Good afternoon, Erasmus students! This is the pre-boarding announcement for your flight to Budapest, Hungary. We are now inviting passengers and students with adventurous spirits, open hearts, and an aim to develop their memo© intercultural competence to begin boarding at this time. Please have your boarding pass and identification ready.
Welcome aboard! Before we proceed with the safety instructions, we would like to request your full attention as there is something important we would like you to know.
Not many of us, including exchange students, are aware of the positive outcomes of such a widely known exchange program like Erasmus. Using this opportunity to take a look into the topic – I was rewarded with a wealth of information. For example, in 2013, an online survey was held with a sample of more than 90 000 individuals and nearly 1000 higher education institutions. As a result, the following 10 memo© factors were proven to characterize Erasmus students:
- Problem – solving
- Self – assessment
These magical 10 were combined into “memo© factors of intercultural competence and employability”. The survey not only showed how students’ mindsets change with regard to intercultural skills and employability-related competences but also confirmed the positive effects of study abroad programs in the recruitment process.
When you first get to Budapest and check-in, you’re probably wondering which places you should go see first. In an effort to help you out, we spoke with some previous Budapest-based Erasmus students, and asked them what tips they would give you:
When alumni Erasmus students were asked their favorite places/spots in the city, they said…
- “I loved the Basilica square and sitting by the river next to the Parliament – it’s so chill out there!”
- “József-hegyi kilátó (panorama) around the Rózsadomb area – was the place that made me fall in love with the city! It’s not filled with tourists though, which makes it very special.”
- “You got me! This is a difficult question! I have so many spots: “Cat café”, “Madal” coffee shop, the square before the Parliament, the view from the Fisherman’s Bastion, and many more!”
- “The top of the Gellert Hill with the panorama being a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites – I drank wine with other Erasmus students here. What a beautiful memory!”
- “Andrassy avenue towards the Heroes Square, especially during the spring season or Christmas Eve.”
- “Mazel Tov – restaurant in the middle of the historically Jewish quarter & Rudas baths on the Buda side.”
- “Well, this is challenging, however, if I have to choose, I would say my favorites are Varosliget and Vajdahunyad Castle.”
- “I love the fashion street because there is always a lot of people around and events taking place, but honestly speaking, the whole city is pretty amazing.”
- “It’s not just one; everything is interesting! Perhaps, the bank of the Danube near the Parliament because of all those lights in the evening! It’s stunning! The bridges and the Pontoon bar with the hammocks and live music!”
How can you truly discover a city without actually tasting it and opening yourself up to the new flavours of the local gastronomy?
What was the best Hungarian dish you tried?
- “Strudel with cottage cheese, Chicken Paprikash, Goulash”
- “Langos with Nutella and banana at the adorable ‘Retro Langos’ place!”
- “Kürtőskalács after some Goulash.”
- “Definitely Goulash, and I also had the opportunity to cook it by myself in a Hungarian gastronomy class offered at my Hungarian University.”
- “I’m sorry, but It’s difficult for me to eat your food. Chicken with paprika and noodles that I tried at “Cantine” on Andrássy avenue!”
- “Stiriai metelt, though I am not sure if it is Hungarian. “Somloi Galuska” – the dessert. It’s Extremely delicious!”
- “Langos, but I have to admit that I wouldn’t eat it every day!”
Since arriving in Hungary, how welcomed have you felt in the country?
- “It depends, I feel welcomed everywhere except formal institutions such as the immigration service or the student office at my university. Their treatment of Hungarians and foreigners is not the same.”
- “When I first arrived in Budapest, I was welcomed by my International Coordinator. She picked me up from the airport and helped me with my arrangements at the university dormitory. Since then, my point of view about Hungarian hospitality hasn’t changed.”
- “When it comes to the university and being surrounded by other Erasmus students – I feel 100% welcome. However, I feel less welcome when I am paying in a supermarket/store or interact with locals. Sometimes they are rather rude and unwilling to help.”
- “Yes, a few years ago when I was still living in the Dominican Republic, I had the pleasure of meeting a very nice Hungarian girl. Here in Budapest, I have met so many nice people too!”
- “It really depends. In places like the supermarket, definitely less. Especially when the lady behind the counter said bad things and my Hungarian roommate understood her. Young people and internationally oriented people made me feel more welcome, obviously.”
After these exciting and intense last 6 months spent here in the Hungarian capital, would you recommend Budapest as an Erasmus destination?
- “More yes than no, I would recommend Budapest because of the low prices and endless great parties for Erasmus students. Also, due to being well connected to other European cities, Budapest makes traveling on a budget easier. On the other side, I have to say no because the local educational system doesn’t let you skip more than 3 classes per semester, which is impossible when being on Erasmus and it is craaaazy!”
- “Certainly, I would definitely suggest Budapest. I have traveled to ten other European capitals, and none of them can compare to this city. It’s extraordinarily beautiful. Also, there is so much to do. The city is growing and developing its infrastructure day by day. But, I do not recommend Budapest Business School (BGE) to anyone. Stay away from it.”
- “Yes, as I would every Erasmus destination because it’s a personal experience. Budapest is affordable and the teachers are kind and understanding. There are many opportunities and our task is to use them!”
- “Definitely! The city is amazing; it has so many cozy places and there is always something to occupy oneself with. The nightlife is brilliant! A big plus is its central position within Eastern-Europe, which enabled our trips to Bratislava, Krakow, Prague, Vienna, and Ljubljana.
- “Totally a YES. A friend who did Erasmus here recommended it to me, and I will carry on the tradition! I think more students should take advantage of exchange programs as it’s an experience everyone deserves, and why no to come to Budapest?
- “Yes because they would have the time of their lives. The city is great and there are a lot of opportunities to travel and develop yourself. During my program, I attended many language exchanges and events held by expats and those were memorable! The combination of foreign vibes with the local community is what makes Budapest remarkable!”
Dear guys and girls, are you planning on coming back to Hungary/Budapest someday?
- “Is it seriously a question? 😀 Of course, I will come back! I would rather not even leave!”
- “I’m 100% sure, I will! If it weren’t for the existing language barrier within Hungarian educational enterprises, I would consider getting my Masters in Budapest as well. ”
- “No doubts, there are already plans for a reunion! Also, I want to come back next summer to enjoy the city in a warm period.”
- “I have recommended the city to so many applicants from my home university that it gives me all the reasons to come back! Next visit I will do my best to travel around the country even more. The Balaton is still on my bucket list!
- “Yes, with my family so I can show them where I had one of the best years of my life!”
Once an Erasmus student always an Erasmus student.
With lots of love,
Words and photos by Polina Avramenko