By Mercédesz Nemes from Hungary
A double degree program offers so much more than an Erasmus semester. When I enrolled in the DSG program, I had been warned that this year would be quite different from a usual semester abroad, but I was still not prepared for what was yet to come. This is my experience with the double degree program of Corvinus University of Budapest and University of Passau.
Let’s take a deep dive into the professional and academic challenges the program holds for us. Every beginning is difficult, which is especially true in the case of doing Master’s abroad. From one day to another, I had started living the life with all the responsibilities of a German Master student, meaning that I was facing the same set of requirements and equally high standards that they face during their studies. And let me tell you, Germans do take their studies seriously. Even the style of education is completely different from that of Hungary. Leaving the exam preparation to a few days before the exam was not enough where libraries get full already months prior to the exam period. The creative projects I was used to get replaced by deep individual research. Passau has given me a lesson on how to learn.
Spending almost a year in Germany has allowed me to gather many experiences that I would have never had the chance to do during a fleeting Erasmus semester. As the months went by, I got more and more used to the town and my life there. I took a job as a barista in a cozy little café near the university quite early on during the semester, which made this transition especially easy. In addition to mastering the art of latte making, I got to know a lot of students around campus. The vivid environment has made me learn how to switch between English and German in a fraction of a second. To this day, working in that café has been the most fun job I have ever had. Getting a mini-job in Germany is worthwhile for a thousand reasons. Besides the obvious financial benefits, it speeds up the cultural integration process like nothing else.
Of course, the academic life had its challenges to match. The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the 5-Euro Business Competition, a race for startups with a 5-Euro start capital. The goal was build a business within 8 weeks that generates turnover. During these couple of very intense weeks, my team and I have created the first outdoor escape game in the region based on the business model and marketing strategy that we have created. The demand was quite surprising even to us, escape game aficionados, and we managed to sell out many times over these weeks. We pitched both the results and our business model to a jury consisting of esteemed businessmen and entrepreneurs at a gala taking place at the elegant town hall. The return on invested efforts was incredible: we won not only the first prize but also the special prize for the most media appearances. This competition has taught me several things one can only learn by doing: from how to set the right price and how to allocate responsibilities within the team, to how to calculate variable costs and profit margins and which location to choose for our stand. Still, the most meaningful experience for me was that I could become a valuable member of the team as a foreigner. Despite some linguistic challenges and a thick Hungarian accent, the marketing strategy I presented to the jury was flawless.
Although the gathered experiences and acquired knowledge alone would have made this year in Germany worthwhile, the fact makes me extremely proud that I was able to conquer the challenges of such a strict educational system and live up to the standards of German higher education. Receiving a double degree is merely the icing on the cake, and I can only hope that my future employers will appreciate these efforts equally. By any means, I am grateful to the DSG program and its professors for allowing me and many other students to gain not only a double degree, but double experiences, as well.