Greetings from Hungary!!!
Wow, I am finally here and it has in every single way exceeded all expectations that I held for this wondrous journey to Pécs, Hungary. Immediately on my arrival to Budapest and traveling to Pécs, I met other international students studying in the same city as me. I asked them how it was in Pécs and they gave me descriptions of a beautiful city with rich history, a great ambience and lovely people. They were not wrong at all.
“Little by little it feels more like we are growing into one big family. There is no greater feeling then this.”
My entire first week here I got to know the rest of the international students, some of which I can already tell will be my friends for life.
To begin with, my dorm mates in our apartment — my next door neighbors — are two people from Nigeria. They are very kind, friendly and outgoing. My own roommate is from Kenya. His name is David. He is here for four years studying to complete his PhD. From him alone I know I will learn so much.
He is far ahead of where I am; he has a family whereas I am younger and still trying to figure out life. Yet we have good chemistry and constantly learn from one another. He has so much knowledge and wisdom that I hope I can absorb and he told me that I offer him a new outlook on life that he wants to incorporate to better himself. So we are working in symbiosis, building off each other.
Outside of my little apartment in the dorm I have had the pleasure of meeting my peers from all across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. We have a group chat in WhatsApp where there are 189 international students. We all consistently talk to each other though that chat and organize trips, events and just times to hang out and get to know each other more and more.
Little by little it feels more like we are growing into one big family. There is no greater feeling then this.
I’ve also delved into the city’s rich historical foundations. I went to visit early Christian burial sites, mausoleums, Islamic mosques and a Jewish synagogue. I did not expect to find roots for all three of these religions, but they are here and they thrived alongside one another.
Furthermore I learned about how the city center of Pécs used to be the center of a fortress and some of the walls still stand. The city has been through many sieges, attempted destruction, and changes in leadership yet it never was fully destroyed. In modern times it has been improved and become a center for rich culture. In 2011 Pécs was given the honor of being called the European Capital of Culture in 2010.
The city is really thriving in all areas, and as more international students come and return to their respective countries and share their wonderful experiences in Pécs, more are inclined to come and bask in the culture of Pécs.
School started this past week for the international students. I am currently enrolled in eight courses, six of which are masters level courses and five of them are under the international relations MA program here. I am so very excited for these courses; they are very interesting and I know I will be a sponge in these classes. I want to advance my knowledge and gain valuable experience of what master’s level courses are like. I view this as an opportunity to improve myself and get an idea of what graduate school feels like.
Furthermore I get to learn from my peers that already have degrees in a wide variety of fields, for example law, international relations, business, psychology, political science and engineering.
Apart from the actual courses, I will widen my knowledge about Hungary, the EU and the other countries that my peers come from. I am already doing my best to speak to everybody to attain more knowledge — a new and broader perspective on the world.
And this was just one week of classes. I cannot wait for the rest of the semester.
I have also taken the time to travel alone throughout the city to find the local spots that Hungarians frequent. I found a nice pizzeria/bar where I got to meet and become friends with the owner and the staff. They are all teaching me how to speak Hungarian. It is not an easy task — we often find ourselves playing charades, but I am not giving up. I promised myself that I would do my best to immerse myself into Hungarian culture and if I really want to do that I know I must learn their language. In three weeks I have learned a few phrases, and with time I believe I will be able to speak a few sentences here and there in Hungarian.
My journey has only begun and after my first few weeks here I know for a fact that this will be a worthwhile journey.
Until next time everybody!
Mauro Abel Ordiano is an international security and conflict resolution major with a minor in religious studies. He is studying fall semester at the University of Pecs in Hungary.