Hungarian Irág Zábó came to study in the U.S. and took her impressive resume to the next level
Virág Zábó comes from a city of almost two million people. In Budapest, Hungary, you’ll find Károli Gáspár University at the city’s center–inside the ancient walls where Virág enjoys the bustling lifestyle. From the get-go of Virág’s college experience, she took advantage of whatever opportunities were available to her.
It was at Károli Gáspár University, that she fell in love with studying and researching psychology, diving deep into the ocean of possibilities until she was completely immersed in her academics. That passion drove Virág to finish her bachelor’s, begin her master’s and make plans to go on to get her doctorate. At the age of 24, Virág was already a published psychology scholar.
With a resume several pages long, and a track in place for continued education, the question remained, what’s next?
How would she take her academic resume to the next level?
In 2019, when she was given the chance to study abroad at a Christian institution in the U.S. called “Grace College,” she knew that was the path for her. She left the busy city life of Budapest and devoted herself to a semester in small-town Winona Lake, Ind., to take Counseling and French literature courses.
Because Virág had already completed many of the same counseling courses when she was an undergraduate psychology student, she took the opportunity to freshen up on the content and cement the vocabulary terms in her mind. “One of my goals was to learn a lot of the terms in English that I already knew in Hungarian. It was really good for me to review!” She stated.
But beyond the classroom itself, Virág developed many soft skills through the process of integrating into a new culture. Virág learned how to interact with people from different backgrounds, and developed English as a second language. This is the kind of learning that can’t be captured by even the best lecturer–it must be experienced. And Virág was cognizant of this second layer of education taking place every day.
Compared to Budapest, life in Winona Lake was quiet and peaceful. On Virág’s first day here, the campus was empty and she had time to enjoy the green open spaces, tranquil lake, and wooded trails that surrounded her. As students began to move in, she enjoyed the friendly atmosphere that the staff and students around her created. As she reflected back on meeting new people she said, “They behaved as though they had known me for ten years or as though I was a family member.”
Virág was surprised and delighted by this warmth as she began her semester.
She remembers being invited to celebrate a hallmate’s birthday early on in the year. The group of girls gathered on the bank of Winona Lake on a warm Friday evening and enjoyed eating cake together as the sun melted into the water. Virág recalls feeling God’s presence that night.
“I felt like God was sheltering me in,” she explained, “like He was hugging me around with these people.”
In addition to enjoying the people, Virág was able to enjoy some of the small graces of our community as well, like running the trails around Winona Lake, tasting sushi in the area, and discovering the joy of Dunkin’ Donuts.
Now, back in Hungary, Virág is looking forward to applying all the useful experiences she gained while in the states. She hopes to go on to get a doctorate someday, and her dream is to work at the National Science Academy. Virág knows that her time at Grace College will leave an indelible mark on her life. And she will take the things learned in small-town Indiana with her in future adventures, in her doctoral work, and in her career– wherever it is that she comes and goes. — from grace.edu