Welcome to Budapest! Not limited to being the muse for an awesome George Ezra song, this amazing city is a student’s paradise; it’s geographical location in Europe gives it a long and interesting history, it’s full of interesting monuments as well as an amazing food, shopping and bar scene (visiting the iconic ruin bars is a must!!). The city itself is a cultural oasis – no masses of high-rises to be seen in this city, instead only an assortment of red roofs and a mix of architectural styles depicting the progression of the city’s past. With all of the tourist hot spots within arm’s reach of ESSCA University, you are perfectly situated to explore the rich history as well as find your own secret spot of Hungarian paradise.

Whatever your interest, this amazing Eastern European city has it all: getting massively jealous as you see all your friends on Instagram hitting the beach while your suck in three layers of jumpers? Head to one of the many bath houses for a day of relaxation and swimming. Keen to learn about Hungary’s recent past? The many museums, especially the House of Terror, offer a fantastic insight into years of destruction. Or maybe having a quiet  afternoon with a book is more your thing? Then the abundance of specialty cafes offers great coffee (I feared I would have to feed my caffeine addiction on gross chain coffee) and the chance to have a chill afternoon.

To make the most of these experiences its super important that you remember to pack the right things! Aside from the essentials (hopefully nobody needs a reminder to pack socks!), there are a few things that I forgot to pack, as well as overpacked that might be of use to any students considering the PRIMO program at ESSCA. First of all – gloves. I thought that I would be able to power through, but eventually the icicles that my fingers soon became were so useless I had to cave and get some for myself.  On the other hand, I’m super glad I bought swimmers. Seems like an odd choice for visiting Europe in winter, but there would have been nothing worse than missing out on the iconic bath houses.

As a visiting ANU student to the ESSCA PRIMO winter program, over a two week period we were all able to cram in heaps of visits to varying museums, places of historical interest as well being able to try out the local culture and a few bars.  As the host school in Budapest is a relatively small one, they don’t offer any on campus accommodation, so all of the students studying at the PRIMO program were set up in an Ibis styles hotel, only 15 minutes’ walk from the University (or 10 if you are in a hurry from sleeping in!).

Images of the Ibis Styles – Here you were able to get nice and cozy with your roommate!

These rooms were double shares, which means that you have a new best-est friend for the two weeks you’re in Budapest! Whilst staying in a hotel doesn’t offer you a quintessential Budapest ‘university experience’ it’s super easy to hang out with others from your program as well as make use of the hotel lobby for last minute study or just socialising, as well as the provided breakfast which makes the budget squeeze much further. In addition, the hotel is placed right on the river Danube, so it’s in the perfect location to go out and explore the city either by using the public transport system or your own legs.

Overall, the PRIMO program at ESSCA in Hungary was an amazing experience and while the accommodation isn’t a traditional university experience, it is a great launch pad to discovering what this awesome city has to offer.