I have been back from Hungary for a while now, and I have been meaning to get this final update done for a while, but I seem to have been inundated with things to do now I am back at home. However, having finally gotten around to starting writing, I am almost glad I left a bit of a gap, as I have had some time to process the incredible amount of knowledge and experience which I gained by completing the program. While I was away, I was so deeply absorbed in everything we were doing, my new friends and colleagues of the future, that I barely had time to think about the impact that this three-month interval would have on my life.
The last part of my course involved: lots of last minute revision of the foil coaching we did (our coach had been away for a little while, so we ended up learning a lot of content very close to our exam!); plenty of short theoretical exams, psychology, physiology, sociology etc; and our much anticipated practical fencing exam! Though in the few days beforehand I was so nervous, it actually turned out to be quite a relaxed affair (as relaxed as the culmination of three months of work can be!). Our three fencing coaches were conducting the exam, so they had the advantage of having seen us coaching every day previously. This really eased my nerves, as they had lots of information about us to go on. All three of us were told that we had passed, and subsequently went off for some sunbathing and a picnic on Margitsziget, which is a beautiful park, covering all of 2.5km long island in the Danube. Luckily for the picnic (although it made our fencing exam slightly more uncomfortable) we had really lovely weather towards the end of the course, reaching up to 34ºC!
After all of the exams, there was a graduation ceremony held for us at the faculty. We had not been given much information about this until only a few days before, and none of us knew our final marks and averages, so I was surprised to get a call on the morning of our presentation from our course secretary, asking me to make a speech on behalf of the students, owing to me having the highest average mark! This of course led to some friendly teasing from my friends on the course, but I was very grateful for the opportunity to represent our class and personally thank all of our teachers and lecturers for their help and guidance over the duration of our stay.
This left us with a few days at the end of my stay, pack up and say goodbye to the city that we had made our home for the past few months. We visited our favourite few places again, said goodbye and thank you to all of our coaches at fencing and tried desperately to remember how we fitted all of our stuff into our bags on the way here!
I will never forget the time I spent in Budapest, and I know that it has already heavily influenced me in the time that I have been back in the UK. I have come back with a lot more knowledge, that I know will continue to benefit me in the long term in fencing, but it has also given me so many experiences that have shaped my attitude towards everything. Seeing, and training with new people, in a new country and club environment was fantastic for me, both for sparring skills and for mentality – it really pushed me to question everything I knew already about fencing and add to it. Living alone for the first time and having to do things like budget and shop for myself, and navigate a new city with a unique and often confusing language has, I hope, given me a new level of maturity that I hope I will carry on to every part of my life, not only my sport.
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