Far From Freiburg: Budapest

Horace Wang
March 31, 2019

Travelling is a big part of the European Union program, with there being three trips in total. At the time of writing this, I’m currently on the third and final trip of the program: the member states trip. Unlike the previous two trips, not everyone in the program visits the same cities. I’m on the southeastern trip and visiting Budapest, Athens, and Sofia, in that order. My next couple of blog posts will be about each of these three cities and my experiences in each city.

Given that I had a learned a lot about contemporary Hungarian history in high school, I was excited to visit Hungary for the first time. The history of Budapest was equally interesting. As our tour guide explained it, Budapest was split into two parts: Buda and Pest. Buda was the more hilly side of the city, whereas Pest was the flatter side part of the city.

My friends and I spent a lot of time on our free day in the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, which is Budapest’s most famous spa and one of the largest spa baths in all of Europe. The thermal bath, which is this really cool heated pool, had dozens of people inside of it. There were dozens of languages in the surroundings of the pool—a testament to how popular and well-known Budapest’s spas were. I highly recommend visiting the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, as the bath was particularly rejuvenating. I had neck pains before going to the spa, but realized that it was gone shortly after leaving the spa.

One of the things that was a slight inconvenience was the fact that Hungary isn’t in the eurozone, so we often had to pay with card or with the local currency, the Hungarian forint. But there was also one great thing about Hungary: all the food was cheap. All the restaurants we went to were either cheap or decently priced, which was especially satisfying because Hungarian food was great. I especially enjoyed eating goulash, the Hungarian national dish.

Perhaps my biggest takeaway from visiting Hungary was how interesting it was to hear the different perspectives regarding the Hungarian government. Between the city walk and lectures from a think tank employee, a government representative, and a human rights activist, we were exposed to a variety of opinions on Viktor Orbán and Hungarian immigration policy. Whereas our tour guide, the think tank employee, and the human rights activist were critical of Orbán, the government representative naturally took a more positive tone. On the whole, being exposed to these different perspectives and having to chance to learn about Hungary whilst actually being there reinforced the importance of these trips for me.


 

Horace Wang

<p>I was born and lived in Hong Kong my entire life before coming to the United States for college. My three favorite things in life are currently politics, comic books, and Kpop, although not necessarily in that order. I like to write, read, draw, and work out in my free time.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2019 Spring
Home university:
Bowdoin College
Hometown:
Hong Kong
Major:
Environmental Studies
Government
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