To enrich my expertise and networks in international marketing, I decided to take a break from my studies at Creative Agency Krea for one semester and become an exchange student at the University of Pécs, Hungary.
Getting settled in Pécs
I had planned to go to Pécs by train, but discovered that the connection between central Budapest and a smaller town called Szazhalombatta was cancelled due to track repair works. This was stressful: there I was with all my luggage on my way to a place totally unknown to me, not knowing for sure how I would get there. After a series of questions, translated by a clerk to another clerk who didn’t speak English, I got to continue my journey and eventually found myself safely in beautiful Pécs.
I spent the first few days in a dormitory called Szántó kollégium, which hosted most of the international exchange students. However, I soon found a flat to rent for myself. For a Finn, the rent prices in Pécs were more than reasonable: I paid around 300 euros for a fully furnished apartment, including heating, water and electricity. Thanks to the fairly central location of the flat, I was able to walk to the university and back daily.
Once I got all my courses figured out with the kind help of the student affairs office, everything went smoothly. I took three different marketing courses and one HR course. The atmosphere was good and the team spirit between all the international students excellent. A huge thanks for this goes out to the local Erasmus Student Network (ESN). They made everyone feel welcome and organized events almost every night. These events were good for getting to know my fellow students from across the globe.
The University of Pécs dates back to medieval times
University of Pécs is the oldest university in Hungary, and one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1367. However, the modern university was established in 1912. The University faculties are scattered across town, but this is not a problem, as the distances between them are short. The university hosts more than 20 000 international students. This makes up a big portion of the city’s inhabitants, as Pécs is quite small.
The faculty of business and economics was situated right at the city center, sharing the premises with the faculty of law. It was quite a surprise that I could actually get a beer from the cafeteria and drink it at the terrace! Although I only used this option once at the end of the semester, this is something we are not used to at Haaga-Helia.
International network of business students – and friends
Right from the start, I attended all the ESN events and started making friends there. Every week the ESN would host country presentations where each student would make food and drinks and tell a little bit about their own country. Most of the people I got to know well also studied at the faculty of business and economics. One time, we took a road trip with two rental cars and 13 guys from 7 different countries to Slovenia for 4 days, organized by one of our French friends!
Thinking back to my exchange period in Hungary, I must say it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I would recommend everyone at Krea to go out on a student exchange. It involves lots of work, but it is totally worth the effort! Now I must respond to my Dutch friend’s Whatsapp message where he suggests a meeting next year.
Long live Erasmus!
Text and pictures: Jaakko Kalliomäki