As I write, there are ten days left of my study abroad experience, nine if you do not count the day of flying back to the United States. I have said it is hard to believe this fact so many times that the phrase has lost meaning, but that does not change the reality of the situation. Nothing lasts forever, and here we are. So, before I write about my time in Rome as a whole, I want to write about my final two trips to Dublin and Budapest. These two places were always on my must-visit list for a few reasons. I am part Irish, so Dublin was a no-brainer, and I almost considered studying abroad there. Thankfully I do know someone that did study abroad in Dublin and they gave me a great list of everything I needed to do (thanks Julia!). For Budapest it was on the insistence of another one of my friends that I visit and follow a strict itinerary to make sure I was seeing everything the city had to offer (thanks Merci!). So, with high expectations, the stamp of approval from my besties and nothing to lose (except my money) I ventured out to the opposite sides of Europe with my friends to see what these places were all about.
Dublin was the first visit, and the one for which I was most excited. My Dad has told me the story of an Irish border collie getting in front of his car on his trip to the Emerald Isle countless times, so I had a general idea of what to expect. In reality the only thing I knew about Dublin was what Julia, my Dad and stereotypes had told me. If I had to describe Dubin I would say it is a bigger version of Ithaca, NY and a smaller version of Brooklyn. Coming from places like Rome and Vienna, it was nice to be in a city that felt like a city, neither from ancient times or the seventeenth century. As I walked the streets of the city, I felt like I was home but not in the way I felt in London. London reminded me of the generic parts of New York I was used to: the metro system, skyscrapers, crowded streets and overpriced food. Dublin reminded me of the quiet and comfort New York gives me whenever I walk along an empty street on a sunny day. The food was even less expensive! But we did not spend all our time in Dublin itself. On our second day we ventured out to the Howth cliffs, passing through a small fishing village on the way. I am a sucker for majestic sites that make me feel small compared to the beauty of the world, and that is exactly what I got. It was peaceful. Add on tours of Guinness and Jameson, Irish art and an equal number of churches to Rome, Dublin is high up on my favorite trips. There was even a pub called O’Donoghue, what is not to love!
Budapest, as of now, is the last trip I will be taking outside of Rome and most likely will remain that way. It is funny that the first place I was told to go to ended up being the last place to visit. Not only that, but it also featured a vast list of sites to see. Castles, synagogues, basilicas! There was so much to see that even the Pope visited the same weekend as us. Budapest felt like a hybrid of Vienna and Dublin. No surprise on the Vienna similarities, both cities were controlled by the same dynasty for a few hundred years, they each have their own basilica for Saint Stephen. So, contrast this imposing Gothic architecture with modern European city structures and you have a best of both worlds’ situation. Budapest used to be two cities, those being Buda and Pest, but I guess at a certain point someone thought they sounded better combined. All that said, one day was spent in Buda and the other in Pest. My verdict is that Buda>Pest. By the time Sunday rolled around my friends and I sat in a park for a few hours trying to rest as much as we could after a weekend of non-stop sightseeing. But I can be proud knowing I checked off everything on the list, and even had some goulash. Lastly, if you go to Budapest, you absolutely need to visit a Tapas restaurant called Padron and order the Basque sausage with red wine sauce. If you do not do this, you are missing one of the greatest meals of your life.
It is crazy to think that at the start of the trip I had barely left the North American continent and now I can add over half a dozen countries to my have visited list. The most important thing I can take away from these visits is that you have to throw yourself into the city you are in. That means eating as much of their food, seeing their sights and doing everything you would not be able to do at home. Is that not why you are there? It may be exhausting to be bouncing all around the city, but in the end, it is worth it.
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Hey! My name is Ian and I am a junior at Ithaca College, where I major in history meaning long papers are my specialty. I play on my school's club ultimate frisbee team and we even went to the national tournament! I am from New York City so navigating public transit is a refined skill of mine. I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, eat amazing food and see places I've dreamed of seeing my whole life.