Semester in Hungary

Basic information

  • Location: Budapest, Hungary | Map
  • Dates: Fall 2016
  • 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.

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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, Prague, 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 Vienna 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.


Over the duration of this program during Fall 2016, you must complete the following courses:

  • STHU 211:  Late Antiquity at the Frontiers (3 credits)

Course Description:  The period scholars identify as Late Antiquity (ca. 250-650 CE) is characterized by both continuity (with the classical Greco-Roman world) and change (toward the medieval, Byzantine, and Islamic worlds).  As the institutions of the Roman empire experienced a long series of transformations and eventual fragmentations, the frontiers in particular witnessed sweeping movements (and settlements) of peoples, ideas, and identities.  This course will study this period, from the unique vantage point of Budapest and its environs, where the Romans established a military and civic presence on the "border" along the Danube frontier. The region has been conquered and re-conquered repeatedly over the centuries by a wide variety of people groups.  Students will study both written and material sources to understand how the seeming thematic paradox of continuity and change is evident in the geography, structures, and institutions of the late Roman frontier and beyond.  In addition to weekly lectures and discussions, students will enjoy excursions to local museums and archaeological sites, as well as a study trip that includes stops in Aquileia, Italy and both Pula and Split, Croatia.

  •  STHU 210: Studies in Central European Culture (3 credits)

Course Description: This course is an intense study of the history and culture of Hungary and its peoples, examined through the lens of its great city, Budapest, which in turn will serve as a basis for exploring broader developments in (central) European history, from antiquity to the present. It combines careful and critical reading and discussion, with multisensory, hands-on experiences to deepen student understanding and appreciation. Excursions include a day-trip to Vienna, Austria and an extended visit to Krakow, Poland and the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camps.

Note: Successful completion of both STHU 210 and STHU 211 will fulfill both Global Historical and Literature core.

  • 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
  • STHU 310 Hungary Semester Practicum (1 to 3 credits)
  • 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 have the option to either stay in a dormitory of the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University with a Calvin roommate or do a home stay with a Hungarian family. 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 2016 is Young Kim. 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

Young Kim

Associate Professor
Chair of Classics Department
Full profile

Jeffrey Bouman

Full profile

  • Phone:  (616) 526-8610
  • Email:
  • Office: Spoelhof Center 301

Matthew Walhout

Dean for Research and Scholarship, Professor
Full profile


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