Saying Goodbye

I have been thinking a lot today about my last day in Hungary. I am not sure what brought it on, but I have been pondering it none the less. I woke up early, and looked around my bare walls. I was overwhelmed and didn’t want to greet the day, I didn’t want to face what was happening, the end of everything I had made, the end of everything I had grown to love. I got out of bed and climbed down my out of my loft, contemplating weather to finish my packing now or later. I just sat with anyu (mother), and we chatted, I don’t recall about what. My fabulous Hungarian friend Noemi surprised me, by coming by. We went together to a corner ABC shop and bought some necessaries for my journey. It felt like any other day, we chatted about the weather and our friends. She helped me finish packing. I left bundles of stuff in my closet, over flow from my bags and a box to be sent later. My room, my sanctuary was empty of all my touches, just the hockey memorabilia that belonged to my brother Istvan.

I had said goodbye to the rest of my family the night before, and everyone was at work when anyu and I left for the airport. I said a sad goodbye to Noemi on the street outside of my building. I was wearing tons and tons of layers, a long sleeve black shirt, a cami, a white blouse, a sweater, a coat, and lastly my bulky navy blue Rotary blazer (laden down with pins and mementos). It was hot out, not Hungarian hot, but definitely Alaskan hot, probably 85 F or so.

The part of my departure that I can recall most vividly is the drive, the airport is a ways out of the city, so driving there passes through the city from my Budapest home.I hadn’t cried till then, but as I passed through the city of my heart, my home the tears came to the surface as my host mother drove. We were silent most of the drive, or at least I can’t remember saying anything of consequence. We drove past Deak, then Kalvin, then past my normal haunting places, to the edges of my lovely city. As I passed the green tiled roof of what I think is the Agricultural Museum at Kalvin ter I felt to empty, I never remember feeling so hopeless. I am not sure why this particular building should have affected me so, but it was the total embodiment of everything that was Hungarian for me at that moment. Here are the photos I snapped of it, rushing by in the car on my way to the airport.

At the airport I was greeted by my dear friends RJ and Jordan who were nice enough to wake up and see me off, it wasn’t that early about 1 or so, but after a late night it was a great honor to see them there. Even with all the things I had left behind at home my bag was still too large to I had to get rid of even more, handing a pair of scarcely used running shoes to anyu. Eventually I could delay it no longer and I said my goodbyes. There were less tears than I had thought, I manage to hold back most of them.

The last thing anyu said to me was vigyázz Magadra csillagom. or something along those lines, which basically means take care of yourself, or be safe my star. Anyu always says vigyázz Magadra when we part, and it seemed fitting to hear it then. Through security, as I sat on the floor waiting for my flight a flood gate opened and I could hardly see though the haze. I spent the last bit of the credit on my mobile to talk to my Mexican friend Rafa, interrupting his lunch to cry. He listened and comforted but it helped little.

I suppose my real last good bye to Hungary was seeing the city disappear below me as the plan lifted away, sitting next to me a Hungarian woman talked amiably with a man as I felt my heart break into a thousand pieces.

I don’t mean to write this post just to seem depressing, but I think that it just seems like a story to be told. I loved Hungary and my time there and it was admittedly difficult to leave my new home, but I think the true testament to being an exchange student is that you can learn to be happy wherever life takes you. And although I wish I were at my home in Budapest more than I should sometimes, I am trying to learn to be happy here as well, at home with my family. Life is once again falling into a routine that both placates me and scares me, I am readjusted to me family and friends, and I am able to look back with less longing as time progresses. I am planing to attend UAA in the fall and I am actually managing to muster up some excitement at the prospect of staying Alaska, and hey they have a great exchange program :)


6 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye

  1. Nicole, we spent ever so little of your time here toogether, but in that I grew to love you, and I missed you ever since you left… I know leaving was necessary, but think of this: you can always come back. Go out in the world, study, and then you can always decide which part of the world you want to live in.

  2. I like that building. It is pretty. I wish you weren’t so bummed out about it, yet I suppose feelings happen sometimes. However, you make it sound like you will never see Hungary again. Don’t act like that!!

  3. It kind of felt like that at the time, but everything feels extreme to a teenager I suppose. But yeah I can go back, and I hope to. But I am also happy here now, to a point at least.

    Thanks anett! I miss knitting with you all! I hope to see you again soon :)

  4. you forgot that you called me before you left, i had overslept cause i was so hungover. and i regret that so badly. cause i never got a chance to say a real goodbye to my best friend in hungary, who was you.
    i miss you so much. going to budapest again is not the same cause i can’t go to the second hand shops or h&m withouth thinking about all our shopping days… and you saying so many times “sofi you can’t buy that, you said you won’t buy anything this time”

  5. I remember that emptiness from my last morning in Germany. My friend’s mom made breakfast for us — bread with strawberry jam– and I remember just feeling bleak. It was awful. I wasn’t ready to go home, even though I had been so homesick I thought I would die. It wasn’t so much the idea that I would never get to go back to Germany again, as it was the knowledge that I was ending an amazing journey and would never get to be in a similar situation again. Being a high school exchange student is unique, and even though I’ve done study abroad twice since then (once in college, once in law school), it was never the same level of intimacy. I think, for me, it was the beginning of really understanding the idea that things will always change and that even though it’s sad or difficult, it’s part of life– after all, the saying “all good things must come to an end” had to have its roots in some deep human experience for it to be so widespread.

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