When the dude EWhite came up with the name ‘Glass Duffle’, it was a nod to a common theme here: travel. ‘Duffle’ in our namesake is an attribution to travel and all of the auras that encompass it. The inspiration known as my sister is overpacking multiple duffles (probs) here soon for an extended stay in a place I hold dear– Hungary. I’ve been admitted the incredible opportunity to visit the homeland of my mother and grandparents on three separate occasions as of this moment. I’ve awkwardly teenaged through a few week stay at 15 with only my nagymamma in the capital of Budapest; resurfaced junior year of college through an Ohio University 2-week student consulting gig in Pécs; and really immersed myself in another Ohio University afforded 6-week student consulting partnership with University of Pécs again. Switzerland (Interlaken), Italy (Rome), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Lake Balaton (Hungary thrice) and Croatia (Novalja) are also able to say that they’ve seen me drunk.
I took heed on some advice, and other times I had to learn the hard way when gallivanting sweet Europa (don’t wear a New Era hat with the sticker still on it backwards if you wanna even remotely blend in, for example).
So how do sis and the young guns, or anyone for that matter, prepare themselves for a magical (but educational and safe) time when they cross the pond?
Ain’t life swell when you’re in the midst of the travel? Well, it should be anyway. There’s a certain freedom to it that you can get lost in. I’m not sure if I have all the answers; all I have are a plenty profound memories, a couple hazy ones, and the comfort of knowing I made it home in one-piece. I also have the humbling satisfaction of knowing I had a fuckin ridiculously good time. I would encourage all of my fellow humans to take a couple of these tips to heart if they’d like to duplicate similar feelings for the continent of Europe. Or, you could just consciously choose which advises to hear, and play with fire on the rest. That’s what I did, and here I am, vocalizing what a revelatory, transformative, and jovial experience I had. Here are my thoughts:
1. Be prepared to handle adversity. This is where one might say you’re out of your comfort zone. You’re in a foreign place, with different cultures, politics, ideologies, and so on. The best way to handle this adversity is preparation. Whether that be planning your travel routes and through what avenues; picking up key phrases to get around in the language of the region; or prefacing your trip with proper research on current events in the area, you’ll be suited to avoid total freak out. And if all else fails, kick back some liquor courage of the local preference, perhaps…
2. Consciously focus your energy on respecting your new home; be self-aware. Us yanks have quite a few stigmas associated with us overseas. It’s definitely a lengthy, subjective range from our European counterparts. Anything from arrogant pricks to carefree, fantastic party peoples. The best way to leave a positive light for those who are more… uninformed…on Americans is to maintain respect and self-awareness. Wish I coulda done a better job particularly in my places of lodging my latter two stays in Hungary. Go out, sip tipsy, and meet people, of course, just remember– you’re a guest. Be one that would be welcomed back.
3. Visit places in close proximity. I can’t stress this one enough. My first study abroad stint consisted of traveling from Amsterdam to Interlaken to Budapest by train in a span of a ~week; I think I spent more than a whole day on a train, at 6’3, surrounded by strangers, like this. It wadn’t as glamorous as it sounds or looks. It also made for some stressful still-drunkenly-hungover travel anxieties. Play it safe and explore bordering countries. Europe is such a vast playground of wonder, you can find hidden gems in any country, Western or Eastern (see below: Novalja, Croatia). It’s worth mentioning that it’s easier to get shit done when you travel in smaller groups, for obvious reasons (2-4 people optimally).
4. You’ll probably embarrass yourself; it’s all good. There will be nights when you might get so inebriated it won’t matter if you’re fluent in the native tongue. Shit happens like that when you combine strangers, hormones, and an unexplored space. The best thing you can do is laugh it off the next day and apologize to anyone with whom you’ve might crossed that line outlined in #2. I’d suggest to just try your best to maintain some self-control more regularly than not, ya know?
5. Hang out with your counterparts; immerse yourself in their life. Europeans love to dance; so my friends and I did. Was everyone comfortable getting down in dance clubs frequently? Eh, debatable. Palinka helps. But that was the main nightlife attraction in the culture I was engaged in. Your European friends are your guide to the parts unknown. Get to know their culture, their history, their city, their personal stories– take it all in. You might never get a chance to go back…
Zamárdi, Hungary (Lake Balaton)