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Study in Hungary: A Student’s Guide

By Guest Writer

Updated March 6, 2016 Updated March 6, 2016

Guest post: Alex Petryck

As an international student in Hungary, it’s my opinion that this is one of the most desirable European countries for studying abroad. Here’s why I think you should study in Hungary – and what you need to know if you do decide to study here.

An ex-Soviet country, Hungary has managed to preserve its unique national heritage and historical architecture. It’s full of beautiful buildings, streets and towns where you can truly feel the Old European spirit still going on beneath the trappings of modern society and globalization. Compared to popular European study destinations like France or Germany, Hungary really offers the chance to experience local culture and traditions, without too many tourists getting in the way!

Here’s all you need to know to study in Hungary:

Universities in Hungary

If you just want to spend some time studying abroad without having to learn the local language, you should focus on universities in Hungary which offer a good selection of courses taught in English. Most of these are found in the larger cities, like Budapest, the capital. The Central European University in Budapest, for instance, has a variety of graduate-level programs to offer, all in English.

If your interest and priorities are a little bit different, and you want to learn the Hungarian language and engage with the culture, you should check out some of the language-focused educational programs at universities in Hungary that are interested in hosting foreign students. There are all types of programs available, and for all levels, undergraduate and graduate.

Academic life in Hungary

There’s no particular difference between academic life in Hungary compared to the US or Western Europe. The professors are all experts in their fields and have extensive experience to share with their students. Just like at home, you’ll be required to study hard, pass tests, make presentations and class readings, submit essays and papers.

If you are interested in studying history, Budapest (especially the old city Pest) has many archival opportunities for you to research. (Budapest is actually a city made out of two, Buda and Pest, separated by the river Danube.)

Student accommodation in Budapest

Though Budapest is the capital and one of the largest cities in Hungary, the student accommodation situation there is very good. Students can easily find an apartment to rent, alone or with some roommates. A well-maintained three or four-room apartment in the central historic area costs an average of €400 a month. Lots of universities in Hungary also offer dormitories for their students. The dorm at the Central European University houses up to 500 students and visiting faculty members each year, and it has bars and cafeterias, pools, saunas, laundry and private rooms.

Costs and scholarships

It’s very affordable to live and study in Hungary. With $30 you can buy food for the whole week, and for $10 you can go out for dinner. Scholarships depend on the university you study at, and for this the Central European University is one of the best as it offers free housing in the dormitory, free tuition and a stipend of €200 each month for over half of the student body.

Exploring Hungary

The north and west areas of Hungary have beautiful mountains, while the rest of Hungary is mainly flat. The River Danube is the second longest in Europe and its beauty captivates everyone who visits Budapest. There’s also Lake Balaton, which stretches over 200km and is best to visit during spring and summer when you can enjoy its shallow clear waters and the amazing castles that surround it.

The Hungarian language

Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language and it isn’t related to any other European language, which makes it a bit difficult to learn and understand! However, those with persistence and determination can easily master it. But if you’re studying in Budapest, it’s not necessary to be proficient in speaking Hungarian, as most of the people living there are able to communicate in basic English.

Hungarian culture and cuisine

Hungarian culture is rich and distinctive, with Romanian, Austrian, Transylvanian, Turkish and Roma influences. The country is famous for its hot outdoor baths that you can visit any time of the year. Among the most treasured Hungarians respected all over the world are composers Franz Liszt and Béla Bartok, actor Béla Lugosi, magician Harry Houdini, and Ernő Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s cube.

Pork and other meat usually topped with a salty-spicy red sauce are some of the best dishes in Hungarian cuisine, and if you stay around Christmas you can try the famous mulled wine and cinnamon twist pastries. Pálinka is the national liquor, but be careful not to drink too much as it is quite strong…

Currency and visas for Hungary

Hungary’s currency is called the forint, and for US$1 you can get around 226 forints. If you come from Western Europe, the US, Canada or Australia, you won’t need a visa for long-term stay in Hungary; just a registration permit that most universities in Hungary will help you acquire.

Students coming from countries where visas for Hungary are required should get their visa first, and then apply for a registration permit after entering the country to be able to stay long-term.

Alex Petryck has been studying at Central European University as part of his Masters in Business. Feel free to contact him on twitter @AlexPetryck. Thank you for reading!

This article was originally published in August 2013 . It was last updated in March 2016

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