My internship in Hungary is definitely an experience I’ll never forget. As clichéd as that sounds and as often as many people use the phrase lightly, to me it is true in every sense of each word in that sentence. After all, at the bottom of every cliché is a fundamental truth, and the truth is that my Hungarian experience has been so ingrained in me, so changed the way I am intrinsically that I couldn’t forget it even if I tried (which I wouldn’t even think of doing in the first place).
I stayed at a peaceful university town called Szeged, and was an English teacher/ Philippine ambassador at an all-boys Catholic high school. To say that I was drenched in testosterone would be a good conversational point. I often found myself in surreal situations while I was there, those is-this-really-happening-to-me-right-now types. I had a private room in the school dorm, and the priests at the school were very nice and accommodating. I’m a non-practicing Catholic, so it was the closest I’ve ever been to priests and the longest conversations I’ve ever held with any. Outside the church, I realized that priests can be quite fun, too! It was great because they became more like my buddies than they were my “supervisors.” I honestly don’t think I ever will be as close to another group of priests again unless I decide to be an altar boy, which, frankly, doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon.
Because I stayed at the school dorm, most of my friends were boys aged 13-20. We played cards, board games and volleyball. They tried to teach me how to skateboard, but after my nth attempt at trying to go further than a few inches, I, as they, had given up. The English proficiency of the boys wasn’t particularly great, but most of them (the older ones, especially) had few problems listening to English, so I didn’t really have a hard time facilitating classes. The teachers at the school were also wonderful, and I could feel how excited they were to have me in their classes. I would present about the Philippines, and the students would respond the most to balut and the tarsier. It was an experience to see our country from a Hungarian teenage boy’s eyes.
While I was there, I had a chance to attend a Hungarian wedding (the school secretary got married), a Hungarian funeral (the headmaster’s father passed on), and to dance to traditional Hungarian songs. I heard mass in Hungarian (there were lots of singing), went to a vineyard and got into a bike accident. I ate lots of ice cream, drank lots of wine and fell in love with their mostly high-cholesterol food. I went to two of the most beautiful cities in the world, Budapest and Prague, and got sunburnt both times because Europeans looked at me weirdly when they saw me shielding myself from the sun with my bright orange umbrella. I saw beautiful architecture everywhere and wanted to pinch myself every time to make sure it wasn’t just a dream because it sure felt like it. And when I came back to Manila, it felt like being woken up from this wonderful dream, and wanting to go back to sleep again if only so the dream could recommence to where it had left off. I had gained 10 pounds, became two shades darker, and suddenly had a lot of friends with foreign-sounding names. I was like a fat kid with tell-tale chocolate smears all over my happy, satisfied face.
To narrate everything I did there in a few paragraphs would simply be impossible because even the smallest details of my experience are worth mentioning. I learned so much in my two months in Szeged, met so many incredible people and did so many exciting things that I can’t even think of what my life would have been had I not gone there. It was my first foray into an entirely different world, and the only thing I regret about the whole experience is not being able to stay longer.
I’m currently in my second AIESEC internship, this time as an MT in Hong Kong. The worlds of my two internships are complete opposites, Szeged being such an idyllic, leisurely town, and Hong Kong being Hong Kong. And this is exactly what I love about AIESEC because of the diversity that it represents and exposes you to. I’ve learned how to think deeper, expand my worldviews, and realize that endless possibilities abound when you remember to look for them. Excitement, fulfillment, happiness—these are the feelings my AIESEC internships have instilled indelibly in me. It is my honest opinion that if given the opportunity, anyone should go on an AIESEC internship. New friends, new experiences and lifelong memories—who can say no to that?
DT in Szeged, Hungary; Duration: 7 weeks (late April to June)
MT in Hong Kong; Duration: 6 months (mid-October to -)