Great experience for math lovers with a desire to study abroad. Past Review

By (Math, Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/03/2012 to 05/24/2012 with

BSM: Budapest - Budapest Semesters in Mathematics

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned the joy of living in another country and gained the desire to pursue further travel outside of the United States. Plus a lot of cool math. It was absolutely worthwile.

Review Photos

BSM: Budapest - Budapest Semester in Mathematics Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This is not the type of program that draws in students based only on its location and gives them an academic experience that is a thinly veiled excuse to take a semester off to explore. No – BSM is rigorous and intense academic experience for those who want to study abroad with some of Hungary’s best mathematics professors, including some courses that are rarely found at American schools.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Students have the option of living in either apartments or home stays. In both cases the living spaces are scattered throughout the city proper. This means that the quality of both the living quarters and the neighborhoods, as well as the distance from school, varied greatly from person to person. Speaking personally, mine was a nice, medium size, two person apartment which was only 3 blocks from the school. It was both comfortably furnished (though with some antiquated appliances) and well supplied.

* Food:

I'm lactose intolerant and keep mostly kosher. Hungary is a milk and pork country. This meant the local foods and I didn't get along. On the other hand, the makings of meals were cheap and plentiful which meant that for those with the ability and the inclination to cook, it worked out well.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The BSM program is aimed at North American students, so there are no Hungarians in the classes. If you want to meet locals, you have to make the effort on your own.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Because my home institution required CISI which fully covered visits, I was able to use the FirstMed center which provides a healthcare service similar to the US system. I was sick a couple of times and overall my experience with them was good. If one uses the regular local system, be prepared for a very different experience from what you are used to back home.

* Safety:

Budapest is overall a fairly safe city. This means there is very little violent crime in the areas of the city students visit. It is important to always lock apartments and not to go down alleys late at night but the rundown look of the city makes it look more dangerous than it really is.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

* Was housing included in your program cost? No
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make your own food. In particular, fruits are very cheap and good. By cooking the already low food costs go down to almost nothing.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The math/profs
  • Living in Budapest
  • The other students
* What could be improved?
  • The Hungarian language course
  • Program director's communication with students
  • Internet access in apartments
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How to cook.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Additive Combinatorics

Course Department:
Instructor: Antal Balog
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Easily the most challenging class I took. Not in terms of workload (though it wasn't a walk in the park) but in terms of the difficulty of the subject matter. The structure of the course was set up so that most of the semester served to provide students with the tools to approach two specific cases of the most important theorem in the subject. This resulted in a very technical and fast paced class.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Intermediate Hungarian Language

Course Department:
Instructor: Erika Fallier
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Undemanding and of little use in learning the language but had good field trips and provided political and social background. Make sure to take the optional two week survival course at the start of the program for learning Hungarian.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Conjecture and Proof

Course Department:
Instructor: Róbert Freud
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This rather unique course is one of the draws of the program. Instead of studying one area of mathematics, it surveys many different ones in order to use them to teach new proof and problem solving techniques to the students. The course was well taught by Professor Freud, whose organization made the class run smoothly. I highly recommend it.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Extremal Combinatorics

Course Department:
Instructor: Ervin Győri
Instruction Language: English
Comments: An interesting course covering multiple topics. The professor was extremely knowledgeable (in fact, the course was something of a tour of fields in which he made a contribution) and used the areas he was teaching to introduce new proof techniques to the students.
Credit Transfer Issues: