I have been in Szeged for two days now (!) and I am absolutely loving it. The city is beautiful, the people are nice, and my flat is awesome! Check out my Facebook for pictures coming soon! I feel like I am already thriving in my city.
But, before we dive in to the depth of this post, let me address the elephant in my life, homesickness. I was so worried that I would spend my entire year in Hungary missing home. Spoiler alert: I am homesick. Yes, I miss my loved ones and my sweet puppy, but it is manageable. I was worried that it was not going to be, but the second I arrived in Szeged I already felt like it was my home away from home. The city is so welcoming and I instantly felt a connection to it. Being here and laying the foundations down for my life for the next year makes me feel like I am already at home in Szeged. I am doing this, and I am O.K. But, it hasn’t all been easy peasy so far. I have changed a lot and learned a lot of the last couple of weeks.
For those that know me, you know that I am not one to go out and do things on my own (shout out to you if I’ve ever had you come with me to go grocery shopping, to Walmart, or even just to walk down the street!). I am usually not comfortable walking alone at home, let alone in another country. But, since arriving in Hungary, I have already developed some new personality traits. Lets go through some of them.
- Independence. I have been emotionally independent for a while now, but I still have yet to master being physically independent. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my roommate or my mom to come with me to do the most mundane tasks. But, that isn’t an option here yet. I am forced to go out and do things on my own, and surprisingly, I am doing it. I managed to go grocery shopping three times yesterday (don’t ask), as well as finding hangers for my clothes and push pins to put up pictures without actually knowing the Hungarian words for either! AND I didn’t get lost doing it. I have been so scared since arriving in Hungary that I am going to get hopelessly lost one and not be able to ask someone for directions. Thankfully, Szeged is an easy to understand city with a very predictable layout. It may be a small victory, but going to a from the grocery store walking alone has made me feel ready to take on the whole city soon.
- Dependence. I do not like to be a dependent person, but these few days have taught me that I have no choice. I am fully reliant on my mentor and friends that know English right now. I hate feeling like I cannot communicate with those around me. I know that I will learn Hungarian more and more as the year goes on, but it is hard right now. I constantly have a deer in headlights look on my face. I went to the store yesterday to buy some medicine and the lady at the cash registered asked me a question that I didn’t not understand. I had to tell her that I spoke English, only to have her look very annoyed that I did not understand what she was trying to say. I am learning to rely on those around that me that are supporting me through this time of transition, even if it is difficult.
- Patience. Now I don’t mean patience in the way most people think of it, or maybe I do in a way, but to me patience means learning how to go with the flow. I have always been a very planned out person. I love making schedules and sticking to times to a T. When I was young, I would cry if we were late to something. I am a very meticulous person, always have been. But, here in Hungary, I am not in control. I don’t have a schedule yet, and I just show up to things when my mentor tells me to. I have learned that a start time is an estimate about when things will start, and more often than not, it will start later than the time suggested. Normally, I would be freaking out. But, not being in control is actually quite freeing. I can step back and take a moment to breathe and just enjoy the company of those around me. Last night, I attended a table talk with some of the adults in my congregation. Hardly any of them spoke English, but for the first 15 minutes they tried to talk to me and offer me cookies and treats instead of worrying about starting their meeting. The culture here is surrounded with hospitality instead of productivity and I am loving the difference.
These are just three of the traits that have popped out to me in the last two weeks or so, and that’s only in 2 weeks! I cannot wait to see how many more things change in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned to find out what other big changes happen, and for my first newsletter on September 13th!