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  • Writer's pictureMaiya Focht

Week Seven- Corona Craze

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

This week has been characterized by travels to Budapest and concerns over the spread of corona virus.

Last Tuesday, the Syracuse Florence program was sent home amid the Italian government's response to the Milan corona outbreak. This response includes closing borders and discouraging group congregation (i.e. of students). Both of these responses create a rather hostile, if not uncomfortable, situation for abroad programs, and as such the people in charge elected to send all 400+ students home. By the end of the week, every American study abroad program was pulled from the country.

Naturally, this created mass upset. Not only are the students of the Florence program absolutely crestfallen at being sent home, but also the students of every other study program are experiencing a classic case of mass hysteria. It seems as if everyone is waiting with bated breath for the moment that our future plans are too pulled out from under our feet.

Even though I fancy myself a level headed individual, and am not particularly worried about catching the disease itself, I too have felt tension grow knotted in my chest. Perhaps its simply seeing the heart break that my friends have experience that has made me realize how fragile this state we're in is. That at any moment, this amazing cultural experience I'm having could be taken away.

Shortly after writing the previous paragraphs, the temperature did indeed rise, and we were informed that our future fate at the Syracuse London program would be decided within the next 24 hours. By tomorrow morning, I will know whether or not I am able to continue this lovely journey I have found myself on. My heart aches to know it could be taken away at any moment, but I am doing my best to keep positive until then.

On a lighter note, this past week my two friends and I visited Budapest, Hungary. We took a much easier travel route than that we did to Berlin, and flew directly into the city via a 2 hour flight. Upon arrival on Thursday night, we were able to take a cheap cab directly to our cozy and clean Air BnB. We spent the night eating pizza, watching odd Hungarian programming, and drinking cheap wine.

On Friday we took a trip to the famous thermal baths, hallowed for their healing properties. Candidly, I was less than thrilled about the idea of a public bath with hundreds of strangers (thanks Dad for the germaphobia), but I actually quite enjoyed myself. The baths were quite clean and cozy, and I left feeling refreshed, albeit a bit pruny.

We then headed back to our apartment to shower and went to a famous Israeli restaurant by the name of Mazel Tov. I had a hummus bowl that was to die for (pictured below) and we enjoyed some live music as well. In true European fashion, we spent 2 1/2 hours dining there, and then took to wandering the streets and markets for a bit, scouring for the best postcards and knick knacks.

After a night out at their famous ruin bars, we treated ourselves to breakfast at Circusz. Let me tell ya, if Budapest hadn't already earned my heart with their architecture and culture, they would've won me over with this breakfast. Named, "The Recovery Breakfast" it would fulfill the needs of even the most obese American, and for a measly 12 USD.

After breakfast, our Saturday consisted of checking out of our Air BnB and sightseeing before our flight later that night. We headed across the river to the Fishermans bastion area. This is where you see much of the architecture below. It included a castle, turrets, and mountain system straight out of the pages of a fairy tale, and despite my blistered and tired feet I was delighted.

Budapest, though I now write with a heavy heart for my unstable place in this program, you bring me joy to think about. You are a beautiful, affordable, and delicious city full of history and a quirkiness that steers far from its more pretentious neighbors (cough, cough, Berlin). I would recommend this trip to any traveler, old or young, adventurous or calm.

And so, as week seven draws to a close, I find myself a bit at a loss for words. Though I hate that I'm already having to reflect upon my time here as if it is ending, I am grateful for the chance to stop and be thankful for all that I have already experienced. I do so earnestly hope that I will get the opportunity to stay in this lovely city, but you know what they say about best laid plans.

Days left: 60??

Places visited: BUDAPEST- Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Fishermans Bastion, Buda Castle, Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Matthias Church, Mazel Tov restaurant, Circusz restaurant

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