Magazine Feature / People

International student finds something good in every new culture

Eszter Vakarcs is an international student who just completed her first year at the University of Denver.

But before you imagine a young woman struggling with a new culture, staring blankly at a teacher speaking English, desperately attempting to participate in college life, consider this: Vakarcs has lived on four continents and can deftly describe the differences between Pakistani and Hungarian family life. In English, Hungarian or French.

She isn’t just an international student at DU; she’s an international student of life.

“I was born in Hungary and lived there four years,” she says, describing her life chronologically. “Then we moved to Houston while my dad earned his PhD at Rice University. Then we moved to Tunisia for two years, then back to Hungary for four years, then to Pakistan for three years, and now I’m here!”

Vakarcs’ father is an oil company geologist. Her family is now living in Oman, but she will meet them in Hungary during her summer break.

Vakarcs says she does not have a favorite city or country; she says she likes them all for different reasons and that each experience has changed her.

“There’s no such thing as totally retaining yourself when you experience new cultures and live among people with different values and languages and religions,” she says. “I don’t change fundamentally; I still have my values from my family and my Catholic religion, but I try to use them as a basis for understanding other people.”

Vakarcs plans to graduate with a BSBA in international business and then earn a MBA. She is also studying Spanish and will start taking Arabic next year.

While her accent after one year in college sounds completely American, Vakarcs admits that it’s been hard to keep her English grammar in textbook form.

“I’ve been, like, Americanized,” she says, laughing.

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