Sometimes words are not enough to describe certain life events, but I will try my very best to recount my enriching two month experience in Budapest.
I found the idea of transferring myself behind yet another desk in a similar environment too oppressive and thus the concept of IAESTE seemed the ideal opportunity to allow a travel monger like myself travel during the summer months and work at the same time.
I was welcomed in Budapest in the friendly arms of our co-ordinator, who after giving me a little tour around Budapest from the car, took me to the dorm. I had never lived in a dormitory before but it did not take me long to get used to the idea of cooking in a communal kitchen, sharing a fridge with a stranger and walking along the corridor wrapped with just a towel right after taking a shower.
It was also my first time to ever work with an architectural firm and on a real project; a new conceptual proposal for an accommodation building for a monastery. Working hours were very flexible, so after long nights out I could easily go to work at a later hour the next day and still be fresh and alert. My boss also took me on little trips across Budapest, providing me with the history of buildings and piazzas and even organised a private tour for me and the other interns within Budapest’s parliament; a feast for the eyes for any architecture student.
My favourite thing about Budapest was that, apart from having an extremely efficient transport system which continued throughout the night, there was always something to do or somewhere to go. There are never ending pubs (providing very cheap beer!), all different and peculiar and I especially loved the ruin bars, with their retro interiors and old couches and lampshades. Street food is also extremely cheap and eating at a restaurant sometimes does not cost more than €6 in total!
Whilst being a temporary resident in Budapest, I didn’t get to do just the usual sightseeing stuff but I also got to hang out with the locals, something I deeply enjoyed. Our Hungarian friends took us to their favourite pubs, introduced us to their friends, their Hungarian food and beverages. We were a very small group of interns, six in total, so we became like a small family and it was easier for us to organise stuff together. Sometimes even cooking dinner together or borrowing random stuff was enough to get to know each other a bit better.
We attended music festivals like Sziget and small local festivals in other towns in the vicinity. We had house parties, BBQs in the suburbs, chilled in the numerous parks or on Freedom Bridge, took trips to Lake Balaton, visited the spas and dined on the Danube river with the beautifully lit parliament in the backdrop. Being neighboured by seven countries, I also had the opportunity to visit another capital in the vicinity; Vienna.
There was unfortunately some misunderstanding regarding the accommodation and payments but in the end we still found a middle ground. I also witnessed the hospitality of our Hungarian friends who offered us to stay with them in their homes or in their apartments when the dorm contract was terminated and we had to move out of our dormitory in just two days notice.
The next Tuesday (21st July) was Belgian National Day and we went to see the military parade and the king. I actually managed to get a couple of photos as well. It was very hot but it also well organized as there were stations where you could get free water in bags, so no one went thirsty.
A couple of weeks after we also went on a canal tour and visited the cathedral where the kings and queens of Belgium are buried. After that we took a lift to the top of the cathedral and had an amazing view over the city. One thing that struck is how many areas of greenery there are in Brussels.
I also went on a day trip to Luxembourg with two other students from Lueven. Since I had already spent some time there before I was able to show them around. We only visited the city but there was a lot to do since there was a music festival and other cultural activities going on when we visited.
Our last big event was when we to Aachen in Germany for the weekend. We had party on Friday as soon as we arrived then we had a game around the city Saturday morning (as best as we could, since most of us were dead tired and still a bit hungover). Then in the evening we had an amazing party in a castle. We met a lot of people in Aachen from a lot of the IAESTE LC’s in Germany. They were very nice and it was pretty well organized.
For the last month we didn’t do much unfortunately because both Peter and Sergio left and the others had a lot of work to finish off and so we were very tired each day. We went for a couple of drinks but it wasn’t as energetic as the first month.
Speaking of work, I learned a lot about how to set up an application server and link it together. I felt that all of the tasks were within my abilities even though I had never done some of them, I took it as opportunity to learn. After all in the computing industry things change very rapidly and so one must be adaptable and willing to learn. My boss was so pleased with my work that he wanted me to extend my internship by two weeks which I did.
These type of experiences give you the opportunity to continue discovering yourself as a person and helps you realise that there is so much more to discover out there. I came back home extremely satisfied, slightly nostalgic but overall happy to have met the people I did. Not only was I given the opportunity to work in a foreign country, but I now also feel even more connected to other parts of the world knowing that I have friends living there and, who knows, maybe my next adventure will be reuniting with some of them!