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Below are quotations from the students’ responses, shared here with their permission. While most of the comments relating to specific details have been omitted, the general tone is faithfully represented in the excerpts given. We’d love to include your comments. Please contact us at [email protected] if you would like to add your own BSM story.

Grace Barkhuff

Mount Holyoke College, MA

“I loved my semester at BSM! Coming from a small liberal arts college, I did struggle with the rigorous academics at times, but my confidence in everything has increased tremendously because of it. If I can live on my own for a semester in Budapest, taking four math classes, and also having some of the most fun times of my college career, I can do anything! I now consider Budapest as one of my homes!”

Links to:
Graces’s Blog:

Grace’s Tips:

Gregory Michael

Carleton College, Northfield, MN

“If you are wondering why I chose to come to Hungary of all places to study math, Hungary is actually very well known for excellence in mathematics. Many prominent mathematics come from Hungary, many are involved with my program…..”

“……In a few hours I will leave my apartment for the last time and say farewell to this lovely city. I have so many reasons to be excited to go home (family, friends, home-cooked meals, and drying machines top the list), but the things I will miss about this program are simply not enumerable. This adventure has been unbelievable, and I can’t believe it’s over. It was truly a wonderful experience, and I am so sad to be leaving Budapest and the people I’ve gotten to know so well over the past few months.”

More on Gregory’s blog:

Rachel Insoft

Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

“Going to Budapest was a great decision, I made some of the best friends of my life! We had a wonderful time learning math, exploring the city and traveling. Every math major should choose BSM!”

Elizabeth Drake Parker

Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI

“This experience has become a tethering post in my life; whenever I consider what has been special and interesting in my life so far, ‘ I lived in Budapest’ is the inevitable answer. Looking back, ‘Thank God I became a math major’, I sometimes think to myself, ‘or else I might have never  gone to Budapest.’

Abra Brisbin

Carleton College, Northfield, MN

Abra’s Journal is a collection of emails that Abra sent home from Budapest while she attended the Fall 2003 Budapest Semesters in Mathematics. These letters are filled with the excitement and adventure of Abra’s term in Hungary and she has graciously agreed to share them with you.

Betsy Langowski

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN

“It was the best experience of my life. … I was exposed to more of the world (not only in mathematics) than I ever thought I could be. It was invaluable to learn such amazing things in such an amazing city, and I am a changed person. I wrote a blog detailing my experience as it occurred.” The URL is

Andrew Gillette

Amherst College, Amherst, MA

“This was exactly what I wanted out of study abroad—fantastic mathematics, a great community of students, and an incredible place to live. I know I’ll never get another opportunity like I had last fall, and I’m really glad I took advantage of it. It’s already changed me into a different person – things seem so strange back home now, but more than that it’s made me much more confident of who I am, both academically and socially. I remember thinking as I was in Budapest that this was truly one of the coolest things I had done yet in my life and now, after returning, I’m convinced it was THE coolest thing I’ve ever done.

Chris Zanoni

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

“It’s unlike any other program you will EVER encounter. The courses are intense enough to satisfy the next Fermat, yet it’s such a close knit and enthusiastic environment that you can’t help but be pulled into the complex and fascinating world of mathematics. As an average math major, it taught me that just trying to find answers to mind boggling problems is the most rewarding part of the whole process. The informal discussions that would pop up about complex problems made you relish being able to not only understand these things, but also being the one who posed the next problem.

And personally? Where do I start? The finest minds attend Budapest Semesters. More importantly they’re also the finest people you will ever meet. I’m now convinced that depth of knowledge breeds a TREMENDOUS depth of character.

Mix it all in a world as warm and friendly as Budapest, and it’s paradise.”

Dr. Margaret Robinson

Professor of Mathematics, Mount Holyoke College

“The Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program has become almost essential for mathematics majors at liberal arts colleges to do if they are thinking about graduate school in mathematics.”

Chain Bridge

Brigid Mooney

Robert E. Cook Honors College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA

“There was a time in my life when, like many university students, I began to question the track I was setting forth for myself. Where did I want to go? Would mathematics and physics take me there? Perhaps even more importantly, what did I want to do upon my arrival?

In my mind I tried to piece together precisely why these subjects contained so much appeal. In trying to find the answer that would have so many present and future implications, I turned to the past.

I recalled a statement, conveniently on video for posterity’s sake, made years before while being interviewed on a local cable access program about my fifth grade science project, ëPalindrome. Ten years old and scared stiff, I was forced to come up with a quick, intelligent and witty answer to the question of why I chose to examine palindrome multiplication. My response had none of these qualities; instead, I merely whispered, “Math’s nice.” Granted I was not the most eloquent 11-year-old, but something in those words foreshadowed the fact that mathematics would become a significant theme in my life.

What was it, though, that made me recall this simple statement? Like anyone else, I actively seek out the things from which I can draw satisfaction. And luckily I have uncovered my own source of satisfaction: challenges and the continual need to learn. For myself, complacency is a dangerous prospect, a parasite that if ever given time to settle under my skin would eat away at my very contentment. It was to satisfy this need for challenge and continual knowledge that I attended Cambridge University’s Science Summer School…, and for this same reason that I [applied] to participate in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program. … In immersing myself within the Hungarian culture for an entire semester, I will challenge myself to adapt to and appreciate a new culture and people, complete with its own history and way of life. Hungary has developed uniquely as a nation, and it would prove beneficial to me to be more exposed to the perspectives of those who have come into their own under very different circumstances from my own. Only then can I truly hope to have a more unbiased opinion about my own culture. That challenge aside, perhaps what I consider one of the most valuable aspects of the program would be the process of learning mathematics from a different cultural perspective. The methods used to convey ideas differ from culture to culture, even within an individual discipline such as mathematics. To be able to approach problems from a different perspective would add an entirely new dimension to my abilities and appreciation for the subject, confirming the sentiments of a formerly shy 11-year-old.

After all, math is nice.”

Amy Myers

St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

After returning to the U.S., Amy wrote a description of the BSM Program. Since attending BSM Amy has finished her Ph.D. at Dartmouth and a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeff Wall

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

“The biggest (nonmathematical) strengths are the cultural opportunities available in Hungary: a unique, vibrant culture and cuisine, and a city and country waiting to be explored. By meeting Hungarians and immersing myself in Hungarian lifestyle, I was able to develop a deep affection and love for Budapest. …… I became more tolerant and patient and more appreciative of the nature and diversity of human life.”

Julie Theoret

University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

“I would recommend this program to anyone studying mathematics. I will never forget the semester I spent in Budapest. I met many wonderful intelligent people, traveled a lot, learned about a different culture and had a lot of fun. The best thing of all: I did it all while learning some mathematics!”

The following comments were added years later:

“I still have very fond memories of Budapest and the family I lived with. I keep in touch with them regularly, and I hope to go back one day for another visit. I would recommend the program to anyone who wants to learn mathematics while enjoying a wonderful and unique cultural experience.”

Travel Hungary

Christine Morales

Carleton College, Northfield, MN

“Several of my friends at college have gone on the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Program, and all of them have brought back glowing reports. They do not even need to tell me their stories; I can see for myself that it has been good for them. Those that had been lukewarm have gained a passion for mathematics; their performance in mathematics improves dramatically; and like others who have studied abroad, they bring back their rich, new cultural experience in everything they do.”

John Wesley Cain

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

“Due to the expense of traveling, I have never traveled much. In fact, I can only recall five occasions when I have been outside the state….and I’ve never been overseas. Living and studying in Budapest does not cost much more than I pay to attend my current university. I was shocked to learn of a study abroad program that offered excellent teaching at such a reasonable cost, and pleased to realize that studying overseas is no longer out of the question.”

Mike Dirks

Father of a former participant

“As [a] father, I would like to offer my thanks for an excellent program. Robert grew mathematically from all indications and certainly was challenged. … Besides program quality, I am impressed with the reasonable cost. It is clearly an excellent value. … The experience would be well worth a higher cost.”

Daniel Braithwaite

Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA

Daniel Braithwaite wrote the following after returning to the states, about his Budapest Semester experience. Click below to visit with Daniel.

The Best of Braithwaite

Tiffany Barnes

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Click here to read Tiffany’s Letter to NC State Undergraduates. Or click here to view a few of Tiffany’s pictures.

“This entire semester has been one of the greatest adventures I’ve ever had. I saw places I’ve wanted to go to for years, and didn’t expect to go to for many more. Budapest is the second most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, and the program was also quite affordable for me. Plus, I probably doubled what I knew about math in four months, which is obviously a good thing.”

Hungary Castle

Katy Davis

Reed College, Portland, OR

“My experiences in Budapest really put things in perspective for me. Going to a small liberal arts college can sometimes give you a very narrow view of the world; living in a foreign city without the safety net of parents or a bigger college forced me to grow up a lot. I would also encourage students to …….. learn Hungarian! It’s such an interesting and challenging language, but learning and practicing even a little bit is very rewarding. Scary, but rewarding.”

Megan Barber

Williams College, Williamstown, MA

“…living in Budapest was the most exciting, challenging, and thrilling thing I have ever done. What an education to be a foreigner.”

Click below for some excerpts:

Megan’s Musings

Angela Janssen

Valparaiso University Valparaiso, IN

“I studied more mathematics than I ever had, and loved it. I made friends that I will have for life, who actually WANTED to talk math (ever have that problem?). I discovered a city and watched as it became a home to me. I’ll never be able to write down what Budapest means to me; … Looking over the city from Gellert Hegy (near school) and thinking about the city is close to how it feels to think about Gödel’s proof, that’s the closet I can come to describing it.”

Ellen Veomett

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

“I thought [the BSM professors] were a nice balance of freedom and help. I knew I could get help with anything I needed, but it wasn’t spoon-fed so that I didn’t need to do anything on my own.”

Paul SanGiorgio

Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA

“I tell everyone I meet that they should go on this program. It was the best semester of my entire life!”

Hungary Lion

Dana Paquin

Davidson College, Davidson, NC

On arriving in Budapest:

“The hardest thing about the arrival process is that you are so tired after travelling all the way to Budapest from the US. I had no idea how hard the trip would be…especially when you’ve got all your luggage, etc.

Another thing that makes the arrival difficult is the extreme culture shock of arriving in the new country. Obviously, there is really no way around this, but I think we should communicate to participants as much as possible to be prepared to feel tired, unhappy/uncomfortable, nervous and scared upon their arrival and for the first day or so. Other than that, however, I think that my arrival went pretty well.

It probably would have been better for me if I had attempted to sleep on the plane on the way over…another suggestion might be to advise students to sleep on the way over, because they will not be able to sleep when they arrive, because there will be several hours of things to do immediately after they arrive. I had to go to the bank to exchange money to pay rent to my landlord, discuss all of the necessary things regarding rent, utilities, etc., with him, buy a transportation pass, etc.”

Jared Shettler

Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA

When Jared Shettler returned from his semester in Budapest, he was asked, Would you recommend this program to other students? His answer was, “Absolutely. With fervor! Learn the language. Travel extensively, especially within Hungary.”