Amazing Kids! Magazine

Global Village – Hungary

By Hinako Takeuchi, age 17, Japan

“Hungary?” I looked at my mom in confusion. “I never said anything about wanting to go to Hungary…” And with that, my adventure started.

My name is Hinako Takeuchi and I just finished an amazing exchange year in Hungary.

Participating in an exchange program had always been a dream. When my high school offered the all-year program, I jumped for the opportunity. It would pay for almost everything and all I had to do was get a plane ticket. I knew where I wanted to go: Spain, the country of dancers wearing flowing red dresses… I was in love with their language, although maybe not for the reason you’re all thinking. I wanted to go, only because I heard that Spanish was easy if you could speak both English and Japanese… Take the easiest way, was always my motto.

So when I heard that I was going to Hungary, I was pretty shocked. “Okay. Where is that? In Europe, right?” I won’t lie; I didn’t want to go at all. But I decided to make the best of it, since it was, after all, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Before I knew it, I was on the airplane, bound for Ferihegy Airport, Budapest. “What in the world have I gotten myself into? Hungary?!”

I had times when I almost gave up. Hungarian is the hardest language on the planet, or so I’ve heard. But I think it’s beautiful. The change in the landscape was breathtaking, as it wasn’t the tall skyscrapers and 300km/h bullet trains, cars, and people in tiny houses, a meter next to each other. It was tall people in huge houses, nature, and slow trains. (It took five hours to get to Budapest by train from where I lived… They were about 320km apart.) I fell in love with the relaxing lifestyle, the warm-hearted people, and getting home at 2:30 at the latest from school. And I was sad to leave, something that I had not even thought of feeling, on my very last day.

Math Class

I learned in Hungary how to give kisses as a greeting, to blow my nose as hard as I can without sniffling myself to a huge headache, how to ballroom dance and jazz dance, and how to use a knife and a fork the correct way. But these were only a few of the things I learned.

Having three host families who took me in as their own daughter or sister was the best thing I’ve ever experienced. From my little sisters, I learned how to embrace life to its fullest, to dance until you drop. From my big sister, I learned how to be yourself, to never care what others thought about you. From my brothers, I learned that it’s okay to be a kid, to run around the house, over couches and locking people outside is actually quite fun. I learned to stay positive, to smile, and pick the right person and take their hand, suddenly, you’re friends. Finally, to dream. Because that’s where everything starts.

My Host Family!

I went to Hungary all alone, not knowing anyone. With fears and hopes all jumbled up, I boarded the airplane. (“Don’t worry! I’ll send you a piece of cake once in awhile, just in case!” — Yeah, it’s literally impossible to go to Hungary and starve to death. Seriously.) But I don’t regret it, not at all. I’m full with all my dreams, all the lessons that I’ve learned and the experiences that I had. They’re all important, and earned a place in my heart.

Will it earn a place in yours??