I'm sure you've heard about the all oft-chosen countries for study abroad, but what about something new and exciting!? What about a country that is famous for its castles, mountains, streams, and caves? Slovakia is the hidden gem of Europe, a place distinct for its gorgeous landscape and rich cultural life. After its recent independence as a nation-state in 1993, it has been newly acclaimed for its superb taste in wine, unique music festivals, uncanny museums, and a steadfast recognition of its folkloric roots. If you’re looking to study abroad in a place that is less commercialized and not swarming with tourism, study abroad programs in Bratislava may be just right for you.
Study Abroad Programs in Bratislava
In the modern age, education is becoming more global, and future employers will applaud applicants who possess an understanding of different cultures and languages. Students who have an interest in business and central European countries would be wise to consider Bratislava as a front-runner study abroad destination. An education in Bratislava will provide you with an-depth understanding of Central European business, politics, economics, and cultural studies.
Study abroad in Bratislava offers students the chance to take courses in a variety of languages, including Slovak, German, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovenian. If you’re more money-minded, accounting, business, and economics courses await you. And for the next president-to-be, check out law and international relations courses.
Have no fear! Slovakia provides a multitude of classes taught in English. The language barrier can be considered “little to none” on the grand scale, with most natives speaking English as a second language. This alleviates some of that pressure that new language speakers feel when moving to a new country. Even though you’ll likely be learning a new language, you won’t be completely forced out of your native tongue.
Study abroad programs in Bratislava are available all year round. Whether you decide on a short summer program or a full academic year, there is no going wrong with study abroad in Bratislava. Your class structure and program expectations will vary based on which program you decide on and how long you decide to go for. Some study abroad programs in Bratislava will be more rigorous and may feel foreign, especially if you are learning in a second language.
Life in Bratislava
Slovakia is a smaller country, with a population of just over 5 million (only two-thirds the size of New York City!). Don’t let the size fool you; Slovakia is jammed pack with a world of rigorous mountaintops begging to be climbed, the Danube River waiting to be explored, and brilliant, robust architecture asking to be marveled at.
Bratislava is the country’s capital, so it is filled with cobblestone streets, museums, theaters, and government buildings galore. If you want to immerse yourself in Slovak culture, Bratislava is the best place to do it. Fun Fact: it’s the only national capital to border two independent countries simultaneously, Hungary and Austria! So if you’re an accolade lover (like me), Bratislava will treat you right.
Bratislava is also the home of many different universities, so you will have your fair share of students to meet and become friends with (and we don’t just mean native Slovaks!). You’ll be meeting other foreign students from all over Europe and beyond while studying in Bratislava, which means you’ll have plenty of couches to sleep on during your next grand adventure.
Fill up on new (and did we mention, tasty) dishes like halušky, dance the night away to old-time folk music, and walk through historical places like the Bratislava Castle and Betliar Mansion. For you more adventurous folk out there, hike through Slovak Paradise National Park (stocked with with rigorous mountain trails, streams and caves, even camping!). You get the best of both worlds in a country that is small enough to be easily accessible and geographically diverse.
Accommodation & Visas
The kind of accommodations you will have directly correspond to what study abroad program in Bratislava you choose. Some students will have the opportunity to live with a host family, which is a fantastic way to learn the language, because the sound of it surrounds your everyday life, while other students will live on campus in the dormitories. Dorm-living is a great way to meet new friends and connect with a group of people that you may have not otherwise get the chance to meet. Make sure to factor in these different options when choosing a study abroad program in Bratislava that works best for you.
The visa process can be scary and daunting, but if you start the process early enough, it can ALSO be a breeze. Your program advisor will give you specific instructions on how to apply for your visa and important deadlines to make in order to receive it before your departure. In the meantime, start gathering important documents you know you will need: a valid passport, proof of funds, onward/return ticket or confirmed itinerary, and a colored photograph of yourself. Don’t fall behind on important deadlines (it could cost you your trip - gulp!). Check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more up-to-date visa rules and regulations for Slovakia.
Benefits & Challenges
Society. As Slovakia recently broke away from Czechoslovakia, it’s a fantastic place for students who are interested in national development or desire a front-row view of progress. Walk through an exciting part of Slovakia’s history, and seize the rare opportunity to bear witness to the challenges facing a country in transition (for better or worse).
Social Life. Since Slovakia is a newly independent nation, recently detached from communism, there might be some noticeable differences from your home country. Business methods and social interactions might still reflect former communist mindsets, but do not assume the worst and get offended if the entire world doesn’t greet you with a smile.
Your experience studying in Bratislava will be whatever you want it to be. There is a real opportunity for personal growth and development in a truly unique setting for those that choose to study in Bratislava. In a place like Slovakia, you will never be bored, as adventure will always be right at your fingertips!