A bridge can take you from one place to another; it can connect people, combine cultures and cultivate cities. Bridges fill gaps. In cities as different as Waco and Budapest the bridges were the key to development. Bridges allowed commerce to move over the Brazos and people to connect over the Danube from Buda to Pest.

Building bridges, my classmates and I merged our culture with the Hungarians’.

Budapest, Hungary, was a culture shock. The idea of living here for five weeks intimidated us. The Hungarian lifestyle is as different from ours as hilly Buda is to flat Pest. While Americans live a fast-paced lifestyle, Hungarians live life at a leisurely pace.

We thrive through the hustle and bustle of city life where we have a four-year planner, long-term goals and expect solutions to be at our fingertips. America is a progressive country that lives in the future, always waiting for the next best thing. Hungarians carry with them a heavy past. Their history cultivates the culture, social norms and lifestyle.

“Americans manage their lives while Hungarians live their lives,” Eötvös Kollégium ELTE professor Mária Sántha said.

Even though our lifestyles appear to be on opposite banks we have managed to find similarities in our culture that have allowed us to build bridges, flowing together and filling what seemed to be unbridgeable gaps.

The Baylor in Budapest program, unique to other study abroad programs, has taught us to become the traveler rather than the tourist. We have learned to immerse ourselves in the culture that surrounds us instead of overlooking it and focusing on the picture perfect-place we see in postcards. In order to fully embrace a country one must become a part of it.

The Bridged Gap is a website designed and inspired by Baylor University journalism study abroad students living in Budapest. This site shares our personal experiences, insights and advice on traveling for the reader.

We hope this site is able to help you on your travels and allow you to fill gaps and build bridges wherever life may take you.

Written by Christy Soto