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Erasmus+ mobility at METU (Budapest Metropolitan University), Budapest, Hungary

For the spring semester 2023-2024 I was taking part in the Erasmus+ mobility programme, studying Film and Media Studies and Graphic Design at the METU (Budapest Metropolitan University) in Budapest, Hungary.

First, I would like to note, that I’ve been to Budapest plenty of times before, so the country with its culture and people was something intriguing and interesting for me to experience a bit closer! It wasn’t my first exchange semester abroad, but I was still really curious about the level of education in another country, willing to obtain some new skills and experience in film making and making new connections in the European world of cinema. And here I’d like to state that Budapest and its film industry (especially with short student films) was a perfect place for me to push my horizons and get a lot of new knowledge about both filmmaking and a new culture. 

In this review I would like to share my experience in detail to help other students who are willing to go to this University to make their mobility period in Budapest as smooth and good as possible. In this text I will write about my path in chronological order of me preparing and living through my Erasmus+ semester, in order to make a brief guide for the people interested in METU University exchange programme.

  • Looking for accommodation and University locations
    The first step after receiving the confirmation for the exchange was to find a place to live for these 5 months of my mobility. I was lucky with having a lot of friends and people close to me here in Budapest, so for the first month I was living in my boyfriend’s flat, while visiting some rooms around Budapest and deciding on the one I’d spend the rest of my mobility at. Budapest is quite rich with accommodation options, so if the search for the apartment will be made in advance, it is very possible to find a nice flat/room/shared house for quite a cheap price (for a capital city). Moreover, METU suggests Erasmus+ students living in a dormitory, but it’s quite expensive (400EUR for a private room), so I chose the option of finding my own room in a shared flat. The other disadvantage of the METU dorm is that it’s located in the very outskirts of the city (20 mins walking from Örs vezér tere metro station) and it is only useful for the students who study in the mail building of METU – which is located at the Örs vezér tere. So before looking for the accommodation, you should know where exactly your classes will be held (METU has 3 main locations – Örs vezér tere metro station, Infopark and Rozsa Utca + multiple studios located in very different parts of the city – one in about 20 minutes walk from the city park, and the other one in another city in the Pest County – LLOYD Studio – about 1.5h bus ride from the city center). It’s very difficult to know where your classes will be held in advance, only when you see your schedule on Neptun*, so one way might be asking your Erasmus coordinator in METU to share the approximate locations of your classes in advance. I had to figure it out myself, so it was quite a challenge, but gladly I had an extra month, so I could actually see the locations of the school before making a final decisions on renting an apartment.
    Generally, in Budapest it is very easy to get by with any public transport, that works even during the night (special route night buses), or using a bike. I was practicing both, and I can gladly say, that Budapest is actually extremely bicycle friendly and you can get anywhere inside the city much quicker than with a bus. BUT, I won’t recommend using a bike if you live on the Buda side, as it’s quite hilly and it can be very challenging – while Pest side is almost completely flat and very bike friendly.
  • Registration process and organisation of studies
    For the whole organisational process I can only say that it was extremely challenging and difficult to figure out the system of the university, and I’m not quite sure that even now, finishing the studies and after 5 months studying at this University, I understand everything…
    For the registration, you have to have two accounts on the Hungarian study websites – Neptun and Coospace. Both of them are extremely bad designed and are completely not user friendly, break down every time there is some event that people have to register for and for a foreigner who never used a portal like this (by that I mean – extremely bad designed and old), it’s very challenging to get used to it. The whole communication and organisation parts with all the parties of your studies are held there, the same with the assignments, homework, exams, tests, messages and registrations. So I advice trying to figure it out as soon as you get the access to it (I also faced a lot of problems with the access, so for me the whole process of using those websites was hell). On Neptun you should perform all the registration for the subjects you want to choose and most of the times you have to see yourself all the schedule conflicts and manage the time of your classes. I had to change a lot of subjects as I couldn’t fit everything to the schedule panel and had some problems with Neptun. Another problem is that you might not get a place at a class you wanted to take as all the students come to the website on the day of the registration and apply for it, so sometimes all the spaces are getting taken in less than an hour after the opening of the registration. Moreover, you only have a couple of days (or maybe a week) to register for all the subjects, and if you don’t do it in time you won’t be able to go study at the University (at least they claim so). So with this University it’s very important to know and follow all the deadlines.
    IMPORTANT: for the registration day at the University, you have to register on the precise day of your arrival to Budapest (or MAX. 3 days after your arrival), because in the final agreement the day that they will put on your certificate of attendance will be the day of your arrival, and they can’t change it to your actual day of arrival. I faced this problem and lost some of my grant money, even though I asked managers at the METU University to put the actual day of my arrival on the certificate, but they have the stamps with the dates, so they are not able to change it. So when METU sends an obligatory registration email, it’s much better to register on the closest day to the arrival.
  • Film and Media department in METU
    Overall studying in METU was more a pleasant experience, but there is a lot of ups and downs, especially in the Film department. Most of the classes for the film and media are located in InfoPark D and I buildings, which are on the Buda side and normally very difficult to reach by public transport without walking for 20 minutes from the tram 4-6 stop. So this should also be taken into consideration, if you don’t leave close to the InfoPark or at least on the Buda side, it will always be at least 40 minutes (and in my case an hour) to get there.
    The subjects are constructed quite strange, with dividing one subject to 2 classes with different professors, and then at the end it takes 6 hours (3h one class and then 3h another one, in a different location and with a different professor) – that was pre and post production class, that was divided to scriptwriting and editing, but they weren’t connected between each other whatsoever. Then I signed up for a studio class – it appeared to be a 12 hours class (8am-8pm) in another city 1.5h away from Budapest that somehow also was connected with this pre and post production subject. After visiting the class for one time I clearly could see that this class is not going to be helpful for me whatsoever, plus it’s just impossible to go through a 12h long class with another 4h of travelling time, so it was decided that I’ll give up this class and change it to something better. The class changing policy at this University is also very strange, as you only get a week to actually make changes in your schedule, but, for example, during this ‘changing’ week I only had half of the classes I picked, so after all I wasn’t able to give up some of the classes that didn’t completely satisfy me.
    Overall, after giving up this studio class everything went quite smooth and it was easy for me to manage studies with the student life. Most of professors were nice and not strict whatsoever, the classmates were fine, all the classes were held in English, so it was more or less a nice experience, except the organisational part, as none of the professors actually understand the system of the University as well, so we were never sure what would be the final assignment or exam ahead of us.
  • Student films
    As I mentioned before in this text, I was very lucky to have friends in Budapest, also because I could participate in a lot of student film shootings and improve my skills in various spheres of filmmaking. This semester we actually worked on 2 diploma shootings, 1 first year short film shooting, 1 music video and some documentaries together with international teams, so it was quite a busy period, but it was honestly amazing, as people I know here are very professional in what they are doing, so it was a great experience.
    METU has a rental for equipment and a studio, so it’s possible to take quite some useful things from them, but the rental still is missing a lot of essential equipment, so for more serious projects it will be necessary to also use rentals around the city.
  • Graphic Design department at METU
    With Graphic Design I got much more lucky and I can highly recommend this university for this field of studies. All the professors were organised, professional, caring and very helpful on the way, with amazing assignments and great and helpful feedback. It was a great pleasure to work with them during the semester and improving my ideas with their guidance. Most of the classes on Graphic Design are held in the METU building very close to the city center (7 minutes walk from Keleti train station, 20 minutes walking from Astoria metro station) at Rozsa Utca, that also improves the overall experience of University.
  • Out of University activities
    METU suggests to its students lots of out of uni activities, such as sport classes (wallclimbing, yoga, poll fitness, and so on), different student clubs (cinema club, photography club, travelling club, book club, etc), and some sightseeing tours across Hungary, so it’s worth looking it up. Normally they don’t mention it and you would have to check upon it on CooSpace. I really enjoyed free sport classes, but you have to sign up for them one week before and they have a very limited amount of participants, so to visit them regularly you would have to be very cautious about signing up for them in time.

To sum it up, I would like to say that my overall experience on this Erasmus+ exchange was quite pleasant. I really enjoyed the city and all the pros it gives you, with amazing architecture, transport system, weather and vibe. I am still really grateful for the opportunity that was given to me and I can for sure say that I gained plenty of new skills and assembled some connections that can be very profitable for me in the future, thank to the film shootings I attended here. Despite all the difficulties that could be met with a different system in another university/city, I still think I would recommend taking a chance of studying abroad and encourage people who are thinking of a semester in Budapest to come here and try it themselves!

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