“I was born in a small city called Karavan, in Kyrgyz Republic. When I was six we moved to the capital, Bishkek, which is a very clean and green city. The air is fresh and it’s close to the mountains. The city is small but very homely. Even if you’re a foreigner you‘ll be greeted in a very friendly way.
I’d been to both Europe and Asia before because I was involved in shooting sports. As part of the Kyrgyz delegation I attended games and trainings abroad. I’ve been to Singapore, Thailand and China. I liked them but I couldn’t imagine myself studying and living there. So I chose to do my masters in Budapest.
I decided to stay here after graduation which was a hard decision. When I got accepted it was set for two years, but now it's not that certain. The main reason why I decided to stay here is because I work in finance and investment banking and the size of the market is really limited in Kyrgyzstan, I wouldn’t be able to improve my skills and to develop myself as a specialist.
When I arrived in Budapest I had mixed feelings. [Along with my traveling group] I got a taxi and it was so expensive! Now I realize we were a bit fooled by the driver. The road from the airport to the dorms (in the outskirts of Budapest) wasn’t what we expected to see. But then we went to the university in downtown Budapest and we were like ‘yeah, that’s what we imagined!’
I find people in Budapest to be very friendly. Once I was on the metro with a group of people who apparently looked like me (also from Central Asia), I don’t know how it happened but I lost everyone. There was an old granny, she couldn’t speak English but she was trying to ask me, “Are you looking for someone looking like you?” And she showed me the way. There were a bunch of other cases when people were willing to help which is nice, it reminds me of my hometown. I miss people from home, my friends and family, especially my nieces. When I’m here for a longer period of time I start missing home food (My mom cooks delicious food!), but otherwise I never really feel homesick.
Bishkek is less developed because it is at a stage where it requires investments in infrastructure. So in this sense there is a huge gap between Bishkek and Budapest. Budapest is really beautiful and not too big. It’s a part of Europe but somehow I feel like I’m home. When I was in the Netherlands I never felt like that. Perhaps my personality suits this city.
I associate Budapest with academics maybe because I came here to do my masters. Living in Budapest has a different word selection that would be ‘fun’, ‘beautiful’, and ‘nice times spent.’”