Tag Archives: Hungary

Internships Ahoy

My program with CIEE actually offered many internship options, although most were oriented towards political science majors. None looked interesting to me, so here comes Lesson Number One: Ask for help. I talked to two of my Art History professors, and both offered internships practically by the end of the week. If nothing quite suits you and you have something in mind- fix it! Ask for help! People love to help, and love free labor, so if you are just looking for experience this is a great way to go.

So after asking for help and receiving, I accepted the first job that came my way. At first working at the Hungarian National Archives for Art History sounded kind of boring, and even after the first few days it really felt boring. But Lesson Number Two: you can make any job fun just with your own outlook. My job was scanning documents into a digital system, which, as it happens, can be done at the same time as watching the first season of Friends on my laptop. So I still got the same amount of work done, but I did it while listening to a show, or sometimes Pimseleur language help for my Hungarian. I had friends who did similar things with their jobs (since not all problems can be solved with TV shows- especially since I was alone in a room with headphones I wasn’t distracting anyone and this is definitely not always true), just by being in a more positive state of mind and applying yourself, you can still have fun. Plus the documents I was scanning were from the late 1800s related to national art shows for up-in-coming painters of the day. Super cool!

Lesson Number Three, before I tell you about my second internship, is an important one: Don’t expect to get paid. These internships can be for credit or simply experience, but if you ask a professor to find you a paid job it will be less fun for everyone. But on the other hand, if you walk up to a professor saying “Look, I absolutely love art history and really want experience in the field be it volunteer work or an internship, would you be willing to help me,” I don’t think there is a single person who wouldn’t try to help you out. Professors love passion, and if you care and show that you care, they will help you.

I worked in that giant building on the hill! Aah!

I worked in that giant building on the hill! Aah!

This leads to the second internship that I got- the Hungarian National Gallery– aka Magyar Nemzeti Galeria. Just by asking a professor, I got to work in one of the most prestigious museums in Hungary, in a CASTLE so cool guys so cool. In any case, this leads to another point: Sometimes people accept interns without having any idea of what they want you to do. I loved this internship, but when I first got there they had no idea what to do with me. I edited and read through their website probably 10 times just looking for grammar mistakes on three different days until I suggested other ways I could help. So Lesson Number Four: Sometimes you have to make your own work. Ultimately I ended up writing a new section for their website and giving tours to English speaking tourists on Saturdays, but it took a while and some suggestions before these were my assigned jobs.

Me and my boss Fatima in the top floor of the Gallery in front of a statue of György Dózsa-- super creepy story you should look it up on wiki.

Me and my boss Fatima in the top floor of the Gallery in front of a statue of György Dózsa– super creepy story you should look it up on wiki.

But finally, the most important lesson I drew from having these internships is this, Lesson Number Five:

→ Do what you love.

Internships can be all kinds of fun – like that idiom says about “never work a day in your life,” right? So when you do find an internship, just make sure it meshes with your interests. Then every day will feel like learning and new experiences, and not like a real job. You should look forward to your internship and not dread it. I looked forward to both of mine because I still learned a lot and it was in an area I care about- I hope that if you choose to intern abroad it is so you can have some fun, too, and isn’t just for resume boosting.

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Midterm Madness

One thing that everyone seems to forget while abroad is the fact that classes do exist, and that tests do exist. For me midterms just passed and everyone’s hair was absolutely on fire. We spent tons of time exploring and gaining the most out of our experiences… but everyone in my program also forgot that our classes are fairly difficult, and that we hadn’t quite caught up with the material by the time that the tests rolled around. There was a last minute cramming period the week before exams that none of us really saw coming. We all realized that our tests were going to be much harder than expected, and that on top of the difficulty levels they were all in quick succession and so we had no breaks in between to get more studying done.

With quarter system we are all used to tests being pretty close to each other, but we are also used to 4 classes and our expectations are manageable in terms of what is on the syllabus and what we expect on the study guide. But here we don’t know the teachers or their style, and also most colleges abroad are on semester system, which can also be a bit of a shock. More material on each test than we are used to, is basically what that means.

Not only do you need to learn to manage the tests in terms of spacing out studying, but you also need to learn the best ways to manage your stress. I don’t know if it is karma or some kind of murphy’s law, but some of the worst things happen when people are most stressed. For instance my suitemate got bed bugs by no fault of her own only two days before finals. Not only did she have to study, but she also had to fumigate her room, wash all of her clothes, bag everything that might have bugs, and find somewhere else to sleep. She was stressed and took it out on absolutely no one, but we all felt the stress and responded to it. Her room mates got angry at her/the world, and the rest of us in the suite tried to do damage control to little avail. Midterms and Finals are stressful times and you need to find a place where you can be alone and cope with your own stress without affecting anyone else. You miss home more, you miss your family and friends more, and you miss your usual routine for responding to stress.

My suggestions are these:

  1. Keep up with your studies as much as possible. Give yourself Thursday afternoons, or the few hours between classes to lock yourself away in a coffee shop to study. If you find a different coffee shop every time it is still exploring, and it helps you keep ahead of your studying so you don’t go completely under water when tests roll around.

    This is Mozaik, one of my favorite places to study in Budapest. It is in the Jewish Quarter and has a list of teas to die for. It is also a good place to “leave your mark,” since they recommend and urge you to draw on the walls with chalk. You cant see it in this image, but it is a total hoot. Very popular among travelers and Budapestens. (And free wifi! Sign me up!!) This is part of my study routine, since I love experimenting with new teas it is a good place to consistently travel to for the purpose of getting that reading done or finishing the other homework. etc.

    Mozaik can get a bit dark sometimes-- dreary weather and "mood lighting" aren't particularly conducive to reading light. But either way I happily work away in my nook.

    Mozaik can get a bit dark sometimes– dreary weather and “mood lighting” aren’t particularly conducive to reading light. But either way I happily work away in my nook.

  2. Give yourself a routine. If yoga helps you calm down, then do yoga during study breaks. If waking around in a park helps, then do that. Skype family, skype friends, do whatever it is that will help you calm down and re-center yourself.
  3. Don’t Panic. Let it go. Studies are important and you should still do your best, but if you end up with a B in the class then it isn’t that big of a deal. Calm down- just do the best you can and then don’t worry about it. I am not saying you should fail your classes, but it seems to me that you don’t have to keep yourself to your usual standards while abroad. You are in a new country, a new place with tons of things to do. If you have trouble balancing studies and exploration then just remember this: You are gaining multiple learning experiences. Even college at home has the duality of learning about yourself versus learning about your major. Yes, it is important to study math or science or business or what have you, but you went abroad to discover more than just that. Keep that in mind if you get a bad grade on a test, and move on. Do better next time, but don’t hold on to the past because it won’t help you in the future.

-Miranda Blank, DUSA Blogger

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by | November 22, 2013 · 2:29 pm

Down with the Sickness?

Background information: I have a horribly lacking immune system, so here are some words on how to cope when really feeling ill in another country.

The first time I started feeling sick (yeah, I have been sick multiple times… leave me alone) I kept pushing myself to do more things over the weekend and accomplish everything on my list instead of taking a break to feel better. Pro-tip: if you don’t rest, it will get worse. The minute you really start feeling like that stomach ache is getting suspicious or whatnot, park yourself down, start drinking more than the usual amount of water, and only do as much as you feel you can. The main mistake that people make while studying abroad is pushing themselves too far, or pretending they aren’t sick so that they can have more fun on the weekends. This means that you will miss classes and ultimately have more work to do for the next weekend. Rest while you can, and recover quickly. (also the usual LIQUIDS tip that everyone has… lots of liquids.)

So as for the practical packing tips- what medication should you bring, and what should you expect abroad?

World-Travel-Packing-Tips-–-Tim-Ferriss

In my personal experience in Hungary you can expect the same types of medications as are in the US, but the issue of translations can certainly get in the way. For the sake of fewer worries (and not having to make trips to the store while actually sick) here are a few absolute basics that will be handy in case of any emergencies:

  • Dayquil/Nyquil (help with congestion, sleep and basic cold symptoms. Have plenty with you- the Common cold is the most Common issue)
  • Ibuprofen  or Advil (for basically any other pain-related issue)
  • Pepto Bismol (for any basic stomach issue)
  • Benadryl  (can help with sleep but also any allergic reactions you may have- if you are not prone to allergies then don’t worry about it as much, but it can still be great as a backup)
  • Immodium (“gut glue” anti-diarrhea)

…and any other medication suited to your particular needs. I brought along melatonin sleep aid for the first day or so as well as for travel issues.

As for doctors’ appointments abroad, I can only really tell you about my friend’s experiences in Hungary. Medication is cheap, and the doctors are kind. But you do have to have a translator along, someone you can trust. Usually there is someone in your schools adviser department who will be willing. Prices vary, but for one friend she got three different prescriptions for thirty dollars, and another friend had a much more serious doctor’s appointment for only 60 dollars. Hopefully you will never have to worry about this, but before you go to whichever country you are planning on, it is nice to ask your advisers about medical facilities to get a good idea of backup systems once you do get to the country.

For things like cuts and scratches (just to help with the easiest medical kit for abroad) I just brought medical tape. It works better than blister bandages and if you put a bit of gauze or fabric underneath it then it is an instant Band-Aid. Blister bandages don’t allow the wound to breathe and heal itself, and any time you remove a blister Band-Aid often times the skin goes with it. That’s why medical tape is optimal because it can breathe and it won’t necessarily remove skin with every replacement. Neosporin is also useful for these things.

OK so If I were to sum up the best first aid kit to take with you while traveling this is what it would be:

  • health
  • Dayquil/Nyquil
  • Ibuprofen
  • pepto bismol
  • Benadryl
  • Imodium
  • Sports Tape
  • Neosporin
  • Hand sanitizer
  • sunscreen/aloe
  • insect repellent (Depending where you are)
  • hydrocortisone
  • lozenges
  • any of your own personal medications
  • handkerchief

I know the last one is really odd but when I traveled in Japan it became a religion for me. It is always a good backup when bathrooms don’t have hand towels, or if someone gets a bloody nose or needs a quick injury fix. They may seem old-fashioned, but honestly they take up little to no space and you will be surprised how often you use it if you are willing.

I hope this list is helpful for you, leave comments if you think of any other useful items to have in your “snake bite kit,” as my mother calls it. You can also find lists like this online, lots of medical websites have suggestions, mine is just the dumbed-down version of what already exists.

Honestly I hope none of you will have to deal with being sick or ill abroad- but it is always good to have a backup.

-Miranda Blank, studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary – fall 2013

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To SIM, or not to SIM?

Back at home I am used to texting all the time, and I am sure many of you understand the feeling. We text about where to meet friends, what people are doing throughout the day and (lord knows) to check facebook. But when you are traveling it is a bit tougher to figure out what to do on a tight budget, so hopefully I can clarify a few things about how to handle cell phones abroad.

First and foremost call your cell phone provider and ask them about their policies. I wouldn’t check their website, because you will get your answers much faster just by talking to a representative. Plus I found that you can find conflicting information on their website if you don’t properly understand it.

For example I use T-Mobile and they told me that with unlimited texts it only costs me 20 cents to send texts and they are still free to receive abroad. Without that plan it would cost me 50 cents to send and 20 to receive. Not great with the unlimited costs, but still reasonable. Even with this system, phone calls are expensive and generally not worth it. Especially if you plan on calling people in the country where you are traveling, it is a good idea to look at other options.

Your other options are to get a prepaid phone, or a SIM card you can put in your phone.  Both of these are available at local phone stores, in our case it was T-mobile.

The important thing to note about SIM cards is that your phone MUST be unlocked for you to replace your SIM card with another.  Again, when you call your provider they can tell you how to do that- for my phone they gave me an input code that I could use to unlock it once I put in a new SIM card.  I believe the system is the same for all providers, but when you call you can ask!

SIM cards are prepaid, so it means you purchase the SIM you can upload more minutes on ATMs around the country. It is incredibly easy, and the option shows up on ATMs automatically.

I found a website that mentions you can use the SIM cards again when you travel, but that has to be to the same country within a year. This might also be depending on the SIM card, but it seems to me that this is a fairly broad rule. I didn’t purchase a SIM card myself, but apparently they are a bit more expensive than just buying the phone, about 17 dollars.

As for burner phones, in Hungary they only cost approximately 10 dollars. This also started me off with 600 Forints on the phone for texts and calls, which is about 3 dollars at 17 cents per text. They are incredibly simple and you should only really use them to text and tell time, but they get the job done. I went with this option mainly for simplicity sake, so I can have my normal phone that my family knows the number of in case they really need to contact me quick.

Enjoy my terrible picture! This is my phone for abroad, now I just need to remember how to text with this...

Enjoy the terrible picture of my 10 dollar phone! I just haven’t texted on a keypad like this since 9th grade…

These phones will text you the balance on your phone after you go under a certain amount, and then you can, again, replenish it at an ATM.

Both SIM cards and prepaid phones come with an international number, so if your family wants to call I would save it for skype, or they will have to pay the international fees.  The international number you always begin with + and then the country code. In my case it is 36. So for example, my phone number in Hungary would be +(36) (12) 345-6789. A completely made up number, but the area code is 12 in my example. If you don’t add the plus at the beginning of the number (typed in the phone like this: +36123456789 ) then your calls or texts won’t go through and the phone will charge you for every attempt at sending. (I learned this the hard way)

As for Data plans, I would really not recommend it. Especially if you are thinking of getting a prepaid phone just leave your phone off. If you are willing to use wireless then please make sure that your data plan is off so you won’t be charged exorbitant amounts. Most coffee shops have wireless anyway, so it wouldn’t be too difficult to go without a data plan.

Seriously though if you think that a data plan is that necessary while you are studying abroad you have bigger problems. It is such an amazing experience with so many things to do and see, that if you spend all of your time on your cell phone than you are really missing out, folks! You can post pictures when you get home, and tweet about it later. Live in the moment!!

As a final note, cell phones should really be emergency only. Even in Hungary it costs me 17 cents to send a text message, free to receive. It isn’t that much better than the T-mobile plan, (mainly because my prepaid phone is produced by T-mobile) and so it should really be used sparingly, to find your friends or make a call if you get lost. Otherwise use it to tell time when to meet back at a certain place. I have managed just fine so far with no cell phone at all, I mainly have it as a backup for comfort’s sake.

For more information I found that these sites were really helpful, and they have information for other providers as well:

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/05/27/cell.phones.overseas/

This website also has the different service providers rates listed, so it can be a quick way for you to find out how much you will be charged.

http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/stay-connected/international-cell-phone-guide

This is the system how the students in my group purchased SIM cards, so you can see the guidelines here:

http://www.t-mobile.hu/english/all_plans/domino_sim/domino_sim_card

Comment if you have any questions or comments, and I will do my best to help!

And for more information about my personal experiences and stories, check out my blog at https://mirandablank.wordpress.com/

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Introducing our 2013 DUSA Student Bloggers!

We are pleased to introduce you to this year’s official DUSA bloggers!  They’ll be posting all about their experiences and (mis?)adventures during their study abroad programs this year.  Without further ado, here they are!

Mirand Photo

Miranda Blank

Miranda Blank is a Marketing major traveling alone to Budapest, Hungary on the CIEE program. She looks forward to telling you all about her explorations and adventures going boldly where she has never gone before.

Heather Photo

Heather Cook

A double major in International Studies and Environmental Science, Heather will be studying both this fall with SIT Study Abroad in Mongolia. Originally from the flatlands of Kansas, Heather is obsessed with the Colorado mountains. She enjoys learning to rock climb and hiking fourteeners, even if she is afraid of heights.

Jessie Photo

Jessie Galioto-Grebe

Jessie is an English Major, and a Communications and Gender and Women’s Studies double minor who will be studying abroad at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Originally from Wisconsin she is a Packers fan who loves her yellow lab Orla, Brett Easton Ellis books, and the Oxford Comma. In her free time she likes to watch Dr. Who, sing show tunes, and work out, usually not at the same time.

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