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“Many international friendships are forged thanks to the ESN.” – Interview with President Márk Ilcsik

The ESN Corvinus student organization offers opportunities for international students coming to the university to learn about Hungarian culture, and helps them to integrate and build relationships. In addition to helping international students, the student organization also provides opportunities for students of the Corvinus University to learn languages and build international relationships. We chat with Márk Ilcsik, President of ESN Corvinus.
ESN Corvinus 
What does the ESN do and how does it help international students?

As the name suggests, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is responsible for coordinating Erasmus and overseas students who come to the university, and for supporting them during their arrival and stay. We help them integrate, become familiar with the university and the city. We help many exchange students to find accommodation even before their arrival, and we meet them in person for the first time during week minus one. This is when we organize an orientation week for students who arrive, where we help them integrate, build relationships, and give them an initial momentum before the start of the study period. We try to give international students who come to our university a taste of the Hungarian culture, not only a taste of Budapest, but of the entire country through organized excursions.


How is the Corvinus organization linked to the international network?

ESN Corvinus is also a prominent member of the international team, with ESN being present in a total of 42 countries, which is a total of more than five hundred universities across Europe. Every six months, almost 400 exchange students come to us with the Erasmus program, excluding students from overseas. The organization’s headquarters in Brussels provide us with the opportunity to participate in international events and trainings.


In light of the pandemic, how have the orientation programs of incoming exchange students changed this year?

Fortunately, we were able to organize the orientation week and we also went ahead with the programs planned for the beginning of the semester, but as soon as the new government regulations were introduced, we immediately switched to sharing information online. We try to plan and relocate most of the programs outdoors, and if we go indoors, we strictly require the use of face coverings. The pandemic had a major impact on the number of students arriving for this semester, their number dropped by more than half compared to students normally taking part in the program.

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What options do you offer to Corvinus students?

There are two options for university students: one is to join the ESN student organization and become full members, and the other is to participate in our Tandem Program. The goal of the ESN Tandem Program is to help exchange students integrate during their semester at our university. Any Corvinus student can apply to the program. Applicants are assigned a Tandem Partner, i.e. an exchange student whom they will help and befriend. With the program, we want to help exchange students establish a community and professional network long before the school year begins. We would like to ensure that international students who come to us make memorable moments and experiences during the semester they spend with us.


Why did you want to become the president of ESN?

I have been a member of the ESN for four years, and when I was an Erasmus exchange student in Granada during my undergraduate years, I was completely captivated by the Erasmus experience and how I felt. When I returned home, I didn’t want to loose these feelings, I wanted to stay in touch with the international community, and I knew the best place for me to do that was on the leadership team of the ESN student organization. In this year’s student union election, I was voted president, and since then, as president, I have been dedicated to helping the lives of international students in order to ensure their experience is comprehensive and unforgettable at the Corvinus University.


What advice would you give to those who join ESN Corvinus in the future?

Unfortunately, the application for both the Tandem Program and the student organization has already been closed for this semester, but as of next semester we are looking forward to receiving new applications from anyone. I would advise Hungarian students to not be afraid to speak English. Through the organization, there is an opportunity to meet and talk also with native English-speaking students, and to practice the language. And the Tandem Program is a great opportunity for Hungarian students to build international relationships, many international friendships are forged thanks to the ESN.

The original article is available on the Közgazdász Online student blog.

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