Advent magic - international students who discover Christmas at SZE

Azhar Aitnazarova came to SZE from Kyrgyzstan and Laura Khajmukhan from Mongolia.Two students of international studies at Széchenyi István University and Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship holders, Laura Khajmukhan from Mongolia and Azhar Aitnazarova from Kyrgyzstan, came to know about the Christmas season at the Győr campus on their arrival in Hungary. They told us about their Advent preparations.

Today, Széchenyi István University is home to around a thousand international students, many of whom learn about one of the biggest Christian holidays for the first time on campus, and it is here that they can observe how people spend Christmas in Hungary.

Second-year international studies student Laura Khajmukhan came to Győr from Mongolia. The event was also new for her, as in her country they only celebrate New Year and Lunar New Year. As she said, during the seven-day celebration, they prepare traditional dishes and pay homage to a special formality: when visiting relatives on New Year's Eve, they visit their family members starting with their eldest relatives, thus honouring the New Year folk tradition. When asked, she said she was enchanted by the excitement and preparation that the holiday season brings in Hungary and has quickly become a fan of Christmas traditions.

Since she started studying at Széchenyi University, Laura has celebrated Christmas with her friends and fellow students from her programme, in a simple way: they exchange presents and prepare a festive dinner of traditional Christmas food, which they share together in a cosy atmosphere with conversation. She also decorates her room with the appropriate decorations, including a small Christmas tree.

"Hungarians take this holiday very seriously and it is important to them. Everyone is with their families at Christmas and enjoys spending time together," said Laura, who believes that the Christmas market in the centre of Győr is another sign of the importance of the event. She added that in the future she would definitely like to keep the traditions she has learnt here and celebrate Christmas with her friends.

Like Laura, Azhar Aitnazarova, a Kyrgyz student at Széchenyi University, has never celebrated Christmas before, being used to only New Year celebrations in Kyrgyzstan. She was introduced to Christmas in Hungary, but only this year will she have the opportunity to fully experience the Christmas spirit, as last year during this period she went back home on a visit. Right from the start, however, the Győr Christmas market and the bright decorations enchanted her. As he said, she also finds the Advent customs beautiful.

"It's a wonderful time to see the city centre with all the decorations," Azhar said. She also said she would like to celebrate with friends this year, either by walking around the city centre or by exchanging gifts at home and drinking mulled wine.

The two international students were also helped by the welcoming and open-minded nature of the Széchenyi University community, which helped them to learn about local festive customs and Christmas. They stressed that they have been invited many times by their Hungarian friends for a dinner together, which helped them to get to know the local culture and other Hungarian traditions. These programmes not only provide lifelong memories, but also make their time here and their university experience more enjoyable, they said.



Azhar Aitnazarova came to SZE from Kyrgyzstan and Laura Khajmukhan from Mongolia.Azhar Aitnazarova came to SZE from Kyrgyzstan and Laura Khajmukhan from Mongolia.Azhar Aitnazarova came to SZE from Kyrgyzstan and Laura Khajmukhan from Mongolia.


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