Krakow or Budapest this winter?
August 26, 2005 4:29 PM   Subscribe

EasternEuropeFilter: I'm taking a course to become certified as a teacher of English to speakers of other languages in November-December. It's available in Krakow and Budapest for about the same cost. Where do I want to live for a month?

I live in southern California and while I could commute an hour by car each way to Santa Monica for a month, the course (to prepare for the CELTA, or Cambridge English Language Teaching Assessment) costs so much more here in the States that I'm actually saving money on housing, food, gas, etc. by heading over there.

It's a full-time thing - every weekday, 9 to 5 or thereabouts - so I won't have much time for sightseeing save on the weekends, when I'm not doing homework or preparing model lessons, etc. It's a very intensive schedule from everything I've read about it, and both schools are run by the same organization, so I'm not worried about the quality of the course being different.

In both cases, I'll probably be living in a shared apartment near the center/old town. While Budapest is larger than Krakow, does that necessarily mean it's got more/better things to do?

Most importantly, which city's going to give me the best value for money? It might cost about the same to get over there, but if I'd pay twice as much for groceries or warmer socks or copies or time in internet cafes in one place or another, that's enough to make my decision.

Thanks!
posted by mdonley to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Two more quick questions:
- in-apartment internet hookups: common?
- grocery stores: way out of the centers, or accessible/cheap?
posted by mdonley at 4:45 PM on August 26, 2005


Sorry I don't have any specific answers but you might check out Dave's ESL Cafe and specifically the Europe Forums.
posted by geekyguy at 6:15 PM on August 26, 2005


Both are cool, but my vote would definitely be Budapest...
posted by Heminator at 6:27 PM on August 26, 2005


Budapest is best of course in spring and summer. Have been there number of times on business. Unfortunately most of them during winter. Not so much fun. Never been to Krakow. Cant comment on that. Next time if I am there in spring I am going to take the ride up the Danube to Vienna. Big if.
posted by flyby22 at 6:31 PM on August 26, 2005


I'd go to Krakow. It's smaller, more snug, the old town/jewish quarters come alive in winter, with candels in every window as the snow gently falls outside. It's less touristy, more authentic-feeling and in winter, there are little street stalls that sell steaming hot goat cheese (to try with cranberry sauce).

And there's a brilliant secondhand english-language bookshop called "Massolit", books piled wall-to-wall with sliding ladders, that shop serves coffee and tea, and the best carrotcake I ever had in my whole life.

Oh and the entire central market square in Krakow is covered by your complimentary wifi. :)
posted by ruelle at 7:30 PM on August 26, 2005


I can't compare it with Krakow, but in Budapest there are plenty of groceries in the centre; they're cheap compared to the US but just how cheap they are depends on how you shop, of course. (Staples like bread - still just 9ft for the ubiquitous rolls - and domestic produce and sausage are particularly cheap; dairy seems a bit pricier these days and convenience foods are comparatively pricey, as you'd expect. Remember to weigh your produce before going to the checkout line if you don't want to get an earful.) Internet cafes are plentiful and cheap, but middle class families are getting their internet in the apartment via cable - it's pretty much the norm.

There's at least one devoted English-language bookstore I know of, but most big bookstores (and there are lots) have an English language section.

A big plus for Budapest in the outstanding transportation system. It's easy and cheap to get around the city, and also to get out of the city to somewhere else if you find you do have a day or two free to explore.

And despite the comment above, I loved Bp in Winter.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:02 AM on August 27, 2005


Holy shit strange! Are you thinking of taking the SIT TESOL course here? Because I am sitting in that school right now, helping set up the course. (actually, I am wasting time on metafilter, but in theory...)

Let me try to sell you on Krakow, and particularly on this course. Krakow has a beautiful historic city center, which is about 20 meters (across the street) from this campus. There are plentiful bars and restaurants.

The center has free wireless broadband for course participants.

Todd, the center director and main course tutor, is a very friendly and competent professional who will help you develop your skills as a teacher.

If you are thinking about taking this course, I can also vouch for the staff there - Magda Markiewicz, the main course tutor there, was my mentor when I trained to be a teacher trainer, and she is also incredibly competent and the courses at ih are well - run.

Yes, Budapest is bigger, but Krakow has more soul. Come here, mdonley!

Email is in my profile if you would like further specific info.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:40 AM on August 27, 2005 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the apartment I am in is very possibly the one you would get... it is HUGE, with high cielings, nicely decorated and fitted out. A very easy 5 - 7 minute walk to the campus, 15 minute walk from the central square. Ask for "the place Tom was in on Dluga Street".
posted by Meatbomb at 6:46 AM on August 27, 2005


meatbomb - I *am,* amazingly, thinking of applying to the course at International House. The apartment's location sounds great as well - I assumed a smaller city would have me living closer to the school, but a 5-7 minute walk?! That's superb.

Budapest supporters: I need reasons to not pick Krakow outright, right now! Sell me!
posted by mdonley at 11:30 AM on August 27, 2005


I love AskMeFi.
posted by languagehat at 12:51 PM on August 27, 2005


Here's an old question about Eastern Europe, if you need any more convincin' ...
posted by ruelle at 4:44 PM on August 27, 2005


... which contained the (to me) mysterious advice to "Bring lots of wovels" to Eastern Europe. So what's a wovel?
posted by Rash at 9:39 AM on August 28, 2005


Rash, 'tis "a vowel", I believe..

Languagehat could prolly tell you much more about this than me, but..

well, most slavic languages can string a hell a lot of consonents together..

like for instance "szlachta" ("nobility" in polish) is pronounced in two sylables: "shhLA---hhhtah"
posted by ruelle at 11:40 PM on August 29, 2005


Full disclosure: I've been living in Kraków for about 3 months now.

I'd say go for Kraków as well. My brother is living and working in Budapest right now (and commuting to Warsaw every weekend). From what he's told me it's a beautiful city, and I'm actually heading out on Monday to check if that's true.

Kraków's is large and beatiful. Not only can you get by without a car, you can get by without taking the bus. I live roughly 4 minutes down Basztowa from the SIT TESOL campus, and other than taking a cab now and then, I hoof it everywhere.

My brother's also confirmed our private theory on expat communities in eastern and central europe: Poland's expat community is unique in that it is very dispersed. Expats in the baltic states, Hungary, Czech, Slovakia, etc seem to consolidate around each other. In Poland, they seem to integrate much better with the rest of the community and are allowed a much nicer and much more authentic experience.

Also, the polish girls are just that much hotter.
posted by jedrek at 2:13 AM on September 9, 2005


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