One of the unique aspects of Budapest that you will quickly discover is the number of communal bathhouses, pools, and spas. The city is built on a network of springs, both warm thermal springs and cool mineral springs. As a result, an amazing number of bathhouses have been created over time. They tend to be clean, safe, and cheap, and visitors and residents alike find them to be one of Budapest's greatest benefits. People have learned to do just about everything in the water and you shouldn't be surprised to see people playing chess while relaxing in a pool.
Budapest has much to offer students looking for a glimpse of Hungary's turbulent history. The city has endured a number of recurring power struggles, but it always survives and continues to thrive despite those challenges. The Royal Palace is a typical example. In the past 700 years, it has been destroyed, rebuilt, and redesigned at least six times. Today it is largely a mixture of 18th and early-20th century architecture. For those looking for culture, the Palace also contains the National Gallery, which features an impressive assortment of Hungarian artwork, the Széchenyii National Library, and the Budapest History Museum.
Just north of Budapest on the western side of the city, lies Óbuda. Óbuda is the site of a number of important Roman ruins. One of the most impressive of these is the Roman Military Amphiteater, which was built in the 2nd century and at that time accommodated 15,000 spectators. It was larger even than Rome's Colosseum. A little farther to the North is the remains of Aquincum, which was another Roman town that was built in the 1st century.
Budapest is actually one of the few capitals where you will find an active traditional music and folk dance scene. While this may not sound exciting, the young people of Budapest would definitely disagree with you. A Táncház (Dance House) is probably one of the best places in Budapest to meet Hungarians and truly find the pulse of the city and its people.
The love of folk music is just one example of the interesting dichotomy that characterizes Budapest today. Just as the city itself is divided by the river, its attitudes are divided. On one hand, people would like to push forward with capitalism and pursue the luxury and wealth that generally characterizes the West. The city has been called the 'Paris of Eastern Europe'. On the other hand, Budapest is also inextricably bound to its past and the simple traditions that have sustained the city through crisis after crisis. This complex national psyche creates yet another dimension to the rich experience of studying abroad in Budapest.
Whether you're looking for Roman ruins, Hungarian art, or just a nice long soak, Budapest has it all.