Saturday, March 26, 2011

Philosophizing in Budapest

My little sojourn into Budapest has been very relaxing so far. Though there is a lot to see here, its not a place I studied in school and therefor I don't really feel this need to get out and see EVERYTHING. There are things I would like to see and places I would like to go, but really the trip is about visiting Andrea, who I just realized I have known for about 10 years.

I don't feel so out of place here as I did in Korea. Though I loved it very much, I was always going to be a foreigner. But in Budapest, like in the states, there is a melting pot of people. At least twice a day I am mistaken for Hungarian, and though it was much higher in Cyrpus (for obvious reasons), I still get excited when it happens. After spending so much time in countries where I stand out like a sore thumb (India, Korea, and Turkey to a certain extent because I was in the tourist ghetto), its nice and even thrilling to be able to blend in with the native population. I don't feel like I'm on constant display or that someone is always watching what I do which was the case in India and Korea. I don't feel the need to ignore people who come up to me in the street because I'm afraid they're going to sell me something. It's actually very peaceful.

The hostel I'm staying in is really nice, with a communal kitchen and living room area. If I so chose I could cook all my meals. So far, I just make myself breakfast. I more or less had the place to myself for a couple days which was rather eerie. I felt like I had inherited a fully furnished, obsessively labeled apartment. Now there are others here but I still have a room (with eight beds) all to myself. I also have my own key so I can come and go as I please.

Seeing Andrea anywhere but D.C. is kind of surreal in general, and visiting her in a foreign country is especially unnerving. Not really in a bad way, however. Its like, for the first time, I view the two of us as adults. We have our own separate lives in entirely different countries. We can exist independently from our parents, and even our country. Our concerns are more worldly, not at all the childish concerns of middle schoolers, which we were when we met. For the first time it's hit me that I am not a kid anymore and that I am truly capable of going anywhere and doing anything. And it makes me also reflect on my generation.

Though we are mostly made up of, as David put it, 'boomerang kids' we still are one of the most mobile populations the world has ever seen. While traveling I often meet people my own age who don't consider distance as a formidable boundary and who are not deterred by international borders. For those of us who attempt it, it is very possible to truly become global citizens. Though I hadn't ever made a conscious effort (and in fact I always considered myself pretty uninformed), I realize that I really do know a fair bit about what's going on in the world - protests in Syria, earthquakes in Maynmar, an almost-civil-war in Cote D'Ivoire. I am fond of telling people that I get all my news from The Daily Show and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, but it's not really true anymore. I've become a little bit of a news junkie - especially international news - and I really get caught up in the stories.

Being here and talking up a storm with Andrea and David makes me realize how far reaching and intelligent our generation can be. We have the power to change the world. And we have. The revolution in Egypt was organized by people my age who were fed up with the regime they had grown up in; art and social expression has taken on a whole new meaning with the advent of the internet and all the options available because of the increased connectivity of the human race.

People are reaching outside of traditional institutions to make connections with people they would normally never meet. Through sites like, people are taking the poverty of others into their own hands and making no-interest micro loans. With the help of sites like people are making global connections that help to increase people's ability to travel. There are dozens of communities popping up that are aimed at creating a better world.

I don't really know what the future holds or even where I will be come the end of summer, but it's comforting to know that I have a whole world of options open to me. The biggest problem in my life is choosing which path to go down and for that, I am very grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Just finished reading Cyprus and Budapest entries. Your trip is fascinating. I remember the first time I visited Cyprus (age 16) my cousin John (who was then around 26 years old)took Connie and me clubbing! I'm so glad you are doing this, and writing about it. You have inspired me! I really look forward to your posts. I'm writing this because I want you to know I'm so proud of you, and love you so much! Your philosophizing about what you feel empowered to do in your life is amazing. At 23 you have already inspired a lot of people. Love you and miss you!