I've always been that one spontaneous friend in the group; that one friend who consistently and conscientiously brings up ideas that we could do. I always change my mind and half the time I change them over. AIESEC in Hungary was something I never even thought of. At the beginning of 2013, I had no plans to travel alone. Little did I know, a random 'what-if' had sprung up and I applied. In my head, it was all just something I would apply for to see what would happen or if I could even get in. I did. And so, this little 'Jess-Plan' as my best friends name it became a 'Jess-ends-up-in-Hungary-for-Summer-Vacation'.
I never really thought I'd be into teaching. My program with the Bolyai Janos School in Szombathely, a city near the border of Hungary and Austria, was as far off my entire life direction had ever been. By the end of 2013, I had finished my second year of a Bachelor of Engineering and Arts degree. I had no experience in teaching (especially English as a second language), save for a few tutoring students.
I chose Hungary because it was a country I had never known anything about. I did not know the language (which happens to be by far one of the most interesting and intricate languages in my experience), or the customs. So I decided to take a leap. Even the city I was staying in (a whopping 3 hour train trip from Budapest), I did not know until I decided to Google it in a hotel room in Hong Kong two nights before my arrival.
I was assigned to two host families to stay. With their help, I settled in. Hungarian customs are interesting. The Hungarian word for Hello AND Goodbye is 'Szia!' (see-ya). They also said 'Hello' as a farewell. You can imagine the confusion for about the first week or so.
I was assigned to aid teachers in the Language Department. A majority of my days were in the office reading and taking walks around the school where I could meet the students, many of which were too timid to approach a native English speaker. Although I was bored quite often, my positive experiences had overtaken the negative. My host family took me skiing in the Austrian Alps, they took me to see the neighbouring castles and they made delicious food every night!
The children I talked to were really enthusiastic. Regardless of the language barrier, we all cried together at the end of my stay. I have never thought that I would be so attached to strangers and students in this environment.
I had a wonderful white-summer. This experience had opened my eyes to the world around me.