An idiots guide to living abroad:

By Louis Hazeldine-Cosgrove, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest.

Going to university in general is a big step for forward for anyone. However, finding out you are going to study abroad can feel like being thrown into the deep end.

No support system; no friends; new language; different culture and many, many nationalities.

It is a lot to get used to and it is not for the faint hearted. But it is an opportunity only a small handful of people will get to do. So, I present my best tips and advice to ensure your time abroad is one that will have a lasting impression on your years at university.

Social Life:

New country, new people, new friends and many opportunities await you. The first couple of weeks will be a blur, no doubt. Interactions with lots of people, it is easy to get carried away! In my experience, everyone you meet is in the same boat. Being confident and sociable is the best way forward, from starting conversations and meeting new nationalities, you will be sure to make many friends throughout your time there!

Read more: An idiots guide to living abroad:

Additionally, it is easy to be pulled toward people who share the same nationality as you. Whilst it is good to know people who speak your native tongue; I have met many interesting people of different nationalities. Being English myself, I rarely meet anyone who is not primarily English back in Manchester. Often it is a breath of fresh air speaking to so many new people, with different native tongues. You will be surprised how much you will learn off them!


After this ‘limbo’ period, where University has not started yet, and it still feels like you’re on holiday. It is beneficial to familiarise yourself with your surroundings; to ensure you manage to settle in.

Knowing where to shop; locations of favourite food items; local transport stations; knowing how to get home.

Little things like this, help a tremendous amount. I was recommended to familiarize myself with your class locations of your university before it starts. My primary building is a maze, and I would have been very late in the first week if I didn’t do this. Aswell as, ensuring you receive your student card and library card as quickly as you can, will make sure everything runs smoothly.

It is an amazing opportunity to learn how to cook new, local meals. Certain products at home will have a totally different equivalent here. For example, in Hungary, there is hardly any fish, and the Hungarians are obsessed with ‘sour cream’ with their cooking! Therefore, make compromises and explore the local dishes of your destination country. Often, trying to cook meals from your home country can turn out to be very expensive!


Whilst it is very fun going out, socializing and partying; it is very easy to find yourself in a ‘rut.’ Weather it’s not eating right, not enough sleep, homesickness or being very ill – it is always important to look after yourself.

Independence, in a new country is very liberating; not much else really compares to the experience. On the contrary, it comes with a new host of responsibilities. One of the most important is being solely responsible for yourself – mind and body.

Therefore, apart from your academic side – Keeping active proves very beneficial for your wellbeing. Weather that is continuing a sport from home; an entirely new one; joining a gym membership or simply exploring some local nature spots. It helps build your routine, keeps a positive mindset and often carries a social aspect to it.

Whilst you will be busy and pre-occupied during your year abroad, it is easy to forget about the friends and family at home. Sometimes all you need is a familiar voice to talk to or a friend to vent to over the phone. In addition, having an apartment in central Europe, north America and so on, is perfect for people to come visit you – if you are feeling homesick.

Your Likely First Impressions

By Louis Hazeldine-Cosgrove, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.

Having visited Budapest last year whilst inter-railing. It does not compare to the realisation that you are actually living here. Arriving with a lack of sleep from an early flight and witnessing, first hand, the hustle and bustle of the city can be very overwhelming.


Being honest, within the first 6 hours of arriving, I had been shouted at a handful of times by the Hungarian public. Which was shortly followed in a flourish of murmured Hungarian words. Which I still do not understand, despite taking language courses!

However, with the few Hungarian words I did know beforehand, life does get easier. With ‘Szia’ (hello), ‘Köszönöm’ (thank you) and ‘Egészségedre!’ (cheers); you can quickly get used to life in Budapest.

ELTE does offer free Hungarian language courses, for international students, which i highly recommend taking! But it is not for the feint hearted, as it can be quite difficult.


From the lively student area in District VII, to District I showcasing the magnificent Parliament buildings. Budapest is accommodating to everyone and many things you discover will take you by surprise. For example, whilst visiting District I, my friend and I stumbled across this huge beer festival, ‘Belvarosi Sör Fesztival.’ With many pop-up food and drink stalls, these sort of events seem to be quite common! In addition, to a jazz festival, which took place within a couple minutes’ walk from my flat. I was not too sure what to expect, but i can say with confidence that I am now a fan of Hungarian Jazz!

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