As I am sitting in my childhood room in the village where I grew up, the feeling is slowly sinking in; this year did come to an end. The tasks that await the returning Kellner scholar are bearable, which makes the re-acclimatization easier: visiting family, easting as much greasy Hungarian food as humanly possible, staying up with friends till the small hours over a bottle of wine, and roaming the streets of Budapest taking in all the familiar views that Hartford lacks. My year at Trinity is over.
When I look back on this past year, I like to think that I made the most out of it. I explored far beyond my field and excelled in academics, made amazing friends from all over the world, and travelled quite a bit, which was probably my favorite part. This last post is intended to give a taste of my end-of-year travels (poor substitute, I must say).
As soon as the finals and the farewell gatherings ended, I hopped on a plane to visit my friend, Emma, on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. I spent an amazing week on the island that gave place to the shooting of Jurassic Park, King Kong, Lost, and several other movies and shows. Swimming with turtles and getting a tan with a couple seals are probably my favorite memories, although building a bonfire and watching shooting stars on the beach, and swimming under a waterfall are not the worst either. Meeting Trinity alumni during one of our hikes was a surreal part, especially that I met the same couple 2 days prior on my flight; Trinity sweaters are extremely cozy to fly in.
I always knew that an enriching year will await me in the US, but I never thought that I will learn how to swim as a Kellner scholar. Yes, at the ripe age of 22, I learned to swim in the waters of Hawaii. Going kayaking and jumping off ropes into the ice-cold water of the lakes of the island was nothing after that. Not a single day passed without promising myself that I will come back one day to munch on freshly picked mangoes again; the fruit is heavenly there.
I spent a little time in Cali too. From Lihue, I took a flight to San Francisco, where I spent an unintentionally long time watching the seals at Pier 39, explored the bars of Castro with my Couchsurfing host, and even met up with Zsuzsi and Tamas, with whom we drove through the fog-covered Golden Gate bridge.
I only spent a day in LA (well, mostly Hollywood), because most of my friends were eager to steer me away from the city. Hating on Los Angeles is a thing, and I am not going to come to its defense anytime soon. I did check out the Griffith Observatory, the Chinese Theatre and the stars, the pier in Santa Monica, and was patient enough to wait in the line of In-N-Out as well. A major surprise was my conversation with my Uber driver, who told me that he was planning to go to Hévíz for years to cure his back pain. Not something you hear every day in the US.
The last stop of my West Coast trip was Las Vegas. I made friends with three couchsurfers from Sacramento, and we had great fun in the old downtown (which I strongly preferred to the Strip). Playing corn hole and bar hopping is definitely better with others, so is zip lining over the streets of Vegas (my favorite memory from the city). Considering that I only lost $1 in the casino of the Mirage, and that I witnessed a UCLA darty in the Bellagio fountain (surreal sight), the last stop of my trip was a great success.
My year as a Kellner scholar might be over, but I am quite confident that the future holds great things for me. I am so much more than I was a year ago, thanks to all the experiences I was lucky enough to live through. Self-expansion is just one of the many factors that made this year valuable. If only a third of the friendships I made at Trinity will be intact in five years, I will be the most fortunate man in the world. Others might fade. My memories and my gratitude towards the Kellner family will not.