Just to restate the obvious- I love traveling. Studying abroad in Budapest has given me fantastic opportunities to explore more of Europe and I still have three remaining weekend trips in October and November. Since I am studying abroad, here are some things I have learned while planning trips.
- Budget bus lines- I think in previous blogs I wrote about $20 round trip bus tickets to nearby countries. Buses are definitely the best way to travel if the destination is less than 8 hours driving distance away. It might not be the most comfortable or quickest way to travel, but it is a cheap option and I always enjoy the views on the way to my destination.
- Hostels- I had never stayed in a hostel before traveling in Europe this semester. Hostels are so much fun. Honestly. In our last hostel in Bratislava, we met an amazing group of backpackers; the discussion with this diverse group of individuals is one of my fondest memories of this trip so far. Hostels are much cheaper than hotels, and as a bonus, staying in hostels is a fantastic way to meet new people from all around the world.
- Student Discounts- Most college students are on strict budgets while studying abroad. Luckily, many attractions and sites throughout Europe offer student discounts. I have received discounts when entering museums, traveling by bus- my public transportation ticket in Budapest even has a discount price for students! The advantages of being a student are endless.
- Trip Advising Websites- Sometimes, all of the information to collect in order to prepare for trips is overwhelming. That is why I am a frequent visitor of travel websites; it makes trip planning much more streamlined and simpler. “Tripadvisor” and “Rick Steves Europe” are two of my personal favorites. It really does help to read reviews and tips online, then make a “to do list” based on these reviews prior to arriving in the destination city.
As an RA, I’m part of the FAB team–the team that looks after Forlines, ANW and Blanche–and since we’re fabulous, we occasionally go on staff bonding outings. The weekend before last, our Area Coordinator planned a surprise for us. We were supposed to bri
ng flashlights and preferably wear closed toed shoes (though I am currently boycotting closed toed shoes as I have to buy a new pair!)
We were given an address to meet at about twenty minutes away from McDaniel. By the time we left, it seemed everyone except for me knew that we were going on a corn maze. Since we left in the late evening, it was pretty dark when we got there. Not only did we have to navigate a huge maze, we had to navigate it with only the light of our flashlights to guide us!
Since some of us were on duty (meaning that some of us were the RAs making sure our areas were safe and well) for the evening, we had to go back to campus by 9. Because of this, we didn’t make it through to the end of the maze. However, it was great fun bonding with my staff. We have an interesting dynamic and we give each other a hard time with a lot of love and affection, so it’s always super fun to be around them.
“Just Like Mom Makes,” read the sign above the inviting green bean casserole. Today was a long day, the sun is setting earlier these days and my energy seems to be draining that much faster – a warm serving of casserole was exactly what I needed on this chilly night. Now to be perfectly clear, no one makes casserole, or anything for that matter, like my mom does, but at this point it was definitely worth a shot. I grabbed a serving of green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and glazed ham and sat down at one of the personal tables next to the salad bar, as if somehow the close proximity to the salad bar would magically infuse some extra nutrients into my system.
As many of my friends can attest to, a dinner with me in Glar, our dining hall, is not just a meal, but rather a multi-plate experience. I find that there are too many options to just choose one – instead, a little bit of everything is ideal. But I don’t ever get a little bit of one thing and a little of another on one plate. Instead I get a little of one thing, sit, finish, enjoy, and repeat J. There are so many appealing options – pasta bar, fresh salads, funnel cake sundaes, local fruit selections, stir fry, etc. How can all of that go together on one plate?! Eating is an experience and it is no different in our campus dining hall. One of my absolute favorite multi-plate experiences was our Valentine’s Day dinner. Most Tuesday and Thursday nights there is a theme night for the dinner hour. Usually, I only nibble on a bit of this and a bit of that like usual, but this day…this day was different. Never in my life have I ever eaten so much food. The steak was so delicious and the green beans were heavenly. Then there was the chocolate fondue. Incredible. Valentine’s Day dinner – don’t miss it.
But for today, it was just the green bean casserole, not quite like my mom makes it, but maybe just close enough to get me to Fall Break.
Bratislava, Slovakia is only a two and a half hour bus ride from Budapest – the perfect weekend destination. Two other friends and I found round trip bus tickets for $24 and a hostel for $20 a night. With prices like these, why wouldn’t we make the trip to visit Bratislava?
This weekend was one of the most memorable weekends for me. We went on a three hour walking tour of the city, visited the city museum, walked around Bratislava Castle, explored the ruins at Devin Castle, ate the traditional Slovakian dish with sheep cheese, walked along the Danube River at evening with the UFO Bridge in the background, and met a captivating group of Australian backpackers at our hostel. There were so many fantastic moments and I enjoyed every minute of the trip. This weekend convinced me that I want to have a career where traveling, exploring new places, and meeting new people are normal occurrences.
In Bratislava, this desire was almost like an epiphany moment. I always thought that I wanted to travel after college, but after this trip, I firmly believe that traveling is one definite requirement for my career. I am not exactly sure what that career might be, but I am hoping that Professor Ambrose at the Writing Center, the Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO Office), and my academic adviser will help me sort out that (small?) detail. For now, I will continue to travel and when I return to McDaniel hopefully I can start making this dream become a reality!