By Valeria Dauhalevich
Being a student in an international university in Budapest, I often get puzzled when one considers me an immigrant. Can a student from another country be perceived as an immigrant? My investigation introduced me to the issue more closely…
In average an immigrant is a person determined to have a permanent residence in a country other than the citizenship the person holds. An immigrant would benefit to and profit from the hosting economy equally or similarly to a native person. And finally, an immigrant will adopt the local language and culture in order to be accepted by the local society.
Making a research among the international students in Budapest I have learned that overwhelming majority of them do not give a positive answer to those questions: most students are planning to leave Hungary after graduation, do not learn and use Hungarian language; they do not pay tax and wait for their holidays to visit their doctors.
So what is Hungary for them? It is learning another culture, having great sightseeing 24/7, going out and meeting their peers from all over the world, and of course agreeable price of living. International students seem to be stuck in the state if a tourist, forever discovering and never settled; they are participants of their own independent culture.
‘Studying in a foreign country is a very special case, - said one of the interviewees. – You learn a lot about the culture, people, but you do not really integrate into the society. I personally do not feel comfortable when called an immigrant. It somehow excludes me from my homeland.’
‘Foreign student experience is essentially the same in any country, - claimed another speaker. – But in Hungary is has a very special touch: great mix of traditions and contemporary habits, culture.’ After a pause she added, that she definitely finds the years spent here – part of her life abroad, but not immigration in her understanding.
The third opinion proves to be indisputable: ‘Somehow in Hungary, and Budapest in particular you can find students from all over the world. And it is hard to name myself an immigrant here, where people around me speak all those different languages.’
To conclude, the status of being an immigrant is very personal and ambiguous. In the end, no one knows the tricks of live, which can occasionally bring you to the other side of the world.