It’s noon of 15th of October and sixteen students of MCEB along with the program manager Eline are rushing towards the beautiful train station of Antwerp. The rush is to reach Brussels airport in time to board a flight to Budapest.
Budapest, imagine the amalgamation of Moscow and Paris right in the center of Eastern Europe, has been attracting people from around the world and we were no exception. While usually, most of the people coming here were tourists, we were a little different. With business in mind, we landed in Budapest to learn about the opportunities and challenges it offers. It was a weeklong schedule of lectures and company visits in the day and leisure activities in the evening.
ESSCA Budapest hosted us for the course. One of our lecturers was from the UK living in Hungary for several years now and his broad assessment of business conditions gave us a fair idea since he could compare them with the one in the UK. The other lecturer was a young central banker in Hungary and his knowledge of economics and report on the region’s macroeconomic environment was also pretty helpful. Among the field visits we made, the one to EC-EU Direct Sales Platform and the other to EH Invest were interesting. In the former, we had a chance to see China’s Belt Road Initiative in action and learn the way Chinese SMEs were approaching the global market in collaboration with the local chambers of commerce. While in the latter, we heard from the co-founder of Hungary’s first startup investment firm- EH Invest. They curate, invest and nurture bright startups in the country and aim to take them globally using their growing worldwide network.
But as I mentioned, these were the stories of only the daytime. Evenings in Budapest are promising than anywhere else. After it gets dark, the sight of the landmarks like the Parliament, Buda Castle, the Ferris wheel and the bridges can leave you spellbound. They glow like gold and compel you to keep looking at them. You will find people sitting on the suspension bridge (I’m not sure if that’s allowed) to take a break from the day’s hustle and enjoy the moment with their loved ones. Ruin bars are famous here and you can find one for your taste of music. Turkish baths in the rooftop of a reminiscent building with a splendid view of the city was also a great experience for some of us. While we could walk along the Danube river to reach the downtown, we thought to try a ferry ride as well which was enjoyable. And when you reach the market, bingo! Things are pretty affordable. Food, sightseeing, drinks and even branded apparels are all priced lower than in Western Europe. And since the luggage was under the weight limit for most, some of us couldn’t resist shopping here for the upcoming winter season.
After five days of learning about doing business in this region and six nights of failing to stay sober, our trip finally came to an end. We boarded our bumpy flight to Brussels, followed by a train back home. While the trip is over, the memories will stay alive forever. We are now excitingly looking forward to our semester in Shanghai!