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Vail Valley student is seeing the world

Maggie Gilman
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: Eagle Valley High School sophomore Maggie Gilman is in Hungary this year as a Rotary foreign exchange student. She’s sending along reports about life in another culture

I feel like I have really gotten a feel for what is in the world, but the great thing is that every day I discover and learn more.

Never turn down an opportunity because you never know how it will turn out.

I have been doing everything and going everywhere, from week-long trips skiing in Italy to day trips with about 40 friends of mine who are older than 60.

In December, I was in Vienna and had the most amazing time. Their buildings are beautiful and because I was there around Christmas time I got to visit the famous Christmas market. There were so many people, but everyone had big smile on their faces.

Then it was off with my school on a skiing camp to Italy! We skied for five days and I had a completely different skiing experience than at home! Here, they mostly just ski on the ski groomed runs and do not ski in the trees or have difficult terrain.

I went hiking in Romania, where I also got to play in the snow. When we climbed to the top of the mountain, I felt like I could see forever!

Then in January, I went skiing again, but this time with a family. We went to a ski resort in Austria that is going to host the World Cup next year. I got spoiled because the lifts have heated seats and hold six to eight people.

When I have not been traveling around Europe, I have been enjoying every single minute here in Hungary!

I am now with my third family, and every family has been amazing. It’s amazing how close I feel to my families even though we have known each other for just a short time.

I also really have enjoyed the Hungarian culture. They live life more simply than we do in the U.S. When the Soviet Union left, they had to rebuild their country, making and doing everything for themselves. Of course, it depends where you are in Hungary, but a lot of places still do not have big stores where they import foods and products from big factories.

Instead, family businesses make a lot of their foods and things. They cook everything from scratch, including whipped cream, pasta, and even mayonnaise.

Another tradition here is to visit the grandparents on Sundays or sometime during the weekend. All of the grandmas cook amazingly well, and always are telling you to “Eat, eat, eat!” So far, my grandparents have been so sweet and so funny and I love them.

But here in Hungary, when you retire, it does not mean you completely stop working. Grandparents still live in their houses and continue doing all of the housework, like gardening and shoveling snow.

I have made lots of life-long relationships. The Hungarian language is something out of this world. It is truly very difficult but that is what makes it so beautiful. If there is only one way to say something in English, there are at least 10 ways to day it in Hungarian!

I have learned to speak and listen and write pretty well, but reading is very difficult. On the bright side I have been thinking and dreaming in Hungarian

Unfortunately the days are going by faster and faster and my time is running out here in Hungary!


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