IAESTE is a strong empowering experience which definitely changes one’s perception of the world and its people. This was my second experience abroad for long duration, thus I knew that this will be most of all an adventure. I will be on my own, and I will have to build contacts, make new friends, earn an income and live on my own. I was ready for all of it.
Having ended my B.Sc. in Built Environment Studies, I wanted a start in the transition from the educational to the working life of architecture and due to my fond love in getting to know world cultures and their architecture, IAESTE proved to be a very good start for this transition. I chose Budapest, Hungary to be my place of work; the first Eastern European country which I would be visiting. I am truly grateful for the architectural company which has accepted me as a trainee, for giving me the opportunity to work on their future projects and teaching me important lessons about architecture that could have never been learnt in university.
After work, going back to the accommodation provided by IAESTE, I was everyday looking forward to meet the other trainees, as we all lived within the same student housing. Meeting other trainees from all over the world, of the same age group and with a similar way of thinking was incredible. Within three days, we became close friends; going on outings together, spending nights in a pub or bar in downtown Budapest or go for a walk by the Danube together, travelling to other cities outside Budapest during the weekends together, or simply a stroll next to the accommodation. Once a week we also had national evening, in which each person would do a small presentation about their own country and culture and cook a traditional dish for the rest of the trainees.
I must say that I was quite surprised by how much Hungary is developed (not only Budapest) compared to other neighbouring eastern European countries. It has an efficient transport system, especially in Budapest with the metro system covering all districts of Budapest underground, while the tram line system, being the most diffused way of transportation for the city, is a crucial element for the beauty of streetscapes in Budapest. People are very proud of their history, and perhaps the younger generation is more welcoming than the older ones. But in general, despite not knowing the Hungarian language, I had no problems to relate with the people, as many knew the English language.
It was truly a memorable time in Budapest, having created so many memories to treasure for a lifetime, and so many bonds which connect me to all the sides of the world. I cannot but look forward for the time when we will see each other again in each other’s countries!