For Thanksgiving yesterday, I had the amazing opportunity to spend the day with Americans! On my flight here, I met a family of missionaries from the US who lived in Estonia and then moved to Hungary last summer. They live in a city called Érd, which is about 30 minutes by train outside of Budapest. They invited me and any of my exchange student friends to come to their house for Thanksgiving and spend the day with them and some of their American friends!
Jill, Alex (from Michigan), Terry (from Pennsylvania), and I all took the train together from Budapest to Érd. When we got to the family's house, it was just like being at home. It truly felt like we were in America and it was such a strange feeling. Hearing their children say "mom" and just being with a real family made me really really miss mine and just being comfortable. But anyway, we drank hot apple cider (which was soooo good) and all talked about our experiences in Hungary while dinner was being prepared. We ate at around 2 and had turkey, green bean casserole, some kind of corn casserole, rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole and it was all delicious. I haven't had turkey at all since I've been here and I forgot how much I love it!
After dinner (which was actually more like lunch), we went into the basement and all the kids played Apples to Apples. We also went around and talked about our most embarrassing moments. It was really cool just hanging out with other Americans who aren't exchange students, because for once the conversation wasn't about host families or learning the language! Also, it was crazy not having the pressure to speak Hungarian. I never really noticed how much it stressed me out until I didn't have to worry about it. It was just super nice not feeling guilty about speaking English or not understanding what someone was saying. I definitely miss that feeling already.
The boys started playing Xbox, so the four of us went upstairs and had pie and talked to the mom. We talked about what living in Hungary is like, complained about our problems, and discussed what it feels like to be so far away from home. It was pretty emotional, but really nice to get to just talk about it to someone on the outside. Sadly, we didn't get to talk much because we all had to start heading for home. We all really enjoyed the day though and were so grateful for the opportunity to have a day of just relaxing and not stressing about the day to day exchange stuff.
So, obviously I've been thinking a lot about how much exchange has been affecting me. I mean, really, I don't even notice it, but I'm constantly stressed about learning the language or whether I'm spending enough time with the family or not. It's not that it's a bad thing, but it's just hard to get used to. It's hard to feel normal. I think this will get easier with time though. For now, I'm going to try to just relax and take everything one day at a time and not put so much pressure on myself!