This is a pretty old story, but funny, nevertheless. I attended to one of the largest university in Budapest, the Eötvös Loránd University. Unlike most Western European and American universities it was, well, big. (Eleven thousand students attending only the STEM sciences; Biology was an entire faculty, with several departments (Molecular biology, biochemistry, Immunology, Plant taxonomy, and so on and so forth), not just one department. In this, it was not unique among Hungarian universities; I was surpised to find how small most institutions were in the US and Western Europe later.

Because of the size, our programs tended to be reasonably large, too. There were several over the school year, one of them is an orineteering course in the Pilis mountains around Budapest. Because it was a popular event, ‘sister’ universities sometimes joined us; such as teams from the University of Veterinary Medicine.

Anyhow, the orineteering was pretty silly to begin with mixed with a large amount of disgusting stuff -just to live up to the expectations of crazy biologists. At one station, for example, you had to “set your eyes on David Hasselhoff”, which, in practice, meant you had to throw actual cow eyes at his poster with your bare hands. (That was the worst of the tasks. Others involved identifying plants or animals, and whatnot.)

Anyhow, it was a fun event, and some took it even more seriously, than others- one of the groups in the Vet groups had a guy dressed as a pre-Christian Shaman with furs and antlers- the whole shebang.

Something like this plus the antlers:


(By the way, it is from is a pretty cool painting, worth checking it out.)

I was sitting with my group on a rock, waiting for our turn by a station. The rock was also frequented by rock climbers, so the forests were quite busy that day for sure. A climber with about ten kilos of facial piercings and tattoos was chilling next to me. And I mean he really took piercings seriously: all along his eyebrows, his nostrils, his lips- metal everywhere. When he set his eyes on the shaman, he looks at me, and say, quite unironically:

“There are some serious weirdos out there today, aren’t there?”