Welcome to Budapest!

First, I suppose I should start with the flight details over the last few days. I arrived at the Grand Rapids airport with John-Michael about an hour before we were supposed to. Perfect! I love when I get to places that early (no sarcasm, for real). So, we sat and waited for the others to arrive. When we got bored, we weighed our bags early to make sure we weren’t over weight limits. We were fine — John-Michael had 45lbs, and I had 47 for the checked bag; the weight limit is 50. When the others finally arrived, we had a small orientation and devotional, then headed off to security.

Somehow, security was not all that I thought it was cracked up to be.

I remember that on the way to both Australia/New Zealand and Glen Eyrie, security was long and arduous. This time, it took me about three minutes to get through. I guess when you follow the rules, you’re good to go! No matter which airport it was, security and customs never took long to clear.

So, we boarded the flight in Grand Rapids and took off. The flight lasted about 30 minutes. When we arrived in Detroit, we had a three hour layover, during which time I went with John-Michael to a sushi place and ordered tempura sushi rolls. The chef prepared them right in front of us, and they were delicious! After that, we just lounged around and waited for the flight. Once we were on board, there was a TV on the back of each seat that I didn’t use much. I changed the TV language to Japanese and then browsed around, finally just settling on the screens that tracked our plane and showed its stats. Like this —

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Not long after boarding the flight at 9:45 PM, we were offered a meal. I didn’t really want it, but I didn’t want to waste the food either, so I took a chicken salad with fruit, some cheese, and some crackers with a brownie. I ate the salad, fruit, and cheese, saving the rest for later.

Sleeping on the plane was an ordeal. There was very little space, and I’m short enough that I don’t fit into the seats correctly and can’t lean my neck against the rest in the back of the seat, so I was forced to lean forward and rest my head on the tray. Unfortunately (as has often happened when I have to sleep on planes), the person in front of me rather enjoyed moving the seat back and forth, pinching my head between the seat and the tray. I slept for a few half-hours at a time, totaling about 2 hours of the 9-hour flight.

When the flight to Amsterdam landed, it was 10:30 AM their time, or 4:30 AM Pennsylvania time. We quickly got self-service boarding passes and went through customs, then headed to our gate D65 to await our KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) flight to Budapest. Once we had all made it to the gate, our group scattered to look around in the airport, since we had a little more than an hour before boarding. Once they were gone and only three or four of us remained, I noticed that our gate had been changed to D85 with no announcement. If I had not looked at the boarding screen, I would never have noticed. So, I went back and told the group, and we agreed that some would head to D85, alerting any others they saw on the way, while one of us would stay by the luggage. When I wanted to double check that D85 was the correct gate, Kelly came with me and saw that it was. Then, she returned to the luggage. At that moment, the flight KL 1977 displayed as scheduled to depart from gate C8.

Fantastic. I just sent an envoy out to send the students from one wrong gate to the other wrong gate.

This was now the third gate, after two gate changes within ten minutes. So our group had split into thirds, and none of us were at the right gate. We had thirty minutes till boarding time. With some coordinated effort, we finally got everyone to the gate (and I was actually the first to board!).

The KLM flight to Budapest went uneventfully. At the Ferihegy Airport here in Buda, I do believe we only had one person who had lost a luggage item — a bag he was forced to check because the plane was full. We haven’t heard anything about that yet.

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We settled into our rooms, and I was given a room with only one roommate in the quietest part of the dorm (which is not saying much, since all the girls live together in a VERY echoey cluster of rooms). We are the only ones to have a washing machine in our closet, though! 🙂 She is a very kind roommate, although I do not know her well  yet. She actually volunteered to be my roommate after learning the reason for me staying in a quiet room (because of my hyperacusis), saying that she is a quiet person.

The rooms are small and may seem unappealing for those used to living “in style,” but for me it is just fine. I don’t care that there are spots on the walls, an obsolete-looking heater instead of something more stylish, or cobwebs in the ceiling corners. I wouldn’t call the place “run-down,” rather more “unkempt.” But because I have a place to live, I am happy. I slept remarkably well in the bed, which is soft (although anything would be an improvement from sleeping on the tray table of an airplane).

Today (the day after arrival), we headed to the nearby stores to scout out what kinds of foods we can plan into our menus, since there is no dining hall at Karoli. In fact, we are nowhere near Karoli and must take the tram every day to get to classes. Anyway, I bought a giant roll to snack on throughout the day for 20 forints (which is about 9 cents USD), and it was delicious! It was made fresh by hand shortly before I bought it. Of course, the cashier lady spoke Hungarian, but she seemed very happy. I’m sure I will see her often. Dinner will be provided by Professor Feenstra after we go to Castle Hill (Várhegy) to get a better view of the city.

That’s all for now, but tomorrow is a national holiday, so I’ll be posting again soon!

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