Congratulations on your successful application to the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program! By now, you have probably talked to friends and looked up references about traveling and living abroad. You may even have looked up information about Hungary. Below are some items of information for your participation in the program and travel to Budapest.
It may be difficult to apply to graduate schools and NSF graduate fellowships when you are away from your home college. Try to get your letters of recommendation done early.
Fall semester participants are encouraged to take the Putnam exam while in Budapest. The Budapest BSM Staff will register students and administer the exam in Budapest for all BSM students.
It is possible to take the GRE in Budapest; contact the North American Office or our Budapest staff for details.
International Student Identity Card (ISIC). Students can choose to purchase international student IDs in the United States before traveling to Budapest as they offer some discounts to museums and other activities. Here is a link to the ID card webpage: https://www.myisic.com/isic-card/
Cell Phone options. It is important to check with your existing carrier to understand the rates and fees if you choose to use your phone abroad. Some options are: Renting a Cell Phone abroad or Using Your Own Phone with an International SIM Card. Students also communicate home with SKYPE, FaceTime and other social media. See more here: www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/stay-connected/international-cell-phone-guide
In order to enter Hungary, you need a valid passport. All students must have a valid passport with an expiration date at least six months later than the date of entrance into Hungary.
U.S. or Canadian citizens: As a student studying and living in Budapest for more than 90 days, you will be required to obtain a Visa-residence Permit after you arrive in Budapest. BSM staff in Hungary will help you apply for the permit once you arrive in Hungary.
It is not necessary to obtain a VISA/Residence permit for the summer program if your stay will be less than 90 days.
Non U.S./Canadian citizens: You may need a VISA in order to enter Hungary. Please check with your home country consulate and the Hungarian Consulate General’s Office about special documentation requirements before departure. This process can be quite lengthy requiring 2 to 3 months to complete.
VISA/Residence Permit Information for Fall/Spring and Summer semesters see:
Hungary is one of the Schengen area countries. BSM is recommending, not requiring, that U.S. students make their first stop in a non-Schengen Zone (i.e. London) with a connecting flight to Budapest. This will ensure ease of going through customs when you travel for a semester with either open-ended tickets or a return ticket for more than 90 days when students do not have a residency VISA in hand. U. S. citizens are not required to have one in hand as they arrive in Hungary, you will obtain it after you arrive in Budapest with the help of our Budapest staff.
The 3 important letters included in your Student Handbook packet should be taken with you to the airport and on your flight to show to customs officials if requested. Recent changes in EU immigration rules require you pay close attention to these issues as you plan your travels to Budapest.
You may make travel arrangements through any experienced travel agent. Each of the agencies listed below has had experience arranging travel to Hungary for BSM students. Be sure to tell them that you are a participant in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program.
You should be aware that the cost of a flight to Budapest can vary as much as several hundreds of dollars from one travel agency to another or “on-line”. Shopping around to compare prices is a good idea.
Program representatives will meet you upon arrival based on the information you provided in the BSM Travel Form: the time, date, and location of your arrival (airport or rail station). It is therefore vital that the organizers in Budapest are informed about your travel well ahead of time. Please complete your travel forms on-line, a copy will be sent to The North American Office and to Budapest. A BSM representative will meet you upon your arrival in Budapest and you will be taken to your residence. After clearing customs at the airport, you will leave the baggage claim area and go to the arrival hall (ground transport). Look for someone holding up a sign saying, “Budapest Semesters”. Do not leave the airport until you locate each other.
However, if your arrival in Budapest is scheduled at an odd hour (between 8:00 pm and 7:00 am, for example), make sure in advance that it is noted by the Budapest Office and communicate – via email – your arrival procedure. In the very exceptional case that you might need to find lodging at a hostel or hotel for night, take a taxi to the Budapest Office (Bethlen Gabor ter 2) the next working day.
In the case of delayed or missed planes, connections, etc. please inform Ms. Anna Foti at email@example.com at the Budapest Office AND Deb Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org of the North American Office immediately via email or phone. BSM 24/7 emergency cell phone # (within Hungary): 06-36-20- 628-5562
QUICK REFERENCE/EMERGENCY NUMBERS FOR HUNGARY
Dezsö Miklós, Director: email@example.com
Agnes Szilard, Associate Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Foti, Dir. of Student Services: email@example.com
Budapest Office hours: 8:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
address: Bethlen Gábor tér 2, Budapest, 1071-Hungary
College International (proprietor of BSM headquarters) is located near Keleti Train Station and close to the red metro line (subway).
BSM 24/7 emergency cell phone # (within Hungary): 06-36-20- 628-5562
The same cell phone # from the states: 011-36-20- 628-5562
Please note that the above number is for emergencies only. For regular office business call the cell number given below or write an email at one of the addresses given above. (Emails are answered promptly and may be the best way of communication in non-emergency situations.)
BSM regular office cell phone (within Hungary), 8am to 3pm Central European time: 00-36-30-474-3924
The same cell phone # from the states: 011 -36-30-474-3924
BSM Fax number (from the states): 011-36- 1-413- 3030
011=overseas access (from U.S.) 36=country code (Hungary) 1=city code (Budapest)
U.S. Embassy in Budapest: http://hungary.usembassy.gov/service.html
We suggest U.S. citizens enroll in the “Smart Traveler” program at http://hungary.usembassy.gov/acs_security.html
To call a Hungarian telephone number in Budapest from the United States, you prefix the number with 011-36-1. Dialing 011 summons the international switchboard, 36 is the country code for Hungary, and 1 is the city code for Budapest. Calling cards or Hungarian cell phones to the U.S. are cheapest.
Note the difference in time zones. When it is noon in New York and 9 a.m. in San Francisco, it is 6 p.m. in Hungary. At 6 p.m. in New York, it is midnight in Budapest.
Accommodations-Housing in Budapest
You need to complete a BSM “Housing/Roommate” form. The link to the form is found within email you receive from firstname.lastname@example.org. Students will be housed in furnished apartments approved by BSM. Lodging is arranged by our Hungarian BSM Staff along with roommate assignments upon completion of your BSM Housing/Roommate form after acceptance.
You can indicate special needs or wants on this form. Please note that each student has his/her own bedroom. If a roommate is chosen, it is simply an apartment mate. The form will go to the North American Office and to the Budapest Office. Staff in Budapest coordinate housing and will try their best to accommodate; but we cannot guarantee specific requests. Housing assignments are given upon arrival in Budapest. Apartments come completely furnished with such things as furniture, sheets, towels, kitchenware, washing machine, etc. Clothes dryers are extremely rare. Keep in mind thick items, such as sweatshirts, take several days to air dry; please plan accordingly.
If you have indicated that you prefer living with a Hungarian family, I should warn you that most families in Budapest live in small apartments with just one bathroom. Please let me know well before you leave if you have special accommodation needs, e.g., do you have allergies, do you wish to be in a non-smoking environment, etc.
The BSM person who meets your plane or train from the Budapest office will accompany you to your housing. They should also give you a mini orientation of your “immediate neighborhood” including the location of the nearest ATM or currency exchange booth and how it works, where to catch the public transportation and how to purchase metro tickets; nearest food stores and pharmacy in your area; and mark a route on your map of how to get from your location to both BSM and the Babilon Language School (if you are taking the optional language course). If they do not, please ask them (or the landlord or host family) to do so.
Rents are payable in Budapest usually on a monthly basis. Please be aware that Hungarian customs and laws governing rental properties varies from apartment to apartment and vary greatly from laws in North America. Do not sign any lease agreements until you fully understand and are comfortable with the terms. The landlord should be willing to give you a few days grace period in which to do so. Do not pay [any rent] until a contract is signed, but sign a contract as soon as you feel reasonably comfortable you understand the terms you are agreeing to. The on-site BSM office will assist you, if necessary.
The U.S. BSM Office and the Hungarian BSM Office have discussed and agreed that if situations pertaining to your apartment or roommate arise, they can be handled as follows: During the first week of a student’s arrival, he/she is free to change apartments within the apartments offered via the BSM pool, paying for only a portion of the first month’s rent (plus paying the used utility fees along with any other applicable fees). Summer Semester: No changes. In cases where several students occupy the apartment, everyone who exchanges their present apartment for a different one, will forfeit a portion of their rent [usually paying for the portion of days you occupied the apartment]. Please ask the Hungarian BSM Office for help on this process.
The best way to get cash for the monthly rent is to use ATM machines. They are widely available throughout Budapest and disperse funds in Hungarian forints (HUF).
Be prepared to feel pretty tired and disoriented upon arrival, but things usually get progressively better the more you get acclimated to your new environment and get to know your classmates.
ATM machines are readily available in Budapest and accept most major credit and bank cards. They also give a very good exchange rate. You can exchange dollars or travelers checks to forints (the Hungarian currency) at the hotels or banks in Budapest. Exchanging currency at the airport offers a less favorable rate. The small – but legal – exchange booths in the dowtown area offer the best deal. You will be shown some of them by the student who picks you up at the airport. There remains a currency black market in Hungary, but there is also a good deal of counterfeit currency in circulation; don’t trade currency with strangers!
It is not a good idea to exchange all your money at once. The bank will convert only part of your surplus forints back to dollars and will again charge you for the privilege. Personal checks, cashier checks, money orders, etc., cannot be readily exchanged. International banking is quite slow. Although you may deposit a personal check at some banks, it may take several months until the check clears and can be very expensive. It is a good idea to bring some personal checks along in case you have to mail away for something like a GRE registration.
Do not take any weapons or illegal drugs to Hungary. It is considered a major felony and will result in immediate exclusion for the program. It is illegal to mail prescription medications to Hungary, you must bring enough for your entire stay.
Medical Insurance and Prescription Meds
For long-term benefits and coverage in Budapest, it is mandatory that you have a current US or Canadian international insurance policy that is valid for your travel and your entire stay in Hungary.
It is important that you bring an ample supply of any medicine you frequently use with a note from your MD certifying that you need the medication for your condition. It is illegal to mail prescription medicine to Hungary.
Before you leave, please call your home insurance company and make sure your insurance is valid in Hungary and find out what type of costs and up to what extend are met by it. We expect you to have a valid insurance policy, covering at least up to 50,000 euros of your health expenses as well as covering evacuation costs. We also encourage students to investigate additional travel insurance that may cover evacuation in the the case of a medical emergency. Several US companies offer appropriate insurance for your travel, study abroad needs e.g. Gateway US, IMG, CMI or ISOS.
You will also be provided Hungarian student insurance for your stay as part of your BSM tuition. This is very limited insurance that covers emergency medical benefits (including hospitalization) within Budapest during your stay in Hungary. It will not pay for treatment outside the city limits of Budapest, ongoing treatment for chronic issues, evacuation due to medical emergencies or other major issues not easily addressed by the municipal health system. The supplemental health insurance (included in your tuition), allows access to a reliable, English language health service offered by Semmelweis University, the medical university of Budapest. However, it is a parallel option, but does not replace your home insurance, especially since it does NOT cover you outside of Budapest i.e. during travel, arrival, nor covers evacuation to the U.S. Here is a link to the UniMed Policy-coverage in Budapest only. https://www.budapestsemesters.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/UniMed-1.pdf
The climate of the Hungary can be described as typical European continental influenced climate with warm, dry summers and fairly cold winters. Note that in Europe, temperature is measured in centigrade.
Bring your passport, airline ticket, a major credit or debit card, and some cash to cover immediate expenses upon arrival. While traveling, keep your passport, cash, and a week’s supply of any vital medication in your carry-on luggage. Although unlikely, it may happen that checked baggage is put on the wrong plane. At check in time, make certain your baggage is labeled inside and out with your final destination: Budapest Semesters in Mathematics; College International; Bethlen Gabor ter 2 in District VII.
Take shoes and clothes appropriate for all seasons. Apartments come completely furnished with such things as furniture, sheets, towels, kitchenware, etc. Clothes dryers do not exist. Thick items, such as sweatshirts, take two to three days to air dry.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC). Students can choose to purchase international student IDs in the United States before traveling to Budapest as they offer some discounts to museums and other activities. Here is a link to the ID card webpage: https://www.myisic.com/isic-card/
The voltage used in continental Europe is 220. This renders most American appliances useless unless they are convertible, battery-operated, or you have an adapter. Note that the outlet geometry is also different. For battery-operated devices, it may be advisable to take a set of spare batteries along for the trip. Sometimes, it may be difficult to get the right size battery.
Two semesters are offered each year; each semester comprises fourteen weeks of teaching and one week of comprehensive examinations. The Summer Program is eight weeks long. There is a brief orientation program at the beginning of each term. A student may participate in either semester, two consecutive semesters, and/or the summer program. The academic program always begins on a Monday; the Welcome Party for new students is held on Friday afternoon of the week preceding classes; and the Farewell Party is held on Thursday afternoon during final exam week. The Summer Program begins the third week in June and ends the first week in August.
The Fall 2018 semester breaks are 10/20/18-10/23/18 (Saturday-Tuesday)and 11/1/18-11/4/18 (Thursday-Sunday) and 11/22/18-11/25/18 during Thanksgiving. The Spring semester includes a one-week break; April 15-22, 2019 There are no classes on March 15, May 1, Whit (or Pentacost) Monday, August 20, October 23, November 1, and Thanksgiving. The office in Budapest will be closed on these holidays.
The Babilon Language School (non-credit) offers a 2-week intensive language course in Hungarian about two weeks prior to the beginning of each semester. This is an optional choice, not included in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program fees. The cost of the optional intensive language class for the Fall and Spring semesters is approximately $350.00 paid by fall deadline and $440.00 after the deadline and payable to the Babilon Language School upon arrival in Budapest. See student handbook for payment deadlines. The cost of the one-week language class during the summer program is 50,000 HUF.
Refunds: Two weeks prior to the course starting date we refund 80%. On the starting day we refund 60%. After the course has started there are no refunds.
Babilon School of Languages
Karoly krt 3/a IV em
telephone: (011) (361) 269-5531
fax: (011) (361) 322-6023
email: email@example.com, www.babilon-nyelvstudio.hu
During the first weeks of the program, students may shop around for courses, final registration is during the third week of the semester. This way, students may analyze which courses would best fit with their interests or are required by their home institution. Students usually select 4 courses to study for the remainder of the fall or spring term. During the summer semester, the normal course load is 2 courses. Students will learn about this during the mandatory orientation.
Budapest Semesters in Mathematics courses comprise 14 weeks of teaching plus one week of exams. Each course usually meets for a total of 42 contact hours per semester (plus office hours) a total of 56 hours including office hours. Normally, one Budapest Semesters in Mathematics course transfers either as 3 or 4 semester hours depending on an evaluation of course material done by the home institution. Math and non-math courses are weighted the same. The BSM Program uses course units to describe its courses rather than ‘credit hours’ or ‘semester hours.’ This is in concert with the St. Olaf system of counting courses toward graduation. We encourage each institution to make its own evaluation of our courses relative to local requirements and credit levels; but with that said, some experience with what is done at other institutions might be useful. Most schools using a semester credit system give 3 credit hours per BSM course. Those that do not, give 4 semester credit hours for the mathematics courses and 3 or 4 semester credit hours for the non mathematics courses. Those on the quarter system give 4 or 5 quarter hours per BSM course. Those schools (like St. Olaf) which use the course unit system give 1 semester course unit for each BSM course taken: For reference, at St. Olaf, 34 courses are required to graduate and a Budapest Semester’s course transfers as exactly one St. Olaf course. St. Olaf College serves as the School of Record for BSM and provides the official transcript for the program.
BSM course credits and transcripts are issued by St. Olaf College, the program’s School of Record. Upon completion of work in Budapest, St. Olaf College as the School of Record for the program will send an official transcript to the registrar’s office at your home institution based on the information you included in your transcript release form (unless you direct us differently). Transcripts will reflect either letter grades A-F, audit/non-attending or incomplete. Normally, one Budapest Semesters in Mathematics course transfers either as 3 or 4 semester hours depending on the home institution. For example, St. Olaf College operates on the course system; 34 courses are required to graduate. A Budapest Semesters course transfers as exactly one St. Olaf course.
Mailing Address: Packages or Fed Ex (use this address for mailing suitcases)
Budapest Semesters in Mathematics
Bethlen Gabor ter 2
Budapest Semesters in Mathematics
1406 Budapest 76
P.O. Box 51
Although the Hungarian program directors try to make your stay in Hungary as educationally exciting and as physically comfortable as possible, there have, on rare occasions, been students wishing to withdraw from the program. If you choose to withdraw from the program within the first five weeks, the program will reimburse a portion of your refundable tuition according to the following schedule: less than 1 week, 90%, less than 2 weeks, 80%, less than 3 weeks, 60%, less than 4 weeks, 40%, less than 5 weeks, 20%.
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES—-BSM Extracurricular LIST
Many things are different in Hungary. Be prepared to absorb some things: the difficulties associated with a foreign language, the lack of certain conveniences and consumer goods you are accustomed to, and the disoriented, isolated, and lonely feelings you might experience the first few days, due to “jet-lag”. Having accepted this will help you minimize the “culture shock” and enable you to enjoy all the new experiences. You will find that people in Budapest are friendly and helpful, and that Hungarian food is excellent and inexpensive (you may like to eat out a lot —this is a nice way of getting to know the town). There is a lot to see and learn in Hungary.
Let me quote from a letter David Wagner, a Canadian participant, sent from Budapest:
Budapest is a marvelous city! I am somewhat in awe of the history and culture of this area – Hungary and all of Europe. Living in North America, it is [often] too easy to ignore the rest of the world! For that reason alone this trip is worthwhile, and everything in addition contributes to make this an incredible experience for me.
U.S. Embassy in Budapest: http://hungary.usembassy.gov/service.html. U.S. Citizens can enroll in the “Smart Travel” program at http://hungary.usembassy.gov/acs_security.html. OR https://step.state.gov/
If you have any questions
Best wishes for a rewarding and pleasant stay in Hungary.