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Reflexive ‘holy shit’ moment

  • Name: Rachel Stanford
  • Destination: Budapest, Hungary
  • When: 1992-1993
  • Hometown:
  • Organization:

It was a little disconcerting.  As you probably know, all the exchange students travelled from the US together.  We landed in Budapest not knowing what to expect.  We saw army men on the ground with machine guns through the windows of the airplane.  We had to walk down a ladder to deplane and get onto a bus.  There were people on top of the airport watching the planes come in waiving at us.  One of the US girls from Alaska started crying.  We waited together for our luggage in a holding pen for a while and heard Hungarian over the airport intercom.  The exchange students from New Zealand joined us.  Finally, they opened these two-way-mirrored sliding doors and let us out of the holding pen after we got our luggage.  This scary lady with crazy blue and silver eyeshadow ran up to me and started kissing me on my cheek.  Turned out she was my first host-mother.  I was absolutely speechless.  My soon to be host-father grabbed my luggage and whisked me off to a bus.  A girl my age sat next to me and asked me questions in English and German for the three hour bus ride to the town where we would be living.  Then we took a taxi to the apartment where we would be staying — they took me to my room and I went to sleep.  I think I slept for almost two days.  I definitely had a reflective “holy shit” moment.

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