Each summer the Flinn Scholars Program takes an entire class of Scholars to Budapest, Hungary, and neighboring Slovakia and Serbia for a three-week seminar on the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. Here’s a day-by-day account.
Savannah Martin (’10)
We rolled into Pécs around 12:45, sleepy, starving and sluggish. The city greeted our droopy eyes with crumbling brick facades and shady trees, houses nestled into rolling hills. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t in Budapest anymore. Our walking tour of the city revealed a youthful, fresh atmosphere and a feeling of optimism that was absent from the capital. Many people in Budapest still carry the weight of communism like mud caked on their shoes. It seems the sun shines a little brighter in Pécs.
After the tour, Carter and I explored Király utca, or King street, which features most of the pubs and restaurants in the city, including a McDonalds and a place called “Arizona Ranch.” We walked until we thought there was nothing left to see, finally stumbling upon Sufni Art Pub. This unique café sits inconspicuously at just about the end of Király. Inside, the walls are covered with handwritten anecdotes, signatures and cartoons left by the people who have passed through.
Exhausted umbrellas hang from the ceiling and antiques clutter every available space. We settled into a pair of decaying chairs and had a relaxing evening- chatting, writing emails, and listening to the gentle rain. All too soon it was time to return to the hotel and meet up with the rest of the group, but not before leaving a part of ourselves behind in blue sharpie.
Strolling down Király utca under my Walmart travel umbrella, I felt an overwhelming feeling of contentment. Here I was with an extraordinary friend splashing through the streets of one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever experienced. And it only got better. We walked onto the main square and turned to face a perfect double rainbow stretched across the evening sky. City Hall glowed in the setting sun and the rain pattered in the cobblestone streets.
These were my first six hours in Pécs.
I know it all sounds terribly cliché, but I’m not exaggerating. This simple, unexpected experience is going to be one of my most treasured memories. And I’ve learned that it is these instances that make an experience not only unique, but yours. Whether it is dancing to traditional Hungarian music, playing with children in a Roma village, discovering a cool pub or merely a rainbow, an experience is memorable because you make it yours and you make it new.
We’ve colored this trip with our own palette and it can never be recreated; this truly is a once-in-a-lifetime deal. In fact, over the past few days I’ve realized that everything in life is. Every conversation, interaction, all of it is distinct- so own it. Invest yourself in each day, because there will never be another one like it.