African Renaissance Festival 15-16 August 2019



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Paula Louw - Hungary : A Unique Study Experience

Hungary - it is a relatively unknown and uncharted European country to most South Africans. Indeed, many of the Hungarian people I have met since my time here have asked me questions such as "Why on earth
did you choose Hungary?!" and even the "If you are from Africa then why are you white?".

Many Hungarians have never met South Africans before and know little of our country, but most of them are
always curious and extremely eager to ask questions and find out more.

So, why exactly did I choose to study here in Hungary? To be honest, I knew very little about the place when I applied. The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme looked absolutely fantastic and covered nearly all the expenses and requirements of living abroad, so I gave it a shot, and looking back
its one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

Hungary is a very unique place - the language is Uralic in origin, and thus completely different to the other widely spoken Indo-European language. Of course, living in a country where you don't speak the national language is one of the biggest challenges of moving abroad and at times it has been difficult and frustrating.

However, English is spoken widely, especially amongst the younger generation, and by university professors and lecturers. It is the language of science and academia and therefore to have successful studies at a university here English will more than suffice. But making a few Hungarian friends to help translate while travelling around the country or going to do admin at government offices is definitely a good investment.

Hungary has a complicated history and difficult past. In a similar way to South Africa - Apartheid ended nearly 30 years ago but we still feel the effects thereof in our everyday lives - Communism and Soviet occupation ended about three decades ago and the "hangover" is still apparent in many ways.

It's important to remember as it can help us understand the way people act and their mindsets (especially older generations) and why certain systems and protocols are the way they are.

I am lucky enough to study in Budapest - the thriving, interesting, and stunningly beautiful metropolis. Many students choose to study here for their Erasmus year or whole degree. It is an extremely affordable place to study and live.

The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme is open to students from many different African, Asian, European and Latin American countries. You are guaranteed to have classmates, dorm mates and friends from all corners of the globe. One of my favourite things about studying here is meeting people from
countries I had known very little about before and learning about their cultures. I have even had the opportunity to visit some friends in their home countries.

The universities in Budapest are beautiful. I study at Szent István universities' Budai Campus which is situated in an arboretum. It feels like a green oasis here and not at all urban. ELTE university also has beautiful expansive botanical gardens. The Corvinus and BME universities are situated in some of the most beautiful buildings with libraries that look like they could be in a Harry Potter movie.

There are other beautiful highclass universities all over the country in charming and unique smaller towns. There is so much more to the country to the capital - wine regions, historic castles and palaces, mountains
and the largest lake in central European, Lake Balaton - "The Hungarian Sea". Hungary is ideally situated in the heart of central Europe making travel easy and accessible.

The main focus of studying abroad should be your education - that is your purpose after all. In Hungary, you will get a respectable European qualification and unique study experience and environment. However, there are so many other factors which make the experience so worthwhile, only some which I've briefly mentioned above. I would recommend this programme to anyone.

 Paula Louw - Hungary A Unique Study Experience.JPG

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