Thursday, October 12, 2006


This week's journey led us to the second largest city in Hungary, a city which also boasts a university attended by over 20,000 students. Our reason for visiting is that one of the four pharmacy schools in Hungary is part of this university. The city has about 200,000 citizens compared to the 2 million of Budapest. We traveled there by train, and after about a 2.5 hour ride, we were greeted at the train station by Aniko, one of the pharmacy students we met at Siofok, and her friend Brigitte. They took us to Tessco, their equivalent of Walmart to purchase breakfast foods. It was neat. They have many shops outside of the actual store part.

We were to meet Gabor, our main host, at the "hostel" for international students. Gabor was one of our new friends from Siofok. We really enjoyed spending time with him there and were eagerly anticipating visiting him in Debrecen. He has a unique history: born in Hungary, ended up working for a nobel prize winner in hormone receptor research at Tulane University for 15 years before the scientist moved his lab to Miami, where Gabor followed. Now Gabor has been working part-time at Debrecen University AND in Miami, doing research and teaching.

The international "dorms" were very nice. We each had our own room with a tv, microwave, and little fridge! We even got to do laundry in the basement for free. This was a treat you would have to be us to truly appreciate.

We were hosted by various students and residents during our stay. The first night we went to dinner with Gabor, Miklos (another friend we met in Siofok who is a scientist in biopharmaceutics/pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics, we were basically surrounded by really smart people), and Gabor's two residents Melinda and Marian. We tried authentic Hungarian goulash, which was to me a bit like a beef stew with carrots and potatoes and of course, paprika, which is a staple among Hungarians. We enjoyed great conversation about our futures, the profession, boys in the US and in Hungary, and many other fun topics.

In the dorms we met a nice guy named Max from Germany who's in med school there. We hunted him down when we noticed him on the way to the laundry room so he would teach us how to use the machines. We also met a girl who's room abutted mine originally from Iran but had moved from San Diego to start med school. Many of the students were from other countries: Iran, Israel, Sweden, US, Germany, etc.

The next day we met the dean of the pharmacy school and two of his residents, Bela and Gergő. It took us two days to be able to almost-correctly pronounce the latter's name. They showed us around by taking us down-town to the main square. We visited an old church where Calvin preached. The story was very neat, and the interior of the church was stark white, representing the initiation of the purist movement. Definitely things that interested me. We climbed a tower in the church that overlooked the city. It was beautiful and tiring. We also visited a museum that housed three huge, marvelous paintings about Christ. Munkácsy is the guy's name. The paintings were each the size of a large wall and just breath-taking. You could sit for hours and ponder the depth of each portrayal: one of Christ before Pilate, one of Christ before the people, and then one of Him on the cross.

That night we had pizza and were surprised to find that Hungarians like ketchup on theirs. lol. We then drive all over Debrecen to find someplace doing karaoke to no avail. After a fun night of jokes and laughs, we headed home.

We did our presentation again for the students there, and I think it went well. I'm not sure how interesting it was to them, but they were at least attentive. We got to see our friend Peter, one of our hosts at Siofok, again and he of course, took us for dessert. lol.

Our last night was one of fun and friends. We went to a small pub and talked and laughed until it was time to venture to the disco. lol. It was a very new experience for me. The club was on campus, so there were students everywhere. The place was huge. And of course, bumping with some techno true European style. They did play one bombin' Puffy song that I had to break it out to, but other than that, not much dancing. We didn't stay long because were exhausted and had much to do before we left today.

We said our goodbyes today, and Lan and I were genuinely sad to leave all the new friends we had made. We had good talks and laughs and of course, food. We all exchanged emails, so I hope we can keep in touch.

Lan and I are headed for Prague tomorrow. The flight options to Lithuania were out of our range for this weekend. I think we are going to try for next weekend. Please pray that we make it there. I really want to visit Casey. We'll see.

Not to make little of it, but I wanted to say that God has answered prayer while I've been here. I was able to have some neat conversations that really challenged me in my walk, which I had been desperate for since I haven't been able to attend church while I'm here. So thank all of you that prayed for me as well.

Thanks for reading. I miss all my friends and fam back in the US of A. Peace.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lauren,
I hope you're keeping alot of this in your journal,you've got alot going on & making so many memories.I'm sorry you're not getting to see Casey this weekend.
We love you & miss you,

Anonymous said...

Just stopping in to say hi! Girl, your trip sounds amazing so far!! Live it up and love it!! Know i'm praying for ya chica!