Semester in Hungary

Basic information

  • Location: Budapest, Hungary | Map
  • Dates: Fall 2018
  • Class requirement: Sophomore
  • GPA requirement: 2.50+
  • Cost: To be announced

You could spend an entire day traversing the seven bridges that span the beautiful blue Danube, connecting one side of Budapest to the other. On your way, you'll see an old-world-meets-new-world city emerging from centuries of foreign invasion and rule.

Your semester in Hungary will certainly take you beyond this “Pearl of the Danube,” but you will also have opportunities to visit places like Vienna, the Birkenau and Auschwitz concentration camps, Transylvania (Romania), Sarajevo, Mostar and Bosnia. Still, most of your time will be spent in Budapest where you can take a wide range of courses at two local universities and start to learn Hungarian, a language unlike most other European languages.


Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is located on the Danube river in north central Hungary, about 50 miles from the Slovakian border. It is surrounded by the Ukraine, Romania, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria.

Things to do

As part of the program, you will visit such locations as the region of Transylvania in Romania (including the Carpathian Mountains), Krakow, Vienna, Dubrovnik, and Sarajevo.

Since Budapest is a hub for rail travel throughout Hungary and the rest of Central Europe, you will easily be able to visit major cities like Prague and Munich, the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia, the Julian Alps in Slovenia, and the Adriatic coast of Croatia.

Budapest was originally a Celt settlement (before the time of Christ) and was populated by the Magyars (Hungarians) in the 9th century. Over the next 1,000 years it was dominated by the Mongols, Ottomans, Austrians and Soviets. In 1873, Pest, Buda and Obuda were united to form Budapest. Since then it has weathered the destruction and genocide of WWII, a communist regime and a people's revolution. Now the city stands as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, Hungary's political and cultural center and a major food capital of Europe.
approx. 1.7 million
Budapest is in the temperate climate zone, with temperatures averaging 70 ° F (20° C) in September and decreasing to the 30's (0) by December.

Program Profile: Hungary

In most cases students adapt well to their circumstances, but it is helpful to know what to expect as you prepare for a specific experience. If you have specific questions about a program, we would encourage you to speak directly to your off-campus instructor or director or, feel free to stop by the OCP Office at any time.

Physical expectations: Moderate
Language Importance: Moderate
Cultural acclimation difficulty: Moderate
Level of Cultural Interaction: High
Safety & Security Considerations: Low

Health Considerations: Low
Mental Health Considerations: Moderate
Lodging: Dorms
Cost: $$

Social Expectations: By their nature, semesters and interims off-campus are inherently social experiences. Heavy emphasis is usually put on building a strong sense of community within the group, which requires openness, sociability, and a collaborative spirit from everyone involved. Acknowledging that having a diversity of personalities makes a group stronger, it is expected that all participants willfully agree to be an active part of the social community of their interim or semester program.


Physical Expectations


These experiences require no more physical exertion than being on Calvin’s Campus. You don’t have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to. No physical preparation is required to make the most of this experience.


Moderate physical activity is expected and an average level of fitness is required. You will be doing a great deal more walking then on campus, often over uneven surfaces and rough roads. Some physical preparation is recommended before departure to make the most of this experience.


Be prepared for some serious physical activity requiring an above average level of fitness. This will include a high level of walking over all kinds of terrain as well as other physical demands in all kinds of extreme temperatures. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy this experience as many activities will be challenging.


Language Importance


English is the predominant language in course location.


Knowing another language is helpful to fulfill the goals of the course but English is also prevalent in course location.

Knowing another language is important to fulfill the goals of the course.


Cultural Acclimation Difficulty


Western conveniences are prevalent. Host culture is very similar to traditions and culture of West Michigan.


Few western conveniences, the need for students to blend in with the surrounding culture is important. Host culture shares similarities and differences with the culture of West Michigan.

No western conveniences, the need for students to acclimatize to local culture is readily apparent. Host culture is vastly different than West Michigan.


Level of Cultural Interaction


Interaction with local culture is limited and very formal (e.g. through organized tours).


Intentional opportunities to interact with local peoples and culture.


Intensive immersion in local culture – host families, service-learning, etc.


Safety & Security Considerations

Although no one can guarantee your safety or eliminate all risks from a study-abroad experience, Calvin College is committed to doing its utmost to provide secure environments in which you can live and learn. Our goal is to minimize risks and keep you aware of special situations as you make decisions about studying off-campus.


Safety concerns are similar to living on campus. Incidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are no specific safety concerns of the U.S. State Department for the areas where you will be studying. However, additional care must be taken to assure a safe and secure experience. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are safety concerns you should be aware of as you commit to this trip. The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel alert or Warning for the area where you will be studying. You will need to partner with Calvin in addressing safety concerns and follow all safety guidelines for the experience.


Health Considerations

Remember, Calvin follows the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for all Calvin sponsored off-campus experiences.


Health concerns are similar to living on campus. Illnesses and accidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. Health Care resources (clinics, medical personnel, etc.) are numerous and you would have easy access to medical care if needed. Some vaccinations will be required, but overall precautions are minimal.


In general, health concerns are slightly higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced and appropriate health care is available but can be harder to access than on campus. Several vaccinations may be required and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Health concerns are higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced at some point. Plans to assure adequate health care are in place but health care facilities could be hard to access during the experience. There may be many vaccinations required for the experience and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Mental Health Considerations

Remember, the Broene Counseling Center cannot provide on-line or phone consultations with students.


Mental health resources are similar to living on the Calvin campus. Mental Health resources (clinics, counselors, etc.) are available and you would have access to these resources, if needed. It could be challenging to find the right resources on short notice and for a short period of time.


Mental health resources are present in various locations during the experience but maybe difficult to access for a variety of reasons.




Group will be camping (living outdoors) at times during the trip.

Host Families

Students will be staying with host families for parts or all of the experience.


Staying in College dorms, similar to Calvin. Roommates will be other Calvin students or other international students depending on your preference.


Dormitory style lodging, shared bathrooms.


Individual rooms (with roommates) and private baths.



Cost of off-campus experiences vary as a result of a number of factors, including the number of students enrolled in the program. Amidst all these factors, the following categories could be helpful, but students are encouraged to check with instructors and directors on specific cost information.


$ Within $500 of tuition, room & board on campus
$$ Between $501 and $2,000 of tuition, room and board on campus
$$$ More than $2,000 over tuition, room and board on campus


$ Less than $2,500
$$ $2,501 to $3,800
$$$ >$3,801


Over the duration of this program during Fall 2018, you must complete the following courses:

  • STHU 2XX  Performing, Managing and Leading in Multicultural Organizational Contexts (Persons in Community core – pending) (3 credits)

Course DescriptionThis course will use the lens of multicultural organizational contexts to examine key areas of three management disciplines: Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Human Resource Management. Throughout the course, we will incorporate the expanding research and practical skills in cultural agility as it relates to organizational effectiveness. The course will focus on developing specific competencies that make up cultural agility include those that enable professionals to (1) manage themselves in international or multicultural situations, (2) interact effectively with people from different cultures, and (3) make effective organizational decisions. The course will also leverage the Service Learning course in order to experience the growing research regarding the value of service/volunteer work and cultural agility.

  •  STHU 210: Studies in Central European Culture (Global Historical Core - 3 credits)

Course Description:  This course will offer a topical survey of the culture of Central Europe. A primary concern of the course will be ways in which Hungarians and other peoples of Central Europe have wrestled with their regional and global identities and with the larger question of their place in "Europe." Our scope will be broad: we will have readings and discussions on culture in general, on history and contemporary film, and other topics. The monthly excursions will function as a framework for both the course and your experiences in Hungary and Central Europe. Therefore, assignments will require reflection about these regional excursions, regular assigned readings, daily activities in Budapest, and other excursions within the city.

  • STHU 100: Introduction to the Hungarian Language (2 credits)
  • One direct-enrolled course at Karoli Gaspar University (3 credits)

In addition, students can choose from the following courses to assure they are enrolled in 12 to 17 credits. Students are required to consult the Hungary Program Director before finalizing their schedule. In some years, specific courses may be required. Students may take more than 17 credits but would be expected to pay credit overload costs like they would do on campus.:

  • STHU 235: Italian Renaissance Art (3 credits) - Arts core 
    Course Description:  A historical study of the form and function of visual images in Italy from 1300 to 1550.  Special attention will be given to the emergence of linear perspective, to the relationship between art and humanism, and to the invention of artistic genius.  Giotto, Piero della Fancesca, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo are some of the major artists studied.  Fulfills the Arts Core.
  • STHU 310 Hungary Semester Practicum (1 to 3 credits)

     Course Description:  Students will be placed in a host country organization (for 20 to 80 hours) to gain hands-on experience related to the culture and context of working in organizations within the host culture.  Through the practicum experience, students will gain a better understanding of the day-to-day work of practitioners within the host culture.  Special attention will be placed on developing cross-cultural skills needed to function in a multi-cultural world. Fulfills the CCE Core. 

  • A second course from Karoli Gaspar University or a class at Corvinus University (3 credits)

You may take one or both of your elective courses at the following universities:

See the Calvin program director for up-to-date course offerings at these institutions. The attached list includes courses that were available during the last few years and may be available in the current year also.

Learn more about direct-enroll transfer credits in academic services.


You will stay in a dormitory of the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University with a Calvin roommate. You will have many opportunities here to meet other students, both international and Hungarian.


You must have achieved sophomore status with a grade point average of at least 2.5 to study in Hungary. Preference is given to juniors and seniors when there are more applicants than spots in the program.


The final program cost is expected to be within $1000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The cost for the Hungary semester will include:

  • Tuition
  • Round trip airfare Grand Rapids/Budapest
  • Housing (either in a KGRU dorm or possible homestay)
  • Food allowance
  • Program excursions
  • Administrative fee

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: passport, immunizations and medical insurance (required), books, some weekend meals, any independent travel and spending money.

Hungary Director

The director of the Hungary Semester for Fall 2018 is Dr. Brian Cawley. His contact information along with that of prior years' directors is listed below.


Read an article about the Calvin Connection at Károli Gáspár University.
Read an article about the student experience at Károli Gáspár University.


This year's application deadline has passed. Check back next year to apply.

Questions / contact

Brian Cawley

Brian Cawley

Full profile

Peggy Goetz

Peggy Goetz

Full profile


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