Everything I wanted it to be January 05, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/21/2018 to 12/19/2018 with

Aquincum Institute of Technology / AIT - Budapest: - Creativity in Computer Science & Software Engineering

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Definitely worthwhile. I learned what it's like to actually be responsible for cooking for myself. I learned to avoid WizzAir (AVOID WIZZAIR!!!) and that RyanAir isn't as strict about its baggage size limits as it pretends to be. I traveled internationally by myself, navigated public transport in all sorts of languages, learned more than I ever thought I would about Budapest and the history of Hungary and the Soviet bloc. I kept a blog for the first time in my life. I got to see some amazing sights that I'd never considered (if you get the chance, go see the Skocjan Caves in Slovenia. Amazing!!). Made excellent friends. There were bumps - homesickness, culture shock, long lines at the WizzAir counter, but overall I had a great time.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

AIT was rigorous enough for me not to get bored, but not so rigorous that I had to stay in the city all the time to get my work done, which was the ideal study abroad experience I think. There were some weeks when I spent hours and hours at the school working, and others when I didn't spend a minute more than class attendance required, but those weeks were pretty easy to predict, because all the professors gave out syllabi at the beginning of the semester and stuck to them pretty well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our administrators were great! Never had a problem with any of them, and never had a problem they couldn't help me fix.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I liked living in an apartment, and I liked my roommates, but I would have liked a more even pan-to-lid ratio :/

* Food:

There's plenty of opportunity for good food in Budapest (and it's all cheap!) but don't expect this to be Rome or Paris. Hungarian cuisine is mostly just pork and potatoes. I made most of what I ate myself, and had a reasonably easy time getting what I needed to cook at the local grocery stores and markets.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Because we didn't directly enroll in a Hungarian university, we really had to actively put ourselves out there in order to integrate with locals. It didn't help that I only spoke three weeks' study worth of Hungarian. That said, i loved getting to know the other students, including the few who were locals.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't interact with the Hungarian health care system at all because of the horror stories. Unfortunately this means I still need to get my flu shot this year :(

* Safety:

Budapest is about as safe as any city, but it's good to keep in mind that cultural attitudes about women are less than strictly friendly. I only had one incident all semester that made me feel unsafe, which happened when I was walking home at night with my friends and two guys came up behind us and smacked my butt - twice. Yelling at them eventually made them go away. I do appreciate that guns are so rare in Hungary that I never had to worry about that the way I do in the US, so snaps. Advice to future students: pretty much the same as usual. Walk with friends. Learn how to tell someone to go away in Hungarian. Oh, and if someone is staring at you on the bus, it's probably nothing. Hungarians just really like to stare.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I had so much fun, learned so much, made great friends. It definitely helped that I went to the language crash course before the semester started, and I was really lucky that I ended up with roommates who would become great friends. As the semester drew to a close, even though I was ready to go home and see my cat and feel warm weather, I wished it wasn't ending.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

^labeling is not clear at all on this scale (which end is 1?) so I'll put my rating here as well: 4 or 4.5, definitely. Budapest is about as inexpensive as Europe gets, especially if you cook for yourself. Public transport cost less for the whole month (with a student ID) than it did for three days in Rome.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? No more than 15,000 HUF, which would be about $50. Often less.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook for yourself. Shop at Spar.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? in Hungarian, none
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Take the Hungarian language course (I only took the crash course before the semester started - which was very useful! 10/10 would recommend)

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The city
  • The other students
  • The language crash course
* What could be improved?
  • More lids for the pots and pans in my apartment
  • More glasses and cups too. Too many mugs and shotglasses, not enough water cups
  • Make some effort to equalize apartment situations: some students I know got stuck with a mini-fridge to share between three roommates, plus no oven. That's a very challenging cooking situation.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I honestly enjoyed learning as I went so much that I wouldn't want anything to change. Maybe that more people speak English in Budapest than I thought - no need to be as terrified as I was ordering my first meal. Also, you need to sweep more often than I thought to keep an apartment floor clean when three girls with long hair live there.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Budapest Studies

Course Department:
Instructor: Mariann Schiller
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was not challenging, but it was fun and interesting. We took walks around the city together and had discussions about history and current events in the city. Our class was quite small, only about 13 people, which really helped. This course made me feel much more grounded in Budapest than I otherwise would have - I understood the context and history of the city much better than my friends who only took comp sci courses.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Applied Cryptography

Course Department:
Instructor: Levente Buttyan
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was my most challenging class of the semester, and not just because it was at 9 AM. We went over an enormous amount of information, and I learned tons. We had two homework assignments per week for the first half of the semester, and then in the second half we forewent homework in favor of working on a final project in groups. We had a written midterm and final exam. The course was hard, but there was plenty of opportunity for extra credit.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Mobile Software Development

Course Department:
Instructor: Peter Ekler
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was an engaging, interactive class that taught something I'd never be able to learn at my home school. It was larger than most classes at my home school, but still small enough to participate during class. Easily half of every class was working on demos, which really helped getting comfortable with Kotlin. We had one midterm exam and a final project, plus three large homework assignments.
Credit Transfer Issues: I'm still working on getting this class to count towards my major, but nothing's resolved yet.