“Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Community based rituals are simply absent from the American culture, and this creates large problems in the development of our young adults. In my experience growth can be stunted or go unrecognized because of the lack of a ritual signifying a life transition. While this ritual can manifest in multiple ways it there is no real equivalent besides graduating either high school or college. That ceremony is supposed to be a cookie cutter ritual representative of your journey and growth through your education. The issue with it is it is to universal and does not necessarily teach a lesson. To contrast the American way the thing that comes to mind for me is the Australian culture for young adults. It is extremely common for university student aged kids to have lived on their own for a few years during school. Usually they will pay for themselves, buy an apartment, pay for their own food, have a job. Doing this teaches them responsibility, and allows them to learn to fend for themselves. Yet furthermore after they have reached the peak, graduation, they will continue their learning by doing what is called a walk-about; which is basically a culturally accepted and encouraged exploration of the world. This is meant to further your worldly understanding and is a community ritual that signifies a life transition.

From my perspective the American equivalent of this should be a study abroad semester. I believe that everyone should be required to take a semester abroad; it should be a part of the American education system. I think it is an incredible experience, while it can be extremely difficult that is what makes it amazing. You learn so much about the outside world and begin to understand other peoples. In this way you can begin to better understand yourself and gain an inner confidence knowing that you know the things that you like and can feel empowered to accomplish your goals.

This being said creating a digital story is a good ritual to allow for the full reflection upon your personal journey during your abroad experience. It can be representative of a life change, and allows you to realize where you were to where you are now which can be an extremely powerful tool for understanding. I will use my digital story to sit and reflect on my personal journey and growth, as well as looking to the future. When I get back to the USA I will be beginning my internship and starting my career. The following school year will be entirely dedicated to planning out the next few years of my life, as I have no real plans up until this point. I want to use my experience abroad in Budapest, Hungary as a stepping stone to launch my next area of growth and experience. I realize that I would really enjoy living and working in a different portion of the world and would love to spend and extended amount of time in another place. My goal will be to land a job in a different country on a different continent that I have never been to before. I believe this will give me an opportunity to learn and grow more so than any other job that I could obtain back in the United States.

I do not think there are really any digital stories that would speak to me more than another simply because the only thing that I will connect to is the fact that each person that comes abroad feels as though they have grown and enjoyed their experience here. Yet each person has an entirely unique form of growth that was beneficial for them, for this reason I will not feel personally connected to anyone in particular’s story. I do believe that the best way to represent the experience is through discussing how you have changed and what was important to you. A monologue of your experience is good but it is more important to talk about the personal growth and understanding you had. For this reason I am going to write as honestly as I can and describe all of the highs and the lows and what it means to travel abroad.

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“Service” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

The impact of volunteering can be unimaginable. I have been engaged in volunteering my whole life. My first experience with volunteering was coaching a recreational basketball team in my home town of Bolton, Connecticut. This was one of my favorite experiences to date; I began this journey in my sophomore year of high school. I continued my coaching career for the next three years and absolutely loved every minute of it. It was amazing because I was able to have such a great impact on the kids that I was coaching, not only was I able to teach them a sport that I loved to play myself, but I was also able to teach them about life, respecting one another, and having fun. Being able to teach them and watch them grow over the three years that I had some of the kids was an amazing experience and to this day if I see the parents of the kids or the kids themselves we always stop and have a chat because of the impact that we had on each other. These kids not only were a lot of fun but they also taught me a lot about myself and what I was capable of. Volunteering has a funny way of giving back to the one doing the service; I felt enlightened and in improved by experience. Not only did I become a better leader from learning about the players and understanding their motivations, but furthermore I became a better individual. I learned the importance of listening to one another and the concept of seeking to understand and then to be understood.

I brought my service experiences with me abroad, especially in my first journey to Guatemala. This service trip was centered on helping the students at a school by developing their marketing through computers. But furthermore we interacted with the students and learned about their daily life so that we may have a better understanding of the impact that we would have upon the school. It was an incredible experience that was humbling as well as enlightening. This experience taught me about the opportunity that is truly available to us in the United States. The education system in Guatemala includes educating the students on how to be successful in a tourist market, which was astounding to me. While they would learn math, science, and how to read and write, these basic subjects were supplemented by classes where they would learn to make products to sell to tourists. This was eye-opening that the best opportunity lied within tourism and that education would not be useful to the students without this.

My service in Budapest has been to help students in middle to high school learn English. I have discussed before in previous journals that English has become a lucrative tool for students and is why it is taught in most schools. Yet it is another example of how opportunity is limited in other nations. It is more economical to learn English at a young age in the same way that the kids in Guatemala learn how to make bracelets. By adapting to their circumstances and understanding what will likely be the most beneficial to their well-being, education systems have adapted. Yet it essentially requires that the world caters to the larger cultures as not only are they one of the more influential, but it is the economically intelligent decision to adapt and adopt. Yet in my volunteering experience the children had an amazing impact on me as they have become extremely friendly to me. They wish to constantly learn and understand because they find English and American culture fascinating; this has allowed me to learn about their culture as well. I think it is extremely important to learn about foreign cultures as it creates a much greater context. It is clear that the American culture is in a way taught in other school systems, yet we do not necessarily have that experience in America, which makes it easy to turn a blind eye and go your entire life without understanding another culture. This is why I believe it is extremely important to travel otherwise you will never be able to fully understand people, and interpret why people do the things they do. The more culture you can understand the more universally you can see humanity shine through surface interactions.

 

“Holding up Half the Sky” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

The overall message of the book Half the Sky can be described as understanding how women are oppressed around the world. Every corner of the Earth has some form of oppression and a large portion of that is directed at women. While every nation has a varying degree to which this oppression comes to fruition, it is important to note that any oppression or disparity is not acceptable. Even in America there is clearly still a disparity in the way we approach women’s issues as well as their role in the work place. It is still common that women are unable to advance past certain points in their career and are often paid less for the same work. Furthermore even the way we approach women’s products the sheer fact that they are not included under the protection of some insurance plans is incredulous.

I think one of the stories of that really impacts me is Hillary Clinton’s. Personally I have a connection to Hillary as she was my Aunt’s employer for an extended period of time, but furthermore she was one of the first women to ever have a chance to take the presidency. She was the first women to be the democrat’s presidential candidate, and once that was the case immediately the misogyny began. Here we have an extremely qualified, intelligent, and successful woman who had dedicated her entire life to this country through the means of being a public servant and doing things in the name of woman and other poorly represented communities. Yet when brought to the eye of the public in what has been called on e of the dirtiest campaigns of all time often Hillary was subjected to stereotyping and treatment based on her gender. I believe that one of the harshest examples of this was the fact that often the ridicule that she was given was not for mistakes that she had made throughout her career but rather that of her husband. I remember distinctly a moment when at the time presidential candidate Trump, now acting president, came after her relationship with her husband and his actions. This is something that would never be brought to the attention of a man and his wife’s actions and in fact is amazing that this statement even had any traction. A debate is supposed to be about discussing the important topics that the people of this nation want to know. Yet we were forced to witness the petty misogynistic comments simply because of the gender of one of the candidates.

While currently I study Computer Information Systems and Finance, it is my goal to eventually study economic policy and decision making so that I can make an impact in the political sphere locally as well as globally. One of my main focuses is the economic disparity between men and women. One of the largest arguments in favor of the disparity between men and women has historically been that women are more likely to get pregnant and leave work either for maternity leave or permanently. This added risk is often the reason or excuse for the gap in pay even if the work is the same. Objectively this makes sense from a business perspective, yet morally this is an injustice and can be solved by simple economic policy that is active in other developed nations. The concept of mandatory paternity and maternity leave is enforced on companies, which eliminates this risk by leveling the playing field. If both the mother and father are required to take this leave then the only disparity between a man and a woman should be their education and work performance. This is an economic tool that should allow for the gap to be closed further. Furthermore paternity leave shows that it is extremely helpful in a child’s development as well as aides in decreasing stress on a relationship and allows for happier individuals. This is good for the nation as well as improves productivity at work, because it allows for a greater work-life balance reducing stress and improving effectiveness.

“Encountering Globalization” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Globalization has become one of the largest focuses across many intellectual spheres. Whether it be politics, business, or academia, all spheres agree that it is happening and the effects are so grand that it is hard to determine whether or not it is having a positive or negative impact on the world. From my perspective it is happening no matter what we do, so it is imperative that we minimize the negative effects and work towards positive global change. In my last journal I discussed a very interesting conversation that I had with another student who was abroad from Japan. This was one of the many examples where people from all around the world have come to study in Budapest and at my university, Corvinus. The university is largely a global community; I have met individuals from over twenty different countries. This fact alone shows globalization occurring constantly. While there are classes taught in Hungarian, a majority of the classes here are taught in English. This is because English has become the language of business and is one of the most necessary ways to communicate with people around the world. This is an example of globalization because it directly notes how business is a force for cultural change. It is economically advantageous to learn English if it is not your first language because not only does large nations like England and America speak English, but it has become the language of Europe. If you wish to travel between nations here it is expected that you know some English, as this will likely be the mutually learned language between the two countries.

The global community at Corvinus also drives other discussion and brings in completely varied concepts and ideas. I believe that any intellectual discussion had whether in an academic setting or a more casual interaction, adds to the progression of globalization. In my Organizational Behavior class we are constantly having discussions on how there are different frames of though in varying places. One of the first classes we had the professor had us do an exercise where we had to write down three separate problems, one that applied to our home community, one that applied to our home nation, and one that applied to the global community. What was extremely interesting to me is that a lot of the problems were similar especially when it came to people’s view of their home nation and the global community. For example, the man next to me a fellow master’s level student from Germany had the exact same problem with the global community as I. We both wrote the singular word, “populism”. While we both had separate reasons for this we both recognized the growing trend of how nationalism and populism were leading to some of the world’s largest issues. In America currently we are dealing with a populist movement spearheaded by President Donald Trump. Yet in other nations there are similar leaders and events that are based in nationalist pride and populism. England had Brexit was entirely backed by a populist movement who believed that their nation was the best and was being held back by the European Union, but largely were uneducated about what the real consequences were for leaving. Furthermore in the French elections there was Le Pen who was entirely a populist and blamed France’s issues entirely on immigrants from other nations endangering the prosperity of their nation. This being said the political landscape seems to be shifting as people recognize the impact of blindly following a nationlist. One of the large reason that Le Pen has recently suffered a large defeat was due to how poorly some of these populist movements have done after they had been put into place.

This all being said it is extremely interesting to watch the landscape constantly change around us, and being in a large community made up of extremely varying cultures and peoples allows for productive and interesting conversation. This sharing of ideas really has led to a better understanding of the globe and the positions that average educated students have about their respective nations

“Global Responsibility” Part 2 By: Joseph Sansevero Budapest, Hungary

The well-travelled mind is an arbitrary yet omniscient concept that is sought after by the intellectually intrigued individual. It is inversely related to ignorance and entitlement. This is because it is seen as an eye-opener, travelling places you in a situation entirely new and forces you to adapt, which allows you grow, gain confidence, and build your understanding of humanity. Words often can only capture how we have interpreted what we experience while we are here. While some are better than others at writing their emotions down, I would like to believe that anyone that travels and really takes a look at the culture begins to gain the feeling of worldliness. I write to you today having just arrived home from Vienna, which was absolutely stunning to see. You could clearly see the Austrian-Hungarian Empire’s influence seeing as it was the central power in Europe and had acquired massive amounts of wealth. The buildings were staggering, ornate, and classic.  Having the ability to contrast the two nations, Hungary and Austria based on their capital cities.  Vienna clearly had a more western and diverse feel. Being the larger and wealthier of the two, it has attracted a far wider array of individuals, and has a much more accepting feel. This where you can see the economic influence on diversity, people are drawn to where there is opportunity for success and wealth. Budapest, while much better than it was underneath the socialist regime, it still has a lot of growth to do. The immigration to Budapest is largely from its own citizens seeking work; they say that nearly 80% of the business people in Hungary live in the city. In contrast, Vienna clearly had a greater pull that went beyond its own borders to other nations around the world, which led to an air of acceptance that comes from increased diversity. Visibly there were differences in the social norms; there were women in hijabs, gay couples holding hands on the street, Indian shop owners, Asian tourists as well as residents. In large these are things that you will not as commonly see in Budapest. I believe that proximity to other cultures and races drive up acceptance, it is only in isolation that we have created a disdain for one another. Yet it is this exact reason why I believe it is important to travel, and develop the well-travelled mind. You will begin to realize what true tolerance is and get to learn about cultures that you would never see had you stayed home. This could never have been more important in a moment in history than it is right now. One of the largest issues in the world right now is the recent uptick in nationalism and how it contrasts with globalism. We are becoming more and more connected and now it is no longer simply economic drivers that bring us together but technology as well which is rapidly accelerating the diffusion of cultures. At this breakdown is where we see the largest amount of conflict as people try to hold dearly onto what it is that makes them themselves, their culture. As people hold tightly onto their own culture they begin to see others as a threat. Ergo the animosity towards immigrants, believing that somehow there is a difference between one another. What people don’t realize is that the culture that they are a part of is volatile and constantly changing and growing. Often they are influenced by outsiders, but this does not mean that the new conglomeration of cultures has taken away from who you are. While I believe it is important to document and maintain a record of these changes so that we can preserve them in history, it is impossible to completely stop this diffusion. As the global population, communication and travel tech, all continue to grow we are going to move towards less and less individual cultures and rather a melting pot of them. If you want proof of my claim you can go to almost any city in western civilization; New York City, Amsterdam, London. All of which have become a melting pot of cultures, while they still maintain their own unique culture each have influences from around the world. Travelling has personally opened my eyes, and given me a new perspective on cultural diffusion, it is my hope and belief that the world would be a more understanding place if everyone had this opportunity.

Now in my previous entry I mentioned the comparison between the American experience and the experience of someone in a country that is void of human rights violations. Above is how I have come to see the world, which I believe to be a healthy discovery and beneficial to myself. Yet I notice that not everyone has gained this world view, which is understandable we are all unique individuals. Not everyone is going to come to the same conclusions or purpose for studying abroad. This is one of the largest misconceptions about students who study abroad. The assumption that each of us are looking for a worldly growth. This is often the expectation of which ever university you are studying at, your peers, or even your parents. This more likely than not in my experience the reason why most of those that are around me study abroad. Everyone has their own type of growth that they are seeking and because of this they can be misconstrued as selfish. Each individual has his or her own struggle and this is their source of development. To say that someone isn’t well travelled because they do not have this idea of global responsibility imbued upon is simply unfair and undermines what it may have taken to get each individual there and back. Global responsibility is extremely important and the goal of most academically focused students, yet it is not necessarily the goal of most. What defines the American experience I have come to realize is this idea of impressing our values on someone else. We are expected to simply fit this mold, and then be happy. This has been proven throughout history to be a terrible method for achieving happiness, mimicking someone else’s and claiming it as your own. Developing, defining, and achieving your own success and happiness is the only real way to achieve this.

“Global Responsibility” Part 1 By: Joseph Sansevero, Budapest Hungary

Understanding humanity is in large why many intellectuals have been intrigued by travel. Travelling widens the mind so that one can have a better understanding of what makes people happy and what makes people sad, and in doing so perhaps find their own happiness. In my travels I have been mostly searching for the more subtle things that give you the “Ah hah” moments. These moments give you an understanding, reminding exactly how diverse the world is. Yet subtleties are not enough to develop the full spectrum of understanding, and the extremes need to be noted and understood. I will be diving into this over the next two entries. I hope the proximity of the entries allows you to compare the dichotomy between the American experience and the experience of living in a country void of basic human rights.

Just after a cease fire was called the ongoing civil war in Rwanda, the 1994 Rwandan Genocide occurred. It was one of the largest genocides in the past three decades. In just 100 days, April 6th to July 16th, it is estimated that anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people were killed. This means anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people were being executed every day for 100 days. The spark that started the genocide, was the death of the Hutu president. His plane was shot down shortly after the ceasefire was rwandasudan-genocidecalled. It was not until the Rwandan Patriotic Front regained control did the genocide come to an end. As you can see by the political cartoon on the right many have criticized the UN for not having stepped in sooner. Despite being one of the world’s largest conglomerate of developed nations, setup with the intention of stopping exactly these kinds of human rights violations. Unfortunately the UN is often slow to act and does not have the power as a group to mobilize quickly simply by nature. I believe that the UN originally was intended to have more power than it does, yet its strength often does not supersede that of the countries within it. Considering these human rights violations continue to permeate against the will of the UN it is obvious that a change needs to be made. In my view there should be a conglomeration of countries that does agree on these issues and is empowered to act in the interest of protecting these human rights violations. Until this happens the issues will continue to fall to the nations, which have proven that they are not capable of self-regulating these issues, or often have no interest in doing so.

A lot of people question whether or not another country has the right or should feel the will to step-into another country and make changes. If we believe in tolerance and acceptance, do we have the right to imbue that value on other cultures based around the lack of acceptance of others? I would argue the only time that intervention should be permitted is when there is a human rights violation. This is when the line is crossed into being a global issue, as we are all “global citizens” which equates to we are all human. Protecting the innocent lives of those caught in the middle of an atrocity should have the utmost global attention. While recognizing the complexities that are the global political landscape it is imperative that we utilize far greater resources than we currently are to improve the conditions for everyone around the world. Just diving into a country with military force may not be the best method in most cases, but I believe in the instance of the Rwandan Genocide, we need to have a faster and quicker solution to end the bloodshed.

“The Mindful Traveler” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

I write today on February 22, 2017, the official “monthiversary” of my arrival in Budapest. Having personally rode the emotional rollercoaster that is the forced separation from home, I can honestly say I have become a more confident traveler. This equates to having a sense of familiarity almost everywhere I go and have gone. If you have been following along with my blog you already know that my travels abroad have taken me to three vastly different cities; Budapest, Bratislava, and Amsterdam. Each city with its unique culture, identity, and what I call a “traveler’s learning curve”. The aforementioned learning curve can be defined as the amount of time it takes one to familiarize themselves with the city to a point where they are comfortable traveling through the city. Usually this learning curve is directly correlated with the size of the city, thus making Amsterdam the most challenging task yet. To add a layer of difficulty I managed to book my flight a day earlier than I was originally supposed to, this meant that I would need to book an extra night as well as be on my own for the majority of my first day in the city.

In the face of this adversity I was forced into the role of a “carefree drifter”, as feeling that was comforting in that it was simply easier to roll with the punches. As the day dragged on without any particular goals in mind I quickly became frustrated that I wasn’t really getting anything accomplished. It took me nearly three hours to realize the paper map I had purchased simply was not cutting it as I walked in a circle for the fourth time. It was at this moment I decided to download an offline map to my phone, and this gave me a new confidence to roam much more freely and with more direction. It was this time with the offline map which instantly provided my location, that I was able to gain a better understanding of the city. I was able to finally take my head out of the map and become an active observer. I felt myself moving towards the ‘mindful traveler’ category where I could observe the traditions of those that were around and the general atmosphere and culture. Amsterdam being one the most accepting places in the world it was absolutely fascinating to observe and watch the interactions between people.banksy I quickly recognized that the places that I had been wandering were intentionally designed to capture the attention of tourists and decided to break out and find new areas to explore. I was pleasantly surprised to find beautiful neighborhoods with buildings that seemed to more accurately capture the feeling of the entire city. I was absolutely amazed with the way the city had found a way to co-exist with people being from all walks of life from entirely different cultures and value-sets. It seemed so simple, the created districts based on interests. Of course there is the infamous Red-Light district, which I would coin the Sin-District, where everything that is essentially considered “unacceptable” by most culture’s standards existed peacefully. The success behind this was in the fact that it was isolated to one portion of the city, and those that were not interested could very easily avoid the area and be entirely unaffected by it. Subsequently the further you got away from the train-station that dropped off the tourists, the less touristy the city got. Immediately after the red-light district there were museum districts, art districts, music districts, and many more. The cohabitation of these vastly different cultures was truly inspiring and idea that I hope will radiate around the world with time as we become more globalized. To the right I have placed a picture I took of a painting by Banksy, a social commentating street artist. This particular painting I have interpreted to represent the fact that strings that have held our mentality in place and have become the norms should be challenged. This is the sensation that Amsterdam provided to me and thus why this particular picture is representative of my travel there.

Now in the beginning I mentioned the cities that I have visited so far throughout my journey abroad, describing how each of them had “learning curve”. This learning curve largely depends on the complexity and size of the city, but also on the individual. When I first arrived I felt as though I had no idea how to navigate while I was living in a city. Instantly I was overwhelmed by not only just the proximity of other people but even the proximity of the buildings. In the past I would often joke saying “Buildings need to be spread out, otherwise they give me anxiety I just need the space to be there.” While I felt as though I was joking when I said this, I did not realize how true that statement rang. But being on the official “monthiversary” I realize now that I have been able to gain a new appreciation for the proximity of everything. My solo travel to Amsterdam gave me new insight into where my travelling abilities lacked, and allowed me to develop those skills. Now I have confidence that I am no longer an amateur city navigator and that no matter what city you drop me in, and no matter what language the speak I can learn the system and be a successful traveler. I have never felt a greater self-pride overcoming this source of anxiety and turning it into something that I can draw confidence from. While I am not arguing that I am a city dweller and could be a guide for others by any stretch, but rather I have become a self-sufficient explorer. It gives me joy to be able to add “explorer” to my tag-line of personality-descriptors. Before having come here I did not think that this would be a result of my experience, and I hope to continue to gather travel related accolades. With each step down this path I develop my extrinsic world view, and my intrinsic understanding of myself. Reaching a point where I am eager to develop more and continue down this path entirely changes my outlook on not only my travels but also my life’s journey.

“Conversations” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian culture is one that varies greatly from our own. Being in the city first of all has been the largest shock for me. I have spent the majority of my life living across from a farm where the only means of real transportation was driving. Coming to the city presented an entirely different lifestyle that I had to get used to, this was a separate culture for me to experience. Now the Hungarian city Budapest is very unique in many ways. Much like New York I have noticed quite a bit of a mix of nationalities, while the primary language is Hungarian, for example of the metro stops are in Hungarian. At the same time speaking English will be more than enough to surprise. As I write this I have just come back from the barber whom we had met at a local bar. The man was about our age and was genuinely interested in us and our sports which was extremely interesting to find. It is not the main focus of a lot of the people in the EU but there is a relatively decent following of sports from the States.

Daniel, the barber, had significantly more knowledge about American Football than I did was telling me how he likes the Chicago Bears. This was simply because they have the most drafted Hungarian players, and he really likes rooting for his home country in the sport. This I found absolutely fascinating and made me realize what a lot of the allure of coming to the States. There is such opportunity and as long as you go to the right spot you can still have pieces of home because our population is so diverse. The fact that there are Hungarian football players in America, and that halfway across the world Daniel was here supporting them and everything they are doing. This is simply amazing and I believe that a lot of American’s do not realize the real influence our country has over the rest of the world, especially industrialized nations. Now Daniel and I had an in-depth conversation about how he preferred to commute in to the city and I asked why he did not live here. His response was one that you would expect, his family lived outside the city and it was quieter there. To which of course I followed up and asked why he worked in Pest, (Budapest is actually separated into two parts Buda and Pest, the barber shop was in Pest), to which the answer will not be quite shocking, money. His family owns a salon back in the town that he lives in approximately 15km away. But the small town will only provide so many costumers in a day so he tends to work in the city. This was consistent with the information that we were given during orientation, Hungary’s wealth and prosperity is highly concentrated in its major cities. While in neighboring countries, like Slovakia, the wealth tends to be more spread out throughout the country, so the city is not as impressive but the people are able to make more of a living outside of the city.

It was very fortunate that our API program set us up with what they coined as a “Tandem” partner. This person is essentially a Hungarian student that was interested in practicing their English and was willing to show us around and teach us how to live in the city and in Hungary. My partner’s name is Reka, and we were able to meet for some lunch and learn about each other’s culture. The first topic of discussion was something I knew both of us could relate to, music. I was very curious as to whether or not Hungarian music played a role in what she was interested in. Much to my surprise a lot of the music she listened to was mainstream American/National music. Essentially the same things that I listen to as well. She asked if I was interested in country music, as she had heard before, and it is a commonly held belief here that we all listen to this music. I explained to her that I was not a big fan as I didn’t really understand the allure to the music which she quickly agreed with me. In this moment we both realized that these cultural expectations can vary greatly from person to person. I think music is a great way to learn about other cultures especially in age group that is similar to mine, as the little differences in each person and culture can lead to largely different tastes. But to find out that despite these things and growing up in vastly different ways we were still attracted to the same music. This allows me to conclude that music can translate across borders, but are usually generation specific. As I would not expect that the older generations of Hungarians would like this music, who would more likely prefer original folklore music.

The photo below is one I took on a trip to Amsterdam. I though this represented the idea of diversity as the I AMsterdam sign is supposed to depict that anyone of any background is welcome in Amsterdam.

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“Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

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.IMG_0595.JPG

Travel Log 3: “Betwixt and Between… so this is Liminality”By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Arriving in Budapest was a surreal experience. After months of planning and prepping I have finally arrived. On the flight in I expected to be able to witness some of the city from the skies, but the fog was to think. This metaphorically setup the fact that I would have to have some blind trust as I entered this experience. I had to respect the fact that I would be going into this experience blinded, and that I will end up safe and sound on the other end much for the better. Getting through customs was a breeze, which was comforting, and as I was a bit late in my arrival to the program I needed to arrange my own transportation to meet up with the group. This was my first experience separating myself from my culture. I grabbed a “minibud” which was essentially a van that would drop you off at a location. Because my driver did not speak much English I had to communicate brokenly and provide the location I wanted to go to with a picture of a map. Furthermore I had to have a better understanding of what the culture was as far as his aid with my luggage and door opening, there were frequently awkward silences and miscommunication as we each had vastly different cultural expectations.

Separating has been an interesting process, I still do not feel fully immersed here in the culture of Budapest. I think this is in large because I have a lot of familiar things to remind me of home. The fact that I came here with my roommate from Quinnipiac, while has been great to have a familiar face it has also allowed me to not force myself entirely out of my comfort zone yet. Granted I have been on the move for much longer than a lot of the other students here in my communitas. Currently I am writing this journal entry as he has gone out to visit another local city with a group of students, and in a week this will be the longest we have been separate. That is a weird concept as I was so used to being extremely independent in Guatemala, as well as at my home.

I can clearly feel my head-space being in the liminoid stage. Especially because I have already had a week from home. In between my two journey’s there was a short stop at Quinnipiac, and this acted almost as teaser of temptation for the familiarity that is home. I had few short sweet moments visiting with friends that would not be studying abroad and going out to breakfast at one of my favorite places, Breakfast Nook. Even being able to share a night with my girlfriend was a comfort, which just left me extremely conflicted internally. A large part of me just wanted to sink into the comfort that was home and stay there and have the easier experience. I know that it is better for me to experience this trip and go explore the world. I believe that once I get a chance to go to classes and find my own way around the city I will begin to enjoy myself more and more. As of right now anxiety and fear are pretty much the name of the game.

In large I have grown up with a lot of anxieties, usually revolving around social situations. I think that this experience will help me in handling these things. My anxiety has really come to the surface as one of my weaknesses in my immersion here. Especially considering I have an extremely social roommate, which is great because it makes it easier for me to meet a larger amount of people without feeling the pressure of creating these bonds on my own. At the same time this is a double edged sword because it causes my anxiety to kick in and make me believe that the friends we have made or only our friends because of who my roommate is and not who I am. While likely this is not the case it is simply that we have been spending time together as roommates and bonding, which of course leads us to be interacting with the same people. Logically that is more of the case and I would expect that as time goes on I will develop more personal relationships with some of the other students in the communitas in the area. I hope to utilize my classes as a location to socialize and interact on my own with other students and learn and grow this way.

Later today I plan on going for a walk around the city just wandering, utilizing public transport and going to different areas. I would like to discover places to eat, hang out, and explore. Doing this will be part of my strategy to begin to immerse myself into the culture and gain a better understanding of my own interests and part of the reason I came to the city. Originally I am from rural Connecticut, and being in the city in itself is a culture shock. I am more used to the mentality that if you walk places you are putting yourself in harm’s way and potentially could get hit by cars. Here in the city the only method of transport is either walking or public. This is exciting to me to be able to try this new thing and I hope that my solo missions through the city will give me more confidence in getting from place to place and just in general in the city. The picture I have chosen to represent my current emotions and feelings about this experience is one I took of a statue on top of the Citadella here in Budapest. I really like the contrast of the photo and how it looks so steadfast and independent. The statue is alone and that it is capable of
holding strong through adversity, and is symbolic of my aspirations. img_0503