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.
Ryan Lane (’10)
Enthusiasm works better than coffee. Every morning on this journey, I’ve risen quickly, jolting awake to the prospect of learning more incredible information and crafting memories with the amazing individuals who accompany me on this journey.
The enthusiasm is validated as soon as breakfast starts. Today is full, as they all are. We have a crash-course lecture, workshop, and panel on the European Union, but only after we navigate Budapest to find each appropriate location. The group finishes their breakfast, breaks out the maps, and leaves the Radio Inn in small parties.
We get there a few minutes early, smiling and laughing and living all the way—a beautiful constant of this trip.
The instructional sessions were incredibly informative, especially because many of us had only brief introductions to the topics presented. Hungary’s entire political system experienced massive changes following the election of Fidesz party last year. The party currently holds a supermajority in Hungary’s parliament, and has enacted sweeping changes to the government’s structure. Exactly how these changes will affect Hungary’s relationship with the European Union is yet to be seen, but we were fortunate to hear the perspectives of several prominent EU experts regarding their potential consequences.
The day’s presentations adjourned in the early evening, leaving a few hours before we had to meet up with our Hungarian home-stays. Some went back to the hotel to nap, but a few us went to a small basement tea house. Sipping oolongs on cushions, we chatted about the day’s shenanigans, laughing all the way.
At 7pm, our university student home-stays picked us up. Some groups went to nice restaurants, others visited beautiful city-sights, and others explored the Budapest night-life. All felt the energy of the last night (for a little while) in the city and wanted to make sure this first leg of the trip ended on a high note. My home-stay and I danced through the night, connecting over cultural tid-bits and our future aspirations shared above the nightclub’s electronica. I could not have asked for a better communion.
I feel endlessly fortunate for the beautiful experiences we’ve enjoyed these last few days. This trip has incredible potential, in every sense of the word.