Culture shock – How difficult is it to be here?

English Pages have already covered several different topics such as the introduction of Hungarian Erasmus students or foreign teachers. It also discussed  the habits of different cultures concerning Christmas traditions or holidays but we have never asked our foreign students about their thoughts regarding Hungary. It is time they shared their experience and memories about their stay and compared the different cultures they found themselves.

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Firstly, Bowen Yang from China shared his impression with me about Hungary. He studies tourism and catering and has quite a lot experience in the country as he has spent almost 3 years here. When he first arrived at Veszprém, he was quite surprised that he saw only a few people in the streets of the town, very much different to that of his hometown in China. Another surprise was that many of the shops closed on the weekends and it took some time for him to get used to that. He pointed out that most of the locals were very friendly with him and it was quite easy to make some new friends in Veszprém. However, at the very begging he found it strange that Hungarians really like to drink and party whereas Chinese people are much more subdued. Generally, he likes the whole country but feels that there is too much difference between the two cultures. He mentioned that the educational system is much stricter here than in China. What’s more, it is always challenging for a Chinese student to understand his/her  Hungarian friends and professors because of the differences in the accents. He likes the fact that there are more schools holidays here, so he has  more time to travel within Hungary and to visit some European countries. Thanks to that,, he had the possibility to take some smaller trips to  Székesfehérvár, Budapest, Sopron, Szombathely, Győr and Lake Balaton. He gained a lot of experience during his journeys but as he said, tourism in Europe is quite different from that of in China. In his country, the majority of the international tourist destinations are quite obvious as  it is easy to identify non-Chinese people in China. However, there seem to be little difference among Europeans, therefore it gives him a feeling that there are no tourists in a given destination at all. At the end of our conversation, he highlighted that he really missed the tastes and dishes of his country likewise  the other Chinese student in Veszprém.

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Secondly, we have Olawumi Dennis Ogunboye telling us about his adventures in Hungary. He came all the way from Nigeria to study Tourism Management MA, although  he finished his BA also in the University of Pannonia about three years ago. He thinks that Veszprém is a very peaceful place and he is  quite delighted to study here. He had other international experiences as he studied in Cyprus, Finland and in Spain. He said that the affordability of study was the primary factor that brought  him to this country. He feels that  the biggest strengths of Hungary are that  universities offer  lower tuition and fees  than other European countries, besides that the atmosphere is very good to study and people are very nice everywhere. Concerning the educational system, he had a very good basis to compare different European countries.  He admitted that he can’t really see too much difference amongst the European universities; and that Hungary has an average system compared to  other schools. Teachers and lecturers here are committed to their students, they are good listeners, give time to everything and they always want to help. However, the actual situation could be improved by more English speaking teachers because making themselves understood still seems to be a big challenge for foreign students. Generally speaking, people are helpful here but language differences can cause problems in everyday life. Naturally, he misses many things from his home, e.g.  the regular activities of his hometown or the food. He said that there are huge differences in the cultures, as in Africa, people are more collectivistic, whereas people here and in other parts of Europe are more individualistic and they like more to be alone and protect their personal sphere. In Africa, it is typical that people should not be blood relatives to take care of each other as a real family. Europeans and Hungarians are not like them, they less open to foreign people.

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Last but not least, Oğuz Orhun Teber shared some of his thoughts about Hungary. He confessed  that he did not have too many choices when he decided to study abroad.  His university in Turkey only offered him Veszprém, so had to accept it in order to gain  experience in international education. Fortunately, he had some friends who had already studied here one or two semesters so he asked them about their stay and finally managed to move to Veszprém for half a year. He studies chemical engineering at the University of Pannonia. All in all, , he likes Hungary and Veszprém but he had to get used the university and the culture. As he said, he had some problems at the beginning as  there were only a few lectures available in English but now everything seems to work out well  for him. The teachers and fellow  Hungarian students are quite helpful but in some cases he feels that Erasmus students are treated in a different way than other ‘normal’ students. Besides, in Turkey there are two midterm exams and a final exam for every subject but here the requirements can differ from  every lecture. He also highlighted that there are huge differences in the cultures of the two countries. For instance,  they do not eat pork  but here it is very difficult to find a meal without it. So, if they eat pizza they will always order margarita or a vegetarian one. In addition,, he also misses the real tastes of Turkey such as in the case of the Hungarian kebab because it is not like the Turkish one. Another problem for him is the entertainment and the social activities. In most of the cases, they cannot enjoy Hungarian events because they will not be informed about them unless  their Hungarian friends call their  attention to it.

Photos: Chloe, Olawumi Dennis Ogunboye, Oğuz Orhun Teber