You could think that university life is pretty… universal around the globe. But the truth is, there is such a big difference in customs, traditions, rules and everyday habits… Let’s see some interesting facts about university life in Hungary that might be surprising to you.
1. You have lectures and practical classes
There are 2 types of classes. The difference is the size of the student group and the type of activities you do. Lectures (also called: theoretical classes) are usually taught in big lecture halls- the professor holds a presentations and the students are listening. Practical classes are usually held in small groups and students have to participate in practical tasks. These tasks can vary greatly depending on what subject we are talking about, for example laboratory, factory or just simple calculations and project works. Also, you must know that at most Hungarian universities, attendance is obligatory.
2. Obligatory attendance?
Many students can’t wait for university years, because you can organize your days much better, as attending classes is not necessarily obligatory. Well, this is partially true. While attending lectures is indeed flexible (usually not obligatory), practical classes are almost always obligatory. Most universities allow you to skip 3 classes of each type during a semester. (Of course, you must always check the requirements regarding each class at your uni.)
So what happens if you miss too many classes?
Normally the rule is that you have to retake the class the next semester again.
3. Semesters, study period and exam period
University life in Hungary has its own routine. Each academic year starts in September (more rarely, in February) when you have around 12 weeks of classes until December, this is what we call study period. Starting around the middle of December, you have a so-called exam period until February, when you have to take your exams. In the exam period you don’t have classes, you have to focus on preparing for your exams. When the exam period is over, the next semester starts. The study period usually goes from February to May, exam period lasts from May to July. This is a full academic year (2 semesters).
One of the best parts of university life in Hungary is the breaks- of course. These periods are great for catching up on studies, having fun, relaxing or even taking trips. In the Fall semester you have a Fall break, usually lasting one week, around Halloween time. Then the Winter break comes, usually around 1,5-2 weeks, centered around Christmas and New Year’s eve. The Spring break is already in the Spring semester, taking place around the Easter holiday, usually lasts for a week. The longest break is the Summer break. This starts when you finish off all your exams (June-July) and goes all the way until the next semester starting in September.
Besides these breaks, we also have national and religious holidays, usually lasting a day or two.
5. Exams- written, oral or projects?
So each year you have a couple of weeks only of exams. What type of exams can you expect? Well, basically any kind, whatever the professor requires. In larger groups it’s most likely you’ll have a written exam, but if you have a smaller student group on a class, oral exams and even practical projects or essays or other type of assignments are a common way to pass a course.
6. What happens if you fail an exam?
If you fail an exam, usually you can try it 2 more times in an exam period. However, you must remember that sometimes you have to pay for the second and third attempts. If you cannot pass the exam even after 3 attempts, you usually have to retake the class next semester. Alltogether you can take a class in 3 semesters. So you can try an exam 3 times in 3 semesters- that’s 9 attempts on a single exam. Don’t worry tough, normally all exams are passed in the first or second attempt.
Most study programs offer a list of specialization fields you can choose from. In practice, this means that after the 4th semester you’ll have a specialized schedule. Some of your classes are still going to be together with students of other specializations but some of your classes are going to be specific for your chosen field. The name of specialization is usually also mentioned in your degree.
8. Obligatory internship
Most Bachelor’s programs in Hungary last 7 semesters. For 6 semesters you have normal courses and exams, but in the 7th semester you don’t have normal classroom courses (or just a few) but you have to take an obligatory internship during this semester. You must find a company that would employ you as an intern (usually unis also have a long list of partner firms that are happy to offer internship placements). During an internship you are likely to work a normal 40-hour work week, but besides doing junior level work, you will also receive on-the-job training from your employer company.
Doing an internship is great for your professional development & also for your CV. After you graduate you’ll already have months of work experience.
To finish your studies, you’ll have to write a research paper on a topic of your choosing. This will definitely be a challenging step in your studies, but you’ll definitely be super proud of yourself once it’s done. After you are done with all your exams and finished writing your thesis, you can take your final (state) exam to obtain your degree.
10. Sports and Fun events
University life in Hungary is not all studies and bookreading- it’s also socializing and having fun. Most Hungarian universities have great uni sportclubs (always ask the university before application if this is an important thing for you). There are so many sports you can choose from- soccer, basketball and volleyball are super popular of course, but there are many more… most institutions offer a very wide range of sport opportunities from rowing to parachuting.
Also, universities also organize balls, parties, picnics, festivals and other extracurricular programs. The most well-known event is Freshman’s Ball: it’s a large ball/party celebrating the freshmen of the university. In some institutions it’s a formal event, with well-known DJs & musicians, and dancing until the early hours of the morning.