Year — Fall 2019
Aug 20-23, 2019 → Jul 11-14, 2020
During your time in Hungary you’ll have the opportunity to gain an intimate knowledge of this ancient and proud Eastern European nation. By living with a host family and attending a local school, you’ll be completely immersed in the Hungarian language and culture. You’ll get to explore Hungary not as a tourist but as a true member of the community – an experience not many American teenagers can claim!
Old World is the way of life here: families take pride in their roots and honor tradition. Hungary is like no other country: the language, the culture, the history – it is truly unique unto itself. The Hungarian language is not related to any other European language so you might find it challenging to learn, but don’t worry, you’ll have help from local volunteers and your host school.
Your journey will begin in New York, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. You’ll learn some essentials for your first days in Hungary and speak with a cultural resource who recently spent time there. Then, you’re off! You’ll travel with a group to Budapest where you’ll be welcomed by AFS staff and volunteers.
On your way to meet your host family you’ll get a chance to see some of the sights. You’ll start in the stunning capital of Budapest, once known as the ‘Paris of the East,’ and likely pass by the mighty Danube River that runs through it. Most of the Hungarian countryside is flat but you may see rolling hills in the distance. You’re also likely to catch a glimpse of some traditional Hungarian festivals, which usually revolve around food!
AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Hungary. Most host families live in urban environments near Budapest or other large cities, but it’s also possible that you’ll live in a rural area.
Most Hungarian parents have one or two children, but larger families are more common in rural areas. You might find that you have older host siblings living at home, as children often wait to move out until they’re financially independent. During your time with your host family you can expect to be treated like a member of the family, joining in activities and helping around the house like you might do in the US.See where past AFSers have lived
As a student in Hungary most of your time will probably be spent at school, hanging out with friends, or getting to know your host family. Like young people everywhere, most Hungarian teenagers enjoy playing sports, especially soccer, basketball, and volleyball. You might also go to the movies or to a party at someone’s house. To explore the culture a little further, be sure to check out some of Hungary’s folk traditions, including artisan embroidery, pottery, and carvings. Hungary’s musical contributions are just as rich, and range from rhapsodies to operas to Gypsy and folk music.
One of the most popular and well-known Hungarian dishes is goulash, a stew made with meat, potatoes, and paprika. Paprika is used in many Hungarian dishes and has a warm, piquant flavor. Dishes are typically served with potatoes or noodles and there are lots of delicious breads and pastries to try!
During your time in Hungary you’ll attend a public school called a gimnázium, but you could also be placed in a szakközépiskola (vocational) school. You’ll likely be able to pick from a variety of classes that your school offers, but Hungarian and foreign language courses are required. The school year runs from the beginning of September to early June and is divided into two semesters. Classes are held Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3 pm. Schools often provide some extra activities such as school trips, sports and games, choir, arts, or theater.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. "Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.