The conventional purpose of travel is cultural immersion and understanding. It is no different for the students of Baylor University, but while studying abroad there is an additional emphasis to experiencing culture in an unconventional manner. While we studied abroad in Budapest, we had the privilege of developing a greater cultural understanding and cultivating our own personal growth.
Personal growth occurred both inside and outside of the classroom as we honed our writing abilities through lectures and practice. We were asked to venture beyond our comfort zones and grapple with the difficulties of reporting on a foreign culture. We met this challenge boldly and where able to develop a distinctive body of work despite the obstacles.
Some of these obstacles are obvious: the language barrier, navigation challenges and cultural differences, but other obstacles were subtler and sometimes proved to be the most challenging to overcome.
One such obstacle was adapting to the mindset of the Hungarian people while providing American insights. We had to understand the complexities of a people that have overcome unimaginable adversity; a challenge that gave the other students and me a great admiration for the people of Hungary.
Another challenge we met was the difficulty of cultivating working relationships with one another. Some of the us had never met prior to the trip and this made working relationships initially difficult to cement. This was coupled with the natural tensions of group travel, but our group ultimately overcame these factors and forged healthy relationships.
Ultimately, our group will not leave Budapest as the same people who arrived. Each individual will take something with them from the trip that has meaning for them. For me, it is a greater appreciation of life and human freedom, something I learned from the history of Hungary.
The experiences which aided our growth, the friends we made and the sometimes sobering sights we experienced have shown the students that the world does not stop at the borders of America.