By Jaleh S., YES Abroad 2016-2017, Macedonia
High school students in Macedonia usually take a big school trip, or excursion, in the spring of their third year. This year, the students at Gymnasia Josip Broz Tito (JBT) took a five day excursion to Budapest, Prague, and Vienna. Even though we’re just exchange students, as part of JBT’s third year IB class Kyra and I got to participate as well.
Our entire class piled onto coach buses on Tuesday afternoon, and we drove all night to get to Budapest the next morning. Along the way we made a late night stop at a McDonald’s outside of Belgrade, which was pretty fun for me and Kyra. Although neither of us eat fast food very often in the United States, we hadn’t had “real” American food in seven months and the golden arches are about as American as it gets.
In Budapest we took a brief tour of the city in the morning, and then we had free time for a couple of hours. We were actually in Budapest on their national independence day holiday, so the whole city was decked out in Hungarian flags and patriotic symbols. Although some of our classmates were upset at not being able to shop since most stores were closed, I thought it was great to see Budapest looking so festive; there were parades and different concerts going on, and we saw a few people wearing traditional clothes. The city itself is also beautiful – we got some fantastic pictures of the beautiful architecture during a nighttime river cruise, and Kyra tried traditional goulash for lunch .
We spent one night in Budapest and then left for Prague the next morning. We didn’t do much the night that we arrived, but the next day we took a short tour and had more free time to explore the city. A lot of that time was spent shopping and eating trdelnik, a Czech pastry made from rolled dough topped with sugar and walnuts. We had one more night in Prague, and our entire class went out together to dance and have fun.
Our final stop was Vienna, and although we only had a few hours to spend in the city it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of the trip. Kyra and I spent our day eating sausage, touring the national library, and wishing we had more time there. Vienna was the perfect wrap-up to our excursion, and we are now safely back in Skopje. I am so grateful to have had this amazing travel experience with my classmates, and I’m sure I’ll be back in Budapest, Prague, and Vienna soon!