October 29, 2011

Student Blog by Ethan Carlson: "A week in the East"

Budapest, Hungary

Looking out a Parliament, Budapest
Turkish Bath House: It was an absolute highlight. There were multiple pools (natural sulfur hot spring) inside a very old stone dome building. You relax in a pool that is around 103 degrees, then go to a 110 degree pool, followed by some steam saunas, and an 75-80ish degree pool. The sauna had an amazing mint aroma and was wonderful. The old Hungarian men in speedos only added to the experience.

New friends and a place to stay: In my freshman year I visited a long time friend that goes to University of Madison and met a lot of her friends. It turns out that one of those friends is studying abroad in Budapest this semester and she gave me an open invitation for a free place to stay and tour of the city. I took her up on this option and it was a great time! I got to see a ton of the city and meet a lot of other students. We all hung out at the flat and had a great dinner with Hungarian Goulash. There were students from Hungary, Greece, France, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Spain, and the States -- a ton of fun to be with everyone, plus some great conversation.

With Piet from Holland and Betty from France
There was one German guy there that was visiting his girlfriend and we talked a lot throughout the evening. Germans are great because they can pretty much talk about anything without being offended and like to have some conflict in their conversation. Honestly, they tend to get frustrated with American's. They feel like they always have to trod on eggshells so that they do not offend us, as we are thought of as overly sensitive. I've heard about this in international business classes back home, classes on German culture here, and I have now seen it with my own eyes.

Somehow conversation led into a discussion about my faith (thanking God that this has been happening quite often over here) and his more naturalistic worldview. He was actually astonished that I believe in Scripture being God's true Word. He had only met one other person in his life that believed this and I got the impression that he was not very impressed by that person in general. I did my best to articulate the hope that comes through Jesus and hopefully was able to show how the gospel really is relevant to his life, just as it is to mine. Original sin and man's depravity, the problem of evil, politics, why life matters, and other tricky topics were discussed. His English wasn't amazing so it wasn't an easy conversation. He seemed pretty shocked by my answers several times. "Yes, I do actually believe that humans are born evil." I was a little worried that I was just drawing a stark line between us, but he seemed very interested in hearing what I had to say. At the end of the night he thanked me a lot for the conversation and said that he would follow through in looking into what I had said, as I had challenged him to do. It was all really encouraging, even if intimidating at times.
And now I am back to a normal lecture schedule for the next two weeks. (I might head to Liechtenstein and Switzerland this weekend, but that is still being worked out.)

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