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Budapest Leaves me Hungary for more!

Budapest Leaves me Hungary for more!

My life has no boundaries or expectations, except this: to escape the ordinary and live the extraordinary. It’s unlike anyone else’s, for that, I find to be my greatest blessing. In my everyday life, I’ve come to see the beauty in routine things and realized that my usual way of living is not like many others in this world. I’ve been given the opportunity to act on one of my greatest passions, traveling the world and living in a city that’s far beyond my wildest dreams.

I have come to learn a lot at the John Felice Rome Center, like I have in any of my previous academic settings, and came to Italy with the intent of it being a study abroad experience. My greatest classroom is not the one in which I’m taking notes in or reading, but are places where I am not confined within four walls or have a rubric to follow. The streets, monuments, and Italian people are my classroom and have taught me more than any book ever could. Italy has become the place where I’m finding myself and continues to show me why it is Italians say “La Vita e Bella”, or Life is Beautiful.


My “normal” consists of walking around Piazza’s, attending the Papal Audience where you have direct interactions with the Pope, and getting on a plane weekly. It’s an adventure unlike any other, but continues to excite me. When not attending class in a school setting, I hit the streets in hopes of grasping more about the language and culture I’ve come to call my own. I hop on the 990 Bus and head down the hill seeing where the afternoons will take me, leading me to my favorite places or those in which I never knew existed. It directs me to interacting with French Nuns down the streets of Vatican City, finding the secret pleasures of small gelato places with friends on spontaneous afternoons when classes are canceled, and playing soccer in a Calcio league with my peers. This is my everyday and it is extraordinary.

I’ve come to experience that Rome is the perfect mix of fun and faith. It’s led me to live a life much like those around me who I’ve come to realize are some of the most sincere, adventurous, and kindhearted individuals anyone could ever meet. Every day I’m given the pleasure of getting to know them through various activities, like the Papal Audience where we stood in the pouring cold rain at 4 in the morning huddled together to keep warm or cheered each other on while kicking a soccer ball on Wednesdays. I was blessed this week by the Pope, but have come to realize through every moment I experience here, that I’m blessed constantly not just in that one ceremony. It was amazing to say the least, but did something in me that made me take a step back and realize that I got so lucky.

As if getting blessed by the Pope at the Papal Audience and winning my first ever Calcio Game 7-1 on Team Rosa wasn’t enough, I embarked on a journey to Hungary not knowing how much it would change me. Budapest, a city that was once divided only 25 years ago, showed me sincere unity that made me never want to leave. I would do a 15 hour bus ride with a group of study abroad students who were complete strangers any day just so I could return and feel the warmth of the Hungarian people and enjoy the soul food they constantly served. Through this experience a whirlwind of emotions came over me, doing activities that gave me the biggest adrenaline rush and complete serenity.

Everything everyday is a once in a lifetime opportunity because regardless if I repeat the motions and do it all over again, anything I do will never be the same. Due to this mentality I’ve established, my fearless nature has grown on me, leading me to caving in the world-renowned roots of their city. Expecting to remain on my feet the whole time, getting handed a heavy helmet and jumpsuit surprised me. The unexpected adventure awaited, leading me through the tunnels and rocks meters deep from the surface. When given the choice of going the easy or hard route, I always picked the difficulties. Squeezing through rocks with holes only big enough to get your head through, and trusting others I just met taught me how the world has more to it than what we see everyday and that if you put your mind to it, you really can do anything.


After a day filled with intensity, the exact opposite was experienced at the Szechenyi Baths where outdoor and indoor pools are naturally heated for locals and tourists to enjoy regularly. Steam filled the air and bar side crowded pools overwhelmed me with complete serenity. Strangers enjoyed each other’s company for hours sitting in swimsuits in 30 degree weather. It expressed Budapest uniqueness and community setting, something that they saw as ordinary.

In between the continuous stream of emotions, I got to enjoy the delicacies of the city taking breaks at restaurants eating Goulash and walking for miles from Buda to Pest grasping all of its history and newness. I became educated about the history of this forgotten country during my Communist Walking Tour and lost track of the miles interested in sight seeing more than the pain of my feet. The streets lead me to St. Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes’ Square, the Chain Bridge, the Great Synagogue, the Hungarian Parliament Building seen from a distance, and Castle Hill where the Royal Palace is located. After making my way from one end to the next, I enjoyed the world’s 3rd greatest nightlife at the Ruin Bars only a block from where I was staying. Night turned into morning after meeting new friends while singing Grease and making our way through the 6 bars in what seemed to be a huge apartment building. The weekend ended before I knew it, filling me with this urge of extending my stay. I saw the cities greatest attractions, but left feeling as if it had more to offer me.

Budapest is unlike any other city, for that exact reason, I grew to love it. It brought me to my highest levels of fear and then washed away my worries. It showed me the power of forgiveness and need for unity. It stood for more than an economically driven city, like those of our time. There were no souvenir shops, and only people speaking the world’s most complicated language, but it only brought contentment. Budapest left me Hungary for more making a weekend trip turn into a future residency.

One week is all it took me to realize life’s greatest blessings given to me by God. He brought me to the Pope and then to what I believe to be the world’s greatest city. I went from being a girl with plans of returning to America for a life of a white picket fence and backyard in the suburbs to dreaming about my future house across the Chain Bridge, exchanging Euros for Florints. My heart overcame my head as always, leaving me Hungary for more than the life I thought I dreamed of.

Although my wish list continues to grow, my heart continues to see the blessings my life has given me. I’m off to satisfy my hunger and continue this great adventure I’m experiencing.


Ciao for now,

Gabriella Lunich

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