Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Round of Business Meetings

Kopint-Tarki Office Building

Dressed to our best, we started the day at 9:15 am.  The group had our first business meeting with an economic research company Kopint-Tarki, and later in the day a meeting at the European Commission office. We made our way to Kopint-Tarki and met with Peter Vakhal and listened to his presentation on the economic history of Hungary. He talked about, what it’s like to be a member of the European Union, Socialism and Communism and how Hungary has changed from the communist era to now.

View from office window
                Hungary became a member of NATO in 1998 and a member of the EU in 2004. They are not a member of the EMU, meaning that they do not use the Euro as their currency. There are political and economic reasons why they are not a member of the EMU, but some of the main reasons are that they are skeptical and that it is not sustainable.
                When Hungary was communist, they didn’t have many choices for the things they wanted to buy. Peter told us a story about how his parents bought him a car for his 18th birthday, but they had to actually buy it when he was 7 years old because it took 11 years to actually get the car that they paid for. There were only four types of cars at the time, so there wasn’t much option anyway.
                When the Hungarian government was trying to reduce the difference of lower and upper class, they would take homes away from wealthier people and use them for the people in need. The home that Peter lives in now was once owned by one family, but the government split up the house into 12 different flats, and now 12 families live there.
                A very interesting thing that Peter told us during his presentation was the “seven miracles of socialism.” They are as follows:
·         Everyone has a workplace
·         Everyone has a workplace, still no one works
·         No one works, still the economic plan is 100% complete
·         The economic plan is complete, still no one can buy anything
·         No one can buy anything, still everyone has everything
·         Everyone has everything, still everyone steals
·         Everyone steals, still nothing is missing
Also I want to shout out to my Finance/Accounting majors because Peter says that that is the most important thing to study!
Well Worth it Spaghetti
                After out meeting at Kopint-Tarki, we had a small break at a local mall and ate lunch. Finding a place to eat lunch was probably one of the biggest challenges of this trip. It’s pretty easy to figure out transportation, I know how to use the money, but I still can’t figure out how or where to order food. My small group walked around the mall for about half an hour trying to find a place that either spoke English or had any kind of food that looked familiar. We finally found a place that had spaghetti and we decided that that was going to be the best we would be able to find. We walked in a tried to order, but the server didn’t know any English. We had to use hand gestures and a lot of pointing to communicate with her. But the food was well worth it, and very very cheap!
                After lunch, we went to visit the European Commission office and we met with Liliana Zugo. She talked about the 2020 objectives that the EU has and how each country in the EU should be trying to reach those goals. Some of those targets include:
·         Employment at 75%
·         Eudcation-
o   Under 10% of students leave school early
o   40% of all students to graduate college
·         20 million fewer at risk of poverty
There are more goals, but these are the most pressing. All of the goals are intertwined in some way. They all affect one another, and if one is helped, then other ones are helped too.
Once we were finished at the European Commission office, we split back up into our groups and made our way back to the hotel. Personally, I slept for a few hours before getting dinner. Today was our first day of learning about the businesses abroad; we’re very excited to see what’s next!

Stephanie Robinson

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