This past weeks have taught me a lot about myself already. Being in a completely foreign place and forcing yourself to essentially start from ground zero. Every day so far I have thought about what it would be like if I was home and how much easier my life would be. My friends would be near me, I would be working, I would have access to my organizations that occupied a large portion of my life. Having these things ripped from my life has had a far greater impact on my mentality than I originally expected. It has taken a few days but I feel as though I have recovered from this homesickness and feeling sorry for myself. Rather than hiding inside, or waiting for someone else to do the things that I want to do, I have taken the initiative inspired by the concept of simply enjoying myself. While at home I often felt comfortable to venture out on my own and do my own thing. Yet being in a foreign country leads to several anxieties of not fully understanding your surroundings. This makes sitting in at home far more appealing, which is why I think I have been doing so.
Like I said I have been recently far more inspired to enjoy myself and do the things that I want to do. Talking the orientation walk around the city and orienting myself, while I had done a while ago prior to writing this, was definitely a turning point for me. Simply finding the courage to explore in a solo fashion to develop a better sense of my surroundings was monumental in contributing to my personal happiness. While this does not necessarily fully feel like “home” yet I have definitely noted progress towards that feeling. Recently a couple of the other kids in my communitas and I took a weekend to adventure out to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. After an hour and twenty minute bus ride we found ourselves in an entirely foreign country, without even the basic amenities we had become accustom to in Budapest. We stayed in a hostel dorm and shared it with others from multiple different nationalities. We were forced to share a bathroom and showers, and furthermore did not have access to a kitchen or anything of the sort. We are all of the sudden completely without any real home-base. We had fun exploring a brand new location and developing a better understanding of Central Europe. The first day there the weather was extremely poor, the fog was so dense you could hardly see one hundred meters. While we were able to do some exploring and visited some of the famous sights we did not really get to see much. But the following day we did a guided walking tour which was awesome to learn more about the city, the history of it, and some of the local cultural traditions. This really opened my eyes to some of what we had already explored and provided a much richer experience. I have made it a personal goal to try to do a walking tour in every city I visit while I am here. I feel as though this allows you to appreciate your surroundings to a far greater extent. Exploring on your own is always a treat, but getting a deeper dive is simply more enlightening and enjoyable.
After a long evening out joining in on a bar crawl organized by the hostel we were staying at, we awoke to one of the sunniest skies I had seen in what felt like years. Granted it has only been three weeks now, blue sky has been a very scarce commodity. Having the sun out and being able to see for miles was absolutely amazing. We revisited the castle we had visited on the first day and were actually able to see the stunning view that is Bratislava. This day was easily a turning point because it made me realized how depressed I had allowed myself to come by not focusing on the things that make me happy and struggling day to day rather than finding the little things. Just having the sun out and the weather being about twenty degrees warmer was all I needed to clear my mind. I felt at peace as we wandered the city in a new light, and you could feel the removal of tension for everyone. We were calm and would walk to one place and just hang out rather than trying to see everything all at once. We even made some time to stop and play on a local jungle gym which was just the right amount of adult silliness the group was craving to put some smiles back on our face. A lot of us have been struggling being separated from significant others, family, and simply home. In this moment I like to believe that washed away for everyone and made us realize that we can take on this challenge, together. I feel fortunate to have the communitas around me that is building and ever expanding with each day that has passed. The picture I have chosen to post is clearly the picture I took of the cityscape in Bratislava, as it symbolizes the highest point I have had thus far in the trip and hope to continue to have as time goes on.