Leaving everything I’ve ever known to start a graduate program in a new country has been both challenging and rewarding. I’ve found myself busier than ever between writing papers, preparing presentations, joining a few professional societies, and adjusting to life in a foreign country. I may or may not have cried in the grocery store when I couldn’t figure out the Hungarian world for milk. Other than that, there have been relatively few road blocks.

As I continue to adjust to life in Budapest, I realize that I am changing. My priorities are shifting, and I find myself drawn in different directions. A duality has emerged; on the one hand, I am a writer. I use written language to evoke certain feelings and expectations. I strive to develop impressions that I want readers (and my peers) to see. On the other hand, I am an explorer. I enjoy taking the time to drive to small towns or showing off my stellar rap skills to new friends.


Underground karaoke anyone?


A wine tasting in the town of Egers outside of Budapest








This duality, though in different ways, exists in each of us. Parts of our personality may feel in conflict. I am a writer by nature and to use terms that my peers insist on, maximize utility when I am writing, but I derive pleasure from experiencing my surroundings and absorbing my environment.


The experiences that result from exploring my new surroundings, while not directly related to my writing, inform my beliefs and strengthen my prose. When I spend all of my time writing, the result becomes flat. The substance of the compositions exists, but it needs the flavor of new experiences to paint more vivid pictures.


Staying inside would have caused me to miss this amazing light and water show on a island in the middle of the Danube River!

When we experience duality in our lives, it’s usually different aspects of ourselves competing for dominance; hence, the feeling of internal conflict.

For example, I could have gone to a festival and explored the castle of Budapest this weekend, but I also wanted to take some time to write. How might the outing have influenced my writing? That was a conflict I had to work through, weighing the costs and benefits of how I used my time.

More duality — I find myself feeling homesick, yet full of wanderlust at the same time. Due to immigration issues, I cannot legally leave Hungary, but I yearn to explore neighboring countries. I have a grand idea of taking a train to Vienna and writing the entire way with no distraction but the scenes surrounding me.

I can’t leave Hungary, but I found a spot to write near my flat where I have an amazing view! It is the best of both worlds!

How do we best manage inherent dualities? As for me, I am allowing myself time to unplug to experience the beauty of my host country in between writing sessions. As for being homesick? I may miss my dog and the ease and comfort of easily purchasing cold medication at any store I pass, but I am trying to embrace everything Hungarian, and the life that living abroad has to offer.

What dualities can you identify within yourself?

How to you balance commitments with desires?

Tara Riggs is a reliable and resourceful virtual assistant managing social media platforms and InfusionSoft communications for Sheila Callaham, as well as other clients. Key skills she brings to the table include data reporting, email marketing, and a deep knowledge of twitter management. Tara currently lives in Budapest, Hungary where she runs Eunis Jean Media while missing her puggle, Eunis Jean. Follow her on twitter at @tarariggs.

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