For my STEP signature project I participated in the Hungary Global May study abroad program. We spent the month in Budapest while taking small excursions to Warsaw and Vienna. Throughout the month I was immersed in the Hungarian culture and learned about the history and politics of the country through morning classes and afternoon city tours.
When I arrived in Budapest I did not know much about what the city had to offer. I was also a little nervous about spending an entire month abroad away from my familiar college lifestyle with my family and friends. However, the hostel was very similar to my college and dorm lifestyle, so it made it feel more like home. Despite my nerves, I was energized and ready to explore the city that I would call home for the next month.
Budapest started to feel like a home when I began classes because although I was across the world from OSU, I was in “student mode” and realized that I can make any city my home by immersing myself in the culture. Also, I was invested in learning what life as a Hungarian is like because my great-grandparents were from here. My family is proud of our Hungarian heritage, and I wanted to take advantage of everything I could to make this trip an unforgettable learning experience. That included trying all the famous Hungarian dishes that I often eat at home such as paprikash, goulash, and fried cheese!
Throughout the month my view of the world started to change. I realized just how important it is to expand my horizons and learn about different cultures and people. I do not want my worldview to be limited to the United States. I came to realize that a well-stamped passport is the best textbook because one can learn about the past, present, and future of today’s global world. Despite differences in cultures, I found that I could make a home any place in the world by creating unforgettable memories, like I did in Budapest.
These unbelievable memories would not have been possible without first and foremost my fellow Ohio State classmates – all of whom are now family to me. When the trip started out we were all strangers who might have exchanged a glance or two back on the oval during the massive class exchanges. But that quickly changed as we all lived in very close quarters in the hostel and our budding friendships began. From the first day we all made a “no man left behind” pact because we were determined to make everyone feel included. Little did we know, we would all feel like family by the end of the trip. One of my favorite experiences was on our first weekend when nearly the entire group decided to go on a hike together, even though we could have all done separate activities. It was a great way to bond and get to know one another on a personal level. From then on, everyone looked out for each other and started to form deep friendships that will last a lifetime.
My yearning for exploration began as Budapest started to feel more like home. Once I realized I could learn to be comfortable in a foreign city I developed an urge to travel more. This was perfect timing because about half way through the month we had our excursion to Warsaw, Poland. Not only was I able to get another coveted stamp on my passport, but also I could learn about my own Polish heritage. I learned much about Poland through our lectures, but mostly from my program director, Daniel Pratt. His passion and excitement for Poland was contagious; he had lived there for a few years and developed a deep love and appreciation for the country and especially the city of Warsaw itself. One day he was telling us countless stories of his experiences and I couldn’t help but want to travel the world just like him. He is definitely one of the catalysts of my desire to explore all that the world has to offer.
Throughout the month I gained much knowledge about Hungary, Poland, and Austria. I am not a very big history buff; however, the material that I learned on this trip was so engaging that I looked forward to attending class the next morning. Learning about the rich history and cultures of these countries from locals themselves made the information relatable and exciting because they were able to share their own personal experiences and stories. Then to top it all off, our learning was accompanied by walking tours of the city so we could visit monuments, memorials, and museums that brought the history to life. Now I cannot wait to travel the world so I can make more unforgettable experiences that will shape me into the global businesswoman that I aspire to be.
I would love to be a well-traveled businesswoman and I believe that through this STEP experience I am on my way to achieving that goal. This experience enhanced me professionally from a business and communication perspective. As a developing businesswoman, I want to gain as much international exposure as possible and learn about different cultures and practices. Being able to understand and grasp varying customs of cultures from around the world is key in conducting international business. Working collaboratively with Hungarian students on my multimedia project helped me understand how to create a global network and work respectably and efficiently with international cultures, which is crucial in the business world today.
My aspiration is to become a Certified Public Accountant before I begin a full-time job with a Big Four Accounting Firm in fall 2017. I am looking to travel domestically and internationally in my career and I believe the experiences from the Hungary Global May Program will help me to do so. By attending this trip I can show future employers that I am capable and eager to travel internationally. Not to mention, I will have already extended my global network with professors, students, and local business professionals. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend the Hungary Global May Program because of STEP, as it far exceeded my expectations. I have grown academically, professionally, and personally; and I would not trade this experience for anything.
Here is a link to my multimedia video project on Budapest Café Culture:
This is a picture of my fellow Ohio State classmates and our program director, Daniel Pratt, during our farewell dinner on the Danube River. This was one of my favorite experiences of the trip because we were all together in one place, sharing our favorite memories of the month.
This picture was taken at Buda Castle and overlooks the Pest side of Budapest.