Managing majors and culture shock in Hungary

Samantha Judd, a quadruple major, manages her studies and softball in order to visit Budapest, Hungary.
Samantha Judd, a quadruple major, manages her studies and softball in order to visit Budapest, Hungary.

By Thomas Regan

During the fall 2014 semester, a Rider softball player had aspirations to study abroad in a typical destination, such as Italy. But without the mandatory Italian minor, she found herself with no other choice but to become the first student from the university to study in Budapest, Hungary.

Junior accounting, marketing, finance and international business quadruple major Samantha Judd is used to challenges; she will graduate with 150 credits and is also a varsity athlete. When she first arrived in Budapest, she watched as one student was dropped off at an apartment located on a quiet street devoid of excitement. She felt her enthusiasm plummet and began to second-guess her decision.

However, after Judd arrived at her apartment, dusk settled over the city, the Buda Castle glowed a vibrant, golden yellow, and the moon hit the water just right, turning her regret into a realization that this place was no different than a Disney fairy tale.

Judd, who has found a way to balance life as a student and a Bronc softball player, believes getting work done at Rider is nowhere near as difficult as doing the same abroad with the temptation of exploration.

“It was just harder in the aspect that you had a final, a midterm and a group project and that was your grade, so if you tanked one you were kind of done,” she said. “People always ask me, ‘How do you juggle softball and all of your classes?’ But to be honest, it was more of a challenge to juggle keeping focused on school when all I wanted to do was travel the world and go out with my friends every weekend.”

With a schedule that fulfilled some of her major requirements, but only having classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Judd was able to leave most of the week to exploring destinations in several countries, including Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, The Czech Republic and Turkey.

“There’s so much more opportunity when you’re there,” she said. “Budapest is a very cheap place, and it could be just because I was a tourist there, but I just feel like there’s so much more to experience, and there’s so much more to learn. Here, it’s easy to just go through my motions every day. Putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is the best way to learn things and find out who you are.”

Coming from a small town outside of Los Angeles,  she did have some trouble adjusting to the bouncing city life, especially finding her way through dancing crowds.

Outside of the lively environment, Judd also had to become less reliant on technology, while employing unusual methods to accomplish everyday chores.

“There were some cultural differences, like you can’t use your phone because you don’t have Wi-Fi,” she said. “Also, the washing machine, the showers— everything was different. There are no dryers, so you have to hang-dry your clothes. Shopping was very different. You had to shop every two or three days because the food was so fresh, it would just go bad. There wasn’t a language barrier.”

The constant travel throughout Europe left Judd craving a career that will harvest her desire to learn and experience more foreign lands and concepts.

“I think it impacted what I want to do when my education is over because that was my first time out of the country, and now I think I want to live abroad for three years or however many years a company would let me.”

With the unique semester abroad in Budapest now in Judd’s glove, Kim Algeo, assistant director of the Center for International Education (CIE), trusts that Judd will have no problem distinguishing herself amongst other job applicants.

“Having chosen Hungary as her study-abroad destination puts Samantha out of the box to the usual London and Paris cities that students study in,” Algeo said. “Samantha chose a non-traditional city to study in, which will set her apart on her résumé. Future employers will see that she went out of her comfort zone.”

Judd returned to Rider with an eagerness to improve herself and with a new regard for foreign students struggling to adapt to Bronc culture.

“I just came away with wanting to do so much more with my life, wanting to travel more, wanting to learn another language, or just wanting to learn more about a culture in general. When people are in the U.S. and I’m like, ‘Why are they doing that? That’s not how we do things,’ maybe I want to learn why they’re doing that or have them teach me. I think it definitely opened up my eyes and made me a little less judgmental and more open-minded.”


Printed in the 4/08/15 edition.

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