of film and communications curriculum; therefore, the diversity of students represented in our group was pretty great with History, Communications, Teaching and even Tourism majors all being present and creating life long bonds on this experience. The class departed for Europe on the start of spring break, March 11th. When we finally left the many airports after over 24 hours in transit (including the layover) we were hit with immediate wonder walking around Budapest. The beauty of the Great Budapest bridge as well as the efficiency of the Tram system was an amazing first impression to how Hungarian society was structured, or at least the city of Budapest.
What was amazing was how friendly Budapest was to foreigners and especially English speakers. One who might desire to practice the local language may encounter more Hungarians wishing to practice their English with them instead! The Austrians in Vienna were also equally friendly and ready to accommodate a diverse audience. This may be very encouraging information to those who might be apprehensive to the challenges that traveling abroad and experiencing other cultures might present, as it was very reassuring for our group who adjusted and recovered from our initial travel-weariness quite well. Even so, it was up and at ‘em before sunrise to make the initial train to Vienna, Austria. The 3 hour train ride was very relaxed and comfortable with basic amenities and a snack and drink bar! While we had heard of the European Union’s affinity for public transit investments it was nice to experience it in person with all the amazing views of the Austrian and Hungarian countryside. Arriving in Vienna, the Station was busy and the main plaza, Stephenplatz, was beautiful with its restored historical architecture.
While we had some later free time to explore Stephenplatz on our own, first we went to the American embassy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to meet the American representatives to this crucial organization for keeping peace. This experience was very informative on the work that international organizations do and their inner workings as well as what it takes to join the ranks of such a key organization in this increasingly globalized and politically polarized world. I for one especially valued this experience to meet and talk with the American OSCE Representatives and their team especially because of my goals to graduate law school and travel down a similar career path that requires skills I am sure the people of the OSCE have and sufficiently informed me on.
The rest of the trip was spent in Hungary, particularly in Budapest and touring rural villages with their own rich local history and cultures. This included touring the German and Roma villages which all had their own historical local language schools and churches, some dating back to the 15th century. Meeting and spending valuable time with the local residents and learning about them and their lives, as well as exchanging details about our own lives and experiences was so amazing and something that I do not think anyone in our student group, or anyone else who travels abroad would ever forget.
Taylor Thompson (BA History) spent Spring Break 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to Hungary with the History department. Taylor had the following to say about studying abroad, “There is no other experience that can change your perspective on life so amazingly like the first time you travel abroad and experience a different cultures! There are so many amazing people in this world just waiting to meet you and make life long connections!”
Share this post: