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Semester Programs: Hungary

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

Your semester in Hungary will take you beyond this "Pearl of the Danube," to visit places such as the Birkenau and Auschwitz concentration camps, Transylvania (Romania), Sarajevo and Mostar, Bosnia. Still, plenty of your time will be spent in Budapest where you can study a wide range of courses at two local universities and start to learn Hungarian, a language mysteriously unrelated to most other European languages.


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 Fall 2015 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 includes:

  • 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.


dorm room at the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University in BudapestYou will have the option to either stay in a dormitory of the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University with a Calvin roommate or with a Hungarian family. You'll have many opportunities here to meet other students, both international and Hungarian.


The following courses are required:

STHU 212 - A River Runs Through It:  Science, Technology, and Society in a Multinational River Basin

The Danube is the most international river basin in the world.  This course will examine several ways in which the cultures and politics of the region have been shaped by the geographic features, physical resources, and technological developments connected to the river. Introductory scientific concepts will be developed at a “science for citizenship” level and used to analyze the material roots of commercial, environmental, and national security interests. 

4 semester hours, fulfills Physical Science core

STHU 312 - Studies in Central European Culture
This course offers a selective historical survey of Hungarian and Central European cultures, with a particular focus on experiences of persecuted minorities and the political structures that have perpetuated conflicts rooted in religious and ethnic differences.

3 semester hours, fulfills Global and Historical Studies and CCE core

STHU 100 - Introduction to the Hungarian Language

In this course, students learn vocabulary and basic sentence structures needed to communicate on an elementary level as they live and travel in the city and region.

2 semester hours, pass/fail, general elective credit

You must also take two electives, one of which may be the following course:

STHU 235 - Italian Renaissance Art

A survey of Italian art from the Gothic period to the Late Renaissance, focusing on the artistic production of the main political and cultural centers of Renaissance Italy. The interpretation of the works of art is integrated into the fabric of life in the papal, royal, and ducal courts (Rome, Naples, Milan) and the rich republican cities (Florence, Siena, Venice). **Class size is limited.

Course is taught by Dora Sallay who is featured in this Spark Article.

3 semester hours, fulfills The Arts core

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 that last few years and may be available in the current year also.


Since Budapest is a hub for rail travel throughout Hungary and the rest of Central Europe, you'll 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.


To apply for the program, please follow the directions to apply through our Horizons online system at this link.


Program Director, Fall 2015

Fall 2015 - Matthew Walhout, Physics & Astronomy

Past Program Directors
Fall 2009 - Bruce Berglund, History
Fall 2010 - Michael Page, CAS
Fall 2011 - Jeff Bouman, Service Learning Center
Fall 2012 - Cheryl Feenstra Nursing Department
Fall 2013 - Peggy Goetz, CAS
Fall 2014 - Jeff Bouman Service-Learning Center
Fall 2016 - Young Kim, History
Fall 2017 - Peggy Goetz, CAS



Location: On the Danube river in north central Hungary—about 50 miles from the Slovakian border. Surrounded by the Ukraine, Romania, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria.

History: Originally a Celt settlement (before the time of Christ); populated by the Magyars (Hungarians) in the 9th century. Dominated by the Mongols, Ottomans, Austrians and Soviets over the next 1,000 years. In 1873, Pest, Buda and Obuda were united to form Budapest.

Population: approx. 1.7 million

Climate: Temperate, with temperatures averaging 70 degrees Fahrenheit in September and decreasing to the 30s by December.


Since Budapest is a hub for rail travel throughout Hungary and the rest of Central Europe, you'll 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.


Read more about the fall 2008 program in Hungary at the course director's blog.