by Courtney Bettin, CCI Greenheart Travel High School Exchange student in Italy
I was recently lucky enough to take a trip with my host sister and her class to Budapest, Hungary for a week. It was such a great opportunity to spend time with my friends here in Italy, and make new ones at the same time. The thing about San Sebastiano is everyone knows everyone. So if you’re friends with a few people, being in this group situation will ensure you learn everyone’s name.
For many people it was their first time being on a plane, in Europe everything is so close together that they end up driving a lot or taking the train, and although everyone was a little sleepy from our early morning rise, you could feel the excitement in the air. Everyone whooped and cheered when the plane peeled off the pavement, ready to enjoy the freedom of being away from school and our parents and just have a good time.
In the mornings we would go down for breakfast, chatting and laughing, and then grab our things and get onto one of the two buses that would take us sightseeing that day. They really made sure we saw all that we could while we were there. From Hero’s Square, to many of the beautiful castles, they even planned out time so we could visit the geothermal springs. I admit, the tour guide was a little dry and she only spoke in Italian (of course) so I only caught bits and pieces of what she was saying, but with this group it was never a dull moment. From posing for silly photos to joining the street performers, they always kept things interesting. I give credit to the chaperones, we must have been a hard bunch, someone was always finding a new way to get into trouble.
We also did a lot of shopping. The Hard Rock Cafe and Starbucks were very popular because they don’t have them in Italy. The Hard Rock Cafe had so many people they had a line forty people long just to get in. And yes, I waited in it, for my friends if not for me. However, we also got to see some of the Hungarian markets, getting lost between the stalls. I ended up buying two small boxes which are traditional to the Hungarian culture. You have to move different pieces of the box to find the key which unlocks the top; very neat.
During the evenings we hung out with other people in their hotel rooms, if we could get past the chaperones. It was funny to listen to people bolting down the hallways from room to room trying their best not to get sent to bed. On one particular night the school rented a boat on the shore of the Budapest river so all of the students could see Budapest by night. Budapest is one of the most unique places I have ever been to, made up of two smalls towns Buda and Pest. It has a very Gothic theme throughout the entire city and I was stunned by it’s beauty when I saw it on the bus during the day. At night? It’s unforgettable.