Congratulations, you have made your first step on the journey to reconnecting to your Hungarian heritage.
Your 14 days in Hungary will be like none other: you will not be a tourist staring out the window of a sightseeing bus and listening to countless audio-tapes. You will learn and experience Hungarian traditions and history in a totally new way, as part of a living culture, connecting to young Hungarians. Our expert organizers have done their best to arrange your trip. To make sure you are getting the most out of it, here is what you have to do.
Once you are selected, you will receive a contract from us that spells out the details of the program, your responsibilities after the program, as well as a Code of Conduct, which you have to abide by during the trip. Read, sign and return it to us, along with your credit card information for the security deposit.
Shortly after that, you will get access to the online orientation course, a sort of primer on basic Hungarian must-know information. The course is intense, interactive and interesting! It will help you get familiar with your Hungarian self. Some information you may already know, some of it might be new to you, but in either case, you will already be connecting alongside your fellow explorers.
Later you will receive the final travel itinerary with details on the cities, towns and institutions you will visit, and the people and communities you will meet during your travel. Make sure you read up about them, Google their names, get familiar with them beforehand, so you can ask them informed and relevant questions!
Make sure you have your passport ready. International relations between Hungary and the United States and Canada are very stable, Hungarians can travel to the U.S. without a visa and citizens of the U. S. and Canada can travel to Hungary the same way. It is mandatory, however, that your passport be valid for at least three months beyond your period of stay.
Learn a few words in Hungarian. During the orientation course you will receive a list of basic words. You can check out this website now. Hungarians are very appreciative when people make an effort to speak their language, which is considered to be among the world's top three most difficult! The younger generation generally speaks English, but people over the age of 30 are more likely to know German.
Pack wisely. Airlines let you check in one piece of luggage weighing up to 50 pounds (23 kilograms) and carry on one small bag. (Detailed information will be available after your acceptance.) They charge you a significant amount for overweight luggage. Make sure you save some space for presents, and pack for a leisure trip with continental summer temperatures (86-100F with possible showers). Get ready for several occasions which will require business casual attire (skirts/slacks, shirt, blazer, dress shoes). Don't pack only shorts and tee shirts; bring a pair of jeans and a sweater for rainy days. If you are bringing any electric chargers or appliances, make sure you have transformers and plug adaptors, since Hungary uses the standard European 220-240V dual plug network. Cell phones use the EU standard 900/1800 MHz network.Bring extra cash. All your costs are basically covered: you will be provided with accommodations and 3 meals a day, and you won't have to worry about getting around or paying entrance fees. Your pocket money, however, should cover the gifts you are bringing back home, incidental items and snacks, any extra activities you may do during your free time, or if you feel like you just have to go back to that trendsetting restaurant the next day. $150-200 a week should be more than enough. In Hungary, credit/debit cards are not as widely accepted as back home; however, medium and larger grocery stores, better restaurants, and most stores do accept them—primarily VISA or MasterCard, but rarely American Express or Discover. You can find an ATM easily, and it is not hard to exchange your dollars into forints at a good rate.
Be open. If you are going on the trip, you have been selected from numerous great applicants eager to rediscover their Hungarian self. The overwhelming portion of your trip is being financed by those generous individuals who feel you must be among the few who will get to experience their Hungarian heritage in this unique way. Make sure you have a great time by being open to the sights, the stories you'll hear, the feelings expressed by people. After all, this is part of who you are. So be open to your heritage, be open to yourself.
Be curious. You will meet the best and most interesting of Hungary – the people, the places, the businesses. Well, at least the best two weeks can offer. Do not miss this opportunity to get to know as much as possible about everything. You will be part of the discussion. After all, this is what's in you and this is what you are a part of.
Be responsible. Some of the programs will include night activities, and you will be accompanied by selected Hungarian university students and young professionals to ensure you have a good time and bring back the best memories. Hungarian wine and pálinka are tempting, but do not forget that you have to make the most out of the next day, so know your limits. If you are under 21, you are required to refrain from consuming alcohol according to U.S. regulations. Know that during your travel, U.S., Canadian and Hungarian state laws apply to you. Make sure you follow the two rules of the trip: fully engage in the programs, and avoid excessive behaviors.
Be safe. Hungary is no more dangerous than any other European country and Budapest is similarly as safe as any other capital city. You should not display your valuables (camera, smart phone, wallet, and so on) in crowded places, and keep your belongings in sight, as is common sense. Your program coordinator, who will accompany you throughout your stay, will always assess the safety of a situation and guide you appropriately. Hungary has not been the target of any terrorist activity and is a close ally of the United States and Canada through many channels, such as NATO and OSCE. Hungarians are, generally speaking, friendly towards visitors.
Be happy. It is a pleasure to have you on board and it is great that you are taking part in this journey of self-discovery. Enjoy your trip!