One hundred days in Budapest

December 3, 2019

I’ve been here in Budapest for exactly 100 days now. This means that I have made it 100 days in Europe without any major disasters - I cannot believe it!

This experience has been incredible, and I only have 18 days left before Christmas break, when I leave for home and see my family once again. Three crazy, ridiculous, insane weeks, what with preparation for finals and my list of one hundred and one things that I want to do between now and then. I hope I will survive them!

Living in Budapest has been an incredible experience so far; I have learned how to be independent at a level I never thought I could. The city iteslf is lovely, with some pretty amazing buildings. The Parliament building is the most beautiful thing I have seen when lit at night, and it is well worth the trip to Buda to see it reflected in the Danube. As a city Budapest also incredibly inexpensive…a blessing for me on a student budget. 

In my first month in Budapest, I lived right in the city centre, the so-called Fashion Street area; you can step out of your house and just take a walk around the fabulous array of shops on small streets that also lead you to the river. Sometimes, when I had had enough of studying, the most refreshing thing to do was to walk. I just wandered around the city, finding cool memorials and parks.

In my second month, I moved to CEU’s Residence Centre, where many of the students live. It is quite far from the city centre, but a new challenge and experience for me. I take the metro every day and walk for ten minutes around the city before heading in to the university. 

But of course, my time here has not only been about the beauty of Budapest. As an LLM student you don’t really have time to have a lot of fun with the huge amount of work that we have. But I was smart enough to balance my time so far - with work, fun and many more places to explore! 

I’m really pleased I made it to an amazing village called Szentendre, just one hour by train from Budapest. Please go there, enjoy the riverbank promenade, drink some wine and most importantly, eat a lot of langos, the way-too-delicious Hungarian fried dough! 

As for this, my third month, I cannot really say it is my favourite.  So many big things are happening and all within the next two weeks! I travel to Bratislava this weekend (two and a half hours by bus), then finals begin! After that, my mother is coming to visit and we plan to see all the Christmas markets and then finally, I’m heading home. 

Phew! I wear myself out just thinking about it all!

The worst part is finals week. The library is bound to be full! Everyone will be rushing to read, study and finish their work during the week (so they can enjoy their weekend). I hope the week goes both swiftly and successfully.

And so I end as I begin: it is hard to believe that one hundred days have passed already. So much has happened, but the good part is that I am still not done with Budapest! I will see you again in January (bringing more jackets with me as winter here is crazy!).

Let me share with you a list of the ten most important things I have learned whilst living here:

  1. Budapest is amazing, and the river Danube is breath-taking. 
  2. Getting around using public transportation easy (even if it mostly involves racing from the M2 to catch the “E” fast bus).
  3. It’s simply not possible to enjoy a week without eating at least one langos!
  4. I love how cheap the food is here.
  5. Never ever make a Hungarian cashier wait or angry!
  6. Homesickness is a very real thing.
  7. It’ll take time before you get your head around the concept of the “forint” currency
  8. You are going to miss sunshine.
  9. Wherever you go, you will find something new and interesting.
  10. English is not always commonly spoken in Budapest! It’s good to pick up a few words like ‘koszi’ (thank you) and ‘hello’ (confusingly means both hi and goodbye!).

By Yara Naser Aldin, Alumni Scholarship recipient in the Department of Legal Studies.