Erasmus in Budapest

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					     Erasmus in
      Budapest
[What you should know]

Jorge Vieira, Portugal
Index
So, you’re coming on Erasmus to Hungary? ............................................................................. 4
PREPARING YOUR TRIP TO HUNGARY ...................................................................................... 5
   What you should know........................................................................................................ 5
      Where is Hungary ........................................................................................................... 5
      Climate ............................................................................................................................ 5
   General Preparation ........................................................................................................... 6
      What to Pack ................................................................................................................... 6
      ISIC.................................................................................................................................. 6
   Travel .................................................................................................................................. 7
      Airplane ........................................................................................................................... 7
      Airport » City Center (Budapest) ................................................................................... 7
      Airport Shutte ................................................................................................................. 7
      Train ................................................................................................................................ 8
      Public Transportation ..................................................................................................... 8
      Bus ................................................................................................................................... 8
      Train ................................................................................................................................ 9
   Money .................................................................................................................................. 9
      Forint ............................................................................................................................... 9
      Where to exchange money (and where not to) ............................................................... 9
      Level of life in Hungary................................................................................................. 10
      Practical Examples ........................................................................................................ 10
      How much money will you need? .................................................................................. 10
   Language ........................................................................................................................... 10
      Take classes before departing ....................................................................................... 10
   Erasmus Intensive Language Courses (EILC) ................................................................. 11
WELCOME TO HUNGARY ........................................................................................................ 11
   City Transportation .......................................................................................................... 11
      Student Pass – costs ....................................................................................................... 11
      Transportation Pass – Where to buy ............................................................................ 12
      Transportation Network ............................................................................................... 12

                                                                                                                                             2
Accommodation ................................................................................................................ 12
   Where and how to search .............................................................................................. 13
   Usual prices ................................................................................................................... 13
   Where to stay ................................................................................................................. 13
Telephone .......................................................................................................................... 14
   Carriers available .......................................................................................................... 14
   Locked Mobile Phones .................................................................................................. 15
Internet .............................................................................................................................. 15
   Internet Connection ...................................................................................................... 15
Travelling ............................................................................... Erro! Marcador não definido.
   Where to go ................................................................................................................... 16
Travel in Hungary ............................................................................................................. 16
   Budapest ........................................................................................................................ 16
   Travel Cheap, have more fun........................................................................................ 18
Nights Out ......................................................................................................................... 19
Insurance and Health ........................................................................................................ 20
   European Health Insurance Card - What is it ............................................................. 20
   Advantages .................................................................................................................... 20
   How/Where to apply ..................................................................................................... 20




                                                                                                                                        3
    So, you’re coming on Erasmus to
                                 Hungary?

       So, you are doing your Erasmus programme in Hungary? Congratulations for
you are about to experience some of the best moments in your life.
       During the next few months, you will be given the opportunity to live and
explore a new country, experience a different culture and way of life and meet a lot of
different people from all around the world.
       Even if you don’t fully understand it at the time, by being part of the Erasmus
programme you will be acquiring intercultural skills and self-reliance that will be very
useful for your whole life; given the Globalized world we live in and at a time when
most companies work with an international philosophy, it is not a secret that while
searching for a job, employers value any international experience since it indicates that
you are not only afraid but also comfortable with new experiences and wouldn’t have
problems travelling; at times, having participated on the Erasmus programme might be
the difference between having a job or not.
       In the end of your programme you will return to your country more prepared to
face the challenges that life will present you in the future; you will not only think as a
national, but also as part of something bigger; you will use the experienced gained on
your Erasmus to help you solve problems and hardships.


       This guide was prepared to make your life a lot simpler on your first days in
Budapest. Having asked for input of over 20 different Erasmus students, we believe that
all your questions will be answered in the following pages.




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              PREPARING YOUR TRIP TO HUNGARY


What you should know


Where is Hungary
Hungary is a country
in Central Europe. It
measures      about    250
kilometres from north
to   south     and     524
kilometres from east to
west.    It   has     2,258
kilometres               of
boundaries,          shared
with Austria to       the     west, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to   the   south   and
southwest, Romania to the southeast, the Ukraine to the northeast, and Slovakia to the
north.




Climate
Hungary has a temperate continental climate that is influenced by three main factors:
the Eastern-European continental, the Western-European oceanic and the Mediterranean
influence.
There are substantial differences among the average temperatures of the four seasons.
Usually January is the coldest, while the hottest months are July and August in
Hungary.
The daily temperature fluctuation is quite high. The annual average temperature is about
12°C, the maximum is 38°C and the minimum is around -10°C.
Spring starts in early April and is accompanied by lots of showers. The summers are dry
and warm. Autumns are cool, foggy and rainy. Winters are relatively short, moderately



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cold and usually dry, but sometimes brilliant sunny. The little snow the city gets usually
disappears after a few days.
The yearly rainfall is about 415 mm that consist of two stronger (early summer and
autumn) and two dryer periods (middle of winter and early autumn).




General Preparation
What to Pack
Keep in mind that Hungary tends to be a cold country in the winter (negative
temperatures and snow are not uncommon both in the fall and spring semester) so, you
should pack warm clothes when coming. Be advised that if you’re travelling by
airplane, you might be subject to weight restrictions (somewhere from 15kgs to 25kgs,
depending on the company you’re flying with) so, if you think that 15/25kgs is not
enough for your entire stay (especially if you’re not thinking about going home for
holidays, it might be a good idea to pack enough only for the first months and then ask a
friend/family that comes to visit you to bring some more clothes and take away others
that you do not wear anymore.
It is not advised to have extra weight if you’re traveling by plane, as the majority of
companies charge around 10€ (3000ft) per extra kg of baggage.
You can also pack some more clothing on your hand baggage. You can either buy a
small – or, even better, you can use a big backpack (beware of size restrictions on hand
baggage), as it might be useful during your stay as well.




ISIC
ISIC stands for International Student Identity Card and will be one of your best
friends on your first days in Hungary. With the ISIC card you will be given student
discounts on transportation passes (up to 61% off) and hundreds of other places.
This card can be used everywhere in Europe both as a student pass and a credit card;
beware that your national student card might not be accepted in Hungary, so the ISIC is
a valid and interesting option.




                                                                                        6
Travel
Airplane
Hungary is a relatively small country and it has only three main international airports:
Budapest [BUD], Balaton [SOB] and Debrecen [DEB].
With the entry to the European Union and the arising of low-cost companies, it is
considerably easy and cheap to travel to Hungary nowadays from anywhere in Europe.
Some of the companies flying to Hungary are (but not only) Easyjet, Ryanair,
Germanwings, Smart Wings, TAP, Lufthansa and Air Berlin.




Airport » City Center (Budapest)
Budapest Airport (Ferihegy) is divided by two different terminals: Terminal 1 and
Terminal 2, which are separated by a few kms.
Ferihegy is almost one hour away from the city center by public transportation and 30
minutes by taxi. Fortunately, there are several options to travel from the airport to the
city center and you can choose the one that is more convenient to you.


Taxi
A typical taxi fare from the Airport to the city center
(ie. Nyugati Pályaudvar) is 4800huf (+-22€), but it
may cost somewhere between 3500huf and 5400huf
depending on the place you are staying at.


Prices are as follows:
 Zone 1                     3500huf
 Zone 2                     4800huf
 Zone 3                     5000huf
 Zone 4                     5400huf




Airport Shuttle
Budapest Airport (Ferihegy) offers an Airport Shuttle service that might be useful and
cheaper than a taxi.

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With the Airport Shuttle you have the same type of service as you would with a taxi, but
these are microbuses with 8 to 11 seats, meaning that you will share it with more
passengers; if you are lucky, you might be the first person to be dropped off, but you
may also be the last one.


Prices are as follows:
HUF 2990 / person / one way ticket
HUF 4990 / person / two ways ticket
HUF 4490 / two persons
HUF 8490 / two persons / two ways ticket




Train
You can now conveniently reach the city center from Ferihegy Terminal 1 by train in
less than 30 minutes and for only 300HUF (+-1€). Tickets can be bought in the Tourist
Information office or at the platform B at the railway station.




Public Transportation
If you’re coming from Terminal 2 (A or B), you can take the Bus 200E to its final
destination (Kőbánya-Kispest) and then just change to the Metro Line 3 (blue line)
direction Újpest-Központ. This route takes 50 minutes to take you to the center of the
city (Nyugati Pályaudvar).




Bus
If you live in Central Europe, it might not be a bad idea to also take a look on the buses.
Hungary has some interesting and cheap international bus companies; one of those is
Orange Ways (www.orangeways.com/en).
You can also travel with Eurolines ( http://www.volanbusz.hu/en) from almost
everywhere in Europe.




                                                                                         8
Train
You can easily and cheaply reach Budapest from all around Europe by train; for more
information, please visit the official MAV website. Unfortunately at the time there is no
English version available (www.elvira.hu)




Money
Forint
                                 Hungary may be part of the European Union, but for
                                 now it doesn’t use the Euro coin yet. The adoption of
                                 Euro has been delayed several times because of the
                                 Hungarian inability to stabilize its economy; therefore,
                                 until the end of 2011, the currency used is called
                                 “Hungarian Forint”; from the beginning of 2012,
                                 Hungary might adopt the Euro - depending on its
                                 Economic performance - in concordance with most of
the European countries, making the Erasmus life a lot simpler as you will not need to
browse across the city searching for the best exchange rates.




Where to exchange money (and where not to)
You can find a lot of exchange houses all across the city; it is not advisable to exchange
money in the airports nor in your home country before you leave as most times their
exchange rate is not as good as the ones you will find in the city center. You are also
advised not to settle for the first exchange house you find; do your homework and
compare the prices in four or five different places before you decide. Do not exchange
all your money at once and don’t wait not to have any left to do it; due to currency
fluctuation, in some days you can get better deals that in others, so it is always advisable
to keep an eye on the rate. Don’t forget that if on one day a determined exchange house
has a better deal, it doesn’t mean it will always be like that; you should always keep an
eye on exchange houses and exchange your money when a good deal appears.




                                                                                          9
If someone comes to you in the street (this is very common in train stations and
airports) and offers you a better exchange rate than you would find anywhere else,
beware, as it is most probably a scammer.




Level of life in Hungary
Depending on the country you are coming from, the level of life in Hungary may be low
or high. As an example, we’ll leave you with some prices that might be useful for you to
determine for yourself.


Practical Examples
  1l of milk        1kg bread      1 Yoghurt       Meal in restaurant    100g of cheese
     200ft            200ft            90ft              900-1700ft           260ft




How much money will you need?
If you consider all your monthly costs (except for flat) - a typical Erasmus student will
spend anything from 150€ to 300€ every month. These are not, obviously, exact figures,
but only an estimate taking into account reports from other Erasmus students. Given the
high fluctuation of the Forint, you will probably spend more money in some months
than in others. If you decide to travel (as most Erasmus students usually do), these
figures are more than likely to increase a great deal.




Language
Take classes before departing
Hungarian is not an easy language to learn and speak; if you want to adapt yourself
faster to the language and the country, you should take classes before you depart to
Hungary. This way, you will have an easier time contacting with the local people,
participating in events and, in general, you will have more fun and a better experience.
Even though English might be enough to overcome most problems you will find during
your stay in Hungary, knowing some key-words in Hungarian will be a life savior at
times.


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Most host institutions will offer Hungarian Classes for Erasmus students as part of their
curriculum; ask for those classes as they are very useful to you.




Erasmus Intensive Language Courses (EILC)
The European Commission offers a wide range of Intensive Language Courses for
outgoing Erasmus students. To attend these one-month Beginner courses, you will need
to download the application form (available on the website), fill it in and send it
electronically to your home institution (from your home country).
As a note, we inform you that these courses are free of charge.
Link: http://english.tpf.hu/pages/content/index.php?page_id=201




Some useful words in Hungarian:
  yes        no        Hi!     Good bye       please       Thank      How much is it?
                                                            you
 igen       nem       Szia!      Viszlát       kérek     Köszönöm      Mennyibe kerül?




                       WELCOME TO HUNGARY



City Transportation
Student Pass – costs
In Budapest, with an ISIC or a student card (you should ask for it at your host
institution) you can buy a 1-month travel pass for 3550HUF (approx. 12€); it will give
you access to all trams, buses (night and day), trolley buses and metro lines in Budapest.
Unfortunately the Hungarian Government does not offer longer passes, so you will have
to renew it monthly. If you do not have a student card, you will be forced to pay
9000HUF (approx. 30€) per month.



                                                                                       11
The Hungarian student card also has to be renewed once every two months in your own
school. If you are caught with an outdated student card, you will have to pay a
6000HUF fine (paid on the spot. If you pay later, the fine will go up to 12000HUF).


Tip: If you get fined for not having a valid student card (if it’s expired) do not pay on
the spot. Accept the fine, go to your school and ask them for a new student card. Then
go to the central offices (the address should be written somewhere on the fine), present
the new one and pay only 3000HUF.




Transportation Pass – Where to buy
When you arrive in Budapest, the best option is to buy a single trip ticket (which costs
around 1€) in any ticket dispenser machine to take you to the center of the city. From
there you can search for a metro station (i.e. Blaha Lujza on the red line or Oktogon on
the yellow line) with an assistance booth and buy a student monthly pass.




Transportation Network
                                         Budapest has a very good transportation
                                         network all around its metropolitan area and is
                                         connected by tram (Budapest has one of the
                                         busiest tramways in Europe), metro (there are
                                         currently 3 metro lines – blue, yellow and red –
                                         and a fourth metro line – green – is in
                                         construction), buses, trolley buses, night buses
(all night from 1.a.m on the same routes as the trams) and trains (there are three train
stations – Nyugati Pályaudvar, Keleti Pályaudvar and Déli Pályaudvar).




Accommodation
In some cases, your home or host institutions might be able to provide you with
accommodation or help you search for it; you should contact your Erasmus coordinator
in order for him/her to assist you.

                                                                                      12
If neither one nor the other can arrange you proper accommodation, there is a variety of
websites you can search on; in last case scenario, you can always rent a room on a
hostel for a few days while you house-hunt, but keep in mind that the longer you take to
find accommodation, the least will be available (and the expensier they will be).


Where and how to search
There is a variety of websites where you can search for accommodation:
   -     with SRS-Budapest (www.srs-budapest.com) you can search through dozens of
         different flats in different parts of the country’s capital and it is almost
         guaranteed that you will stay with other Erasmus Students;
   -     Budapest Rooms (www.budapestrooms.com) is a good service if you’re coming
         with more friends and want to rent an entire flat;
   -     Just Landes (http://www.justlanded.com/) is also a very valid option, where you
         can rent the rooms/flats directly to the owners.




Usual prices
Room prices can vary a big deal; you can find rooms from 100€ to 300€ depending on
the city you are living in, the quality of the house and the size of the room. Bear in mind
that in most cases the extra costs (water, heating, internet, common costs, etc) are not
included in the price you are paying and that you will need to pay extra in the end of the
month.
If you are on a tight budget, you might want to go for those extra-cheap rooms, but
beware; quality of life should always be above price! Your room will be the place where
you will probably spend more time and it should be a place where you feel comfortable
and safe in. There is no point on getting a cheap room if the heating doesn’t work
properly or if the windows have cracks or even if it is too small for you to live in.
Another important aspect you should look at while house-hunting is the location.




Where to stay
Throughout your stay in Hungary, you are more than likely to go out at night for a few
times; even though the transportation system is very good, you might want to stay in the


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main road or at least close to a tram/metro/bus stop. This will save you a lot of time,
money (by avoiding taxis) and trouble by walking home alone.
You will also want to stay near all your Erasmus friends. The best place for a student to
stay in Budapest (it is where all the Erasmus students stay, there’s a very good
transportation system and is close to Budapest Tech) is along the tram lines 4 and 6.
You have both trams and metros during the day and night buses at night, making it a
24hour accessible area. It is also usually a safe area, although it is not advisable to walk
home alone at 4.am (like everywhere else in Europe).




Google Maps/Earth & BKV.HU
A useful tool you might use to find your way around Budapest is Google Earth. With
Google Earth you can easily find where everything is and how to get there (it includes
detailed description of Bus/Metro/Tram lines & numbers). With Google Maps/Earth
you can enter any start and end points for a journey and it will give you the best routes
to reach it.
Soon the Google StreetView will also be available for Budapest as Google is
photographing streets during the first semester of 2009.
Another useful tool might be www.bkv.hu, where you can search for transportation
timetables.




Telephone
Carriers available
It is advisable that one of the first things you do when you get to Hungary is buy a SIM
Card from a Hungarian carrier. There are three mobile carriers currently available in
Hungary; T-Mobile, Vodafone and Pannon. They all have similar price plans, so you
should check with your friends which carrier they have and buy a SIM Card from the
same; this will decrease the costs of your calls/texts exponentially both for you and your
new Erasmus friends; in some cases it is even cheaper to call your home country with a
Hungarian number.
It is advisable that, once you buy your SIM Card, you do not keep the “standard” price
plan. Think in advance what you do more often (phone calls or texts) and lose a few

                                                                                         14
minutes with the shop clerk to change the price plan to one that is more useful for you.
In the long run, it might save you thousands of Forints.




Locked Mobile Phones
Before departing to Hungary, it is important that you check if your mobile phone is
locked to your national carriers or if you can use it elsewhere. It is very common that
carriers lock their phones to work only either with a determined carrier or only in your
country.
Please be aware that if you have a Vodafone SIM Card in (say) Portugal, it is not certain
that a Hungarian Vodafone SIM Card will work.
The best way to be sure if your phone is unlocked is to call your carrier’s hotline (those
are usually free) and ask them if the phone is locked or not. If your phone was bought
without a contract to a specific carrier, it is likely to be unlocked.
In case you have problems, you can buy basic mobile phones in Hungary for as low as
25€ (7.500HUF).




Internet
Internet Connection
Most flats you rent will already have internet connection. In the developed world we
live in, Internet is one of the most important things you will have at your home; it will
be useful to regularly check your e-mail for correspondence with your home and host
schools, speak to your parents and friends on IM or Skype, make research for works and
projects or just to be informed about the latest party in town.
For those who make heavier use of Internet Connections, make sure to ask your
landlord what kind of connection he has on the flat. Internet speed is usually low in
Hungary but most plans have unlimited bandwidth, which is good for downloading.
In the unlikely event that you don’t have internet on your flat, you should know that
most coffee shops (and even places as McDonalds) will have free wi-fi connections
where you can simply take your laptop and connect to the internet at any time.




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Travelling
Where to go
While you are on Erasmus period you should take some time off to travel and know
other cities and even other countries; Hungary is on a privileged location, surrounded by
countries like Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine, etc. and
is fairly cheap to travel around.
Most of your friends will want to travel, and backpacking for a week in different
countries with a few friends is a great experience; It is cheap, super fun and culturally
eye-opening. The preferred time to travel abroad will probably be during the Easter
holidays, somewhere in the first or second week of April (ask you school); you should
also travel during the weekends to some Hungarian cities; take 2 or 3 days and see
Budapest, Pécs, Eger, Balaton lake (the largest lake in Central Europe), etc.




Travel in Hungary
Budapest
Just little over two decades ago, Budapest was part of the Communist bloc, but
nowadays it is a vibrant and exciting European capital with much to see and do.
While in Budapest, you cannot miss seeing some monuments for they are unique and
you might not have another chance.
Make sure you see such monuments and places as the Heroes Square, the Parliament
Building, the Chain Bridge, Synagogue, Opera House or the always famous Castle in
Buda Hills. Take a ride on the Danube and buy from the Central Market.
When the weather is warmer, go for a jog on the Margit Island and have a picnic there
with your friends. There is no better place in Budapest to spend a warm afternoon than
in the Island.




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The Thermal Baths (Széchenyi baths
might be the best ones) are a must see.
With warm water up to 38ºC on the
outside, it is something unique. For the
best experience, make sure you go there
on a snowy night (open until 10pm). It
will be Heaven!



                                           The Central Market is one of the best (and
                                           only) place to buy fresh fish in Budapest. It is
                                           also a unique place with three different floors
                                           where you can buy everything, from fruits to
                                           vegetables, meat, fish and even souvenirs
                                           (might be the best place to buy them).




We can promise you one thing. You will fall in love with Budapest after your first days
and you will never want to go away.




              Heroes Square                                Parliament Building




                                                                                       17
               Chain Bridge                                  Budapest Castle




Travel Cheap, have more fun
Of course you can fly pretty much everywhere in Europe through Budapest, but as you
will learn the minute you arrive to the country, money does not stretch. Everyone will
want to travel and every time you look to a map, you will feel the need to go somewhere
else and get to know more and more countries.
There are cheap and there are expensive ways to do it, just as there are easier and harder
ways too.
Unlike many European countries, travelling by train in Hungary and abroad is relatively
cheap and comfortable but the international bus companies are also a valid option as
they generally have very attractive prices, good schedules and above all, a very good
service.


Here are our tips to travel from Budapest (prices subject to confirmation):
   -   Slovakia, Bratislava – Orange Ways – 1700ft - http://orangeways.com/en
   -   Czech Republic, Prague – Orange Ways – 4190ft - http://orangeways.com/en
   -   Vienna, Austria – Orange Ways – 3900ft - http://orangeways.com/en
   -   Krakow, Poland – Orange Ways – 4500ft - http://orangeways.com/en
   -   Zagreb, Croatia – MAV – 7000ft - http://www.mav-start.hu/
   -   Belgrade, Serbia – MAV - 3705ft - http://www.mav-start.hu/
   -   Timisoara, Romania – Orange Ways - 2900ft - http://orangeways.com/en




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Tips:
   -    Try to travel during the night. This will mean more time to visit the cities and
        one less night in a hostel. Buses are safe and comfortable (leather seats with
        space for legs) and trains usually have cabins where you and your friends can
        lock yourselves in and have a relaxed night sleep;
   -    Book hostels in advance. Weekends and Easter periods mean packed hostels. If
        you want to be in the city center, booking in advance is mandatory. Reading
        other people’s feedback is crucial as there are some rip-off hostels out there.
        Sometimes it’s better to pay a little more and stay in a hostel with more security
        and more comfort;
   -    Make better use of your time and money and, if you have the chance, don’t visit
        just one country at a time. You can see most of the capitals in 2 days only (some
        even in 1 day) so, you can take one week off and travel through 3 different
        countries. From Bratislava to Vienna is a 2hour trip; you will save time and
        money if you search for good connections.




Nights Out
Budapest is a great city during the day, but it can be very exciting at night too; if you go
out, no matter if it’s weekend or weekdays, you will see packed pubs/clubs everywhere.
During your first month in Hungary, you cannot miss all the flat
parties organized by other Erasmus students, for they are the best
place to meet some new people and have a great time (and just
wait until you see all the theme parties going on!).
There are also other great pubs/clubs you can go to virtually every
night. You cannot miss out on Morrison’s (1 and 2) for they are the
gathering points on Mondays and Thursdays. Instant and Szimpla are also worth visiting
because you will not find pubs like those anywhere else in Europe! There’s also Soho,
A38 (a boat), The Living Room (some great Erasmus parties going on there too!),
Kuplung, Corvinteto and you will surely discover a lot more great places to spend your
nights with your friends.




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Insurance and Health
European Health Insurance Card - What is it
This might be one of the most useful information you will find in the guide; hopefully
you will not need it but before you leave your home country, do not forget to request the
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as it is required if you have any problem and
need medical treatment during your stay in Hungary or anywhere else in Europe. It is
valid for three years, so you do not need to worry about renewing it constantly.


Advantages
   -   With the European Health Insurance Card you will be treated just like every
       other Hungarian citizen;
   -   If you need to go to the Hospital, you will only pay the same taxes as any other
       Hungarian would, instead of paying for the full treatment you need;
   -   Less bureaucracy;
   -   The EHIC is free of charge.


How/Where to apply
How/Where to apply to the EHIC varies depending on your home country. You should
go to your Social Security system and ask them where to get the card.




                    AND: HAVE A NICE STAY IN HUNGARY!




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