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“Many people ask me if I am a chef when I tell them about my major. In a way I am, but I probably would not win many Michelin stars with my experiments in the lab”, says Nóra Emilia Nagybákay from Hungary who is just about to finish her first year in Food Science and Safety masters at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). Being an EU citizen, Nóra is studying at KTU for free, in a state-funded place.
Nóra Emilia Nagybákay
Nóra Emilia Nagybákay
© Asmeninins albumas

Coming from Budapest, she has lived all her life in the city of 2 million. At first reserved about living in a much smaller Kaunas, she discovered the charms of the second Lithuanian city relatively quickly: “It did not feel like home at first, but then I discovered Panemunė, the beautiful riverbank of Nemunas with that special bridge that tilts towards the other shore”.

An avid fan of an active lifestyle, Nóra is enjoying playing basketball (“So many tall people and basketball courts here!”), kayaking, jogging and taking walks in the city centre and the many green areas of Kaunas.

After graduating from food engineering bachelor’s at the University of Szent István back home, Nóra Nagybákay was looking into various options to study masters abroad.

“My options were limited because I didn’t have the means to afford tuition fees to study abroad. On the KTU application page it was mentioned that state-funded places are available for EU citizens, and after contacting the University’s International Office I was reassured that I was qualified to apply, and can compete for state funding”, says Nóra, studying her master’s for free.

Supporting community, which did not dissolve even during the pandemic

So far, KTU student from Hungary is very happy with her choice.

“Food Science and Safety master’s course is designed to spend your time researching, while also taking the fundamental subjects, many credits are for research work, for Food Technology Practicum. It felt like the right fit, it offered something new in the way of studying, they mentioned group works in laboratories, projects that we can build and showcase, this was the kind of hands-on learning experience that I was hoping to find”, says Nóra.

After coming here, she found not only supporting environment, the active and enthusiastic scientific community, which is always ready to help, but also an active cultural and social university life. The student mentions Art Room, Career Day, Hiking Club, Lithuanian Night, International Dinner as some of her favourite activities and events.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Nóra together with students all over the world had to switch from usual face-to-face classes into online studies during the spring semester. Was it this experience very tough for an international student living far from home? Not really.

“Despite the difficulties that came with online learning, my experience has been absolutely positive, we still had classes and tasks, presentations; the community did not dissolve just because we are not present in the same room”, says Nóra.

Food is much more than just food

How did she become interested in food science?

“Who doesn’t love food?”, Nóra smiles and shrugs, “I always loved to eat and share the joy of making food with others, but I never knew that.

I wanted to become a food engineer until the end of high school when I had to choose a university to continue my studies”.

Biology, chemistry, innovation, marketing, production, economics – according to Nóra, these subjects that can be found in the curriculum of a food engineering course, can help to build knowledge and skills in a wide variety of fields.

“Food is so much more than just food, we are what we eat as the saying goes and it is beneficial for us to actually know what we are consuming, what effects it can have on our health and wellbeing and how we can influence it. Although I might not be one of the greatest chefs in the world, I may contribute to a healthier society by ensuring that food supply chains are safe – from the field until the restaurant or home kitchen”, KTU student explains the peculiarities of being a food engineer.

Kayaking in Nemunas and other fun activities in Kaunas

When asked about similarities between Budapest and Kaunas, Nóra admits that she did not feel at home here first. However, after experiencing beautiful walks by the river, discovering new areas and opportunities of Kaunas (thanks to local and international friends who have been living here longer), she fell in love with the place.

“Budapest is also a very green city with the Duna River (as we call it in Hungarian) flowing through it. The biggest difference with Kaunas is that we have a population of 2 million people and that we like water polo. I loved living in Budapest and was afraid of the change, but now I can even say I kayaked in a fountain and on the River Nemunas, all legal activities of course”, says Nóra with a smile.

Thanks to her many friends, she keeps discovering new sides to the city and its surrounding areas.

“You can find good eating, community and partying places, but all this information will come to you once you are here. The University is close to the city centre and to green areas as well, you can walk anywhere. I have come to love this city, the heart of Lithuania as it is called”, says Nóra.

She even jokes that Lithuanian language is similar to Hungarian – as not so many people understand any of it! However, in Kaunas one can easily converse in English or Russian: “I picked up some Lithuanian phrases, just to be able to pass through the cashiers, but I still get thanked „Danke!” or „Merci!”. However, I am working on perfecting my Hungarian accent and teaching them „Köszönöm!”

Perfect environment for growth

“I have already recommended the University and will do so in the future. I believe KTU will develop even further recognition because it creates the ideal environment for growth – personal and professional”, says Nóra, answering the question would she recommend KTU to her friends.

She encourages those interested in studies at KTU to start the application process as soon as possible and to be proactive – when you are applying for a state-funded place, there are more formalities to be met, and the communication between the authorities of different countries might take up more time. However, according to Nóra, the overall application process is easy and well organised.

“The actual application to the chosen study programme at KTU was a relatively fast-moving process, the application platform was easy to use. Of course, you have to provide officially translated documents but they can be in English too. I had some questions, and an International Student Admission Specialist contacted me, answered all my questions and made sure I sailed through the process”, assures Nóra.

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