Amazing Math Culture + Beautiful City Past Review

By (Tulane University) - abroad from 09/05/2016 to 12/14/2016 with

BSM: Budapest - Budapest Semesters in Mathematics

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
As wonderful and fulfilling as the mathematical side of BSM is, the program is much more than just math. Hungarian, and European culture, in general, are very different from that of America. I had never been to Europe, and consequently had lots of idiosyncrasies to adjust to, like paying for bags at the grocery store, taking public transportation everywhere, and hearing people talking all the time in languages I don't speak. Sitting in a fairly central spot in Europe, Budapest is also a great place to be for those who want to travel. Prague and Vienna are both reachable by affordable buses, along with Croatia, which is an underrated travel destination. Also, AirBerlin flights from Budapest to Berlin are extremely affordable if purchased a month or more in advance. I managed to balance studying and traveling the best I could, and by the end of the program had actually made it to 7 countries excluding Hungary. It is possible to find a suitable balance of experiencing the unique, intense math culture of BSM and still experiencing the traditional joys of exploration of a normal study abroad program.

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.

The courses are challenging, but appropriately so. Professor quality varies from class to class, but the best professors are nothing short of excellent!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I ended up in an *amazing* apartment just a few blocks away from the BSM building. The quality of apartments across BSM, though, varies greatly.

* Food:

Make sure to try all the Hungarian classics, including, but not limited to - gulash, langos, csirke paprika, szilvas gomboc, etc.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

BSM won't directly integrate you with Hungarians, this is more so something you will have to do on your own.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I walked home alone late at night many times and never felt unsafe.

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

For those like me with small math departments and few math friends, BSM is a dream. Your friends are just as interested and invested in math as you and you'll learn a lot over the course of a semester through all the serious and casual discussions you'll have over an extreme variety of subjects.


* 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)


* 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

Hungarians know English much better than you could ever know Hungarian after a semester. Those who speak English will likely switch if you attempt to speak Hungarian to them; it is only those with no English knowledge who you will have to communicate in Hungarian with.

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
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Do the 12 day Hungarian intensive course with Babilon before the program starts! It's fun and you will meet other BSM students before being super busy with math!

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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Math Culture
  • Cheap Food (and everything else too)
  • Beautiful City + Interesting Culture
* What could be improved?
  • Hungarian classes are a joke
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Before this program, I heard from others that BSM is difficult, and that I would be wholly consumed by mathematics. While both of these things are true, I feel it is important to emphasize that BSM is certainly not for everyone. But, if you are someone who truly loves studying math, then fear not - the workload is challenging and stressful at times, but it is manageable! You will be surrounded by tons of people you feel are so much smarter than you, but once accustomed to the intellectual powerhouse environment, you will be ready to learn so much. For myself, and my friends, BSM was essentially a litmus test for if you truly love math - some, unfortunately, find that they don't love it like they thought they did, an important lesson to learn before committing to grad school and a life of math, while others, like myself, have their love affirmed and strengthened. Either way, the program is extremely useful in this sense - in evaluating your passion and capability for mathematics.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Graph Theory

Course Department: Math
Instructor: Gabor Simonyi
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class is challenging, but not unreasonable. Gabor motivates all the concepts very well and homework problems are not obvious or straightforward, but are certainly good extensions of material covered in class. An excellent course - interesting, cohesive, well-taught, and most certainly fulfilling; this a class you should certainly take if you attend BSM!
Credit Transfer Issues: