We crawled up to the shores of Hungary’s Lake Balaton with a very wary gearbox, and a nervous anticipation for the following day. After two years of ‘hard’ work we were due to find out the results of our A levels, the grades given after secondary education that determine if you’re off to university or what jobs you can progress onto. Whilst our friends would be venturing back to school to collect their grades we were in a random field overlooking the ginormous lake relying on our mothers to break the news to us. A lake we never even planned on going to or knew about, but as with most spontaneous detours, one that was very memorable. Referred to as the Hungarian Sea because of its vast size the Lake stretched for most of the highway up to Budapest and after coming to terms with the magnitude we decided to pay it a visit. We stuttered up to the water only to learn there was no parking/ free camping on the edge, but once again Germans were on hand to come to our rescue, offering us a place to park on their private land on which they planned to build a house, but for now was just overgrown grass with a lorry trailer in which they lived. After cycling up one side of the lake with false hopes of seeing where it ends we returned home for a beer whilst the sun set, not knowing what to expect the next day. Bani was understandably more nervous than me, as he wanted to go to university and so needed the grades, whilst I had very little desire to go so wasn’t too worried about the result as long as I didn’t fail horrifically.
It was a pretty bizarre morning when compared to the standard results day of having breakfast in a nice café with your mum before going to get the results from school, having awkward chats with friends who either failed miserably or exceeded any expectation and then going to the local club to celebrate or commiserate the grades. We woke up in a completely random patch of grass in the Hungarian countryside to a can of spaghetti hoops, a bush for a toilet and a radioactive lake for a wash, waiting for the phone to ring. Due to universities having access to your results a day early Will was able to see if his place had been confirmed before he spoke to his mum. Unsurprisingly, he had smashed it and will be off to Leicester in September to start his course, which was soon confirmed by his mum a few hours later. Strangely I felt rather relieved, I think I was genuinely more nervous for him than I was for myself as he actually needed his results to be good, so we were incredibly happy campers. It was a few more hours before my mum called up, I thought she would’ve been first through the doors to pick up the results as she cared a great deal more than me. We had a fittingly bizarre conversation. She struggled to speak which got me a bit worried but fortunately enough she was lost for words due to an overwhelming feeling of pride and joy as I managed to do rather well. I had achieved my goal of making her proud and more importantly, I beat my brothers, cementing my place of favourite child.
The morning had turned from nervously checking phones and fretting over the gear situation to a euphoric celebration of educational success, guaranteeing university places and appeasing mothers. Being in Hungary we weren’t going to hang around the lakeside retirement village to celebrate, there was no choice but to head up to Budapest to party properly. An equally ecstatic drive (fortified by the gear box’s celebratory coherence) led us to the main park in Budapest where we popped the cork of our budget prosecco, and then the beer, and then the jaeger. It’s fair to assume we partied accordingly, drinking late into the night at Budapest’s notorious nightclub- Instant, being joined in celebration by everyone we met and told of our achievements before picking up a box of McDonald’s nuggets and smugly retiring to the comfort of the van.