Alena Barton
Study in Budapest
Education

Exchange Semester in Budapest

How to find an apartment in Budapest? Is it difficult to study in Budapest? What should I visit and what to do there?

Read this post if you want to know the answer at least to one question! This is a real story about living and studying in Budapest from two beautiful girls. It was told by my cousins Viktoria and Maria, who spent a whole exchange semester in Budapest. Exchange semester is a part of their program of the Lapin University of Applied Sciences in Rovaniemi.

During their life in Budapest, I even had a chance to visit them and spend the whole week there. I remember small trams, bars in ruined buildings and an incredibly beautiful night city! Well, what am I talking about, you’ll read it right now …

Study in Budapest

From left to right: me, Maria, Viktoria

P.S. The story is told by Maria and Viktoria


Viktoria:

The first thing I would like to say is that Hungary and, especially, Budapest is an excellent choice for spending your time as an exchange student or as a tourist. Everything there is very cheap, and you even have the feeling that it’s impossible.

They have their own currency (Forints), so the products in the supermarket and alcoholic drinks, for example, will cost you much cheaper than in Russia or another country in Europe.

Maria:

Probably, for every student in Finland, the exchange is the most interesting part of the whole study. Talking about us, after 2 years of living in a quiet and cold Finland, we really wanted to leave for six months in the completely different atmosphere.

I was looking forward to the 3rd year of studying to finally pack my stuff for this little “journey”. Finally, it’s time to choose a place for the exchange and future study.

I was very happy, but at the same time, I understood what kind of responsibility it was. Just imagine that six months of your life we are gonna spend not in our comfort zone.
Each university has its own list of partner universities and our list was quite long. Initially, I chose 5-7 countries, wherever I wanted to go. All these came from some personal beliefs and preferences. Then, the list had to be reduced, of course. The first crossed out countries were France and the Netherlands, because the subsistence minimum there is quite high, and prices are also too high for us. Then, the universities in Germany and Austria were also removed from the list, because they were in the small towns with the population of 40,000 people. Since I was born and living in a small Russian town and then spent 2 years living in Rovaniemi with a population of 60,000, I really wanted to try to live in a big metropolis.

To sum up, the choice was only 2 countries: Hungary and Spain. In the application for exchange, we could indicate 3 universities, where we would like to study. In the first place, I’ve put Budapest, 2 and 3 places were taken by the universities of Spain. One month past… as usual, I was checking my school email and saw the long-awaited message:

“Congratulation! You have been accepted to the Budapest business school for fall semester 2017!”

Study in Budapest

Viktoria:

When we have received the confirmation letter that we were accepted by the Budapest Business School (BGE), we were very happy and immediately started to look for an apartment. The university didn’t provide a student dorm for the exchange students. You need to start this process as soon as possible because you should not forget that you are not the only who is coming to study there.

You can be sure that by the end of August, there won’t be any vacant offers for renting. The only thing the university helped us with is the link to the website of the company, where exchange student can rent a room or the whole apartments. We, personally, don’t recommend you this company!

Study in Budapest

Apartment in Budapest

If we only knew in advance what kind of stress we would have with this company…It’s about SRS Budapest (Student Rent Solution). At first, everything was just wonderful, very friendly workers, quick responses to our emails. We found an apartment that absolutely was suitable for us: a beautiful interior, very close to the centre, a lot of supermarkets around, a couple of minutes from the metro and directly opposite the bus stop. It costs 450 euros per month, without taking into account communal services. We wanted to rent it together, so it seemed to us a very good choice. When we wrote to the company that we are gonna rent it together, it was a little surprise. They told us that in this case, the rent would be 540 euros. Of course, we asked why. They told us that according to their rules, for each person there is an additional payment. We thought about this proposal for another couple of days and anyway agreed to rent this apartment.

After a while we realized that we cannot afford the apartment together, then we decided to take a neighbor to our place.

Therma in Budapest

When we came to the firm to say about our decision, we were warned that then we will pay ourselves the bills for the heating and electricity (before that we had a fixed fee). However, we were told that it would be a maximum fee around 100 euros.
We got a bill in one month with a HUGE surprise! Just for electricity, we had to pay around of 300 euros,  and in total around 1000 euros. That’s impossible! The apartment was not that big and half of the time we were not even there. So you can understand that the normal student can not be able to pay such amount, that’s why the next day we went straight to their office to sort things out.
We were told that they themselves “were shocked about this”. Since the batteries are electric, they said we should have had a temperature in our apartment like in a sauna, based on our expenses. Of course, it was not the truth. It was very cold in the apartment, and when we began to save almost everything, it became slightly warmer than on the street during the winter!

All three of us began to sit always in the kitchen, in order to save electricity. The battery was working only there with periodic shutdown as well as light. We all were using blankets, sleeping in trousers, jackets and few pairs of socks. We had constantly cold noses and hands.

Now when we remember this, it’s even a little bit funny how absurd it was. It was really not that funny during those time!

Study in Budapest

After a while, technicians came to check the counters. They said that they didn’t find anything unusual and, apparently, we spend so much energy for real. Any person even without a special education will say that it can not be like this. The company did absolutely nothing to find a way how to solve this issue and we had to accept this fact!

Study in Budapest

We would not wish such an experience to anyone. When we returned to Finland, to our dorm, you can not imagine how sincerely we had happiness from the fact that it’s just warm inside the apartment. Of course, this situation has spoiled our impression of Budapest.
Actually, we are trying not to remember that situation and now we’re gonna tell you about GOOD PARTS in Budapest!

About the city

The city really looks like Saint Petersburg for us. You will find everywhere very small shops, where they cook the most common street food “Hungarian Kebab” – Gyros (Gurosh), the approximate price is 450 Ft (1,45 EUR).

Almost at every subway station you can see the small bakeries, where you can have a bite of some fresh and delicious bread for about 250 Ft (0,80 EUR).

Hungary also is very famous for Goulash – Gulyás. To be honest, we did not feel anything unusual for us, just a good soup with beef or veal. Don’t take in the city centre, if you don’t want to pay double price.

Study in Budapest
Tickets for public transport: One ticket works for all type of transport, whether it is a metro, bus or tram. You have several options, for example, a one-time ticket for 350 Ft (1,20 EUR), which you can buy in the automat, or via transport driver, but it will be a bit expensive – 450Ft (1,45 EUR).
It is better to buy travel tickets, for 1 day (1 650 Ft – 5,30 EUR), 3 days (4 150 Ft – 13,40 EUR) or 7 days (4 950 Ft – 16 EUR). You can also take a group ticket for up to 5 people for 24 hours only for 3 300 Ft (10,60 EUR). Save tickets for the whole trip, because in every transport you will meet inspectors who will ask you to show the ticket. If it was not validated, when the trip is already begun, it will not be considered as valid and you will be fined. The fines for the subway in Hungary are quite big. Believe us, we also faced this.

Study in Budapest

If you are a student of Hungarian university, they will give you a student card to buy a monthly ticket with a very good discount. It is always worth to take this student card (certificate) with you because without it you will be also fined even if you have a travel ticket with you.

Nightlife in Budapest 

Study in Budapest

Nightclubs and bars are very cheap. The entrance to the nightclubs is different, but the approximate it costs 900 Ft. Girls usually can enter for free. If you like the modern music, then we recommend you to go to the Corvin Club, Ötkert and Craft. There you can meet a bunch of exchange students and you will definitely have fun. We recommend you to go one cool bar as well, which is called Ruin Bar. We are more than sure that you were not in such places before.

The interesting part about this bar is that the owners bought the old house, which should have been demolition, then restore it for the security reason. No repairs for making it good, actually they even bring trash there, which nobody has used for a long time. Things can even be from the dump but, of course, they specially cleaned that.

On the walls, you can write everything that you want. You will not sit on an ordinary sofa but, for example, in the bath trimmed under it. In fact, all these things create a unique atmosphere there. All our friends and acquaintances who were there were delighted with this place.

Study in Budapest

Study in Budapest

TOP-6 Places to visit in Budapest:

  • Szimpla Kert ruin bar (Kazinczy u. 14)
  • Széchenyi Thermal Bath
  • Japanese Garden on Margaret Island
  • Christmas market on Deak Ferenc Ter (during the Christmas time)
  • Vajdahunyad Castle (near Heroes Square)
  • Candy Shop ( Paulay Ede u. 48, 1061 Budapest)

If you still have any questions, please feel free to ask it in the comments!


I want to thank my beloved cousins for this informative post. Most of all, I want to put your attention to the fact that everyone faces different difficulties when he is moving or living in another country. Let’s just take it easier and not to be afraid of moving, especially, if it can help you to achieve your goals.

I strongly believe in everyone who read this post and look forward to seeing you here again next Friday!

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