I have arrived home in Germany safe and sound. I’m already missing my friends in Debrecen but am super happy to be reunited with my friends and family. I spent a great first day back home having my favorite lunch (vegetable soup) with my grandparents and parents and having cocktails with my best friends.

For the extended weekend, I will go camping with a couple of friends. I am quite sure I will think of this song when teaching them how to say “Egeszsegedre”. Everybody using the free days for partying and relaxing as well: enjoy!

This music video has been produced by international students at Debrecen University in spring 2015 and become quite pouplar among Hungarian and international students, teachers and club owners. Keep up the good work, Iranzo ;).


Spending free time in Debrecen

This blog post is part of a series of several posts aiming to give advice to those who are planning on studying abroad at Debrecen University in the near future. You can find an overview of all pots here.

Debrecen offers numerous opportunities to spend your spare time. Many pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants and leisure facilities only wait for you to explore them. Make sure to check them out. After 100 days spent in Debrecen, those are my personal favorites:

Debrecen activities for free time fun

Cry because it’s over

“Shouldn’t you be used to saying goodbye by now?”, a friend recently asked me. “There’s no need to cry”, another one tried to comfort me. In my mind, I added that good old saying “Don’t cry because it’s over but smile because it happened” to the latter statement. I giggled. Next, I let my tears flow. 

I don’t mind crying. Not all the time, of course, but it’s a great relief once in a while. I can hardly think of a way to display my emotions more sincerely than by crying. What’s more beautiful than crying tears of joy in a moment of perfect happiness? What’s more relieving than crying when you’re feeling blue? Last but not least: What lets a bond of affection grow stronger than crying together and comforting each other?

Crying goodbye Debrecen Friends

“No tears, only smiles we will remember! See you soon. Like. Tomorrow. And then some other ‘tomorrow'” Gunda Z.

I just cried past night when I had to say goodbye to my Erasmus friends. “I’m not going to cry at my farewell”, I had told myself before. In the end I will make an effort to meet those who matter to me again very soon. Ergo: No need to cry. Those I will not keep in touch with have probably only been companions for that short period of my life. I’m thakful for the memories we share.

However, I didn’t manage not to cry. We had some drinks. The karaoke machine played a song after the next. Aidana fullfilled Iiris’ wish and performed “All of me”. My friends and me stood in a circle around her, arm in arm. Iiris and I would be leaving tomorrow, most other people within only a few weeks time. Aidana’s song got to me. I started to cry. My friends and me comforted each other.

Cause all of me loves all of you.
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections.
Give your all to me, I’ll give my all to you.
You’re my end and my beginning.
Even when I lose, I’m winning
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you.”

Living and studying in Debrecen has been a very intense experience for me. My friends both in Germany and in Hungary have been by my side at all times. Sharing experiences and memories draws you closer together. I am very greateful for every single one of them. That’s why I can doubtlessly say: I will miss my Debrecen friends. A lot!

Although I have been abroad several times before – even to more distant places and for much longer periods of time – I don’t think I’ll ever get used to saying goodbye. And that’s a good thing! “You only realize what you had once you’ve lost it”, is a much quoted saying – because it’s true. I don’t lose my companions only because life parts us as long as we make an effort to keep in touch. New media makes it easier than ever. But still: each farewell feels like a little loss.

Treasuring memories and making new ones

You say goodbye to your dear ones and a soon to be past part of you life. At the same time, you looking forward to a new, exciting though maybe somewhat frightening future part of your life. You’re leaving behind a certain routine and dear people. You’re going to encounter either old friends or make new ones very soon. Saying goodbye is an incredibly ambivalent feeling.

That’s why I cried about it. I cried tears of thankful joy for countless moments of perfect happiness throughout the past 100 days. I cried tears of sadness for leaving my friends in Debrecen. I cried because it’s over and I cried because it happened. The tears washed away whatever pain was left and engraved marks of memorable moments in my heart. They make room for new emotional memories to make in the future – together with my dear friends all over the world.

Having fun with ESN Debrecen

This blog post is part of a series of several posts aiming to give advice to those who are planning on studying abroad at Debrecen University in the near future. You can find an overview of all pots here.

ESN Debrecen is doing a great job to make international students feel welcomed and at home, to keep them busy, to give them chances to interact with their fellow students, and last but not least to make countless new friends and memories. That is why you should not miss to become part of that great community and to join its activities.

  • Like ESN Debrecen on Facebook.
  • Become member of the numerous Facebook group for current international students studying in Debrecen.
  • Check your E-Mails regularly.
  • Get in touch with your buddy. Every international student is matched with one ore more Hungarian students about a month or two prior to his/ her arrival to Debrecen. They will help him/ her to find his/her way around, to settle, sign up for classes and show them the best bars and cafés.
  • Get an ESN-Card an receive discounts in many shops/ bars.
  • Buy a Hungarian SIM Card from the ESN members to keep in touch with your new friends.
  • Last but not least:

Join the ESN Activities

Quote of the day (#8): Lasting a lifetime

Today, I am going to quote myself. I wrote those words only a couple of days ago while evaluating and reflecting upon my Erasmus semester in Debrecen, Hungary. I am writing this post while I should actually be packing suitcase. I didn’t think this was ever going to happen when I first arrived here, but I am super melancholy right now. Great memories made lay behind and great adventures and challenges lay ahead of me. I am incredibly excited to be surrounded by my family and friends back home in Germany again.

However, wherever you go, you leave part of your heart. I will most certainly miss living right next to a beautiful park, studying in a pretty university building, having brunch, lunch and dinner with my friends, going to Erasmus events, traveling a lot (at least I’ll stick with that one) and spending precious moments discussing our lives. Thank you for everything, my dear friends in Debrecen. Sziasztok!

View from a mountain top in Pécs, Hungary

Enjoying the view and treasuring the moment in Pécs, Hungary.

Studying abroad is an experience producing relationships and memories that can last a lifetime.You might struggle to keep in touch with your friends back home. You re-evaluate your interpersonal relationships on numerous levels. You build new friendships. Some of those might last a lifetime. You learn a new language. You learn to find your way around a formerly unknown surrounding. You get a chance to grow academically. More importantly, you grow personally. You might face some obstacles – and will most certainly overcome them. And most of all, you learn to enjoy every moment of your life, remember the importance of appreciation and to treasure the memories and friendships you make for they might last a lifetime.” (Laura Konieczny)

Finding your way around in Debrecen 

This blog post is part of a series of several posts aiming to give advice to those who are planning on studying abroad at Debrecen University in the near future. You can find an overview of all pots here.

Walking Debrecen with a friend

It’s always a pleasure to go for a walk with a friend.

Walking is a good way to get to know the city, have a look at nice buildings and also gives you a daily workout. The walk from the main building and its surrounding area (Faculty of arts, humanities, living sciences, Kossuth dormitory) to the city center takes about 30 minutes. Walking to the Campus Hotel and the nearby swimming pool takes about 15 minutes.

If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the tram. There are two lines. Number 1 (blue) takes you from Egyetem (University) to the city center (Kossuth tér) and back. A single ride costs 400 Ft (1,30 €) per person. A ticket for an entire month costs 3.300 Ft (11 €) for students with a valid international or Debrecen student identity card. It is valid the first of a month until the 5th of the next month and can be bought at the ground floor of the university’s main building.

You want to explore more of Debrecen? Check out some free time activities to conduct in Debrecen. This post will be online from May 20th on.

Arrive and go easy on your nerves in Debrecen

… and save some money I didn’t

This blog post is part of a series of several posts aiming to give advice to those who are planning on studying abroad (at Debrecen University) in the near future. An overview of all the posts can be found here

The mistakes you make a what you learn from, right? Let me just save you some trouble and share the mistakes I made during my first few days in Hungary and Debrecen. You’re welcome! And: have fun adding your own mishaps to this list.

Arrival: chose your means of transport wisely

This first one actually wasn’t a mishap but some good advice my friend Christina who studies in Debrecen before I did gave me.

Tram at Kossuth tér in Debrecen, Hungary

Tram at Kossuth tér in Debrecen, Hungary

Depending on where your’re starting your journey from, you can take a bus, train or plane to Budapest or Debrecen. Depending on where and when you arrive, you have to know about certain circumstances:

Budapest airport is not anywhere near the city center or near a train station taking you to Debrecen. You first need to catch an airport shuttle to get to Nyugati train station. From there, you can fetch a direct train to Debrecen’s main station (Vasútállomás) and fetch a tram or bus to wherever you are going to live or meet your buddy. If you make use of the student discount of 50 percent off train tickets, all rides together should cost you no more than 4 000 Ft (13 €). Alternatively, you can pre-order a cab. Leo’s cab, for example, will pick you up right at the airport and drop you in front of your new home for 10 000 Ft (33 €). Just send a Whatsapp or SMS to 0036303722439 to pre-order. If you arrive at Debrecen airport, you can take a bus 400 Ft (1,30 €) or a cab for usually not more than 3 000 Ft (10 €) to get home.

Money exchange: the airport exchange rates suck

This is the mishap I’m the angriest at myself about. One of the employees of a bank in Germany had told me not to exchange money before due to the bad exchange rate but simply exchange it at a much better rate at the airport. That’s why I exchanges my entire budget for the first month at the airport. DON’T EVER DO THAT! It cost me about 100 Euro worth of foreign exchange loss.

Why didn’t she check for the exchange rate? You might wonder. Uhm… I was confused and too excited about the whole situation to know the difference between the exchange rates for selling and buying currencies. I read it the wrong way round, got super excited about the REALLY good exchange rate (not!) and gave the friendly lady all of my money. Only after I noticed she looked at me funny I rethought the situation. Unfortunately, it was already too late to get back my Euros at that point. Shit happens, I guess. Plus: I’m pretty sure I will never ever read an exchange rate table the wrong way round again.

My advice: bring a certain amount of Forint (10 or 15 000 Ft) with you from your home country. That money should be enough to take you to your apartment and to get some snacks for the first day. Afterwards, you can simply use any ATM in Debrecen to get Forints at a reasonable exchange rate or use the exchange booth in one of the banks. If you arrive in Debrecen, you will have to bring Forints anyways since there is not exchange booth at Debrecen airport.

University: Get to love Hungary

Hungarian is considered to be one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. (I’m not sure about that one, though – how would you compare Hungarian and Chinese or Russian or …?). You should whatsoever not be undeterred by that notion. Just give it a try.

Hungarian Language Course in Debrecen Hungary

Learning Hungarian actually IS fun.

The university offers a great language course for foreign exchange students. You will learn the basics of Hungarian grammar and be able to have short conversations with your Hungarian friends, the dormitory receptionists or the cashiers in only 10 weeks (two sessions of 90 minutes each/ week). The course is a lot of fun for the language is taught to you rather playfully.

Debrecen University also offers two classes on Hungarian culture: “Introduction to Hungarian Culture” and “Hungarian Culture through Film”. In those courses, you will learn more about the country’s history, culture and famous people. Not only does it give you a great understanding of that place you currently call your home but also will you gain some random knowledge to show off with at a later point in your life.

The Hungarian language course is worth 4 ECTS. “Introduction to Hungarian Culture” and “Hungarian Culture through Film” are worth 3 ECT each.

University: know your Neptun code

Many universities have online administration systems nowadays. Debrecen University works with a system called Neptun. It works with a personal account you log in to with a combination of letters and numbers. Learn it by heart!

Literally everything connected with your studies at Debrecen University needs to be settled by stating your number. You pay your dormitory fee by transferring the money to your Neptun account. You get your student ID only after stating your Neptun code. You can search and sign up for classes only via Neptun. You learn about any important news regarding your studies via Neptun mail. Shall I go on? As harsh as it may sound: you’re pretty much unable to be a proper student without your Neptun Code. Just take a note with your phone or learn the code by heart – it is going to save you a lot of extra running around offices I did because I thought I would never need my Neptun Code for that.

Food: bring your own box

Honey Ribs: Hungarian food in Debrecen, Hungary

This was a  way too big potion of honey ribs.

It’s not really a mishap either but rather some advice to save you money and some resources right away. The size of an average dish in most restaurants in Debrecen (and Hungary in general) tends to be way too big for my rather small appetite. 

The good news: many locals can’t finish them either. That’s why it’s quite popular to take the leftovers home. You can buy onetime use plastic boxes in most cafeterias and restaurants. What I like about: not only is the food not be thrown away but also are people encouraged to bring their reusable containers in order to save resources and money. Happily, many do so.

If you don’t want to take home your leftovers, you often also have the chance to order half-portions right away. They usually cost 70 percent of the regular price.

Let me know how you liked this post. Which advice did you like best? What were your funniest or unpleasant first-time-in-a-new-place-mistakes? Let me know in the comments section below.