Starting Over in Budapest

January 29, 2018

My name is Rebecca. I am in the Mundus Global Public Policy program at CEU. I moved from Texas to Budapest this past August with my 4-year-old son and husband. To prepare for our big adventure, we sold everything. Our family thought we were crazy to pick up and leave our careers and the comfort of our community of friends and family that we lived very close to. But we knew.

Every year, when visiting my sister in Philly, we would go to this wonderful restaurant that emanated the European café vibe. I would sit and talk to my husband about how we can’t keep staying. We can’t keep having success without the joy of adventure. So we started brainstorming, it is time to stop thinking about a career shift and to actually do it!

Applying to universities gave me time to really think about what I care the most about. Equity and democracy. I feel threatened by the American political system as it is today. I am concerned for peace and prosperity – not just of me and my family but of others – around the world. I need to be working in an area that is meaningful, at the same time I am exploring the world and getting to know others with different ideas from my own. I was nervous, being 35, I felt like I was too old (and honestly maybe not smart enough) to make the change but I was committed to trying.

When I selected CEU, I chose it because it seemed like the best opportunity to do what I set out to do – to engage with a diverse group of people about how to solve the “wicked” problems society is facing. Family – dedicated to remaining close – couldn’t understand our choice to go so far away when great universities were nearby, but I knew diverse people would bring out the best ideas and best work from me.

So we did it! We explained to our almost 4-year-old that he would be moving to Budapest. He told us that he didn’t want to go – but after a quick explanation that Europe is the land of trains and busses – he was in. My husband was able to form a new business from home, making his work completely portable – he was in. And I quit my job.

The group of students in my program are open and engaged, willing to share their cultures and make new friends in a way I did not expect, says Mundus MAPP student Rebecca Mann about CEU. Photo: Rebecca Mann

Upon arriving in Budapest, we were struck by the kid-friendliness of the city. Parks around every corner were and are exciting to discover. Free public transportation for kids, fairs and events all the time. But the best part is CEU.  We love the university in every way. When my son walks into the building, he is welcomed by students that want to meet him, the café on campus knows his favorite drink order too. The group of students in my program are open and engaged, willing to share their cultures and make new friends in a way I did not expect. I really enjoy having coffee with new friends and hearing stories of people that are from the other side of the world from me.

As an American, I find the mix of ethnicities to be exciting and thought-provoking. Where I am from it is rare to have friends that are different from you in any meaningful ways – but here it is normal. This is why I love CEU. We will go to Barcelona next year for my program and honestly, this new home will be missed as much as the home we left after 13 years.

By Rebecca Mann, Mundus MAPP student at CEU's School of Public Policy