You come from a very different world, far away from Europe, but somehow you both ended up in Hungary, at Szent István University. Why Hungary?
Ambuj: Basically I wanted a scholarship to pursue PhD in business management and administration somewhere in Europe and landed in Hungary thanks to destiny, probably. Partly because of my Hungarian friends back in London (where I lived for 6 years earlier) – they left a very good impression on me. Apart from that, my research on Hungary strenghtened this image, but I also had a bit more sentimental memory. Back in the ’90s, I saw a Bollywood movie, starring the former Miss World from India, Aishwarya Rai, shot in Budapest. The beauty of the Hungarian capital was captured perfectly and Aishwara Rai was just amazing. I was fascinated about what I have seen on the screen and now I am here – unbelievable.
Rabiu: I study agricultural engineering and my uncle told me that Hungary is good at this field, besides I read some articles on the topic and after all I was convinced enough to apply for Masters studies. I passed the necessary exams and received an admission letter from Szent István University. So here I am.
„See how things work in practice”
How do you consider the level of Hungarian education?
Rabiu: It is far better here than in Nigeria. I appreciate that most of the things we learn on classes is based on practie, lecturers give detailed explanation about everything and later we go to the field and see how things work in practice.
Ambuj: Compared to my home country, it is very good, I can’t compare it with the general European level though. Regarding PhD, it takes much more time to proceed one in India than here. To sum it up, it is much above my expectations.
„The Indian in Hungary"
What was the biggest cultural shock for you?
Ambuj: There are obviously a lot of differences between developing countries and Europe. Culturally, how people perceive things, how people behave. It is totally different to live here than in India. However, things have changed recently, there are more and more open-minded young Indian people. For me the funniest thing is, that most of the Hungarians did not meet any Indians face to face, thus for them I am something new. I am the odd one, the Indian in Hungary. Also a key difference is that in India you see the extremes of life day by day, both if you think of the huge gap between the rich and the poor or the extremities of the weather.
Rabiu: I had several little shocks. For instance, our international coordinator hugged us when we first met! It is totally unusal and unimaginable in Nigeria. Additionally, she is always willing to help us, and says thank you even if she did something for us. It is not so common in Nigeria either. I am also amazed about the transportation! It is fantastic, I used electric trains the first time in my life in Hungary. I was also surprised to see that women smoke here. At home only men do that.
„The positive energy of Hungarian people”
What do you like the most about the country?
Rabiu: People are very kind and helpful. For example, I went to a supermarket and got totally lost seeing labels written only in Hungarian. I must have looked hopeless because a total stranger girl came to help me out, she even joined me in carrying stuff home. I also realized what Ambuj said; the gap between rich and poor is much less significant than in Nigeria. I am happy to be here, I like the way life goes.
Ambuj: I got involved from the very first moment. I received a lot of help right after I have been selected. Everything, even the administration went smooth and when I arrived to Ferihegy, a taxi dedicated to us took us directly to Gödöllő, where the international coordinators made us feel like home from the very beginning.
And yes, the public transport. As Rabiu said, it is amazing, and there are a lot of discounts for students which is outstanding even in Europe. I also have to mention the positive energy of Hungarian people. It surrounds me everywhere. It is the kind of positivity when you feel so motivated every day when you get up, look forward to the day and feel content when you go to bed at the end of the day.
It may sound nothing, but I also appreciate the central heating here. Coming from a tropical country it is a big deal for me, mainly because I didn’t have such good experiences in England, Portugal and other European countries I lived in.
„Prepare for two challenges before you come to Europe”
What do you like the least?
Ambuj: If you come to Europe, you have to prepare for two challenges: the weather and the languages. You have to come with an open mind. As for the language, I rub along with the help of Google Translator. Regarding theweather, in Mumbai there is no winter at all, so you can imagine. My only problem is finding good vegetables. I am hindu, therefore I don’t eat meat and I have trouble with finding Indian restaurants and quality vegetables at all. But I am getting used to it.
Rabiu: I agree. My biggest problem is the language barrier. Most of the Hungarians don’t speak English so if you don’t speak Hungarian you can get in trouble from time to time. And obviously, I have to get used to the weather, too. In Kanu, where I come from, there is a minimum of 20 degrees even in January, so you can imagine how I felt those days.
„I will be a better person”
What are your plans for the near future?
Rabiu: My next step would be the PhD, in Hungary. Then later, if I return back to my country, I would like to spread the knowledge I picked up here. There are many new ideas that I need to share at home.
Ambuj: If I would get the chance I would like to settle down, stay for more years. But there are a lot of things to consider before I would take such decision. If I can’t stay, I would still take beautiful memories of Budapest and Hungary with me. The experiences I gain here will guide me for the rest of my life, both personally and professionally. I will be a different, a better person.