Jessica participated in the Hungary Work-Study Program in 2019. She spent six weeks studying and working in a culture very different to her own. Read about her experience!
Why did you choose your program and destination?
I have always wanted to travel around Europe so when I learned about the work-study in Budapest through the university, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain work experience while still being able to travel to many different countries.
What was the most memorable experience of your time abroad?
There are so many amazing memories from my time in Budapest and some of the other cities that we visited. I think one of the most memorable experiences that I had was when I had the chance to attend a professional football (soccer) game and get a behind-the-scenes look at how things are run during a game. I was fortunate that my work placement was with a professional football team, so I was up in the VIP lounge and in the press section with the rest of the management for the team during the game.
Were there any challenges? How did you overcome or cope with them?
I think the biggest challenge was probably the language barrier. I had tried to learn some Hungarian before I left for the trip and during, however it was still a very difficult language to learn and the country mostly speaks only Hungarian, unless they are very comfortable with English. I definitely relied on symbols and the Google Translate app for certain things, but managed pretty well and tried my best to speak Hungarian when I could, which I think people appreciated more than just speaking in English and hoping that they understood!
Has this education abroad experience helped you personally, academically or professionally?
My experience with education abroad helped me gain confidence in my abilities and helped me to see what I could bring to a workplace. On a personal level, this experience helped me to see how I could thrive from being independent and the things that I could learn about myself from venturing off on my own. I'm hoping that my education experience abroad will help me to gain employment in the sports and entertainment industry in the future since that is what I aspire to do, and my placement with the football team helped to affirm that that is the industry I want to work in.
This program helped me to develop my communication skills and work ethic, as well as gain a better understanding of the sports industry through my work placement.
What was your experience like when you returned home?
When I got home, everything just went back to how it had been before I left. It was definitely weird for the first while being back and not having the same independence that I had experienced during my time abroad. However, I now had some good friends that I had made on the trip who felt the same and would reminisce about the good times that we had had during the summer.
If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
If I could do it all over again, I would have spent more time exploring the city of Budapest since I didn't always have the opportunity because of work every weekday, and then I travelled to a different country almost every weekend. I think that I would have gone to Budapest a week before the work-study actually started just to see more of the city and then stay for a few extra days afterwards to go back to some of my favourite places. I would have also liked to get to know some of my coworkers better to try and build more professional relationships with them since that was harder to do in the short time period.
Would you recommend trying an education abroad program to other students?
I have recommended to many people to try an education abroad program since I found my experience to be invaluable.
For anyone considering studying abroad I would recommend that they try their best to learn the language of wherever they are hoping to go and to research the city and any surrounding places that they are planning on going, so that they can have the best experience possible. And to make sure you have enough spending money, having more than you need is better than running out!