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Budapest, „the Paris of the East”

Medical student in Semmelweis University since 2012, Jean Baptiste Loubère came from Paris to do his studies and start his career as a future neurologist or neurosurgeon. He was born in Toulouse (France) and had been living in Paris since 2004 where he grew up and spent his school years.

Where did the idea of becoming a doctor come from?

I knew I wanted to do medical studies. I was very lucky since one of my parent’s friends is an endocrinologist in a research facility in the United States. As a part of my high school education, I needed to take a practical experience as a first introduction to professional life, so I decided to go to her to see what she was doing in the medical industry. During that summer exchange I was observing her and that was the tipping point for me to start thinking about studying medicine, so I took my final years in school to go deeper in the topic by taking lots of biology and scientific subjects for me to understand more of its complexity.

And how did you choose Budapest?

I was halfway through high school when I started to look for universities where the subjects were delivered in English and Budapest was recommended by my cousin. I came to visit with my family and we all fell in love with the city so it was an easy decision.


What did you like about Budapest?

The architecture: the 4-storey buildings with the balconies (something very similar to France) made me feel at home and kind of reduced the homesickness. Also the student-friendly mood and in general how easy it was to settle down.

Now you have been here for 4 years, what are your experiences?

Through the years I have seen how the city has been modernized and catching up with more European trends. The city is wide and spacious, the rush hours are not as suffocating as they can be in Paris and in general, it feels closer to Toulouse as it is more “human sized”. About the people, you can definitely feel how they are more guarded and they have a more Eastern European approach to things… not to mention how reserved they are to speak in English. But overall once there is a warm-up and you get to know them better, they are very nice and they definitely appreciate you more if they see you trying to speak Hungarian and embracing their culture (history, food, entertainment, etc.). That is then they are very open to you.

What do you think is the main difference from your home country?

Compared to Parisians, Hungarian people are less optimistic and more nostalgic but it makes sense if you look at their history. It takes time to heal what has happened here. A funny thing is that as soon as I came here, I was kind of shamed for being French because of the Treaty of Trianon.

There are many international students who come to Hungary to take medicine courses. What is it like to be in such environment?

It is awesome because the university has the regular program for Hungarian students and then 2 other international programs; one in German for students coming from Germany and Austria, the other one for practically everyone else. We have people from 23 nationalities in the English program, practically from every continent.


Why do you think it is so attractive for foreigners to come study here?

The education is tough, fare and demanding and there are many partnerships. You are able to live in an affordable but fun city and in general, you are in an environment that is very open to international people. It is a great experience overall and you are able study at a great university.

What happens once you finish? Do you have any plans for after school?

Since my training is in English, I may apply to an English speaking country like the UK or the United States. The other option is going back to France but the ideal would be to get my specialization in one of the aforementioned places.

How is it to work in a hospital in Budapest?

As I am in teaching hospitals that have more possibilities in terms of equipment and budget, they have great standards compared to average hospitals in Hungary and in the world. I have had internships in the United States, UK and Tanzania so I have seen many different standards for hospitals and the one at Semmelweis is a very good environment to learn.

Now getting a bit out of the medical environment, what else do you like to do when you have some free time?

If I had any (haha). The first few years I was visiting a lot of historical landmarks and the hills and parks. They are great places to visit; together with the baths which I was visiting a lot during my first years. I go to places where I can learn about the history of the city like the Jewish district, the Parliament, the many museums and galleries, especially photo exhibitions; or I simply go for a walk along the Danube. I also enjoy listening to some music by visiting the Erkel Theater and the Opera. At the beginning I often went to the French Institute just because it felt closer to home and it was nice to speak French for a moment, also because of the films they usually present, but I haven’t visited it in a while.

In summary, how would you describe your life in Budapest?

Once you settle down, it is actually a pleasantly surprising city where you never get bored of and it lives up to the fame it has as “the Paris of the East”.

Germán Henao


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