Have you ever wondered about what the numerous foreigners who go to ELTE with you everyday think about Hungary? In the first English-language NÁSz interview, we’re exploring the topic with Anastasija Gjorgjieska, a sophomore business student from North Macedonia.
After more than a year living in Hungary, what’s your overall opinion about the country?
I’d visited Hungary before moving here and I found Budapest exceptionally nice and now after living here I can say it’s extremely fun to live in as well, there’s always something happening. Even if it’s just a walk with friends or going out for a drink, you’re bound to have fun. Living in a foreign country for the first time in my life, I got to like Hungary a lot.
What types of accommodation have you tried during this time?
I’ve been living in the same apartment since I moved here. It’s always an interesting experience: with roommates moving in and out, you also get to know different cultures and people.
How does the quality of education here compare to that in North Macedonia based on your experiences?
Well I can’t really speak from experience, because I never went to university in Macedonia, but one thing I know for sure is that our program (International Business Economics) is structured undeniably well. It’s both interesting and educational, and the combination of lectures and seminars is in a good balance for doing extra activities outside of college.
What’s your experience with the Hungarian language? How much did you learn during this time?
I took Hungarian lessons in my first two semesters, and I’d say it was a nice experience. The language is definitely difficult, but I got to a level where at least I comprehend some of the most basic sentences, and I do find myself understanding more and more of it. Besides, I’m getting all the encouragement from my grandpa, he’s always interested in finding out what new things I learned in Hungarian.
What if you can’t find your place in the country or at ELTE? Are there forms for meeting people outside of the university?
To be honest, most people I know here are from the university, but there’s tons of people at ELTE, and I met a bunch of people at choir as well, one of the extra courses I’m taking this semester. ELTE and other students organized a lot of extra activities in the first semester, that’s how I met most of my friends.
Did you face any sort of exclusion or discrimination in the country?
Nothing serious. I had some negative experiences in administrative offices because they didn’t really speak English. But then again, there were also some people who helped me out with Google Translate or by speaking some English.
What’s your impression with Hungarian cuisine?
So far I’ve only tried goulash and paprikás csirke. I liked both of them, and I found a bunch of similarities to our own cuisine, so it wasn’t difficult to accommodate to the food here.
Did you find any similarities between Hungary and North Macedonia?
Yes, apart from the food, another similarity is the alcohol. I’ve tried Pálinka here and it’s very similar to a drink called Rakija we have at home. Also, people are really friendly here just as in Macedonia, I can easily keep company apart from the language barriers. People celebrate occasions here similarly to Skopje, so there’s always some great hanging-out going on as well. The main difference is actually the weather, I’m glad I brought enough clothes to dress up for the cold Hungarian winter.
How easily did you manage to make friends here?
Yes, as I mentioned, people are quite friendly here so there wasn’t much of a problem with making friends. I can just ask anyone out for coffee and you bet they’ll be up for it at uni any time of day, so that’s pretty fascinating.
What other cities did you visit in Hungary?
So far I’ve only had the chance to visit Szentendre, but a lot of cities are on my bucket list to visit pretty soon and after we’re done with exams I’m definitely planning on traveling around.
Can you elaborate on this bucket list?
Yes, I’m definitely going to see Lake Balaton because my best friend has been there and said she had a great deal of positive experiences. Debrecen is another place on my list, because when I was applying for university here, I was of two minds about ELTE and the University of Debrecen, and I’d really like to see what my life would’ve been like there. I’ve also seen pictures of the south, Pécs and Szeged, and I’d love to go to these places for the aesthetics and the architecture.
And finally, did you have the opportunity to get to familiar with Hungarian music?
Not so much in depth, but I definitely listened to some songs at parties. Even though I don’t understand a single word from it, they have a great rhythm to dance to, and Hungarian folk music is actually pretty similar to our own in the Balkans.