We travel to expand our view of the world, but how far can we actually get? In Hungary, I was once again surrounded by like-minded people.
While traveling, I use the Couchsurfing community to find hosts around the world. This way, I get to spend time with local people, which lets me understand more of their culture.
However, I’m aware that my view of a new destination is always limited. Even if I stay with local people, I won’t be seeing the whole picture. I thought about this a lot during my stay in Hungary.
Community of Like-Minded People
To get to know someone local, I need to share a language with them. Usually that language is English. In some countries, only a fraction of people have a chance to meet foreigners and practice their English. For example, I’ve been to Nepal three times and I’ve made friends in the country, but my local friends tend to work in hotels and guesthouses.
In Hungary, I found my host from a European psychology students’ travel network. I was still a student back then, my host had already finished her studies. I stayed with her and her family in Szentendre, a small town north of Budapest.
I had a lot in common with my host. Besides sharing a field of studies, we also had similar values and political opinions. It wasn’t a surprise to me, but it was clear that she didn’t share her views with the strict, conservative government of her country.
Global People Meet Global People
I’ve had similar experiences in other countries as well. Even if the government was very patriotic and close-minded, the people I meet are open to different cultures and worldviews. That’s not surprising. If you’re willing to host travelers from other countries, you have to be open to strangers.
Of course, I now simplify things that are actually more complex. Even though I’ve found a connection with most people I’ve met, we’ve also had our differences. I’ve stayed with devout Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. Liberals and conservatives, feminists and anti-feminists.
However, I feel like I’ve gotten along well with almost everybody. And in the few cases when I haven’t fit it off with somebody, the issues have been unrelated to our values and worldviews.
Memories of Hungary
I’ve been to Hungary on two different trips. First, I visited the city twice in 2013 on my project On the Road of Dreams (see Travel Memory #3). I returned to the city near the end of my 2-year trip around the world.
I have great memories of Hungary. As a Finn, I also feel a special connection to Hungary. The Hungarian language is one of the few languages in the world that are related to Finnish. I don’t speak any Hungarian, but it’s nice to know that there’s another country with a similarly complex language!