Before I left for Budapest last week (has it really only been a week?!), my mum gave be some of her best advice yet. At the end of the day, she told me, we’re all human beings and generally good people. Most of you have heard and lived by this advice before so I’m sure this won’t exactly stand out as a revolutionary blog post but in my experience,some people seem content with separating the world. It’s a lot easier to live in a place that can be categorized and cut into clean and sufficient pieces but it’s a whole lot harder to pocket worthwhile memories and befriend the best of people without venturing into the gray areas that lie before you.
The gray areas I’ve been exploring this past week in Hungary have been shrouded with sunlight, soaked in excitement, and strung together with brilliant people. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some successful and incredibly kind-hearted Hungarians over tea and political donuts (aka cream puffs.) I’ve spent my mornings running down empty lanes through the Hungarian countryside, dancing a very unexpected tango with an overly friendly and muddy sheep dog at mile two. I’ve met native speakers from all walks of life (do you remember this phrase Hungarians??) with an infectious love for adventure and Fitness Marshall (YouTube dance workout-look it up!).
Almost every hour has been accounted for, filled with one-on-one talking sessions, group activities, foreign karaoke, psychological coloring, ping-pong, pool, and Rex (a Hungarian twist on pool involving a wooded mushroom that brings shame to you and your family if you knock it down). It’s been a busy week and I may just have to take a small vow of silence after my program in Krakow ends, but so far, the Angloville experience has only brought me joy and clarity.
On my last day of the Hungarian program, when I was running in the opposite direction of the sheep dog, I smiled a Cheshire-cat-kind-of-smile because I felt at peace and blissfully happy. I have quickly realized that language barriers do not block you from making meaningful connections with people. I’ve learned that one suitcase worth of possessions is more than enough to sustain you. I’ve learned ten Hungarian words but only remember one : “Mosoly”, which means “to smile”. I’ve mentored a hilarious Hungarian woman who sings perfect English karaoke after a couple of glasses of wine. And most importantly, I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s okay to trade practicality for luck and a deep love of happenstance.
I, for one, will always put some of my faith into luck. In fact, it seems luck works overtime while I’m gallivanting around the world. My taxi fares have been just a penny below of what I’ve had in my pockets at the time. Most of my hotels have been found by playing eeny meeny miney moe at every street corner. Unrelenting rain takes a water break when I’m trundling up and down what seems like every street in Krakow in search of a laundromat. Luck is much more than an allusive friend that shows up at the most unexpected of times. Luck is a small return on all the time and energy you invest into living a lively and perfectly muddled life.
And when luck is zapped and overcome by jet-lag because of you, it’s time to start having trust in yourself. Before this trip, I had never traveled outside of the US by myself. When my parents dropped me off at the airport, I wondered if I was self-sufficient and independent enough to make it on my own. But after a week of buses, metros, taxis, walks, small mishaps, and big returns, I trust the clumsy girl in the mirror a lot more than I used to. She’s inexperienced and maybe a little naive but she’s also a descendant from a long string of adventurers who have set up camp in the unknown and thrived because of it.
So cheers to luck, cheers to new friends, cheers to slowly dissolving language barriers, and cheers to all of you solo travelers. And most importantly, cheers to all of you incredible English and Hungarian-speaking Angloville participants. We may all slip and stumble in our pursuits from time to time but there is a large network of people who have our backs and an incessant spark inside of us nudging our feet towards the illuminated unknown.
So take the risk and play eeny meeny miney moe at a few street corners here and there because whichever direction you may choose, there will always be a reason to Mosoly ( I apologize in advance Hungarian friends if I’m using this word incorrectly.)
Travel On and May You Always Find a Reason to Mosoly,