(an Eagle) flyin’ solo

With only a month left in my semester abroad I thought it seemed about time to check in…

A piece of advice for anyone who plans on studying abroad: take a trip by yourself. This past weekend I took my first ~solo trip~ of the semester to Budapest. I’ve been loving my time in Madrid and will be spending the majority of my last month here, but took this weekend to head (back) to Eastern Europe (side note: almost all of my travels this semester have been to Eastern Europe, but I still understand zero German/Polish/Hungarian… my Spanish however is improving…a little).

Before I left I did some research—being alone meant I was calling all the shots for what I did and I had a limited amount of time to see what I wanted to. I read through my trusty Lonely Planet and did some Google searches to make a list of things I wanted to see when I was there. I also decided to sign up for the “River Ride”—basically Budapest’s version of a duck tour. I figured this would be a good way to orient myself with the city and would be easy to do alone.

I also brought my running shoes—I guess this might be the athlete in me (shout out BC rowing)—but I think running around a city is a great way to see it. I’ve gone on some runs in Madrid and there’s something about it that is a very calming way to explore.

I got in late on Friday night (thanks for the delays @airberlin but they made up for it because you get chocolate when you get off the plane). It was late and I was pretty exhausted from sitting on a plane all day so I ordered room service (sorry mom) and went to bed.

The next morning my day started with that run I mentioned… There’s a river in Budapest that divides the Buda and the Pest side so I ran along it. I also browsed through what other people on Map my Run had done (great app, by the way) and noticed there was an island that had a running trail. I decided that would be a cool way to see the city because I would have to go across the bridge.

After my run I went on my river tour before setting out on foot (again) to explore. I stumbled upon this AMAZING creation that I decided to have for breakfast. It was basically kind of like a funnel cake, but had ice cream in the middle and was COVERED and sugar and chocolate sauce. It was DELICIOUS. I also enjoyed some fried dough with sour cream smothered on it, apparently a local specialty because I also had it for dinner.

I spent the rest of the day following my trusty Google maps app to various locations around the city. I ended my day by taking in the world famous Christmas market (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Probably the happiest I’ve been since being abroad. The people were so friendly and I got so many cool homemade gifts for friends and family.

The moral of the story is I had a great time. I loved just walking around and exploring Budapest. I highly, highly recommend to anyone who goes abroad to spend one weekend by him or herself. Whether that be in your own city when everyone else is traveling or going to a new place all alone, I think it’s definitely worth it. I have been lucky to do a fair amount of traveling, some of which alone (yes I promise I have friends). There are some awkward aspects—like asking the old lady to take a solo picture of yourself to send to your mom to prove you’re alive. Or eating a meal alone in a restaurant. Or even walking around with chocolate on your face because no one was there to tell you. But I really think it’s an amazing learning experience and you’ll leave feeling very accomplished.

Saludos,

Hilary

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Living in Spain, don’t speak the language

¡Hola! My name is Hilary and I’m from the North Shore of Chicago. I’m a junior at Boston College and studying Finance and Business Analytics with a minor in International Studies for Management. I’ll be spending this fall in Madrid continuing my studies and (attempting) to learn Spanish.

The last thing my mom said to me before I left her at the United Airlines check in desk at O’Hare was “Remember: you look American!!”. Fast forward to my first week of classes at Carlos III University in Madrid and boy did I feel American. During my three months abroad I will be taking three classes in Spanish and only two in English. Now, the common question I got before I left was “Oh so you speak Spanish?”…well not really.

I came into college thinking I would pursue a Spanish minor in addition to something in the Carroll School Management. After my freshmen year I decided that although I loved learning about different cultures, I didn’t think a Spanish minor was for me. I instead decided to pursue the International Studies for Management minor through the Carroll School with a focus on Spanish speaking countries. Basically, what this means is that it has been over a year since I have taken a Spanish class!

My three classes in Spanish don’t sound quite as intimidating when I break them down… one is Spanish language class with all international students, the other is a class with my program coordinator and the twenty other Eagles spending the semester in Madrid with me and the third is a class about Spanish politics with all international students. Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, but it turns out that “international students” can still mean that you’re very good at Spanish. I would say the majority of students are very capable Spanish speakers and it makes me pretty embarrassed to speak. I’m going on week two of classes here and I’m yet to participate in class. Although now I’m incredibly intimidated by the language and unbelievably aware of how American I look, I’m excited for the challenge. I’ll check back when I’m halfway through and hablaré español.