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Szia Later Budapest!

Global Exchange at the University of Technology and Economics in Budapest, Hungary.

Szia! My name’s Isabella and this January I left Sydney for Global Exchange in Budapest, Hungary, at BME – Budapest University of Technology and Economics (opens up an external website), to continue my studies in Architecture. Unfortunately, like many other students, I had to return home after two months due to the global pandemic, so while I might have not had the typical exchange experience, it was nothing less than amazing.

“Budapest is an incredible city, a perfect fit for anyone who loves architecture, history and cheap eats.”

Isabella
Szechenyi thermal baths seen through a window

Before applying for exchange, I did not know much about the city or the country itself and probably would have skipped it on international travels. Now I know what a huge mistake this would have been! The city is split into two sides by the large Danube – creating the Buda side and the Pest side which are connected by a family of beautiful bridges and has the best transport system I have seen in Europe, with super modern metro station and reliable tram lines. The country is in central Europe, so easily accessible from cities like Vienna, Prague, Bratislava and Zagreb. There are other cities within Hungary which are also charming and worth a visit, like Eger and Mohacs.

Hungary has faced a complex and sad history and thus displays an eclectic mix of cultural influences – think Turkish baths, Israeli food, Roman ruins, abandoned Communist-era buildings, and neo-baroque architecture. There is no shortage of things to see and do, and unlike other major European cities, it won’t break the bank – joining the EU in 2004, Hungary is cheap and still has its own currency – the Forint. Some of my favourite activities were visiting the two castles in the City – Buda Castle and Vajdahunyad Castle which are both straight out of a fairy tale.

The Caste District features the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias church which have the best view of the city and the most beautiful Parliament House on the bank of the Danube. Margaret Island which sits in the middle of the river is popular for sports, running and daytime drinks. Abandoned buildings on the outskirts of the city like the Red Train Yard, offer eerie insight into the communist era Hungary, which ended only in 1989.

“BME University was a great place to study and is the oldest technological university in the world.”

Isabella
River running through the city of Budapest

The architecture building is the flagship university building, sitting along the River and is like a labyrinth of rooms. The main design subject was structured similarly to that of the design studios at UTS, though I would argue it’s a bit less full on than the UTS equivalent. The university is well known for its engineering program, so be very wary if choosing a construction subject as it will likely (from my experience) be much more difficult and in detail than anything taught in the Architecture degree at UTS. Like at UTS, we had both lectures and tutorials.

The Erasmus support network is very well set up, numerous events are organised for orientation and weekly, so building a network of friends from all across the world is very easy – I met people from numerous different countries including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Turkey, Italy, Finland, Taiwan, Brazil, Poland and the U.S to name a few.

“The nightlife in Budapest is fantastic, as the city has a large student population and the beers are super cheap.”

Isabella

On an endnote, booking an international flight with a day’s notice and packing 6 months worth of clothes in one night is not fun. I wouldn’t recommend travelling during a Global Pandemic, but at the end of the day, health is always no.1 !!

Isabella Healion
Bachelor of Design in Architecture
Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Hungary

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