Greetings from Budapest!
Our semester is running fast: we are already over our midterm exams and we are making preparations to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Hungary, but we will use the occasion to reflect, take stock and enjoy delicious home-style stuffed turkey. Since our last newsletter, the major event of our program was the field trip to Transylvania and here are some highlights.
Excursion to Transylvania
Our longest organized group excursion of the semester was the 4-day visit to Transylvania, which is always a big excitement among students. The area we visited was the Kalotaszeg region and we stayed with local families in the village of Kalotaszentkirály, which allowed us to experience their warm hospitality and gain an insight into their traditional way of life and customs. We visited the annual market in Kőrösfeketetó (Negreni) – a centuries old annual event - a huge fair selling traditional goods as well as antiquities. It is the biggest market event of that region and it attracts thousands of people. During our visit, our host village was holding its annual harvest festival which included a big dance in the evening. Folk music and dance are still a living part of the community’s tradition. As it was a dance for all, our students soon were trying their feet and it was great fun when they were asked to dance by the locals.
Torda and Torockó were other highlights of the trip. The salt mines of Torda dating back more than 800 years. In the Middle Ages Transylvania, as part of the Kingdom of Hungary, was Europe’s major supplier of salt. It was also in this city that the first Act of Religious Tolerance was issued in 1568. Torockó, for centuries the center of iron mining and manufacturing in Transylvania, received the “Europe Nostra” award for cultural heritage in 1999.
Torockó’s Hungarian inhabitants are Unitarians, a religion that was founded in Transylvania. We marveled the beautiful snow-white houses nestled below the monumental Székelykő (Székely Stone), a three-thousand feet tall rock.
We had beautiful weather, with sunny warm days which just made the experience even more enjoyable. We hiked to the top of the hill in Torockószentgyörgy (Coltești) where the ruins of a medieval fortress can be found.
The castle has an impressive location in the village and the beautiful, fall colors of the nature amazed us all: Sasha and Rachael enjoying the view from top of the castle in Torockószentgyörgy
We also visited Kolozsvár (Cluj), the former capital of Transylvania, an important economic and educational center of the country.
Our four days went by very fast, we had to say goodbye. The excursion helped us all to better understand and appreciate rural and traditional way of life.
Elizabeth Simon, Resident Director
Judit Fekete, Resident Coordinator