Fantastic city - just do it! July 02, 2014

By (Mathematics, Wellesley College) - abroad from 02/03/2014 to 05/22/2014 with

BSM: Budapest - Budapest Semesters in Mathematics

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Budapest is so liveable and interesting, and I learned so much about Hungary - the history, culture, politics. Hungary is rarely discussed in world politics and its history is little known (to Americans anyway), which is too bad since it's so checkered and absolutely fascinating, particularly its role in the Soviet bloc. It's also incredibly easy to travel within Europe, particularly the Schengen region, once you're there, and we were able to visit half a dozen other countries by train over the long weekends and spring break. The math classes themselves are rigorous and I got the chance to take math classes my home department didn't offer, plus to hang out with people who genuinely cared about math and thought it was the bees' knees on a regular basis. Talking to so many people who know they want to go to math grad school is liberating and offered such a different atmosphere from home.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The mathematics courses were very rigorous and dense, and the professors extremely knowledgeable (all spoke English, though some had accents more impenetrable than others)! The professors were generally accessible and the classes well-structured. The non-mathematics courses were far less rigorous, though the material was still really interesting.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Anna Weisz-Foti, the student coordinator, was largely accessible and very, very helpful. My roommate and I had issues with our landlady that would probably not have been resolved in our favor without her.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartment itself was fine and in a fantastic location, just five minutes' walk from the school and from one of the largest train stations and transportation hubs in the city, which was great. Unfortunately our landlady was less than accommodating; she did some major renovations of the apartment that she tried to charge us for (thankfully BSM took care of that), gave keys to our apartment to half a dozen people without letting us know, and that sort of thing.

* Food:

Hungarian food is delicious (though almost certainly not good for your arteries!), and there were several supermarkets near us; we cooked most of the time.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since the program was in English and self-contained, there was almost zero natural interaction with Hungarians unless you actively went out to meet them. The city is extremely friendly and liveable though, and getting to know it was a piece of cake and pretty fantastic.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

No prevalent health issues or vaccines required, and I didn't get sick so I have no experience with the local health care system.

* Safety:

The city is very walkable and very friendly, and I felt extremely safe even late at night (as safe as one can ever be in a large city at night anyway).

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

Finances

* 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)

Hungary is about as inexpensive as a European city can get, and my roommate and I (we shared grocery bills) probably spent $30-40 a week together and then another $10-20 each eating out.

Language

* 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

The foreign language component was entirely optional - there were Hungarian language classes but many people didn't take them. There were extra outings for those who did want to practice, but since the program was so self-contained there wasn't that much opportunity for practice. Of course we ended up absorbing a little from just getting around and living in the city in any case. The language classes themselves moved very slowly.

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?

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
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Strong classes
  • Tons of people who love math
  • The travel opportunities
* What could be improved?
  • The final ceremony where they make everyone go up and get diplomas in front of the crowd! But they did serve champagne.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Nothing, except that I wouldn't want to go back to dorm-style living afterward, and how much I would miss Budapest.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!