Valley Overseas: That Time I Felt Like A Foreign Princess

Welcome to Valley Overseas. We’ll hear from students exploring new lands full of strange customs, seemingly impenetrable language barriers, and Euro-trash. They’ll dish out the good, bad and the ugly of living in a home-stay, and the tales of discount airlines. From mixed-up vocab to drool-worthy people in fantastic fashions, let us show you the experiences of a lifetime.

Budapest, Hungary, where I spent my fall break abroad, has played host to many royalty over the centuries—myself included.

Fine, I’m no princess. But when the Hungarian forint bills in my wallet read values of five-, 10- and 20-thousand, I sure felt like one. I regularly threw down 400 forints for a glass of beer, and despite the apparent sticker shock, that’s actually much less than a beer in the States. This led to several 400-forint beers. Did I mention I had a good break?

On my final night of vacation, I realized I’d taken out 40,000 forints too many. So, I had two options: exchange it at the airport for a measly amount of Euros, or spend.

It was an easy decision. Dinner began with a deluxe aperitif and an appetizer.  I ordered my meal with a bottle of wine for the table. And I finished it all off with dessert and espresso.

Yet still—poor, poor me—forints remained. As my friends and I explored the city after dinner, I was eager to get rid of them. “Who wants fries?” I asked while passing a fast food joint. “Here, take this 5,000-forint bill!” I said when my friend ran out of money. “Cabs everywhere!” I shouted as we hopped in a taxi to yet another bar within walking distance. I mean, why walk when you have money?

As a college student, it’s not often I feel like a wealthy heiress. The last time I felt like that was probably when I got a $20 bill for my tenth birthday.

But the question “How would you like to pay?” snapped me out of it. It was the
morning after, and I realized upon checking out that I hadn’t actually paid for my
hostel. Had I skipped the cab rides, this wouldn’t have been a problem. But after
three in a row, I had, oh, 100 forints in my wallet. I needed 10,000.

I had the money; it just required a walk of shame in the direction of an ATM. And
here’s the part I should tell you to avoid making my mistakes—know your
currencies, keep track of your finances, don’t be reckless. But I don’t regret what I
did at all. Because for a few carefree hours, I felt like a foreign princess. And maybe that’s not worth 40,000 Hungarian forints, but it’s worth something.

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