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How I Beat the “One-Two Combo”

Nostalgia (näˈstaljə) n.: The sentimental state of mind in which wistfully great memories of the past slap you in the face with reminiscence and a heavy longing for their return. Sometimes, it punches you in the stomach too. Believe me, this “one-two combo” is no joke; it’s been hitting me a lot lately. And the more you get hit in the same place, the more it hurts.

Last week, I sat in class rescheduling my final exams for an earlier date. I pulled up my calendar and counted down the days until I left Budapest. That’s when the motherfucker hit me. I was already feeling nostalgic just thinking about returning to the States, but counting down the days did something different. All of a sudden, I realized that my departure was imminent and tangible; there was virtually no chance of me staying in this country (or continent for that matter). And even if I somehow found a way to do so, would it still be the same without the people who helped me construct such a profound framework of memories?

I pictured an hourglass, slowly dribbling grains of sand into the already-brimming bottom bulb. Time was running out, and reality was ready to grab me by the throat and throw me back into corporate America. Nostalgia, you really, really suck sometimes.

But over the past week, I spent some time thinking about how I could beat this feeling, how I could counter Señor Nostalgia and his mighty “jab and cross.” Because, you know, I’m still human and would appreciate the 1-minute break. I re-read my blogs, re-looked at my Budapest pictures, and even re-perused all my emails saved in my “study abroad” folder… And the transition from my first arrival in Budapest to this very day was unreal. The amount of fun, friendships, and personal development in character and worldly knowledge was something I could never exchange for anything else in the world. I started to understand how important this entire experience was for me, and I felt better. A lot better.

You’re right. You’ll never be able to completely relive the memories you have made for yourself and those around you. But what’s important is not that the memories have past, but that they were created in the first place. Nostalgia is a funny thing; you hate it because you want such great times in the past to be recreated, but you love it because the past created something in you. Whether it was your personality, comfort zone, wistful memoirs, appreciation for the world, or stomach, something grew. You are now able to say that you know more about the world around you; that you met amazing people spanning across several continents and countries; that no matter what country, what language, or what culture you come from, we can relate to each other. There is something more intrinsic than just communication when it comes to building strong relationships; a giant web of your personality, actions, and honest effort is what makes or breaks true friendships. This is how I realized the incredible value of my time in Budapest, and how it took the entire experience to gain this much from it.

To be completely honest, I’m still not completely un-nostalgic. I still yearn to go back in time and see Wax Tailor with my friends, travel to Barcelona and rage at Abroadfest, and even go to Szimpla again and have a couple beers with my friends. But I think I beat Señor Nostalgia in the best possible way- to learn as much as possible. Besides, I can’t physically punch a feeling anyway.

I am truly blessed for this experience, and I will treasure each and every moment I have left in this country.

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25 Random Facts About Budapest

After surviving in this Eastern European “Sin City” for the past 2 months, I have come up with 25 random facts about Budapest that a travel guide would definitely refrain from telling you. If you’re ever here with friends, family, or just yourself, feel free to refer to these survival tips.

1. Szia(see ya) means hello and good bye

2. Public transportation is impressively set up, but buses are always late

3. The ruin pubs are infamous for having paintings and pictures of animals having sex. I’m all for equality but this can come off to most as a bit strange

4. Everyone’s name is Lazslo, Gabor, or both

5. Gypies are an actual threat to your wallets, phones, and moneyz

6. Clubbing doesn’t end at 2, it starts at 2

7. Noone eats peanut butter here! Are you fucking kidding me!!

8. Many parts of Budapest’s city center possess a profound architectural juxtaposition between classical buildings and modern advances in the field

9. Tempelfit is for gays

10. Walking in front of a car, bus or tram? No problem, they’ll just run you over

11. Most Hungarians under the age of 40 speak English; otherwise, good luck getting home

12. Or just go to Deák Ferenc Ter; we’re all too familiar with this central meeting point

13. The metro stations are the most delicious-smelling stations I’ve ever been in

14. Apparently, working for Hooters Budapest is a highly regarded occupation… And I can see why 😉

15. Wanna passionately french kiss your lover, spouse or random stranger? No problem, just do it right where you’re standing!

16. Cars typically park one wheel onto the curb… Goodbye suspensions

17. Elevators in the metro stations are long and almost completely vertical… That’s what she said

18. Don’t have a bus pass? No problem, just walk in that shit anyway!

19. Budapest is shaped like half of a bike wheel, with the main streets looking like the spokes

20. For decimals, a comma is used in place of a period

21. It’s common to say “szia/sziasztok” when entering and leaving a locker room

22. Lose electricity, internet, and utilities in your flat? Don’t count on getting it fixed soon since customer service is virtually non-existent

23. Leves has the best soup/sandwich combo I’ve ever encountered. 990Ft will definitely get you enough foods in yo belly

24. The creators of Microsoft Office, ballpoint pen, and Prezi are Hungarian

25. By Lonely Planet 2011 Rankings, a38 is the #1 bar in the world (it’s on a fucking boat!)

Well there you have it, folks. 25 random facts about Budapest comin’ from ya boy Jason. I’m here for another 3 months, so there’ll definitely be more things I uncover about this city. Until then, ciao!

f**king beach party

f**king beach party

10 Days of Euro-Raging

Hello, Monday. Well, aren’t you just the dandiest reminder of reality. And you do this every week, you say? I flew back from Barcelona just for you, so I really hope you feel special and loved.

As I sit here on this faded orange couch in the upstairs lounge area of Oktogon’s California Coffee Company, my legs immediately drifted up onto the table in front of me. My entire body began aching from not only my previous workouts, but also the immense travelling I’ve been doing these past several days. But who’s complaining? It’s all self-inflicted. No pain, no gain brah.

Oh damn, the old man in front of me just picked his nose and wiped the excrement on his newspaper. Maybe he’s using it as an adhesive to hold his pages together.

Alas, I still lack internet at my flat because our internet provider has not provided internet (do you see the problem here?), so I am here yet again to take care of business. But it’s okay because I’m sick again, and I wanted to buy a ginger tea with honey. Really does wonders for my throat. Did I mention that I also lost my voice? Thank the Lord for writing! Otherwise, I’d have to learn sign language at this rate.

Anyway, I am going to officially categorize the past 10 days as “The 10 Days of Euro-Raging,” effective now. The amount of partying, travelling, site-seeing, and working out has been significantly more extravagant, and in order to keep this entry short, I will list my adventures in bullet points. Yes, you can wipe that sweat off your forehead; I don’t plan on making you read an essay.

02.27-02.28/Wax Tailor : On the night of my birthday, I had the incredible opportunity to see Wax Tailor with my friends in Budapest. The pre-game was undeniably at the “Penthouse Palace,” and we headed over to a38, one of the most popular clubbing venues in the world. Wax Tailor ended his set at midnight with “Que Sera,” and I caught the towel he threw into the crowd! AT MIDNIGHT. ON MY BIRFDAY. That shit was so dank (literally).

02.28-03.04/Rome, Italy : Rome is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to, and it’ll be hard for other cities to top the kind of cultural and architectural presence Rome has. Day 1 (02.29) consisted of visits to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, and Trastevere. Day 2, we visited the Vatican Museum (Sistine Chapel), St. Peter’s Basilica, and Testaccio. I also met Vivian that night while we raged at a good club in the area. Day 3 was a much more relaxed day, as we visited St. Peter’s Chains, Pantheon, Fontani di Trevi, and the Spanish Steps. Later, the girls shopped while I straight chilled, and at night we met up with Hilary who gave us a tour of the Colosseum at night. And finally Day 4, I met up with Hilary at Campo di Fiore, and we spent the entire day together. Probably one of my most favorite days since I’ve been in Europe.

03.05-03.06/Flex Gym : I completed a full-body workout within these two days, divided into upper body and lower body. It took over 2 hours per session to hit every single muscle, but I had to get my lifts in before my flight to Barca!

03.07-03.09/Barcelona, Spain-Abroadfest 2013 : Flying in at 8am, I didn’t get too much sleep. Once I arrived to the hostel, the others started to trickle in. After aimlessly walking around Barcelona with Vivian and Rayna, we went to Opium Mar Club for Abroadfest. Though Nicky Romero couldn’t come due to illness, Kaskade and Thomas Gold killed it! I guess this’ll have to do for missing SHM. The next day, we went sight-seeing, including tourist attractions such as: La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and the Farmer’s Market. By this time, I was so tired that I passed out once we got back to the hostel; hence, my night ended then because of my flight back to Budapest early in the morning.

03.09/Budapest-Thermal Spa Party : The reason why I left Barcelona so early was so that I could make this event, but to my misfortune, it was delayed until further notice. I wasn’t too bummed though, since it gave me time to weight train and get more sleep.

Phew! That about sums it up. Thanks for making it this far, dudes and dudettes. I will forever remember these days as “The 10 Days of Euro-Raging,” but I’m expecting a Part 2, 3 and 4 coming soon to a blog near you! Stay tuned, folks.

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A Big Small World

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this to happen. After treating my body like a wastebasket for alcohol, cigarettes, and Turkish kebabs this past month, I’ve come down with a cold. Symptoms include: minor headaches, coughing, and a large dose of sobriety. That’s right, folks. I’ve given up alcohol this entire weekend (gasp). “Jason, why are you being so lame? You’re in Budapest to have all kinds of fun and games and shit!” Yes, I know, I know. But my inconsistent weight training and vampiric sleeping habits are draining the life out of me. At the very least, this break gives me an opportunity to reflect on my time here, garner the remaining intellectual prowess I may still have in that noggin of mine, and produce a somewhat-deep development of thought. So here goes nothing…

Every once in a while, a profound thought will bash into me like a semi-truck colliding into a brick wall. Or maybe like an unexpected slap in the face by a woman friend who is ever so slightly dissatisfied with your mischief. You get the point. Either way, it is an instant at which I’m able to mentally capture the significance of what’s presently occurring. This profound thought typically materializes during situations in which I am surrounded by several of my closest friends in Budapest who are from across the globe. We’re all able to communicate with each other, and though conversations aren’t as natural or as smooth as with other native English speakers, it is a different kind of pleasance I’ve never felt before. Each person brings their own thoughts, culture, and breadth of meaning with every sentence, and at the end of the day, we are all enjoying ourselves in the company of others.

What’s surprising is that I’m able to relate to my friends here several degrees more than with many others back in the States. Just a few weeks ago at a thermal spa in Eger, I was conversing with a good friend of mine from Holland, and we delved into topics about jobs, family, and the principles of happiness. Woah. Didn’t expect that one, did ya? Well neither did I at the time. Other experiences like this with friends from Belgium, Germany, Canada, Brazil, and many other parts of the world, have taught me that the world is quite small but full of people who share the same interests, understandings, and profound notions of our lives in this world. Whether it’s at a dinner party at my flat, in a thermal spa on the Buda side of the city, or even at a ruin pub, I continue to meet more people who are subtly shrinking the world for me.

Concisely, the world is much smaller than you think. With an open mind and a willingness to explore, you can find big people in this small world, those that are big enough to teach you something new or to simply impart happiness into your life. I’m lucky enough to have already met many amazing people like this from all over the world, and I can’t wait for what’s in store over the next 4 months.

Eger Thermal Spa