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January 24, 2013

Local Voices From Around the Globe: Feeling better about being away from home

(Continued)

I found that having a clear mind really helped me make friends faster. I am starting to hangout with my classmates and finding the ones that I truly click with. The atmospheres of the two schools are very different from each other. I can’t really explain it; both are positive and negative in their own ways. My life has shifted into a different version of Hungarian everyday living, and it felt very natural. I still spend time with my old friends, who I adore. All in all, I feel happy and content. My curiosity and enthusiasm to learn has rekindled and I feel at home. I’m not quite Hungarian yet, but I’m getting there.

Throughout this exchange I realized how important friendship is. I’m not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier article or not, but I’m going to talk about it again. Hungarian friendships are a very strong bond and are hardly ever broken. Hungarians tend to be suspicious of over friendliness when first acquainted. We Americans tend to do this to get to know each other and its expected. A Hungarian friend of mine explained to me that American friendships are perceived as fake, whether this is because of the media or stereotypes it doesn’t matter. This perception made me feel disappointed and a little defensive of my culture.

I understood her point of view and agreed with it in some part, but I wanted to explain her that not all relationships are like that. Now she is one of my closest friends. I hear some of the other exchange students in Hungary talking about how they can’t make any local friends or some only stick to other exchange students, and this makes me sad. I remember what it was like not to have any friends at all, and how much better life got when I made them. You have people to talk to (or try to) during school, people to go out with, and learn from. I know all situations are different, but my advice to future exchange students is to be fearless. It’s wonderful to be close with other exchange students, although you don’t fully experience your host culture. I am lucky, I was able to balance my exchange student life and my Hungarian life, it took some time but I did it. I guess my thought process is, if I can make friends in Hungary I can make friends anywhere.

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