Life Abroad
10 min

Pros and Cons of Living and Studying in Hungary

In 2021, while being a bachelor’s student in Russia, I got a chance to go to Budapest Business School as part of a student internship program. I came to Hungary for five months. Now there’s just one month left.

Here, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of living and studying in this country that I’ve noticed during my stay here.

What’s Good About Studying in Hungary

Practical experience even with distance learning. I’m a student in Commerce and Marketing at Budapest Business School. I picked project management, HR, and logistics as my majors.

Despite the fact that we had to switch to distance learning because of the coronavirus pandemic, our professors make every effort to ensure we have practice. For example, we developed projects from scratch for Project and Quality Management and Quantitative Methods for Decision Making. The projects included analyzing competitors and budgets, as well as calculating risks, and looking into the opportunities.

Understanding professors. If you are late for a test, missed a deadline, or failed to complete a task, a professor will show their understanding. You will be allowed to take a test one more time, submit your work another day or have the task explained again. Of course, it always depends on a particular professor and situation. Generally, though, they wouldn’t leave you high and dry. You will get help and support.

Advanced facilities for a comfortable learning process. Most classrooms are equipped with all the necessary technological facilities, such as computers, projectors, and air conditioners. Students never have trouble with displaying a slideshow or presenting a project.

What’s Good About Living in Hungary

Beautiful architecture. Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. You will come across something interesting wherever you go. It’s a sheer joy to live and study there.

Among the most famous tourist attractions in Budapest are Buda Castle, Fisherman's Bastion, Chain Bridge, Andrássy Avenue with the Postal Museum, State Opera House, Palace of Arts, as well as Franz Liszt Square and Heroes' Square, which the avenue is linking. And of course, there is the grand Parliament building, one of Budapest's most familiar spots.

A good starting point to travel around Europe. Hungary is located in the center of Europe. Before the pandemic, it was really easy to travel to other European countries from here.

For example, there is Flixbus that offers a bus service to travel around Europe. It would cost you 9 € to go to Vienna, 33 € — to Prague, 8 € — to Bratislava, and 15 € — to Belgrade.

Low prices compared to other European countries. Hungary is one of the most affordable countries to live in Europe. You will pay around 0.60 € for a bottle of milk, 0.70 € for a loaf of bread or a beer, and 1.30 € for a 500 g pack of cottage cheese.

Renting an apartment is about 400-550 €, while a room would cost you 190 € and above. A monthly pass for students costs 10 € and is valid for all forms of public transport.

What’s Not So Good About Studying in Hungary

The frustrating process of getting a student card and health insurance. One needs a student card to buy a public transport pass and be entitled to discounts in museums, movie theaters, and restaurants. Before they issue a plastic card, you will get a paper version which needs to be renewed every two months.

Some students receive the card a month after they applied. Others may have to wait for a year. What the length of this period depends on is a mystery.

Things are no different with a health insurance card. You apply for it, but no one knows how long you will have to wait before it is approved and issued. It can be three months or nine. By the way, I haven’t received my card, while my friends who came here to participate in the same program got their card after a month.

The independent process of registering on learning platforms and systems. Coordinators for international students are extremely busy, and it’s hard for them to always be there for every student. So, at the start of a semester, it may take them longer to answer emails, help students register on computer programs and send out logins and passwords to students. That is why you will have to investigate on your own how it all works. I had to do this, and it wasn’t easy.

What’s Not So Good About Living in Hungary

Many homeless people in the streets. Statistics say there are about 30,000 homeless people in Hungary. The reason for such a frustrating number is the financial crisis of 2008 when Hungarian banks went bankrupt and people who could not pay the rent were deprived of their homes. Besides, many people fell victim to mortgage fraud.

Homeless people usually sleep in underground walkways or sit and beg at bus stops or on bridges. Once, my friends and I were walking quietly along the street when some crazy guy suddenly broke a window at a bus stop and ran across the road in front of vehicles, shouting something in Hungarian.

The government supports the homeless by paying them an allowance of 22,800 forints (256 €). Those who participate in government employment programs are entitled to 54,000 forints (608 €) a month.

Stores rounding up the bills in their favor. If you are used to paying in cash, keep the following in mind. Hungary has its currency — Hungarian forints, and there are no coins of one and two forints, only 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200. When you pay in cash, a store rounds up the amount, and most often in their favor. For example, if the bill says you have to pay 102 forints, you’ll pay 105. The only time they rounded it up in my favor was at an outlet, but that's rather an exception.

The rounding-up rule does not apply to paying with a card. You can use a card almost everywhere except for small stores and some cafes.

Pressing necessity to learn Hungarian. As a student, you will be just fine without Hungarian. Many local people speak English in stores, state institutions, and post offices. However, if you plan to stay here for longer, I’d recommend you to consider learning Hungarian which is a pretty hard language to master.

By Darya Domash, @daria.domash