Time has flown by fast and after an eventful year, our time as interns has come to an end. Our internships in FinnAgora have been great learning opportunities and have also provided the chance to get to know the beautiful city of Budapest.
We’ve been really lucky with the timing of our internships since there has barely been any restrictions due to the pandemic. With only one exception, we’ve been able to execute all events according to plan. We've also had the chance to get to know Budapest freely, which has been exciting since neither of us had visited Budapest before. We've also been able to get to know other parts of Hungary and even traveled to neighboring countries.
We have many highlights from our time here. Mirjam arrived last August and has experienced a lot during the past 11 months. “It was amazing to be able to start doing things again, after over a year of online events. The highlight of my internship has been producing TASTE Åland, a pop-up restaurant event in May, that I started planning already last October. With almost 500 guests, it for sure is the biggest project I´ve been in charge of so far”
Valtteri arrived at the end of January, just in time to participate in one of FinnAgoras biggest events, Finn Filmnapok. After settling in, the spring has been busy but rewarding. “My internship focused on communication and organizing events such as concerts and seminars. I feel like I have learned a lot and developed my expertise. Moving abroad has been a big thing for me as well, as I haven’t lived outside of Finland before!”
It has been a new experience for both to live in a country where we do not speak the local language. It affects everything that we do, from what kind of friendships we have been able to form and how much we’ve been able to take part of the local culture. The partners we can cooperate with at work are also limited. Sometimes the conversation in customer service turns to a mix of Hungarian, German, English and made up sign language. On the other hand, it has been fun to notice how many people here study or are interested in the Finnish language.
As a resident of Budapest, we’ve been able to have a look inside the society and lives of the locals in a different way than as a tourist. The perspective is quite unique as we are not permanent residents either. It's been interesting to follow the elections, and live in a country with a very different political system than that we are used to. The war next door and the inflation has shaken Hungary, with the forint being at an all time low. This experience has also given us a new appreciation towards Finland, and there will be lots of things we will not take for granted when we return back home.
Now it is time for us to continue our journey elsewhere. Valtteri will graduate during the summer and start to look for work, and Mirjam is returning to one more year of university, to write her master thesis. Before returning to Finland both will travel for a while and see Europe by train.
We would like to thank our great team at FinnAgora who made us feel welcomed and like equal colleagues rather than just interns. It feels quite bittersweet to leave, we will miss everyone working at FinnAgora and also all people at the embassy. Something we won’t miss is walking up the Gellert hill to work every morning.
Thank you for our time!
Mirjam Ekelund & Valtteri Nivala