Ecuadorian student at SZE finds her future in Győr

A spontaneous trip can change everything - this is the motto of Ecuadorian Sofia Suarez, a Master's student in architecture at Széchenyi István University. In the article you can read all about what ties her to Győr and what positive experiences she has had in Hungary since she started studying here thanks to the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship.

After completing her Bachelor's degree in Engineering at the University of San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador's capital, Sofia had always wanted to do her Master's degree somewhere overseas, so she travelled to Poland to do her internship. As she had long been curious about the Hungarian capital and it was close by, Sofia could not miss the opportunity to visit our country.

"I had always wanted to visit Budapest and after getting to know Hungary, I thought it would be nice to move here one day. Then, in 2020, I discovered the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship and I said to myself “Why not?” After that, everything went like clockwork," the student said. From her previous studies, it was a given that she would continue with Engineering; she is currently completing the last semester of her Master's degree and will soon receive her degree in Architecture.

The Ecuadorian student has found her second home in Győr.

With the help of the scholarship, Győr and Széchenyi István University have meanwhile become her new home.

"I was very excited to move to a smaller city after the hustle and bustle of the metropolis - Győr is quiet and friendly, I feel at home here; it's not busy like back home in Quito and you can walk anywhere comfortably and safely," she said. However, Sofia can also attest to the notorious difficulty of the Hungarian language: "Hungarian is a very special but difficult language. I speak four languages, but I have not managed to master Hungarian," she continued, adding that this was not a problem for her, as she was fortunate having her colleagues help her in every way. However, she also found the weather special, as Ecuador does not have such large fluctuations in temperature and she had to deal with the cold in winter. It didn't take long, however, as the people and the university helped her to settle in, which she did perfectly.

"Hungarians seem a bit reserved at first, but once you get to know them, they really open up," said the Ecuadorian student, who grew up with the openness of South America. When asked about the international student community in Győr, she said that it is friendly and vibrant.

"Since I've been living here, the city has developed a lot, it has adapted, especially to foreign students; it's easy to get by in English in Győr. Overall, my experience has been very positive," she remarked.

Her years at Széchenyi University have been crowned with many successes, including a first place in the OTDK with her group.

Sofia was excited to embark on her adventure in Győr, knowing that she would be entering a new environment where not only the culture, but also the teaching and learning customs were completely different. "The curriculum here is completely different from back home and I wanted to try this form of education. The classes are much more informal and I have experienced new ways of teaching and learning. In Ecuador, education is very strict, in Győr the professors are much more understanding and open to students," she continued, adding that these facts, among others, helped her to fulfil her ambition, which was supported by the Széchenyi University's openness towards foreign students. "The University environment is very welcoming; there are plenty of students available for a chat at any time. I have made a lot of friends from all over the world thanks to the University," added the future alumna of Széchenyi István University. 

In addition to successfully pursuing her studies, Sofia is currently writing her thesis project, working, and finding her fulfilment in her personal life.

Hungary has also brought happiness into her life. "I met my husband and got married here, so I will always be grateful to Hungary," Sofia said happily, adding another link to her chosen nation.

Many students, when they apply to university and move away from home, experience personal development; they become independent and autonomous. It was no different for her. "One of the biggest experiences for me was becoming independent; it was always my dream to live the university life I had seen in the movies, and it happened. I learned how to cook, do the laundry and generally manage my time," she noted, revealing that in Ecuador she had lived at home with her parents while studying at university, so she didn't have the opportunity to develop these skills. Another defining experience has been learning about distant cultures, which she has learned to respect and accept - she has become more open to them. Finally, she added wisely: "Sometimes we don't understand the actions and thoughts of people from other cultures, but I think it's just a matter of being able to accept other people and respect their traditions." Thanks to this approach, she has made a lot of new friends; she has grown close to her colleagues and developed lifelong relationships.

Her colleagues have made Sofia's integration in Hungary much easier.

Although she is currently on her way to completing her studies in architecture, Sofia revealed that she wouldn't necessarily be satisfied with just that, and that she would like to fulfil another dream if she achieves her current goals.

"I have always wanted to be a university professor. It's a challenge for me; after my graduation, my biggest goal is to teach on an Engineering programme in a university setting," she admitted.

As she said, although her everyday life will be made up of studying in the near future, for the rest of Fher time here, she aspires to enjoy every moment she spends at Széchenyi István University.

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