High highs and low lows January 04, 2022

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/16/2021 to 12/18/2021 with

BSM: Budapest - Budapest Semesters in Mathematics

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained new insights into the depth/breadth of the math world and how I may fit into it. I also gained a lot of independence while abroad, as it was my first time living in my own apartment. While the experience had its ups and downs, it was incredibly worthwhile! I gained a lot of new friends and learned a lot of new math that certainly helped prepare me for the rigor of grad school.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

BSM is an academically intense program. This means that students have access to harder and more unique math classes than at their home institutions, so you will learn a lot! However, if you are from a liberal arts school, the teaching style at BSM is quite a change. There is a very "sink or swim" mentality, where professors only help/support students minimally. Instead, students must rely on one another for help within classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The BSM administration is very friendly and helpful. You can always talk to Anna, Agnes, or Orsi in the office, who will all do anything in their power to help you! Sometimes the BSM administration was a bit disorganized and it took a while for clear information to be disseminated to all the students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Students are assigned small apartments and live in groups of 2-4. The apartments are not owned by BSM, but the administration organizes/assigned apartments for simplicity. Some of the apartments are wonderful and some are more run-down. It is definitely luck of the draw based on where you get placed!

* Food:

Budapest is a very inexpensive city compared to most places in the United States. All apartments come with a furnished kitchen, so it is easy to cook for oneself. Most students eat out quite regularly because it is easy to find a fantastic and filling meal for only $4-10.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

At BSM, you live in the heart of Budapest, so you are surrounded by the Hungarian culture. Most Hungarians speak fluent English, so very little Hungarian language skills are necessary. Therefore, it is easy to be immersed in the local culture in your day-to-day life. On the other hand, BSM is for American/international students only, so you don't get the "Hungarian college experience" and you don't interact with many college age Hungarians very often.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My roommate dislocated her arm while in Budapest. It was difficult to navigate the healthcare system because many older Hungarians (like ones who are old enough to be medical professionals) do not speak a lot of English. The program coordinators were extremely helpful and drove her to the hospital, stayed with her, and translated everything.

* Safety:

Budapest is an incredibly safe city, safer than any major American city. We never felt unsafe at all.

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

BSM was an incredibly challenging program for me. I learned a lot, but on a day-to-day basis, it can be demoralizing. You will learn a lot, but it is not always easy or fun. That being said, because it is so difficult, the friends I made within the program will stick with me through life: we got through BSM together. Also, Budapest is a gorgeous city and one I am so lucky I got to explore.


* 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)

The program costs were incredibly cheap. It was only about half of what the BSM budget (on their website) suggests you will need to budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100, though it is possible to do it for MUCH cheaper. No travel was allowed due to COVID, so most of us had extra money to eat out more regularly.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Due to COVID, we were not allowed to travel internationally. This ended up saving a LOT of money that most of us had budgeted. Instead, we took buses and trains to explore smaller parts of Hungary which was very fun and much cheaper than taking planes.


* 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

Everyone working with BSM speaks perfect English and most Hungarians (anyone under the age of 35) are also fluent. Also, many Hungarians WANT to practice their English with you. Therefore, there is very little need to speak the langue, though their is a language course if students are interested.

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
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had taken no Hungarian.
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Learn the most common phrases, such as "I speak English," "Do you speak English," and "I do not speak Hungarian," and you will be able to get by easily.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people and the collaborative enviornment
  • The city - Budapest is amazing
  • Access to unique math classes
* What could be improved?
  • Sink or swim mentality - the professors do not provide very muchsupport
  • Competitiveness - some students are very competitive about their test/homework scores
  • Stress culture - for all but the most talented students, almost all time outside of classes is spent on homework
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had prepared myself for how truly challenging this program was! It was no cakewalk. We had a saying within the students: other study abroad programs focus on the ABROAD part of that title, but BSM is just about the STUDY part.

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!