Student Spotlight: Jolie’s Semester Abroad in Budapest, Hungary

Eager to step into the footsteps of a college student who is experiencing life in Hungary? We recently caught up with AIFS Abroad student Jolie, a Business and Psychology major from the University of Pittsburgh. She spent a spring semester studying abroad in the capital city of Budapest on our program at Corvinus University.

Read on to learn more about her study abroad experience with AIFS Abroad and the impact of being an international student in Budapest.

Choosing a Study Abroad Program Destination & Term

Deciding when and where to study abroad can be a challenge for a lot of students (our team can help with that!), but no matter where you go, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime! Jolie chose Budapest, which may not be the very first destination that comes to mind when you think about studying abroad — but it’s a spectacular option! Hear more about why this Central European destination was ideal for her semester abroad.

“I chose Budapest because I wanted something different than the typical study abroad hotspots! I’d heard only good things when I asked around about Budapest, and I can completely confirm those after being there for a semester. I would absolutely recommend it! It’s a good city to be on a budget in, a bit of a hidden gem, and filled with so many things to do and places to see!”

But, why study abroad in Budapest during spring semester specifically?

“I originally wanted to do the fall term, but with passport renewals and visa applications, spring ended up being the best choice for me. Even though I had hoped for fall, I am very glad that spring worked out for me. It was a little cold at first, but eventually warmed up, and was beautiful by the end of the semester. Not only does the weather get better, but you get to see the entire city in bloom! The city got busier as the weather warmed up, but not too crazy crowded with tourists.”

Jolie shares her experience as a student studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary with AIFS Abroad

Academics in Budapest

One of the most exciting parts of studying abroad is taking unique, experiential courses at your host university or institution! It allows you to be in a different learning environment than you’re used to back at home, and can broaden your perspective. Through AIFS Abroad, Jolie’s spring semester courses abroad were taken at Corvinus University in Budapest, an AACSB-accredited institution — perfectly aligned with her Business major. Located in the heart of the city, it’s a distinguished private research institution. The university boasts a robust student body, with around 9,600 enrolled students. Students primarily study the fields of business administration, economics, and social sciences.

“Corvinus University is a very well known school in Hungary! The location is perfect; towards the center of the city, right on the Danube. There is a wide range of classes to choose from, but the classes itself are structured a bit differently from the ones I’ve taken back in Pittsburgh. There’s also a wide range of professors to learn from, and a chance to meet more international students.”

At Corvinus University, study abroad students aren’t limited to only taking classes with students from their respective organizations.

“I had classes with a wide range of students! A lot of Hungarian students (so Corvinus is their home university), some Erasmus students (study abroad or exchange students from elsewhere in Europe), and some other American study abroad students. And yes, I did have class with AIFS Abroad students, but that completely depends on which classes everyone selects – AIFS doesn’t put you directly into classes with them.”

aifs abroad student in budapest, hungary
Jolie in Budapest, Hungary

Studying abroad presents a unique opportunity to take courses in a new setting. Whether you have requirements to fulfill to complete your degree or are looking to enroll in electives that simply pique your interest, there are tons of amazing learning opportunities! In Jolie’s case, she focused primarily on courses to satisfy her Business and Psychology majors as a student in Budapest with AIFS Abroad.

“I mainly took classes for my majors, with just one elective. My four for my major were Organizational Behavior & Theory, Marketing, Business Policy & Strategy, and Management & Organization. I took the Urban Explorations class as my elective, which is a walking class that takes you around different areas of Budapest. I took 15 credits while abroad, but most of the AIFS students took 12 for the semester, so four classes.”

Transitioning into a new academic setting can be an exciting challenge! While you’re used to life as a college student on your home university’s campus being a certain way, life as a student abroad isn’t going to be an exact replica of that experience — including in the classroom. Jolie’s study abroad courses in Budapest were set up a bit differently than the ones she typically takes at the University of Pittsburgh, sharing:

“My classes at Corvinus were very interactive, collaborative, and hands on during the seminar portion. While I have had some classes like this at Pitt, majority of my lectures are simply just teachers lecturing, exams & homework assignments! So these classes at Corvinus were a bit of an adjustment, going from individual work to more collaborative work, and much more often than at home.”

aifs abroad students in budapest, hungary at night
Jolie with other study abroad students in Budapest, Hungary

Language Learning

Fun fact: It’s not a requirement to be fluent in a foreign language to study abroad! While some course options may require a certain level of proficiency, we can accommodate language learners of all levels on our programs. If language immersion scares you a bit, you can always choose to study abroad in an English-speaking country, but we encourage you to push yourself out of your comfort zone if you’re at all interested. It can be incredibly exciting to learn a new language as a student abroad — both inside and outside of the classroom!

Hear about Jolie’s experience with the Hungarian language as a student in Budapest:

“The Hungarian language is unique and very different! I personally did not take the Hungarian class, because it wouldn’t have transferred over to Pitt for me, but I had friends who did take it. They thoroughly enjoyed it, and were able to use some Hungarian in daily life. However! If you don’t take it, you’ll be perfectly fine in Budapest. Most people know English as their second language, so you can figure things out without knowing Hungarian well. But! If it transfers over, I would absolutely recommend taking the Hungarian class to aid with the immersion into the Hungarian culture.”


Did you know all AIFS Abroad programs include housing? Typical options include shared apartments, student residences/dorms, and living with a local family in a homestay. Jolie’s accommodations in Budapest were in a student residence.

“We stayed in a place called Dean’s College Hotel! Students can stay there long term, and there’s also a portion for guests for short term stays. The majority of the rooms were singles, but AIFS put us in a 4 bedroom dorm/apartment, usually with at least one other AIFS student. We each had our own bedroom, we shared a bathroom with one roommate, and then had a shared kitchen, fridge and freezer among the four of us. I enjoyed having roommates, as it let me get a lot closer to them throughout the semester! The location of the accommodation is a short 2-3 minute walk from a stop on the M3 line, which is very convenient for getting to places around Budapest.”

AIFS Abroad Students in Budapest, Hungary
Jolie with a friend in Budapest, Hungary

Making Friends Abroad

College is often the first time many students are out on their own, forging friendships with other students that can become almost like family. Because of this, it can be understandable that some are on the fence about doing a study abroad program alone or consider holding off applying until a friend is available to go with them. Obviously the more the merrier, but we recommend that you study abroad when it’s convenient for you. Chances are you’ll forge new friendships once abroad, like Jolie did as a student in Budapest with AIFS Abroad.

“I did not know anyone else on my program! Before leaving, we were put in a groupchat, so we were able to introduce ourselves and see what the other students were like at first glance. There was one other student on my trip who was from Cincinnati, so I was able to meet her before leaving, but everyone else I met while I was abroad!

AIFS holds a welcome meeting, and several activities during the first week, which definitely helped me get to know the other people in my program. My advice for future participants would be to take full advantage of what AIFS offers during that first week, and also to push yourself to be social during those first few weeks there! Just remember that everyone else is in the same position as you are, and looking for new friends.”

Social & Cultural Activities

Each and every AIFS Abroad program includes social and cultural activities, as well as excursions — and our study abroad program in Budapest is no exception! These co-curricular experiences are an amazing way to learn outside of the classroom, and for students to get to know their host region and its culture. Our students in Budapest can choose from a variety of activity options, but Jolie loved our program-led excursion to the Lake Balaton region of Hungary, as well as a culinary immersion experience we provided.

“My favorite excursion was our Lake Balaton trip! We went in May, so the weather was beautiful, and the lake itself is stunning. We had a guide the entire weekend, who was super kind and very knowledgeable about the area! We went on a bike tour for a good portion of the day, did a few hikes, swam in the lake, and spent time with the people in our program. On another note, we did a cooking class while in Budapest, and that would probably be the next favorite on my list. We made a soup, chicken paprikash, and a delicious dessert that we then got to eat.”

aifs abroad students with bicycles
Jolie and another study abroad student on an excursion

Cultural Immersion

When you first arrive to your study abroad destination and start to transition into your life overseas, odds are you may experience a little bit of culture shock. Traditions, customs, language, and the overall culture can feel overwhelming to some — but eventually, you find yourself immersed and really relishing in some of the differences! Jolie shared what she enjoyed most about Hungarian culture as a student in Budapest, and how being exposed to it changed her habits at home.

“I really enjoyed the food and the more relaxed lifestyle of Hungarians (even though that’s probably just a more European outlook). The food was so so good! Goulash, paprikash, a lot of different meats, chimney cakes, langos – the list just goes on and on! The more relaxed lifestyle is simply just that – enjoy more in the moment instead of rushing from one thing to the next, which I feel like I catch myself doing a lot at home. So personally, I’ll be attempting to be more like the Europeans at home now :)”

But what about cultural experiences abroad, both in every day life and unique one-off experiences?

“I think aside from the cooking class, one of my favorite cultural experiences while in Budapest itself was the Ferencvaros TC game (the local soccer, or futbol, team of Budapest). We went to the Championship match in the Hungarian Cup, and the environment was absolutely electric. The end result was not exactly what we’d hoped for, but it was still a really cool experience to have while abroad.”

Jolie with friends at a the Championship soccer match of the Hungarian Cup in Budapest, Hungary

Growth through Education Abroad

Studying abroad can bring about huge growth in all realms — personal, professional, academic, and more. Jolie’s semester in Budapest made a profound impact on her development, skillset, and perspective.

“Personally, I grew in my independence! Living on my own for 4 months, planning trips and adventuring into new cities, and handling conflicts as they come in a completely different environment than you’re used to at home is a huge source of growth! Academically, adjusting to a new system of how classes and professors work is a big change! But, being able to adjust to this throughout the semester, and attempt to take it in stride is how I grew academically. Besides that, picking up new study strategies is something that I’ll definitely bring back to Pittsburgh with me. Professionally, I believe exposing myself to different working environments has opened my eyes and widened my perspective for future opportunities in the workplace.”

Final Thoughts

Jolie’s final words of wisdom for future study abroad participants? Live in the moment with the people you’ve connected with, and be present.

“Don’t hesitate to try new things and put yourself out of your comfort zone! I tried to live by two phrases while I was over there. The first is that you’re only abroad, with these people, in this place ONCE! I’m home now, and I already wish I could go back with the friends that I made while there. Secondly is to be where your feet are! I caught myself looking to the next weekend trip, or to something that was planned in the next month or so. While it is really exciting to do so, you have to be in the moment, enjoying where you are and what you’re doing right then. Trust me!”

Are you a student who’s ready to take the leap and study abroad in Budapest like Jolie did with AIFS Abroad? We’d love to help you start your journey!

Here at AIFS Abroad, we know a thing or two about helping college students and pre-professionals study and intern abroad. Our programs are incredibly inclusive, which takes a lot of the stress out of planning. From coordinating your housing to providing things like cultural and social activities, excursions, comprehensive insurance, 24/7 emergency support, on-site staff, and more, you’ll take comfort in knowing you’ll have support throughout your entire experience abroad.

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