Experience report Corvinus University Budapest

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1 Experience report Corvinus University Budapest Study Program: Personeelswetenschappen Exchange semester: Fall Academic year: 2014/2015 Host University: Corvinus University of Budapest Country: Hungary I: General information about the school Budapest is a beautiful city consisting of two parts, separated by the Danube: Buda and Pest. Buda is the part constructed on the hills including sights like the Castle district and Gellert Hill. Pest is the flat part of the city, with famous buildings like the Parliament, St. Stephens Basilica and the World Heritage Site Andrassy Avenue. Corvinus University has buildings in both parts of the city, however, as a student from Tilburg University, you will always be located on the Pest side. This campus consists of three buildings; the oldest of which used to be a Customs house before it got turned into a university in Next is a small building called the Salt House, hosting the IT department. The newest building was completed in 2007, this is where I had most of my classes. Corvinus hosts about 450 exchange students each year, with a total of about students. The biggest difference between Corvinus and Tilburg is the way the classes are structured. Attendance is mandatory, classes are usually as small as 20 people, the teacher usually knows you by name, and less focus is placed on theory. All your classes are basically like work groups you might have in Tilburg. This all makes for an interesting change from the teaching methods you are used to. It keeps you more engaged with the lectures, and I had to do a lot more assignments than back home. In general, my classes were easier than the ones in Tilburg. All in all, I liked having these different classes for a semester, and the lower difficulty enables you to get out and see more of Budapest, Hungary or another country. Because there is a lot to see and do in the city; you won't find yourself bored a lot of times. Budapest is filled with beautiful architecture and interesting buildings. On the other hand, there are also a lot of strange (in a good way) and not-so-perfect places. I really liked this contrast in the city. In my opinion, the best place to go for food or drinks is the seventh district, especially the Jewish Quarter. This is where you will find most of the ruin pubs Budapest is famous for. It is also filled with little restaurants where you can eat almost every cuisine you like, for a good price. The area around Déak Square hosts some of the more fancy restaurants and clubs, which can also be very nice if you are prepared to spend a little more money. You can also find some cool places on Margaret Island, where you can also go for a run on the track which goes around the whole island. If you want to take a break and relax, there are numerous bathhouses, the most famous being Szechenyi and Gellert. These are both very nice, but if you are looking for a little less crowded one, try Kiraly, Lukacs or Rudas.

2 As a last tip I would recommend checking to get great advice on restaurants, cafes and other things to do. II: Practical information I received my first pre-arrival information beginning of October, which included my login details for their online application form. At this moment I could also start taking a look at my courses. However, course registration didn't start until mid-december. I got my acceptance in the beginning of November, with another containing more information about a month later. About two weeks before the start of the semester, their international office sent me the information about the first week. Regarding the International Office, I had no difficulties at all. One staff member handles all the administrative matters for your specific faculty. Her office hours were clear, and she responded quickly to s, but usually I just went by her office. Also a few weeks before my departure, I was added to the ESN Facebook group, which includes all the exchange students from Corvinus. This was very helpful because it helps you to look for a room and let's you know what's going on during the semester. About a month before my arrival my Tandem partner contacted me. Corvinus links every foreign student with a Hungarian student, so you can ask him/her questions regarding your arrival, accommodation, basically anything you want to know. My Tandem partner picked me up at the airport which was very nice. Also during the semester she helped me out a couple of times, mostly with translating some Hungarian. At the first day of the semester, the university organized an orientation day during which they gave you all the information you could ever want. Everything was very clear to me, I did not experience any problems with registration or any other administrative matters. After the official part was over, ESN kicked off their introduction week by presenting their programme included tours around the city, visits to some museums and of course parties in the evening. All these activities were very helpful in getting to know the other exchange students and the city. During the following months, ESN kept organizing a lot of different events for us, including a cultural week, trips to Slovenia and Croatia and numerous parties. During my semester I mostly had contact with the other international students. It was harder to get into contact with Hungarian students, because they tended to be a lot busier with university. The only Hungarians I had contact with were the organizers from ESN and my Tandem partner. Regarding housing, Corvinus will send you some recommendations in the weeks before your arrival, but most students choose to find something themselves. ESN organizes a hostel week before the first week of the semester, during which you meet a lot of fellow students that do not have a room yet. Together you look for a nice place to rent and this way basically everyone finds a room before their first or second week. A lot of this goes via the ESN Facebook; I also found my room on there. I lived together with four other international exchange students. Two from Corvinus, and the other two from BME, another university. I was really satisfied with my accommodation; it was located in the Jewish District which is quite central, but it was still quite cheap. Also, my flatmates were very nice; it was very cool to live with other international students.

3 In general, the cost of living in Budapest is lower than Tilburg. I paid less rent while I was abroad, it is cheaper to eat at restaurants, and also nightlife will cost you less money. However, because everything is cheaper, most students will find themselves eating out almost every day (Hungarian supermarkets are similarly priced as Dutch ones, so for a lot of people it is less attractive to cook at home), and all the trips you will make will balance everything out. I recommend lunching at one of the restaurants offering a daily lunch menu. This will usually cost you about three euros for a two course meal. Another tip is to always book your public transportation tickets or train tickets with a student discount, which will usually save you 50% off. It can also be profitable to become a member of the Wizz Air discount club, since you will most likely be flying with them a few times. Below I created a table with some monthly estimates of my expenses. Housing 250 Food and drinks Transport 500 is a rough estimate. Each day I would have breakfast at home for 1 euro, lunch outside for 4 euro, dinner either at home or out for 6 euro. A night out would be 15 euros. 11,50 for a monthly pass Miscellaneous A weekend trip would usually cost about euro, depending on your destination etc. During my stay in Budapest I made quite a few trips to other countries and cities in Hungary. At the start of the semester we organized a trip to Belgrade for the weekend with about fifteen students, which was very nice. About a month later ESN organized their first trip, which was to Slovenia. I also did a road trip with four friends to Romania, and at the end of the semester another road trip through the Ballkans which lead us through Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. I also visited a few other cities in Hungary like Szeged and Miskolc, and took the train to Bratislava for a day. Also, after the exams we rented a house near the Balaton lake which was very cool. Because of Budapests central location it is very easy to make trips, either by train, bus or plane. It really gives you the opportunity to visit places you would otherwise not think of. For me it was very interesting to see all these different European countries, and it definitely provided some interesting perspective to the way we live back home. I did not really experience culture shock that much. The first few weeks you re very busy getting familiar with a new city and getting to know new people, so there s very little time to actually stand still and think about everything. In my opinion, the biggest difference between Hungarians and the Dutch is how proud people are. I really felt like Hungarians were very proud about their country, their culture, language, traditions, everything. They really seemed to have a strong national identity. It took me some time to realize this though, so I think the biggest difference you will notice right away is that Hungarians can appear quite cold. You will definitely see less people smile or show their emotions in general. Also, Hungarians attach a lot of importance to their rather tragic history, and I liked that they

4 are more aware of this. Their national pride sometimes gets into their own way though, because I think a lot of Hungarians are scared of influences from outside. They would rather keep things the same as they were, and not have any change. However, I think the older generations feel this way more than the younger ones. I really felt a difference between this; the younger generations are definitely more open to new things and appear a lot friendlier. Because I took two courses related to Hungary I felt like I learned quite a lot about their culture. I would definitely reccommend taking at least one course about your host culture. Regarding Dutch culture, I did not really learn that much. It s mostly these really simple stereotypes that I kept hearing, like Dutch people always being nice, very direct, etcetera. The biggest cultural differences I experienced were during my last roadtrip. The difference between Hungarians and the people we met in Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania was huge. They were a bit friendlier in general, had a more open approach to strangers and were always very glad to help. Concerning personal development, the biggest thing I learned were all the differences between the countries I visited; I feel like I know a lot more about Europe. Also, understanding the history of a country will really help you understand why people act in a certain way. I think this is essential if you go on exchange to a country like Hungary, where people still put a lot of emphasis on history and tradition. I think both my best and worst experiences were leaving Budapest at the end of the semester. On the one hand it was time to go; almost all my friends had already left so it kind of felt finished. On the other hand it was very sad to leave the place you had lived for the past semester. III: Academic information All my courses were in English, and unless you already know Hungarian, this will be your only option. It is a very hard language to learn, you will definitely need more than one semester. You have the option to take a Hungarian language course though, but I did not do this. I wanted to take a few courses related to Hungary, also I had to replace one course I otherwise had to do in Tilburg. For the rest, I just chose courses that seemed intersting. They let you try your courses in the first few weeks so you can still change if you don t like your first selection. The academic level is definitely lower compared to Tilburg, and they place less focus on theory. The primary teaching method is the work group, all my classes were like this. The relationship between the students and the teaching staff is a bit less formal, they usually knew you by name. All my exams were written, and they usually took about an hour to make. They give you different moments for one exam, so you can always choose the date that fits you best. Also, there s the opportunity for a resit. My experience is that you will not need one though. In general, I am happy with my academic achievements during my exchange. It was interesting to experience a different teaching method and learn about things I would otherwise never have known.

5 This table shows all the courses I took at Corvinus. Course Prerequisites Exam ECTS Introduction to International Relations None Written 6 Corporate Social Responsibility None Written 6 Hungarian Civilization None Written 3 Foundations of Organizational Sociology None Written 3 Foundations of Social Psychology None Written 3 Hungarian Political System None Written 3 Like everyone else, I would surely reccommend an exchange period. I had a lot of fun, and it is a great opportunity to see something of the world. My best tip would be to just let things happen once you start your exchange, don t overthink things. If you decide to go to Budapest, try finding a few nice flatmates to share a place with. For me this definitely helped a lot in making it a great experience! If you are interested in going to Budapest and want more tips, you can always send an .

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