Day 8 : Always a work in progress!

May 23, 2011

“A work in progress, always”

Today we went on a 3 hour tour to many historic sites including Buda Castle, Inner Pest, and city park. This was an amazing, entertaining and interactive experience. The tour guide was very personable and knowledgeable. While on the interactive walk, we met some of the most amazing people ever and really had the chance to bond with other tourists and hear their testimonies. There was a great example of servant leadership that took place during our journey of exploring today, which really amazed us all as a group. We were trying to figure out how to get back to our hotel using the tram system and a Hungarian man not only gave us very detailed directions, but he also went out of his way to take us to the tram that we needed to be on. He then mentioned to Mary that while he was in America the people were so friendly and helped him so he felt that he needed to “pay it back”.  I think that this man was the perfect example of a “Fred” from the book “The Fred Factor”, as well as servant leadership. His small act of kindness meant the world to us and definitely made a huge impact on how we pay it forward in the future. We also had the opportunity to have dinner with an ESU alumni. It was great to hear his perspectives on things. Everyday has been filled with many lessons and we are so eager for more knowledge and wisdom from those around us.
(Amir) When I think about today, the lyrics to my favorite song fill my head, Adele “Someone like you”.  The song speaks of nostalgia and remembering a favorite moment in time. In the song she states “you know how the time flies, only yesterday was the time of our lives”. Today was such an amazing day that I wish I could relive it and remember every second and every moment. While on the tour, we met some amazing people. There was this girl from Virginia that has been traveling all over Eastern Europe named Kate Mize.  During the tour, I got the chance to talk to her a great deal and it was great to hear her testimony about her traveling experiences. While talking to her and hearing her experiences, she made me even more eager to continue to travel and experience different cultures. She spoke of the challenges, great moments, and the overall lessons that she has learned and the stories were very intriguing.  It was inspiring to hear such great traveling experiences from someone only a year older than me. Kate takes every single chance she has to travel and explore the world, and I hope to follow in her footsteps, share my experiences with others, and also inspire others to branch out of their comfort zones and experience a different culture. One of the many lessons I have learned while abroad has been that being out of my comfort zone has ultimately made me more comfortable as a person and has helped me understand how those foreign to our country feel. So ultimately this experience has given me understanding. I think as humans we seek to be understood and sometimes we do not venture out to understand.  Another experience that really touched me was when we as a group were trying to get back to our hotels using the tram system. While trying to figure it out a Hungarian stranger who spoke English very well offered his help. Instead, of just displaying bystander behavior, he went out of his way to show us exactly where we needed to be while also engaging in conversation. We also went to dinner with an ESU alumni. It was great to hear his experiences relating to Hungary and to also hear stories about his time at ESU.  Today was amazing and this trip just continues to better me as a person and open up my eyes to the beauty of the journey I call my life, never have I been more inspired. I like to think of myself as constant work in progress and I hope it always stays that way.

(Laura) “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart”. This is one of my favorite quotes, and something that I like to live by, especially when traveling.. Today we were treated to a wonderful tour of Budapest. While on this tour, we were accompanied by a lovely assortment of people. Among these, there was a family of four that was particularly outstanding. For starters, the mother of the family was extremely sweet and wanted to know all about my hometown and our school and what I was studying. She showed a genuine interest in our group and had an aura of joy that radiated from her being every time she spoke. The thing that struck me the most about her was that he was so utterly content. She was of those special people that sees the opportunities in learning during life and delights in the simple fact that they are there. She was also one of the first people to introduce herself to me. Normally, I like to go into a situation (foreign or otherwise) and make myself available to everyone. This would include introducing myself and trying to make people feel at ease as soon as possible. This trip however, has required that I turn a lot of focus inward. Because of this, I had the unique (for me) experience of noticing  that this time around I did not immediately approach others in the tour group. I observed them, but in an introspective manner, and therefore I was in this extremely uncomfortable situation where I did not get to speak to new people right away. I guess I never thought of stepping out my comfort zone as being the opposite of approaching people and really just kind of seeing the other side of the spectrum. I figured out that being shy for me is uncomfortable, and it does force me to look at myself. However, as much as I thought that I understood what it is like to be someone who does not necessarily seek to approach others, I got the opportunity to live it today, and it is such an intense experience to change your behavior for just one week so that you can gain something specific (even if you don’t know what that will be) and to look at things not necessarily as positive or negative, but as different versus familiar and effective versus ineffective. After a lot more reflective meditation and sight seeing, I got to interact in the best way with the rest of the group. I truly felt like I formed a connection and I had a wonderful conversation with a fellow traveler about my future. As I was talking to him, I realized that for the first time in a long time, the things that I was saying that I wanted to do in my future sounded concrete, but more than that, they sounded right for me in a way that they hadn’t for a long time. I had spent so much time trying to figure out what specific field I wanted to go in that I had managed to separate all feelings from my decision. Being around all of these well traveled people and putting my traveling skills to use was helping me round out the bigger picture that I wanted to form for myself. I guess the whole time I had been looking for answers in a smaller sense, but what I needed and was afraid to get was more information about the bigger, more international scope of things. It’s like up until then I had refused to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to take my next step until…I took my next step. I knew I wanted to travel as part of my career, so this was a huge affirmation that I need to continue to travel and learn about others traveling. -Laura

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