Saida, 24, Student, Budapest, Hungary


“So far I have been to 18 European countries, but Hungary, and especially Budapest left an unforgettable impression and won my heart over.”

Koshpendiler: Hi Saida! Could you please tell us about yourself? From where in Kazakhstan are you from?

Saida: Hi! Well, I was born in the sunny town of Shymkent – a very green town situated along the mountains. Whenever I think about my hometown, I get a warm feeling that brings back the memories of my happy childhood.

After finishing high school I moved to Astana to study at university. I got accepted to an undergraduate program at the Eurasian National University, where I majored in Tourism & Hospitality. Astana, to be honest, immediately became a home to me, as I met a lot of incredible people there. Astana is a kind of Kazakh “melting-pot”, as cultures and traditions from all over the country come together there. It is a truly futuristic capital city full of new opportunities, ideal for young people.

While studying I participated in a student exchange program that gave a chance to study for one year in Slovakia. After coming back to Kazakhstan, I realized that studying abroad had changed my values, my worldviews and myself. I also realized that I wanted to keep moving forward and started applying to various international scholarships available to students from Kazakhstan in Germany, England, Latvia and Hungary. You cannot imagine how happy I was when I received the scholarship in Hungary! Hence now I live and study in Budapest. I got accepted to a master’s program at the Budapest Business School, where I am majoring in Tourism & Hospitality Management.

Koshpendiler: Sounds amazing! What was your first impression when you arrived in Hungary?

Saida: It is very hard to say as I’ve been to Hungary before. I was about 11 years old when I visited it for the first time and even then I was very impressed by the beauty and the culture of the country. Hungary is known for its rich culture, variety of attractions and Hungarian cuisine, which can win even the pickiest foodie’s heart. So far I have been to 18 European countries, but Hungary, and especially Budapest left an unforgettable impression and won my heart over. I bet, everyone, who would get a chance to see the city, would agree, “Budapest is the Pearl of the Danube!”

Koshpendiler: How does your regular day look like?

Saida: My days are filled with classes and loads of studying, but what usually highlights my day is the walk by the Danube. Also, when I get free time, I try to explore the city as much as possible. For now, I have already explored the Buda Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest City Centre, The Deák Ferenc square, etc. Although, I have visited the main tourist attractions, there are still a lot of unknown places that I have yet to see.

Koshpendiler: Was it hard for you to move and get used to a new life?

Saida: Well, for me it wasn’t too hard, as I am a very easy-going person, and I truly enjoy learning new cultures, meeting people from around the globe and making new friends. Fortunately, Hungary welcomed me warmly and many people helped me to get around and sort out the issues with university documents and visa. Everyone was willing to give a helping hand.

Koshpendiler: How much does a student life cost there?

Saida: As for the cost of living in Hungary, I would say that you need around 300-400 euros a month for the basic expenses such as food, entertainment and transport, excluding the accommodation cost.

Koshpendiler: Is there anything that you especially miss from Kazakhstan?

Saida: I definitely miss “lazy” (horse meat sausage) and I guess that every Kazakh person would say the same, so I am not an exception. There are a lot of things that we miss from home, that’s why we constantly try to re-create Kazakh traditions here, in Budapest. For instance, my friends from Kazakhstan and I had a small celebration during Kurban Ait, where we cooked delicious shelpeks and baursaks (traditional bread). There is a Kazakhstan community in Hungary, that has been created a couple of years ago and it is called “Birlik”. Every year the community organizes events, separates responsibilities and assigns executive committee members from various universities.

Koshpendiler: What would you recommend to those planning to move abroad?

Saida: First of all, I would suggest to practice finding common grounds with different people. Yes, it is important to find “your” people and stick to them, but no less it is important to respect other opinions and other people in general. This skill would be extremely helpful in your future life. Communicate more!

Secondly, you should set a goal. When you have a goal, you find motivation to reach it. And when you achieve it, even if it’s something small, enjoy it to the fullest!

Finally, keep looking for new sources of information. My first principle in life is to constantly search for new information. You should be proactive and get rid of laziness. You should keep exploring the world and grow as a person, work on yourself and keep improving. Don’t be afraid to show what you are capable of! Keep participating in everything what you find interesting and appealing. Keep your information up to date and keep exploring yourself and new opportunities!

Koshpendiler: Thank you very much Saida! How can our readers get in touch with you?

Saida: They can contact me via email or via Facebook: Saida Kalanova. I will be more than happy to help and answer all the questions about studying and living in Hungary and Europe in general.

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