My Love Affair with Kalvin Tér

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a preternatural obsession with subways. You just go into a hole in the ground and emerge from a different hole in the same ground, but very far away! It’s brilliant!

Um. Yeah. So I have a lot of feelings about the metro in Budapest. Basically I live on the M2 and M4, the red and green lines. The yellow line was the first on the European continent and it shows. It’s not old and ugly and terrible like the blue line (seriously, I will walk miles to avoid using the blue line), it’s just quaint and cutesy. I’ll try to get some pictures next time I go to the baths or the zoo or something.

The thing that really sets Budapest metros apart though is 1) you can get cheap metro food that’s like Zach’s quality. Not the best, but definitely the best for $1, and 2) there are malls. connected to the metro. Like let that sink in. I can go directly from being underground to being in a four (three if you’re European) story massive shopping complex. This is the future right here. Budapest has found the next step in Human evolution.

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On travel

This weekend we had a 4 day weekend in celebration of a Hungarian National holiday. I stayed here in Budapest to see the festivities and study for midterms. I was the only one who did that. Everyone else in the group of people I talk to regularly went travelling abroad.


What I wanted to make this post about is that both my friends abroad and I had great times with our weekends. There’s a lot of pressure to go EVEN MORE ABROAD when you can, at least here in Europe where travel is cheap and countries are dense. I just wanted to let students know that staying where you are can also be very rewarding. I have a favorite café I study at where they know my order and my reluctance to speak English. I have a very in-depth understanding of the 8th district where all the pubs are, and all the tourists.

I might not have a breadth of experiences across Europe like my classmates, but I have so much here in Budapest that I just could not have gotten if I spent all my weekends travelling. My point here is that both these experiences are equally rich and fulfilling. It’s honestly just down to what you prefer as a person. And no one can dictate that but you. I hope this helps some people realize it’s okay not to cave in to the peer pressure to go travelling while you’re already abroad.

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On Resentment

This is a subject near and dear to my heart that I’ve known this whole time I should make a blog post about. Now I’m in a very specific situation, I know that, but I want to let any other people who might fall into this situation know that they’re not alone. I’m getting through this, and I want other terriers to know they can get through similar situations too.

Okay, so I never wanted to study abroad. It seemed cool, but I’m an independent college student, I don’t have the money to go abroad and besides, my life is unstable enough moving from house to house every break without adding onto that a new apartment, new language, new everything. Nope, I had my little niche at Wofford and I was happy to stay there. Then the $4,000 tuition increase happened and I realized that as much as I couldn’t afford to go abroad, I couldn’t afford to stay at Wofford my senior year either. Oh yeah, did I mention this is my senior year? That’s important.

That puts me in the situation where I had to get my butt on a plane and fly to Easter Europe just to be able to afford to graduate from the college that I love so much. For whatever reason. This is my last fall semester, I should be back at home running the club I started last year, or participating in Spectrum events. Not here, starting over from square one, awkwardly crafting friendships we all know to be ephemeral, just like freshman year.

As the title and the tone of all that imply, I’ve felt a lot of resentment for having been shipped over here. But I’m writing this post now knowing that I’m over the worst of that. I even threw away the sticky note where I was counting down the days until I go home (it was on 69 last time I checked, lols). I still wish I had more options and that this wasn’t the only way to graduate, but I’ve learned to love the experience here. Those ephemeral friendships, while I know they’ll be short lived, mean a lot to me in the moment. My professors are great, this city is beautiful, losing that resentment has helped me see this experience as the complex, life enriching moment that it actually is.

Now I want to be clear, I say “losing’ as opposed to “letting go of” or “getting rid of” because this was not an active thing. There was no day where I sat down and said “no more grumpy face, I’m hereby cancelling my resentment!” There wasn’t even really one day where I can point to and say “that was it, that was the last time I felt salty about being here.” I just felt it very strongly when I came here, then less, and now none. So it will be a process, coming to terms with your new living situation abroad, but it will happen. It’s okay to feel salty at first, and you will not feel that way forever. I hope everyone going abroad can learn to appreciate their experience as much as I have.

That was a little heavy, so here’s something fun. I saw one of the students who is studying in Prague posted about their fried cheese there. So I decided to recreate the first meal I had when I came to Hungary, which is similar to that fried cheese, but since we care about our health here, Hungarians don’t fry their cheese, they grill it. Now you might be thinking, “but Aidan, we have fried cheese in America, that’s not so different.” There is one major difference, no bread. That’s right, just cheese that has been cooked on a stove (there are no grills here, but many things come grilled, it means cooked in a skillet), and then served with, you guessed it, mayonnaise from a bag. This truly is a rich, fascinating culture. (Also, note, I keep hearing over and over in my culture classes how much the Czechs and the Hungarians hate each other, that’s why the tiny shade at Mae’s post, it’s all in good fun)

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Apparently America Didn’t Invent Hate???

I was very lucky to have come to Hungary this fall. Elections are next spring, so I get to watch the build up to the politics, but I don’t actually have to be here for the worst of it. My culture classes are talking a good bit about it and I feel like it’s important to talk about it here.

So the bus stop next to my apartment has, for some reason, become a microcosm of Hungarian politics. Every day there’s more graffiti on it, I’m posting some pictures with translations, but be warned, it gets pretty bad. It’s primarily people complaining about the “migrants,” which is the word the far right uses to describe the refugees they’ve been treating like parasites more than people. But then someone will come and cross it out, cover it up with tape, or some benevolent souls have even been cleaning it off (it’s always sharpie, not spray paint, so it’s easy to clean).

There’s also a hatred campaign run by the actual government itself, that’s just surreal. I have some pictures from years past that I got in a lecture from my culture class, I can put those. But I also have some antisemitic bilboards from the government that I’ve gotten pictures of myself. I even finally have a picture with me in it. I hope Wofford uses it for their advertisements, but probably that won’t happen.

The important thing to remember here is that everyone I’ve met here is extremely caring and sympathetic and hates how far right the government is getting. People telling me how conservative Eastern Europe was going to be were right, but it’s still on par with America. There are still good people. Not everyone writes hateful graffiti or lies to trainloads of refugees about where there destination is. Okay. Maybe some stuff is worse than in America. But not a lot.

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Celebrating Japanese Media in Hungary: MonoCon

I wanted to make this post because I think it’s important to note that not every part of your life abroad has to revolve around being abroad. You can still have all your same hobbies and do the same things, but with some awesome new people. I’ve found myself a group of people I play DnD with, we play Magic the Gathering, and we also go to ruin pubs and walk around the Buda hills. It’s a mixture.

This is brought on by the fact that I decided to forego any traveling outside of Hungary so that I could go to Mondocon and have the best possible time. It was so wonderful getting to see Hungarian nerds being unabashedly enthusiastic about anime and video games. I also had a lot of feelings about the fact that video games really only come in English here, so there’s a whole extra obstacle in addition to the fact that they’re kind of expensive. Manga comes in Hungarian though! And I know dubs are a HUGE thing in movies, so I hope that anime and other cartoons also get dubs, but I have no evidence for that. I’m going to put a few pictures here of the convention so everyone can see how varied Hungarian culture actually is. It’s not actually all tejföl and paprika. Just mostly.

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Apartment Life!

Between school and trying to carve out a social group and the GRE (which I did really well on despite getting lost and then told to leave the testing center, so yay!), I haven’t really known what I should blog about. There’s so much going on and at the same time, not a lot. My typical day is just staying at home, doing homework and making dinner. But Kyle says I should blog about my living situation here, which I think is a great idea.

I’ll include pictures at the bottom, but I’m actually doing a homestay. I think that’s the only part of my housing application they read because I said “outside of the city please, also I’m a neat freak.” And they put me in the center of Pest where everything happens, and I’m living with a kind of messy older couple. I couldn’t be happier with it though. The apartment is the biggest by far that I’ve seen and one of the nicest. The commute to school is way better than the kids who are out of town (think 20 min as opposed to an hour) so I can even go home for things like lunch.

Speaking of food, I am actually starting to miss Burwell. Well, not Burwell, maybe Zach’s, Phase V. I just miss all the convenient food. Now I have to wait for my pasta to boil like some sort of actual adult?? That being said, I don’t have a “normal” diet. Today I had nachos for lunch and dinner because I WAS SO FREAKING EXCITED TO FIND NACHOS IN A STORE HERE. Best $5 I’ve ever spent. Aside from that, as you can tell, I’ve sort of had to assimilate into eating more of what Hungarian’s eat. For the most part, it’s been really great. They have a candy that’s just cheese in chocolate (it sounds weird but my Hungarian culture professor assured me that Hungarians find PB&J the strangest thing ever, so everything is about perspective), also paprika. You can get paprika anything. I got paprika store brand cheetos today.

I guess in conclusion, everything is perfect and wonderful. Well, not perfect, there are still some things I’d change, but I love this whole experience I have the privilege of living.



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Post Soviet Politics

So I’m taking a class on Hungarian Culture this semester and today we had our lecture on the various ethnic groups in Hungary and how everyone got here. Sweet lord, I’m convinced an American Culture class would be a joke at this point. One student made a comment about how identity politics work in the US and compared it to Hungary. Cue a chorus of oblivious white girls (and one Indian girl who assured us that her Indian heritage was enough to make her an expert in American identity politics) talking about how “Nazis have nothing to do with nationalism, you can’t just call everyone you don’t like a Nazi,” (As smart Wofford students I’m sure I don’t have to remind you what the “Na” in “Nazi” stands for) and that “we aren’t academics here,” in response to me explaining that in academia, words are defined by the academics who study that subject. Honestly, I was embarrassed to have come from the same country as these people. I swear, most of us at Wofford at least are educated, care about our education, and know how to have an actual discussion about differing customs.


Sorry, that was a bit of a rant, next Monday, I’ll have a whole bunch of pictures of my apartment here, so I’ll post those. Should I be in the pictures I’m taking? Because I never am. I’m not about that life. But I want more terriers to come here to this beautiful place, show Hungary that most American college students are great. So like, I’ll do it if it helps.

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Some background info

I’ve already been here almost a month since I took an intensive language course before school started. Let me tell you, if you’re studying abroad not for language or in a place that speaks English, do this. It was 2 weeks, $350, and is the only reason I can buy groceries like an adult here. Also, don’t overload yourself on courses. One guy here is taking 20 hr of graduate level math (as a sophomore in undergrad) and he’s dying rn of stress from all that in a foreign country.

That’s enough unsolicited advice, here’s the link to the blog I’ve BEEN running since I misunderstood blog workings here, and also some pics from the cruise we went on yesterday.



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Szia! My name’s Aidan, I’m a senior math major. I’m studying in Budapest because it gives me so many opportunities in math and in general that I wouldn’t have anywhere else. I’ve already started learning and meeting people. Definitely looking forward to this semester.

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