This past weekend my friends and I traveled to one of the most amazing places ever- Budapest. Here's a fun fact for you: Buda and Pest are actually two different places separated by the Danube River. And as I've discovered Buda isn't the kindest area to tourists.
Despite that, the Buda side of the river is filled with amazing historical sites one cannot miss. These include Buda Castle, which used to house Hungarian kings and the Citadella, which has the most amazing views of the city.
...continue reading "Pest > Buda"
It probably will not come as a surprise to most, but there is no culture shock in London. If there is and I have overlooked it, it cannot compare to what some of my other friends are going through in countries like Africa and Asia. So as I made my way this past week from Budapest to Prague through Hungarian cities which I cannot pronounce, I had my first, “I’m seeing the world” moment. History has not been so kind to some parts of Eastern Europe, but during my 7-hour bus ride to Prague I appreciated looking at the influence of the former Soviet rule on the dimly lit cities we rode through. Since my bus ride was overnight, I looked at the people getting on at 3 am from Bratislava and other far away cities and wondered why on earth they were getting on here and now. But they probably thought the same of me, and so it goes.
When we first arrived in Budapest and somehow negotiated where we were going to a taxi driver, I was practically in tears to see how cheap everything was. Two dollars for a beer? In London, I can barely find one for six, and I was almost sure that this was a little piece of heaven on earth. But then we came to Prague and beers were fifty cents and I nearly kissed the ground of the grocery store. Although Prague and Budapest are not too far from one another, the differences between the two are like night and day—in Budapest you can find a smile only so often, whereas Prague had far more of an uplifting spirit to it. This was a great pace of change for my friends and I, especially considering a bomb scare at the hostel in Budapest that had us shivering in the cold, wearing next to nothing, from three to six in the morning. Fortunately, when you don’t plan your days you have the luxury of waking up at noon, and this surely helped.
Without going into too much detail of either city, it will suffice to say that I had a fantastic six-day vacation that, to me at least, was much needed. It is a strange feeling coming back to London after a week away, because in a sense it felt like I was coming back home, but nothing can replace that feeling of actually coming home, and I missed my real home then. For better or for worse, I have only three and a half months left in London, and I am surely making the most of it before I head to New York for a much busier summer than the life I live here. My next two countries to visit are Croatia and Switzerland, and I will provide a more in detail blog when I return in about a month from them.
As it turns out, my blog from last week was slightly misleading—the opera that I was so excited for last Friday is taking place a month from Friday instead. Worse things have happened I suppose, but this week was an interesting one nonetheless. With my trip to Prague and Budapest next Tuesday, I was pressed to finish all my essays and classwork that I needed to hand in on time, but it was a compromise I was definitely willing to make. Part of my excitement in traveling to Eastern Europe is because of the money that I will ironically be saving by traveling and not staying in London. Everyone always says how London is so expensive, but until you get the chance to spend time in a country that uses the Euro, the true impact of the Pound doesn’t really hit you. This will be a nice get away for other reasons of course, but I must admit that this is one of the few downsides to studying in London. One of the upsides, however, is that missing a week of class really isn’t too bad considering the amount of time I have outside of class to do work.
As always, this mini-vacation I’ll be taking has not been planned out at all besides our living situation, and I expect this trip to be just as fun as the last. Although I end up writing a lot about how I don’t have too much work here at LSE, this is actually the last vacation I’ll be taking before hitchhiking to Croatia because of the work I need to catch up on. LSE is kind enough to give its students a six-week study period before finals (unlike GW’s unkind one week), which is a hint to the students that they need to be studying A LOT. This can definitely be a little daunting at first if you’re considering LSE, but it’s also reassuring that your grades do not carry over into your GPA at GW. I’ll be taking my exams in New York because of my internship, which will make for a pretty interesting exam experience combined with my work, but I can only work hard and hope for the best.
I will return from Prague and Budapest with what is hopefully an interesting blog post, and until then I hope that some prospective LSE students reading this blog are gathering some useful information. While I’m not burning through all of my cash in London, I hope Eastern Europe treats me well!