Europe or The United States? Which one is the most preferable from the two? Pretty hard question, we could make a survey to see what people say about it but it does not matter what others say. Every single person in this world is unique, all of them have different necessities and dreams. However, there is a general statement that Europeans are dreaming about the USA and Americans are dreaming about Europe. Most of the people love to travel, experience new cultures but only a few of them are able to settle down in a different environment and feel home.
For PTE students, lecturers and also for professors Fulbright is a great opportunity to study or continue their academic work in the USA. During this time they can live the American dream, experience things they could nowhere else. The great thing is that they can also be a part of the Fulbright programme and come to our little country. Mostly the reason behind their trip to Hungary is that they met a Hungarian in the States and that person made them to feel like that they need to visit this Eastern-Middle-European country. From all of these stories my personal favourite is that when a lucky man had a Hungarian Physics professor at the university. Can you guess who? Yes, Teller Ede! Recently there are several Americans in Hungary related to this scholarship, one of them, Robin Valerie Cathey lives in Pécs for a year now.
Why Hungary? Everything started when I became a friend of a Hungarian man and when he moved back to Hungary I came to see him and I fell in love with the country. This was my very first travel to another continent. I knew at that point that I want to experience other cultures and lands. It was a real starting point for the rest of my life. Now I live here for a while and I absolutely love it. The city is wonderful, it is quite historical, there are so many buildings that are just great to look at. This place is an unbelievable cultural centre of the region. I am also so lucky because I found a flat at Széchenyi Square, when I want to eat something or drink a coffee with my friends I have a bunch of places to choose from. This city amazes me with its colourfulness, it has everything I need and the people, they are just so nice and welcoming.
We already know that she did not regret moving here but is her aim here? As she said she wants to give further her knowledge.
I love to be with people, I love teaching but not in the sense Hungarians think or at least most Hungarians. When I decided to take part in Fulbright my main idea was to do something helpful that I would like to teach but not at a university. Why? It is easy, just think about it. Those students who could go to a university did not have a lack of good education. Although, now I do teach at PTE at the department of Romology, where my students work really hard and fight against so many obstacles. I hoped that Fulbright will a place where students want to study and they do not have the facility to learn from a native speaker. This is how we found Gandhi.
Gandhi, probably most of the people does not know anything about it, let’s change it. Gandhi is a Gymnasium with an elementary art training and a dormitory all in one. This was the first romany school in Hungary and even in Europe which gives high school diploma. The institute was founded in the early 90s with the help of Gandhi Foundation. The main goal of the endowment was to give those opportunities for the Romany students which are given for the other members of the community as well. Now that it is clear let’s see what can a native English speaker who also studied applied linguistics during her university years add to this idea.
Since I am here I am not only teaching but I learn a lot, too. I participate on Hungarian language courses which are awesome. In connection with English classes I noticed some basic differences between Hungarian and American education. In Hungary teachers give a well-built curriculum for the class which from the students cannot decide what is important and which part is useless. Moreover, I think that they suffer from the lack of communication or I could say that the communication is too one-sided. In the States communication takes the biggest part of conveying knowledge but the exchange of the knowledge could be a better expression. When our education starts in the primary school we are taught to see everything with a critical eye, be brave enough to express our opinion about something and to be able to give relevant reasons reason which stand for our point of view. Personally I want teach my students to question everything, to be brave to tell their ideas in class. Of course it takes some time to get used to this type of learning when you are not used to it as a student.
Robin believes that every teacher has his or her style but every group needs to be treated differently, the teachers should adapt to the class.
I truly believe that they can profit from the mentality I brought with myself. I already see the development, they do well on my classes but it is more important that they enjoy them and if somebody enjoys doing something then that person will continue doing it, 100%. It means the world when somebody understands why do we use a tense, a phrase etc. When somebody passes a test with a great result it is a success for me too. Here is an example: “one of my university students passed the ECL with flying colors and it was a wonderful moment for all of us at the department and even the staff at ECL who contributed by waiving the test fee!”. I really like my students I see that they give their best day by day.
It is never too late! - an ex-UN ambassador learns Hungarian
This summer was as busy as always at PTE, festivals after festivals, summer schools after summer schools. For one of these summer schools (18th Hungarian Language and Culture Summer School) people came to try their fortune with Hungarian language. In the program we can meet everybody, from youngsters to elders. There are absolute beginners and there are students who were here before but it is not only about the language, they have the opportunity to get a little bit more familiar with the local culture and history.
We would never think with whom can we meet during this amazing program. We were fortunate enough to meet an ex-UN ambassador from Finland. Pertti Torstila is already in his seventies but this does not stop him to learn a brand new language. The man who is not only active in brain activities also likes running, actually six years ago he competed in an orienteer competition in Pécs, so it is not a miracle that we had a talk right after his pilates class.
Why did you made the decision to start learning a new language and why Hungarian?
Why not? Look, I am a pensioner so I have time and I have been always interested in Hungarian language, mainly because I believe in the Finnish – Hungarian friendship and of course I looked for a challenge too. During my life I learned to speak 5 languages and now I can add Hungarian as well. For me this is the hardest one, although I can speak French, German, Swedish, English and Finnish but it is obvious.
I can see that the teachers made a great job because your Hungarian is quite good, we can speak smoothly. What is your opinion about the education?
First of all, thank you! During my decades on Earth I saw a lot of things but I have to say that this university maintains a really high standard. The teachers are great, these modern text books also. We talk a lot during classes and just about general facts but about actual topics so it is practical, interactive and interesting in the same time. The groups are small so everybody has the chance to speak which is a good think. Another good point for the alignment because there is only a tiny difference between the best and the worst in each group.
We already know that you were here before this program but did you hear here the first Hungarian words?
It is funny because I was far away from Hungary and Pécs when I heard the first words. It was in 1952 during the Helsinki Olimpics. If you really think about it it is not so strange because it was a great year for Hungary. The Hungarian team won 42 medals, 16 gold, 10 silver and 16 bronze I can still remember these numbers in turn I was only 7 years old and moreover that was the year when I first heard about Puskás Ferenc and he is unforgettable. I was really young but I can remember that everybody knew that it is a Hungarian party!
Can you still remember for those words?
Yes! There are two words I remember from my childhood. These are ‘dal’ (song) and ‘zene’ (music). Everybody has a hobby or more. I am that type of person who has more, music takes a huge part of my life even though mostly I only play for myself. I think this kind of interest lead to learn these words first. Later I learned the typical finno - ugrian words. For example ‘vér’ (blood), ‘kéz’ (hand) or ‘fej’ (head). I truly believe that there is a relation between Hungarians and Finnish people, that is why I am here!
It is quite interesting that most of the foreigners say that their favourite Hungarian word is ‘pillangó’ (butterfly), ‘szerelem’ (love) or ‘szeretlek’ (I love you) but mine is definitely a strange one. It is ‘tulajdonképpen’ (in a proper sense). I do not know why, I just find it funny when someone says it out loud.
Hungarian language is not easy but it is as beautiful as difficult. The program is amazing, really! The fact that every age-group can be a part of it is so good because as the oldest member of the whole summer school I have the opportunity to learn from the younger generations. The fact the we came together from 30 different countries is a great chance to make international friends. Loved every moment of it!
Zsolnay Cultural Quarter written by Qais Yousufi, graduated student of the UP
Qais Yousufi arrived from Afghanistan on a grant in 2012, and obtained a degree at the department of International Studies at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Pécs. He is recalling the past few years and tells us about one of his favourite places, the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter.
I was admitted to the International Relations Study Programme of the University of Pécs in 2013.
Even at the first semester I attended of very interesting courses and lectures, sociology included. The Department of Sociology can be found at the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter. Before our first sociology courses I googled the venue on the Internet and I found a lot of interesting information, but all that was nothing compared to my first experience when I looked around there by myself.
When you enter the unique complex which was built where there used to be the factory buildings and the residence of the Zsolnay family, you will feel dizzy from the vast array of parks, monuments, decorated buildings and sculptures and you can never have enough of the attractions. I was very happy to have had the chance to spend there as much time as I pleased, as one day is just not enough to visit and admire all of the monuments, the places and promenades designed for all the different age groups and of course the exhibitions.
During my stay in Pécs, I visited the permanent exhibitions of the Zsolnay Quarter many times and I have been encouraging every guest of Pécs to visit them, because it is worth it! I can say that my favourite was the Zsolnay Collection compiled by László Gyugyi with nearly 600 ceramics.
Beside the exhibitions, many arts and family festivals take place in the Quarter, and the Pécs University Days were also organized here, which is irresistible in my opinion.
If I look back on my years in Pécs, I think one of the best decisions in my life was to start my studies there. I loved the city, the people and the opportunities provided by the locality. Whenever I could, I walked up the Tettye and the Mecsek or was just ting on the Széchenyi square, I always learned for my exams at the library of the Learning Centre. But I spent most of my time at the Zsolnay Quarter, as I always found an activity which was appropriate to my mood whether I wanted to study or just wished to have a bit of a rest.
Every second Thursday 2pm-5:30pm, starting from September 14
The course is designed for students who are willing to “read” the city’s historic evolvement, the important layers of its “texture” highlighting how local culture and identity has been shaped throughout the centuries. There is much to explore in a 2000-year-old city. Discover the rich and vivid history from the Roman period through to the “Cultural Capital of Europe” – phase (2010) in the big year of the 650th anniversary of founding the University of Pécs (September 1, 2017). The course provides opportunities for visiting heritage attractions. Heritage is seen not only as a memory base of communities that needs to be preserved but bestowed for the benefit of future generations as a resource that can trigger innovation.
Lecturer: dr. Teréz Kleisz PhD, assistant professor
Cultural Heritage of Hungary
Monday 4pm-5:30pm, starting from September 18
Beyond providing an introduction to the most important events and features of Hungarian history the course focuses on the major cultural achievements and the most influential historical figures of Hungary. Students will learn about the most important historical events and personalities, which shaped Hungarian history and culture throughout the centuries. The course also provides an overview of the significant art styles of Hungary from the middle ages till the end of the 20th century. The course aims to develop students’ understanding of Hungarian folk traditions, customs, identity and gastronomy as well. The course provides an insight to the collections of the most important Hungarian museums and historical sites. The course reveals the significance of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Hungary and it also provides an opportunity for the students to get familiar with the cultural heritage of Pécs.
Lecturer: dr. Zsuzsa Koltai PhD, assistant professor
Contemporary Hungarian Culture
The purpose of the course is to represent and advance multi- and cross-disciplinary work in Hungarian cultural studies. The focus is on today’s cultural phenomena. Starting from a broad definition of culture, the interests of the course range from relations and interaction between the social and cultural spheres to issues of the everyday and “way of life”, as well as to the meanings and functions of arts and media.
Lecturer: dr. Judit Béres PhD, assistant professor
Intercultural Communication. Etiquette, Protocol and the Rules of Social Interaction in Hungary
every second Tuesday 4pm-7:30pm
This course provides an introduction to the key conceptual elements related to intercultural communication and its practical aspects in the special context of Hungarian culture and everyday life. In the frame of the course, students are invited to create their own intercultural written, drawn, comics, photo or video diaries of their experiences in Pécs. To increase their intercultural awareness, students are required to demonstrate their diaries in the end-term paper.
Lecturer: dr. habil Gyula Maksa PhD, assistant professor
Current Political, Economic and Social Issues of Hungary
This course aims to introduce students to general political, economic and social features of Hungary. Students will learn about the political system and some hot topics that characterise today’s Hungarian political life. They will gain more knowledge on some specific issues such as the economic perspectives and challenges, the education system of the country and main social challenges like ageing, unemployment, emigration and ethnic tensions.
Lecturer: dr. Inez Koller PhD, assistant professor
For further information please contact dr. Zsuzsa Koltai PhD, coordinator of the Cultural Sensitivity Program. E-mail: email@example.com
PMS is Pécs Music Society, a group formed by music-loving and music-playing students of the University of Pécs. It’s not a band, or a single event, maybe better described as a ‘world-view’ to promote live music and musicians in Pécs. PMS started in 2010, at a table outside the old Fortuna Cáfé in the medical faculty, by a Swedish student Arvin Lashgarara (now living in Sweden) and Ian O’Sullivan. The Society was born in UP, in the Medical School of UP to be precise, and maintains a close friendship with the university. UP students form the backbone of PMS, and we love to perform for the students and to invite them to participate. The main organizers are Ian O’Sullivan, András Langer and Alan Abada.
We organize regular and one-off events around the city to give opportunities for amateur and professional musicians, who might otherwise just leave their instrument at home and play in their bedroom. Pécs has nightclubs, bars, theatres etc. but for many people an evening entertainment involves meeting at a bar or a restaurant with a DJ (or iTunes :) ) in the background, then going to a nightclub with DJ (or iTunes DJ!)… We always felt there was more space for live music. Live music is a living, breathing thing and we wanted to show that the city has an appetite for real performances by real people and that this hunger has not been satisfied. Over the last 7 years, as our events have grown and grown, we are continuously seeing that there is a strong appetite, a huge appetite for live music. It makes us happy to have people who would have remained ‘closet-musicians’, doctors, teachers, dentists, electricians or shop workers, to come on stage and show what they can do; We have also met musicians who have gone on to play on the national scene like Márk Járai (Halott Pénz), Dániel Misota (Zanzinger), Dani Ertl and Zsuzsanna Weber (Delusions of Grandeur), Magnus Maloy and Ian of course (Mongooz and the Magnet) and many more.
The ‘flagship’ event of PMS is what is called ‘Open Mic’. It runs every second week in a bar called Trafik, and gives an opportunity for anyone (anyone!) to get up and play. The deal is simple: give us 2 songs, and we give you a free beer. It started as an international event, but now there are as many Hungarians as foreigners, something that makes us very happy!
We organize other events around the year and will be organizing a ‘PMS: Rhythm against Racism’ stage, which will be the main stage at the Pécs City Carnival, the biggest Halloween party in the city (PMS Halloween). We shall also participate in some Medical School events like the International Evening, the Egészségügyi Felsőoktatási Napok, City Race, and more.
We want you. Everyone. If you like music. If you play music. If you don’t want to sit around and listen to the same ‘sláger lista’ one million times. Our aim is to give a fresh alternative. If we have live music, it’s a range of styles and genres that our DJs provide, if everyone else plays dance, we play hip-hop. We want to give alternatives and broaden the spectrum of events in Pécs. At our one-off events we always try to make something special happen, we’ve already had parties interrupted by spontaneous shows like break dancers, brass-bands and even Halloween actors with chainsaws! We don’t like to be lazy, and give you ‘some of the same’ every year.
It’s a great place to meet other musicians if you are an aspiring musician, and our events offer stages that would otherwise be inaccessible to a small band that isn’t famous (yet!). We have a very open-minded and tolerant attitude, just like our audience, which is great.
Every year we have bigger events, with more people, that everyone keeps asking when the next event is coming, and that people keep coming is the best feedback we can get. You never know what will happen at an Open Mic, who will get up on stage. Even we don’t know. That’s part of the magic, and why we still love it after all these years.
See you at the First Open Mic of the semester! September 13th
Wednesday, 3 May, 2017, 7 p.m. Venue: Kodály Centre Opera Premiere
Students of the Opera Singing programmes of the Institute of Music, Faculty of Music and Visual Arts, University of Pécs Students of the Dance Programme of the Pécs Secondary Grammar School of Arts.
Professional manager: Márton SZABÓ Pécs University Symphonic Orchestra Conducted by: Balázs KOCSÁR, Liszt Prize-winning conductor Directed by: András HÁBETLER
Friedrich HÄNDEL: Serse Tickets HUF 1500
Monday, 8 May, 2017, 7 p.m. Venue: Liszt Ferenc Concert Hall Sándor Szilágyi guitar recital
Selection of the most beautiful pieces composed by Heitor VILLA-LOBOS, Attila JESZENSZKY-BÖHM and Alberto GINASTERA.
Tickets: HUF 2000 Students and pensioners: HUF 500
Friday, 12 May 2017, 7 p.m. Zsolnay Plays Music Venue: Kodály Centre
Zsolnay Wind Orchestra (ZSWO) Founder conductor: Károly NEUMAYER, Liszt Prize-winning wind orchestra conductor Conducted by: András MAJOR, Balázs STAURÓCZKY, Lajos SZILÁGYI Ticket HUF 1000 | Family ticket HUF 2500 Students and pensioners HUF 500
Monday, 15 May, 2017, 7 p.m. Venue: Liszt Ferenc Concert Hall Tchaikovsky song recital
Eszter Sümegi, opera singer (soprano) Bernadett WIEDEMANN, Liszt prize-winning opera singer (mezzosoprano) Bence PATAKI, bass Emese VIRÁG, Liszt-Prize-winning pianist Narrator: Sándor KOVÁCS, Lajtha Prize-winning music historian
Tchaikovsky is one of the most popular composers, however his songs are not very well known, despite the fact, that he composed more the hundred of them. Beautiful songs interpreted by great artist, and because it is largely unknown territory, Sándor Kovács will guide us among the songs.
Tickets: HUF 2000 Students and pensioners: HUF 500
Tickets can be purchased online at www.jegymester.hu or in person at the info points of the Zsolnay Örökségkezelő NKft.
Zsolnay Cultural Quarter – Visitor Centre
Zsolnay Cultural Quarter – Northern Infopoint at the Ledina gate
Zsolnay Cultural Quarter – Guesthouse, reception
House of Arts and Literature
Kodály Centre, ticket office at the entrance of the Concert Hall,
The International Dance Day Pécs 2017 is a one-day-long Festival organised by the Talking Bodies. The Talking Bodies is a movement theatre collective, founded and organised by Flora Veres. Our goal is to created high-quality contemporary theatre performances, reach the audience, make the contemporary dance more common and well known for a wide range of people. The Dance Day is our first open workshop program brought to life by Flora Veres and Alexandra Rab. The event offers a divers program for young and old, for people with or without experience. Everybody can find class for his or her own interest. Beside the movement workshops, dance film screening and performances are organised. The Day closes by a less formal rock'n'roll party!
JESZ – Janus University Theater - 7630 Pécs, Zsolnay Vilmos Str. 16. Zsolnay Cultural District
12.45 - 14.35 The Mind is a Muscle - Embodied Dance Theory – Kinga Szemessy 16.30-17.30 Dance films - movies from: Mariann Gaál, Réka Szűcs , Csilla Nagy - Cipolla Collectiva, SAPP, Rita Góbi - Gobe, Gergő Lukács
SZABADKIKÖTŐ - 7626 Pécs, Király Str. 64.
20.30 – 21.30 Fordan Retro Workshop – Tamás Tóth & Andrea Tóthné Láng 21.30 - 22.00 Free rock'n'roll jam 22.00 – 00.00 Dynamite Dudes concert 00.00 - 02.00 Rockabilly - Swing - Jive - Postmodern Jukebox DJ set, free DANCE!
Janus University Theatre - Casting new members to perform in English
Have you always wanted to try acting? Have you performed in English before and would want to do it again? If so, come and join us at PTE University Theatre, JESZ's (Janus University Theater) new member casting workshop.
Dr. Sheila Rucki is a political economist and an associate professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her work is mostly on Gramsci and notions of the relationships between culture and economy. After two conference participations at the University of Pécs she came to teach here as visiting professor to launch a faculty exchange with the Department of Political Science and International Studies.
The relationship between the two universities was established by the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology of the UP, and now there's a minor at MSU Denver, in which both Hungarian and American professors have been teaching. In order to further strengthen this bilateral relationship, as part of the Internationalization Strategic Program, the Center for International Relations of UP tries to involve other faculties of the UP into the co-operation. For example, during the spring another visiting professor’s arrival will bring new methodology to the Faculty of Business and Economics. Sheila Rucki taught students majoring in International Relations at the Faculty of Humanities.
How much publicity does Hungary get in the United States?
Hungary did appear in the news quite a bit when the refugee crisis was at its height: there were a lot of stories in the major press about the way immigrants was treated, the difficulties they had and so on.
On the 20th of January United States will have a new president. (The interview was done on 17 of December, 2016. - the ed.)
It may sound terrible but the voters of Trump are called low information voters who actively engaged in politics but not committed themselves to the media or to education. There is also serious division in race, so Hillary Clinton did very well among African Americans, the Hispanic community and Asians, whereas Trump ran much better among white men. Another division is between rural and urban regions: Hillary Clinton did very well in urban communities whereas Trump won in rural areas.
For me it was totally obvious that Clinton will win the elections. Did social media destroy her chances?
One of the things what's remarkable about this election is not that it was that close, but the two sides don't even know how to talk to one another. I think that relates to the facebook phenomenon. The fake news were introduced through facebook and twitter feed and these could not get repeated frequently enough to not be able to cover it by the mainstream media. The MSM had no idea how to handle the fake news.
The expectations were quite high for Obama's Presidency. According to many people these did not align with reality. How do you see his work from this angle?
I think that the original hopes that people had for Obama were reflected more about them than it reflected about Obama himself. Even as a senator he was a very centrist politician not the revolutionary firebrand people expected. When he became president he was consensus oriented, he had to negotiate with the congress and as a result of that his entire program got tiny. I'm not saying that he had not done anything or his presidency was unimportant. I think he is one of the most important presidents. But he achieved so much less than people had hoped.
What can we expect from Trump's foreign policy?
That's a very good question. If we look at his foreign policy appointments so far we see people with a paranoid, anti islamic world view that supports totalitarian leadership. Maybe that would be okay except that he also shows no intention to uphold the previous US foreign policy commitments.
Is the historic role of the US being the “world's policeman” over?
We'll see. If the president can't cooperate with the bureaucracy there will be little change.
Related to the ongoing refugee crisis the traditional European values are not existing anymore. Can traditional American values change in any way?
I think they have to. Immigration is mostly accepted when there’s not a lot of immigrants coming in the United States. The great waves of immigration historically have also been matched by great waves of xenophobia. The difference is that the Trump administration seems to attach this xenophobia to Islam in an explicit way which means that not only will the United States be less welcoming for Islamic refugees but also for muslims who are already living in States.
Hungarian society has been divided in the last couple of elections. Do you see similar tendency in America?
Absolutely. After the election there were articles and tv shows about how to talk to your family member who voted for Trump. Some of them was funny, but some of them was not funny at all.
Cultural shock - chill out, it doesn’t cause permanent damage
When moving to another country, either temporarily or permanently, you have to face the several unexpected: new people, new situations, new habits and eventually, you have to meet the new you - at least a yet undiscovered side of yours. How can you handle it? How can you prepare for it? How can you get the most out of your studies abroad and acquire skills that can help you throughout your life both professionally and personally? We asked Dr Sára Bigazzi, lecturer of the Psychology Department at the University of Pécs (Faculty of Humanities).
Dr Sára Bigazzi, lecturer of the Psychology Department at the University of Pécs Photo: Szabolcs Csortos, UnivPécs
Which nation do you think is mostly affected by cultural shock?
I wouldn’t connect the measure of cultural shock to nations: in my opinion it depends rather on one’s former experiences with diversity, on being open-minded and flexible. Besides, your ability to operate in new situations, with new people is also influenced by your past experiences. If someone lived in a little village in Italy, coming to Pécs, he or she might feel extremely big differences between his former and current lifestyle, and might not be not be aware of how to overcome this gap. At the same time, there can be someone else from India - which has a completely far different culture than Hungary - who can adapt to the changes easily since she already spent some time in a foreign country and, on top of it, has an easy-going personality.
I think open mindedness is closely linked to experiences: after a while it has to evolve otherwise you can’t cope with your novel lifestyle successfully. Of course, you shouldn’t deny your values and attitudes. The challenge is to cope with the differences when you meet people who don’t share your norms. When you get into a new situation, your only choice is to experience new things. The more new situations you experience, the easier you can handle them.
How long does it take to get acclimatized to the new environment?
I don’t think we can talk about a general length of time, since everyone arrives with different purposes: some will live here for a short time, some for years, and some move here permanently. Moreover, it depends on how much you are willing to discover your limits and also on how frequently you interact with local people. Acclimatization can be much faster if you go to the grocery alone, or go to pubs where you can meet local people, and try to talk to them. If you take part in courses which though held in English, there are also Hungarian students and visit little pubs in “Uránváros”! This way you will understand how things take place in Pécs more easily.
This is the reason why I don’t agree with placing all the Erasmus students near to each other: this way there is almost nothing they can experience regarding the reality in Pécs or in Hungary. You might be surrounded by local people, but if you close the door of your room and do nothing else but studying... don’t expect too much good: this protected situation makes your adaptation more difficult.
As far as I see, those who spend years in Pécs, are more motivated to get acquainted with Hungarian culture, than those students who spend only a few months here.
When do you think adaptation is easier? Spending a short or a long time in a foreign country?
Of course, when you don’t move to a place permanently, you don’t necessarily have to experience cultural shock: you can stay with a closed circle of people. Immigrants for example frequently create their own neighbourhoods like in the case of Chinatowns, where people belonging together can preserve their own traditions. Cultural shock is more common in those cases, when you feel alone with your values and you experience that everyone else behaves differently. We all try to categorize people, especially when we don’t know them yet. However, certain categories might have a completely different meaning as compared to those in your home country. If you can’t position their behaviour along your category system, you should deactivate your frame of references as much as possible and accept the stimuli coming towards you.
Dr Sára Bigazzi, lecturer of the Psychology Department at the University of Pécs Photo: Szabolcs Csortos, UnivPécs
Does keeping in touch with our fellow countrymen help or hinder our integration?
It can naturally give you an internal protection and safety: if you know that there are people around you who understand what you are saying and think similarly. However, it is important to leave the protection of this net, even together with them. You can experience things together, too and in this case you have the possibility to discuss your experiences later.
Technology makes it very easy to keep contact nowadays. How much can it shorten the integration time?
As well as your fellow countrymen, it can give you an internal protection. You can contact people from home who are behind you and if you are in trouble, they can support you, but I don’t think that it would restrain your adaptation. However, you should focus on finding your place in the new system. It doesn’t mean that you should accept everything unconditionally, but you have to get known your limits: how much you can give up from yourself and how much you want to keep. Of course, you will lose a little bit from yourself, but with the help of this attitude, you can change your own behaviour much easier later if necessary.
Is it possible to prepare for the changes?
Absolutely. There are some trainings where the rules you should behaviour abroad can be acquired. You can learn how you can have a talk with someone who speaks a different language and think in a different way. I’m not thinking about speaking in English, but about showing the world around us from different perspectives, and about the ways we can accept, discuss and share that with others.
What can we win with a study abroad?
It also depends on our purpose. I think the main task of an Erasmus student is having fun in another world, they shouldn’t focus only on the university. As human beings they can develop a lot by this experience. The challenge is leaving our protected environment.
Those who spend more years in our town, experience the Hungarian reality much deeper, they live through a different process. They have to understand how the public transport system works in Hungary, they could be part of a community which will be theirs for years. I think that this kind of experience and flexibility can help in almost each profession.
I would also advise Hungarian students to go abroad: learning from books or listening to our teachers are not the most important sources of our knowledge. With foreign experience we can use our knowledge in a different way. We will be able to question it, and this way we can develop ourselves.
When does the degree of homesickness appear when consultation should be obtained?
Obviously if you have so much homesickness that you can’t deal with it, you can always go home. A psychologist can help you adapt to a certain point, but sooner or later you need to be able to survive alone.
What would you recommend for the foreign students arriving in Hungary?
Guidebooks can’t prepare you when arriving in another country. At first you are still only a tourist. The local people make you feel this: they can appreciate if you speak even two words in their language. Later, however, this won’t be enough: you should learn the basic words and phrases to communicate what you want. Increase your awareness about finding yourself, your own schemes, categories and value system. You can’t and don’t have to get rid of them, but you can think about them in a reflective way. That’s the reason why spending some time in a foreign country can help us
recognise question our perspectives. At the same time, though doing it, we may even reinforce ourselves.