Semester in Hungary

Basic information

  • Location: Budapest, Hungary | Map
  • Dates: Next Scheduled for Fall 2021
  • Class requirement: Sophomore
  • GPA requirement: 2.50+
  • Cost: Approximately equal to Calvin Tuition + Full Room & Board. Students also responsible for round trip transportation to/from Budapest ($800-1000) (exact)

Get to know a major European city better than you know your own neighborhood. A hub for food, politics, fine arts, and thermal baths, Budapest, Hungary offers the opportunity to learn alongside inspiring Hungarians who serve refugees, teach in schools, and advocate for positive social change.

Ride trams with views of the Danube river and one of the world’s largest and most beautiful Parliaments, and enjoy the city’s amazing bridges connecting historic Buda with modern Pest. Enjoy food and music festivals on weekends, majestic views from Gellert or Castle Hill, and the architectural wonder of St. Stephen’s Basilica. Eat authentic Hungarian goulash at the enormous Great Market Hall, or buy your own fresh paprika to season your homemade stew you cook with friends in your shared dorm kitchen. Ride the Eye of Budapest Ferris wheel, or walk the Grand Boulevard and tour the Museum of Fine Arts, or the Terror House Museum commemorating the horrors of World War II. Find yourself at a rally for better education policies, or on a walking tour of the historic eighth district, where you will learn about what the Roma people in Hungary have contributed to its amazing musical and artistic cultural history since the ninth century. Learn to love a place deeply, and hone the skill of finding your own place. Deepen your ability to love God’s world, while better understanding its complex history.

Semester in Hungary


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

Budapest is a dynamic lively city, blending old and new in architecture, activities, and art, among other things. A short list of things to do might include taking a walk down Raday street, where you'll find bars and restaurants galore, but also the Bible museum and the theological faculty of our partner university Károli Gáspár University. Or enjoying a day at the Budapest zoo in City Park, or running the Budapest half-marathon or marathon, passing several UNESCO heritage sites on your run around this gorgeous city. You could also attend a performance at the neo-Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House on the famous Andrassy avenue in downtown Pest.

The program’s emphasis will be on remaining in Hungary, and Budapest in particular, but it may be possible to plan an additional short trip outside Hungary.

As part of the program, you will visit Romania (including the Carpathian Mountains); Vienna, Austria; and Sarajevo and Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Since Budapest is a hub for rail travel throughout Hungary and the rest of Central Europe, it may also be possible to visit major cities like Prague, 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.
Budapest has about 1.7 million residents, while Hungary has about 9.7 million. The land size of Hungary is approximately the size of the US state of Indiana.
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. The weather is very similar to the weather in Grand Rapids, with warmer temperatures normally lasting a bit longer into the fall than in Michigan.

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 University 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 2019, you must complete the following courses:

  • STHU 205  Linguistics through the lens of Eastern Europe society

This course will introduce you to the core subfields of linguistics and the area of sociolinguistics. In the first half of the course you will work through the core areas of linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics) by examining English and Eastern European languages. The second half of the course will look at how language use has changed through history in Eastern Europe, how particular languages relate to individual and group identity, and how sociolinguistic issues intersect with questions of culture and politics. In addition, there is a service-learning component to this course in which you are required to do weekly tutoring in ESL.

  •  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."

  • STHU 310 Hungary Semester Practicum (1 to 3 credits)

Course Description:  Students will be placed in a Hungarian organization (e.g. NGO, social service organization, or school) for a minimum of 50 hours to gain hands-on experience related to the work of the organization.  Through the practicum experience, students will gain a better understanding of the day-to-day work of practitioners.  Special attention will be placed on developing cross-cultural skills needed to function in a multi-cultural world. Fulfills the CCE Core. 

  • STHU 100: Introduction to the Hungarian Language (General Elective - 2 credits)  Students learn vocabulary and basic sentence structures needed to communicate on an elementary level as they live and travel in the city and region.

  • One direct-enrolled course at Karoli Gaspar University (3 credits)

In addition, students can choose from a list of 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.

  • 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.


Approximately equal to Calvin Tuition + Full Room & Board. Students also responsible for round trip transportation to/from Budapest ($800-1000) (exact)

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
  • Housing (KGU dorm)
  • 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 2021 is Dr. Peggy Goetz. 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 during the Fall 2015 semester.
Read this article about 4 students' experience at Karoli during the Fall 2018 semester.


Start the application process

Applications are now open for the Fall 2021 Hungary semester.  Click the Application link above to see more information and to submit an application in Horizons to the Off-Campus Programs Office. Email Professor Goetz to check for availability.

Questions / contact

Peggy Goetz

Peggy Goetz

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Brian Cawley

Brian Cawley

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