I’ve been in Budapest for a few days now, and I keep telling myself I’ll have have a Nice Travel Blog (my dad is really keen on “Hungry in Hungary” as a blog title). But every time I sit down to write, I freeze up. Something about trying to process and package all of the experiences I’ve had into a neat box is extremely difficult (and maybe even off-putting) for me to do; I’m not yet sure why that is. What does it mean to travel? Now that I’ve had the extreme privilege of flying off to a foreign country for the sole purposes of study and travel, how do I make the most of it? People always say that traveling changes your life, and they’re right — my life has definitely changed. (For one thing, I’m surrounded by Hungarians…shocking, I know.) I might even go so far as to say that I, as a person, have also changed. But the experiences of my time abroad aren’t easily portioned off into small, digestible chunks with lessons attached — or maybe it’s that I’m still trying to digest them myself. Ultimately, I’m not sure I know what a “Nice Travel Blog” actually entails, so I’m going to disregard that notion until it stops being intimidating and starts being useful. In the meantime, here are some of the notes I took on my way over; if nothing else, at least they’re fun to remember.
1/13/17, 22:30. takeoff from boston.
My favorite part of any flight is the ascent: the roar and rumble in your ears and in your teeth; the improbable moment of lift-off, watching the ground pull away from you and the skyline tilt through the window. At night, seeing the city outlined in spiderwebs of golden orange light, veins threaded with streetlamps and headlights. It’s not until all traces of light have disappeared from outside that I start to feel very far from home.
23:38. still on the plane.
The flight attendants bring us food in saran-wrapped plastic boxes and an oval metal tin, with metal silverware. The main course is “bratwurst and potatoes,” which turns out to be a small sausage, tater tots, and two pieces of steamed broccoli. Over the course of the meal, I drop everything, including the knife, at least once. At midnight, the cabin crew members dim the lights, shut the windows, and collect the debris from dinner, moving up and down the aisles with practiced efficiency. The lights go off completely as I type on my phone, which I think is a sign that it’s time to go to sleep.
1/14, 03:59. t r a p p e d on the plane
I regret stuffing my backpack under the seat in front of me. I can’t feel my legs anymore. I long to fall into a quiet, uncomplicated sleep, but nap instead in short, pretzel-shaped spurts.
11:05. zurich airport.
The Zurich airport is very clean and shiny, and has a number of smoking lounges. I make it to my gate with 10 minutes to spare (accidentally got in the wrong line at passport control, in my sleep-deprived haze), board the plane without issue (they have self-service boarding gates! you swipe your boarding pass, and the gate opens automatically), and fall asleep almost as soon as I sit down.
sometime later that day…i stopped keeping track.
By the time the plane is descending over Hungary, I’m too tired to feel homesick anymore. It’s just snowed here, and the fields form a patchwork quilt of white and brown.
This marks the end of the short-lived “travel diary” I kept at the beginning of the semester. Yeah, I really didn’t get that far…