Located in Central Europe in the historic Danube region, Hungary, having the world’s highest number of Nobel laureates per capita, has proven to be a land of opportunities for Pakistan’s youth. Diplomatic ties between the two countries formally established in 1965, and have flourished since then. In 2016, the government of Hungary started a programme called Stipendium Hungaricum — initially offering 80 scholarships to Pakistani students covering their education expenditure, including a monthly stipend. This opened a window of opportunity for Pakistani aspirants into Europe. These scholarships were provided in different fields of studies, such as agriculture, engineering and technology, biological sciences, arts and humanities, physical, social and management sciences. Students who took up degrees in the country called Hungary a land of opportunities, one that had a friendly and conducive environment for education — education they were able to acquire in some of the world’s best universities. To name a few, most of the students selected Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Corvinus University of Budapest, University of Debrecen, Pecs and Eotvos Lorand. From 2016 onward, with the mutual understanding between Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan and Tempus Public Foundation Hungary, the number of scholarships was more than doubled. Approximately 200 scholarships were offered in 2017, and the same number of scholarships are expected to be awarded this year as well. Amongst these, 125 were awarded for undergraduate programmes, 50 for graduate programmes, and 25 for postgraduate programmes. The Embassy of Hungary in Islamabad has been playing a laudable role in this exercise. Hungarian scholarships allow students to study Europe’s vast and rich cultural heritage, which offers a significant window into the adversity and prosperity witnessed by the continent Least is heard about the award of such scholarships in developed countries of Europe or elsewhere in the West. In the USA and UK, there might be some scholarships, mostly partially covering the academic expenditures to pursue masters and doctoral programmes, but Stipend Hungaricum covers all expenditures including, tuition fee and accommodation, with a modest monthly stipend and further attractions attached with the status of being a student there in the host country. This speaks volumes about Hungary’s generous investment in the youth of Pakistan. Similarly, this year Pakistan has also announced 30 fully funded scholarships for Hungarian citizens to study in HEC-recognised top universities such as National University of Science and Technology, Lahore University of Management Science, International Islamic University and Quaid-e-Azam University. At the end of HEC, the quota system is followed to offer the scholarships proportionately to students of all provinces. This has a positive impact on the students from Balochistan, interior Sindh and other less developed pockets of the country. HEC has a transparent system of conducting a pre-award test to assess the aptitude of the aspirant students. Besides, HEC facilitates students administratively and remains in touch with varsities where Pakistani students are studying through its Hungarian counterpart Tempus Public Foundation. Presence of Pakistani students in educational institutes of Hungary in such large number is heartening and encouraging youth to seek admission there. Apart from this, studying in Hungary provides an ideal environment for learning. One learns from the very experienced faculty with rich pedagogical skills and appreciating attitude. Well-equipped libraries with generous staff provide a further conducive environment of learning. It is learning-friendly environment that creates a sense of mutual emulation to excel. Academic tolerance and broadmindedness are the hallmarks of intellectual freedom here. Peer groups offer an opportunity to develop a friendship with students of different backgrounds. Extracurricular activities add more lustre to learning here. Hungarians are a tolerant, hospitable and easy-going society. It’s an opportunity to discover oneself and gain an understanding of the cultural diversity as there are students from various countries belonging to different socio-cultural milieu and background. Formal and informal interaction and attending of social gatherings are both educative and instructive for students from Pakistan. A host of avenues stand open to a student once one gets to Hungary. Being in Schengen block, a student has access to multiple countries where one can attend professional symposia, workshops, and lectures. Europe is both vast and rich in cultural literature offering a more magnificent window to study the adversity and prosperity witnessed by this continent. Particularly, the students of social sciences or international relations have an opportunity to delve into the yesteryears of Greece, rise and fall of Roman empire, French revolution, alliances and agreements of both ‘first and second world wars’, which shaped the present equilibrium and political prism. I bid godspeed to Pakistani students who have been awarded scholarships to study in Hungary this year. And I hope that they will promote the positive image of Pakistan during their time there. The writer is a student of International Relations. He tweets @NAliBaloch Published in Daily Times, June 26th 2018.