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International Center

University of Missouri

Budapest and Vienna

Filed in Austria, Blog, Hungary by on January 13, 2014

When I first arrived in Europe at the end of December, I had no idea what to expect from the next two weeks of studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria. I had no way of knowing all of the beautiful sights I would see or people I would meet. Whether I spent my entire day at a single museum, visited one of the six local companies with my fellow students or wandered around the city, the most important thing I learned was never to waste a single moment. Some of the best things I did or saw happened completely by accident, just by taking a detour from my plans or going off on my own.

My favorite memory from the week I spent in Budapest happened on New Year’s morning. I set off on my own for the first time with a plan to climb to the top of the Gellért Hill on the Buda side of the Danube River. Not many people were out walking that morning, except for the city workers who were just finishing their task of cleaning the streets from the celebrations of New Year’s Eve. When I finally reached the top of the hill, the sight was unbelievable. I could see all the bridges that connect the two sides of the city and recognized various places I had visited, such as the Central Market. All I could think of was that I was so glad that I wasn’t asleep in my hotel room. This was the moment that I truly realized how special my study abroad experience would be. I will never forget how beautiful the city looked that morning or how inspired I felt to begin the year.

In Vienna, a friend and I planned to spend the day at the Upper Belvedere Museum in the southeast corner of the city. We had just found the museum when we both noticed a huge, green dome in the opposite direction and decided to take a quick detour to find out what the building was. It turned out to be Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church. We walked around the outside and took pictures of the beautiful architecture before going inside. We almost walked right back out, however, after finding out that it cost four euros to go inside. Thankfully we decided to stay. Once inside, there was a free-standing elevator you could take to the top of the dome to see the paintings on the ceiling. I was terrified on the ride up and tried to not look down. At the top, there were even more stairs to go up, and we nervously decided to take them to the very top of the dome. Through the windows, we could see almost the whole city. Both of us could barely breathe or find words to describe the experience.

After reflecting on my two weeks studying abroad, I realized that my best experiences usually resulted from random decisions. My favorite places were places where I could see the whole city from above. I also realized that I would have been very lost without the kindness and helpfulness of strangers. If you ever get the chance to study abroad ?— and I would recommend making it a priority — my best advice would be to spend as little time as possible in your hotel room. Go out and see everything you can because you don’t want to miss having an experience that you’’ll remember for the rest of your life.

New Year's Morning, Budapest

New Year’s Morning, Budapest

View from the Top, Budapest
Outside the Central Market, Budapest
Inside the Central Market, Budapest
Karlskirche, ViennaStairs to the Top, Vienna
Inside the Dome, Vienna
Upper Belvedere Museum, Vienna

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