RVC-Budapest, the ultimate IVSA exchange
By Tavishi Pandya, IVSA Exchange Officer
After much anticipation and driving around to avoid the ludicrous pricings of Luton airport pick up zone the RVC minibus took aboard the 6 Hungarian exchange delegates. Little did those 6 intrepid hungarian explorers know what an adventure they’d have.
Budapest → London
Exploring Camden and wandering around the vibrant streets of Camden made the first morning fly by and it was soon time to check into the RVC Global Health Society’s ‘Disaster’ symposium.
Organised by the students of RVC, the symposium enlightened us on many issues facing global health with talks such as ‘the Health Economics of Antimicrobial Resistance’ and ‘Disasters and Diseases’ given by leaders in the field.
With our heads full of information, we made the short walk over to the Haxby, RVC’s student run bar, to fill our stomachs. As we had made quite good friends at this point we felt it cruel to subject our visitors to a night out at the RVC famous Zoo Bar, instead we thought it would be nice to show them a slightly classier night at Piccadilly Institute. Unfortunately there is always one and inevitably our party could not resist the calling of Zoo Bar (the place to be on a Wednesday night).
Day 2 saw the group travel back into London to see which team could successfully complete the inaugural LONDON CHALLENGE. The challenge saw teams dashing across London to see as much as they could, with points on hand for landmarks and those willing to go the extra mile: kissing strangers, photobombing other tourists and reciting sonnets outside the Globe Theatre all pulled in the points. There was cheating aplenty, and with hundreds of points available to the team that could get the Queen in their photo, all three teams faked Her Majesty’s presence to get points. There is still debate over the winners, but we are confident now that all involved are now experts on travel on the tube. After a classic curry at London’s famous Brick Lane it was time to head back to Hawkshead to rest up for day 3.
The RVC’s Queen Mother Animal Hospital may be the busiest referral hospital in Europe, but they still made time for a detailed tour for us on day 3. Then a short trip down the road we were able to embody the epitome of fashion as we strolled around Bolton’s park farm in our boiler suits visiting the dairy herd. It was then time to dress back down for the last dinner in London before a trip to the Top Secret comedy club.
Sadly, the final day came around all too quickly, and after a tour around our equine hospital and clinical skills lab we all sat down to a quintessentially English afternoon tea with cake and scones before bidding a heartfelt farewell to one another. However, the sadness did not last long as we knew in a mere 3 weeks we would all meet again in Budapest!
London → Budapest
On the 12th November, the 10 RVC exchangees landed in Budapest, and we quickly headed over to Ankert, one of Budapest’s famous ruin bars, for dinner and a well needed catch up. This was followed up with a night out at Instant - a club that had more edge than a hipster in Shoreditch and better modern art than the Tate.
On day 2 we met in a marketplace called Szimpla before heading off to see the sights and tastes of Budapest. Lunch consisted of traditional Langos, something our hosts were worried we wouldn’t like, but deep frying bread is a genius idea that we could all enjoy. We had a fantastic day walking around the landmarks such as the Chain Bridge, the Basilica and Fisherman’s Bastion with our hosts as our tour guides. Seeing a foreign city alongside a local really changes your perspective.
A highlight of the trip was the Hungarian evening of dancing and revelry that started with homemade goulash washed down with Palinka spirit before being taught some incredibly fun traditional Hungarian dances. Everyone came away sweaty, aching and ecstatic.
On the 3rd day we had a thorough tour of their campus and small animal hospital and were in awe of the beauty and history the campus had to offer. It was interesting to hear that they claim to be older than the RVC, something the RVC prospectus fails to mention when claiming to be the 2nd oldest in the world. After a Hungarian lesson we were ready to use our new lingo on the locals as we embarked on a sightseeing tour followed by a dip in the heavily anticipated thermal baths.
On day 4 we managed to explore even more landmarks ,including the Parliament and Citadel. In the evening our remaining energy was channelled into cycling round the city fuelled by beer on one of Europe’s famous beer bikes. Our final dinner came too soon and we bid each other a final goodbye before heading back to sunny England the following morning.
We all had the most fantastic time during the two weekends soaking in the culture, sharing ideas and making fast friends. If your university doesn’t offer a IVSA exchange, then organise one!