Interview with Belgian Erasmus student

I had the possibility to interview Marie, an Erasmus student who is studying at Corvinus University. I asked her questions about the differences between Belgium and Budapest. I already gained insight into her feelings about her life in Budapest more than once. She again made it clear with her answers, that she is more than happy here.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Marie Ugeux. I am 20 years old. I am from Brussels in Belgium. More accurately from a little town on the Dutch side of the country which is about 10 km from Brussels. It’s a really boring city. I always have to take the bus for 1 hour to reach the center. I study Political Sciences and I will finish my bachelor this year. Next year I am planning on starting my Master studies of International Relations.


How long have you been living in Budapest? Was it your first time to come to Budapest?

I arrived on the 27th of January. Yes, it was the first time I came to Budapest.

What makes Budapest different from your home town?

A lot of things. I don’t really like Brussels which is why everything is better here for me. Nevertheless, I think the people from Brussels are more friendly and kind. That’s the biggest difference between Brussels and Budapest. But I prefer Budapest because I think the city is beautiful. I really prefer to study here because as I said, I don’t have to take bus for 1 hour. I can live in a flat without my parents. At home, I am still living with them. It’s really different here and I can really enjoy the student life in Budapest. I cannot enjoy it in Brussels. I mean, I don’t live in the center so it’s so complicated to go out.

Was it your choice to do your Erasmus in Budapest? If so, why?

It was my choice but it was actually my 4th. I wanted to go to a Scandinavian country but it was very hard to get into a university there. I really love the East of Europe. It’s so interesting for me as there is so much history to discover. Also because it’s cheap. I think it’s the main reason for lots of people to do their Erasmus here. My main reason was that many people recommended this city before I came. Since 2 years, I’ve been hearing about Budapest. They said it is an amazing city. I was hesitant at first but I saw lots of pictures of my friends in Budapest and thought that it looks so nice. But before to come, I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful. I am really amazed and happy.

What was your biggest expectation? Has Budapest been able to live up to it?

I expected to meet many people and to find lots of friends, especially from other countries of course. I am not shy but my English is not very good. One year ago I had to pass the English exam to be able to come here and I failed. I was feeling really bad. It was my dream to go on an Erasmus so I was very sad. I contacted the Erasmus program and asked them if I could attempt to pass the exam another time. They said yes and I succeeded. That’s why one of my biggest expectations was to be able to improve my English.
So the answer is yes, so much. I am so happy. I just told my mom, you know I have a friend from Turkey, from Peru, from Azerbaijan from all around the world actually. It’s so cool.

What are the things you can easily get used to here? Which ones are not so easy to adapt to?

My life is so different here. Especially living by myself. I was really afraid of that. Since I am living with my parents at home, they always cooked for me and I never cooked for myself before. Now I have to do it and it’s actually challenging. I like to do it and I am getting used to it but it’s still a bit difficult.

Did you discover something unusual about Budapest?

I think I could just say the whole city is usual for me. For example, the way they live, I mean the Hungarians. Everything changed, I don’t feel the way I am feeling in Brussels at all. And also about the parties. It’s so great. I hate parties and night clubs in Belgium. They always play the same music. Moreover, you have to pay so much to enter. Here, it’s always almost free. I love the ruin pubs and that it’s often underground. They play all kinds of songs and it’s so unusual for me.

What was the hardest thing you have experienced in Budapest so far?

Just sometimes I feel so alone. It especially happens when I drink too much and the day after I wake up and say to myself “I am so bad, my life is horrible”. But that’s all. I was used to live with my parents, I have really good relationship with them. Every night we watch TV together, it’s stupid to say but it’s a simple thing that I like so much. We drink some wine and I can talk about everything with my mom. Here, sometimes I just think that I could just go back to Belgium. But still, I am also very happy to live without them. I am 20 years old and I need to be independent. And also I am someone who really needs to be surrounded by people. I don’t like to be alone. I always think that people don’t like me. If I don’t speak with people in two days, I feel like they don’t want to speak with me anymore. I feel so bad. Even tonight, I was saying to myself “okay I could just sleep, I am tired” but I want to do something because I want to meet people again. Always always always. I really like to be with people.

What is your best experience so far?

I have a really good one. It’s so simple but last week on Sunday, it was so sunny, it was the first day of spring. We walked along the Danube and it was so beautiful. I had lots of fun. I think it was really one of my favorite moments so far. It only took 1 hour but I won’t forget it. It was so nice.

Have you ever felt scared in Budapest?

During the National Independence Holiday, we really wanted to listen to Viktor Orban’s speech. I was so interested and I couldn’t understand myself but my half Hungarian friend translated everything for me. We were in the middle of this crowd only with proponents of Orban. They were nationalist people and were all applauding. They said why don’t you applaud and we started to do it. It was a bit scary because you never know what can happen since he is an extremist prime minister.
Another example is that I am usually used to homeless people which is why I am not scary about them. But every time we come back home late, it’s a bit scary to walk in that street I think. If I am alone, I am running and pretending to be on the phone. I heard that ten years ago, there were lots of murders and crimes and so on – you can see lots of things on the internet about district 8. But I think now it’s not dangerous anymore. We just have to be careful.


Is there anything you want to add about being a foreign student in Budapest?

I will recommend Budapest for 100%. I am really happy to be here. I could not picture myself somewhere else in Europe for an Erasmus. But if I would go on another one, I would go to South America or Asia. In Europe, Budapest is the best I think. In any case, to go out, to study, to visit or to walk.

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