Dear BSM students,

It is our pleasure to welcome you among the students of the 2008 Fall Semester of the BSM program. We, the Budapest director, the professors and the staff have great expectations of working with you!

I ask all of you to read the letter carefully, including the last part containing info about the courses of the new semester and the additional message about the housing arrangements. Since every year the final list of students arriving to Budapest is changing up to the very last minute, it might happen some of those who have already withdrawn will get this letter. Apologies for that, but I'd prefer to have some extra letters sent, rather than missing some of the coming students.

I would like to apologize here for the late sending this letter and some incomplete information you will find later. Unfortunately I just returned home after half a year visit of an outside research institution and immediately had to deal with the organization of two conferences. I try to provide you as concise information as possible and will work fully on BSM matters from next week (from the 18th of August).

Due to recent changes in the Hungarian visa and immigration regulations we do not have filtered information about you entering the country. Hungary has recently joined the so-called Schengen countries (which consist of most of the EU countries) and the rules have been harmonized. American citizens need no more visa to enter any of these countries even if they visit for long term professional or study reasons - they may apply for residence permit within 1 month after your arrival. However, this application is time consuming and cost the same (if not more) than a visa application, therefore we have suggested all of you to apply for visa. Even if you arrive with a visa (which serves as a kind of resident permit) you will have to register your address later. Summarizing, you might arrive with or without visa, the officers at the boarder will enter you into the country and later we (at the office) will advise you about the appropriate further procedure. In case you are not an American citizen, you most probably need a visa and hopefully you have it. In that case, however, unless you have a green card, we need to think of your return to the US as well - again, later we will deal with those cases individually. In any case, if you think you will need to apply for a return visa to the US while you are in Budapest please let us know about this issue as soon as possible since the bureaucratic procedures might take long time.

If your luggage gets lost during the flight and the carrier ask for your address in Budapest where to deliver it later/next day the best is to give the address of BSM (College International, BSM, 1071 Budapest, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.) because you still do not know yours and here we have a 24-hour reception. When you arrive in the airport hall (or at the train station), look for the "BSM" sign! An escort will be waiting for you and will see you to your Budapest home even if your flight arrives late at night or on weekends. Don't forget to notify our office and/or Bonnie Humke's office about your arrival time, carrier, flight number, etc. in advance. Please take care and report the exact arrival time - do remember, most probably your departure and arrival dates will be different, since you will fly overnight!!! If any unforeseen change happens in your travel plans please let us know immediately. Note that the American office will be empty sometimes during August, so simply sending them a message might not reach us, who in fact need that kind of information.

Our phone numbers are: (+361) 413 3038 (BSM office), or (+361) 413 3003 (College International central office), fax: (+361) 413 3030, while the BSM (mobile) hotline is (+3630) 4743924 (answered by Anna, our student coordinator, who you will meet soon). In case you are lost at the arrival for some reason (delayed, or missed plane, etc.), please call this last number and we will arrange a pick (up from the station) for you. You may send your message to Budapest through email to the following addresses: (equivalent to the earlier address) or Again, in a dire need of urgent info or in case of an unexpected change or delay in your arrival data or on weekends (or being lost upon the arrival) you may call our student coordinator (Ms. Anna Fóti) on the mobile phone 30-4743924 with a prefix 06 within Hungary or a prefix +0036 from outside of Hungary.

Those who come in mid August and take the intensive Hungarian language course: be prepared for the difficulties of the first couple of days because the course at school Babilon is indeed intensive! Though it includes an orientation tour in the city, the long school hours will take almost all of your days leaving hardly any gap for the daily routine of shopping, etc. The Babilon course begins on Monday, the 18th of August.

Please note that most probably the first person you will meet from the staff (apart, in some cases, the student helper meeting you upon your arrival) will be Anna, the student coordinator, who will be available during the Babilon course as well to assist your needs.

We plan a preliminary meeting with all of those attending the language school (the schedule will be announced later, but it will be on some of the first days of the course). You will meet first time all the others participating in the program and may ask questions as well, get entrance card to the college building, etc. Otherwise, normally you would meet me on the opening ceremony in September. This semester the preliminary meeting will take place at the headquarters of the program (Bethlen Gábor tér 2.) early afternoon on Tuesday, the 19th of August. At any other time I am and I will always be available via e-mail at (until the beginning of the BSM program early September, from which time we will meet regularly).

Some other technical issues (for all): we do our best to find you housing as requested. However, since the demand is changing from semester to semester, it might happen that you are placed into an apartment not exactly matching your request. If you are not satisfied with the accommodation or don't get along with your roommate(s), let us (actually, Anna) know ASAP because change might be possible! However, you may be asked to be patient for a few days until our student coordinators will find you another place to live. Due to our earlier experience, let me stress: We can solve your housing problems only if we know about them. So please, in case of having any problem, visit or contact the BSM office and let the coordinator handle the problem. Please be aware, that although BSM is an intermediary between you and your landlord, you have to agree and sign the Lease Contract with your landlord. We put a blank contract in English and Hungarian, which you can use, in the welcoming information package. Be sure you read and understood it before you sign it. Please do not pay any rent until the contract is signed (but sign a contract as soon as possible). Since during the last couple of semesters there were several debates between landlords and students in cases students changed apartments we encourage the use of the following policy (and informed the landlords about this):

During the first month of your arrival, you are free to change apartments by simply leaving the first month's rent behind (plus paying the used utility fees, of course) plus any other fees, which are due. If you change apartments later, the policy set in the contract is to be followed (usually you will loose your deposit as well). Therefore, please be sure that the contract has details about this case. In case the apartments are occupied by several students, everybody who exchanges their present apartment for a different one will forfeit their money (again, usually the remainder of the month's rent plus perhaps a security deposit, if one was paid). By Hungarian law, all visiting students must register at the designated local authority (and form this semester on, apply for the residency permit as well, which also requires a local home address). This is a bureaucratic nuisance, but our office is going to arrange the appointment for you during the first weeks of your stay in Budapest.

Let me draw your attention to the importance of having an appropriate health insure policy during your stay in Hungary. Before you leave, please call your home insurance company and make sure your insurance is valid in Hungary and what type of costs and up to what extend are met by it. A proper, valid insurance policy, covering at least up to 30000 euros your expenses will also be required for the residency permit (in case you arrive without a residence permit/visa). A possible parallel solution is to buy the local insurance sold by our home institution, College International, which for about 35 USD per month will offer you treatment in a relatively good local hospital. Let me emphasize here that it is a parallel option, but does not replace your home insurance.

Please note that the building of BSM is equipped with security entrances and you will be able to enter the building only by your chip card given to you on the orientation session (or during our Babilon course preliminary meeting ). You will have to pay 3000 HUF deposit, which will be returned prior your departure upon returning the chip card. The list of the name of the forthcoming BSM students will be deposited to the entrance desk of the building, so in case you have to or want to visit the BSM building before the official beginning of the semester, you will be allowed to the building.

Some advice from our students of previous semesters regarding money things: :
  1. 1. Bring a bank card (cirrus, MasterCard, Maestro or Visa). It gets the best exchange rate. Check with your home bank about charges for withdrawal abroad. Bankcards are much better than traveler's check, and ATM machines now can be found everywhere.
  2. 2. In case you still want to bring them, traveler's checks of USD 50 work best for traveling, and it is a good idea to have varying denominations. The textbooks or reading materials for the BSM courses are preferably sold for HUF (Hungarian forints), but USD (cash or traveler's checks) are also accepted. However, in this case normally we do not have change.
  3. 3. Bring some American cash. Do NOT change money in the US, exchange rate is much better in Hungarian banks and exchange counters. The little official exchange booths in the center of the city, around Babilon offer better rates than banks and normally they don't charge a commission. Do NOT change money on the street!
  4. 4. It is much cheaper to call Budapest from the US than doing it the other direction. You might also buy pre-paid calling cards, which make international calls really cheap. Most of our earlier students of the recent semesters quickly bought a cell-phone - sometimes calling abroad from them is also relatively cheap - especially in case of the voice over IP solution. It's free to receive calls on your cell-phone.
  5. Be warned that many of the smaller shops close relatively early (6 PM) and are often closed on Sundays.

You all will have Internet access and may use your home e-mail address if you wish at the computer lab of College International. Recently we have set up a room for connections of laptops as well. However, if you wish to use a local e-mail address, let me know it and by your arrival a local e-mail account ( will be set up.

More and more of the BSM students are keen about an immediate INTERNET access in their apartment. In case you have a laptop with a modem and your apartment will have a land phone line, you may use the Hungarian Telecom's Open Internet service. Simple call 06,51622622 via the modem and use the user name t-com and password t-com (identical). From 7am till midnight it will cost 5 HUF/minute, while during the night 3HUF/minute (recently 1 USD is around 150 HUF). Some apartments may have permanent, fast (DSL) connections as well, but in that case you will have to pay a bit extra to the rental fee, since only permanent (long term) internet connection is available in Hungary, and the lump sum fee need to be paid when the apartment is unoccupied too. In that case, however, the use of the service is free of additional charge and is unlimited.

A printed version of this welcome letter with some additional information and a survival package will be given to you as well upon or a bit after your arrival, while the Academic program will be delivered to the Babilon course. In the Academic Program you will find information about the requirements, courses, program of the semester; however, the first version of the schedule of classes will be available on-line and distributed in print only on or around the orientation session. Those, who will arrive only by the beginning of the semester, will receive their Academic program upon the arrival as well. All of these (including this letter) will be available at the BSM local WEB site,, as soon as they are ready, so the site might be the quickest source of information. Check it regularly (after the 18th of August). I had some recent complains about the dead 2008 fall links of the WEB page. I am aware of that (since I do maintain the page), and again, I only can ask for your patience until next week.

In case you are a non-US citizen and you will need to apply for a return visa to the US while you are in Budapest please let Anna know about this issue as soon as possible since the bureaucratic procedures might take long time.

Finally I'd like to inform you about our course offers and ask your assistance in preparing the schedule of the courses. Since we will have most of the time 2 or 3 classes parallel to each other, in order to avoid (as much as possible) conflicts of classes. I need to know in advance what courses you plan to take. The semester starts with a trial period of three weeks, when you can sit in as many classes as you wish. Only after this you must register for the courses you really want to study; therefore your pre-registration will only inform me about the approximate number of students in the courses and the possible conflicts of classes I should try to avoid when preparing the schedule but will no carry obligation. On the other hand, if you mark 6-8 math classes you might take, it will have little help for me. In case you are not decided - but only in that case - try to weight at least the courses (weight 1 meaning you surely want to take the course, any smaller trying to indicate the chance you'll take the course).

Please note that there is an extra tuition fee (payable at the Budapest office) for the 6th and further math courses you would take. That is, your paid tuition covers as much as 5 math courses and the OFFERED non math courses and for any further math course a non-refundable tuition of 350USD should be paid by the registration time (i.e., by the end of the third week). In case anybody would like to drop a course later, it can be done by submitting a written request (form will be provided) signed by the instructor of the course to the Budapest BSM office. Failure of doing it will result a "U" (unsatisfactory) grade for the course.

Let me emphasize that the list of the courses below is not obligatory for us either. In case of having low interest in a course or due to any other reason they might not be offered or may be cancelled later. Especially, MAP and D&B are planned to be offered only if a suitable number of students will preregister. Altogether, I'd like to ask you to pre-register (indicate the courses you may like to take) either on a sheet of paper given to Anna if you are already in Budapest (please indicate your name on the sheet) or in an e-mail sent to ( ASAP, but not later than the 1st of September.

This year a new history courses is introduced, replacing the "old" HIS The Making of Modern Central Europe: HIS: Holocauts and Memory, whose syllabus (with all the others) will soon be available on the BSM WEBsite.

Finally, let me mention again that all the syllabi will be available soon at (and all earlier Syllabi are already available there, many of them almost or completely identical with the recent semester's one).

List of courses

Introductory level math courses

(meaning they do not require more prerequisites then the usual introductory calculus and algebra classes, but some may still be very demanding)
AL1 Introduction to Abstract Algebra
ANT Topics in Analysis
CLX Complex Analysis
C&P Conjecture and Proof
CO1 Combinatorics 1
EPS Mathematical Problem Solving
NU1 Number Theory 1
PRO Probability Theory
SET Set Theory
TOP Introduction to Topology

Advanced math courses

AAL Advanced Algebra
CO2 Combinatorics 2
FUN Functional Analysis
GAL Galois Theory
GEO Topics in Geometry
GTT Graph Theory
NUT Topics in Number Theory
RFM Real Functions and Measures
THC Theory of Computing

Additional math courses

The following math courses will be introduced (maybe as reading courses) in case of interest:

D&B Dynamics and Bifurcations (Differential Equations)
DIG Differential Geometry
LOG Mathematical Logic
MAP Mathematical Physics

Non math courses:

HL1 Beginner Hungarian Language
HL2 Intermediate Hungarian Language
HUC Hungarian Art and Culture
HIS Holocaust and Memory
HAM Historical Aspects of Physics and Mathematics
FILM Film Analysis - Great Masters of European Films
OPH Old World and New World Political Philosophy

On your pre-registration you may indicate any other topics (within mathematics) you wish to learn - in case of many similar requests I will do my best to design an appropriate course for you. Sometimes Introduction to Abstract Algebra is requested by a considerable number of students, in which case I try to launch it, though in general we assume our students had already it.

The syllabi of the above courses and the Academic program will be given to you soon, and both will be available on the BSM local WEB site soon. Please check the site regularly for updates (new active links).

Please note that the opening of the program (orientation session followed by the welcome party) will take place at our Bethlen ter headquarter on the 5th of September, Friday from 2:30 p.m. and the participation of each of you is absolutely essential. Please do not plan any other activity for this time.

The (brief) calendar of the semester is as follows:

Spring 2008 Opening Program

September 5, (Fr), 2:30 PM Orientation session, Room 102, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.
September 5, (Fr), 4:00 PM Welcome Party, Room 224, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.
September 8, (Mo), 10:15 AM   classes begin, 2nd floor, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.

Academic Calendar

First day of classes September 8, (Mo)
Feedback session September 25, (Th)
Registration deadline September 25, (Th)
Last day of classes December 12 (Fr)
Final exams December 15-17 (Mo-We)
Transcripts (drafts) handed out December 18 (Th)
Official holidays (no classes): October 23 (Th), November 27 (Thanksgiving)
Special Arrangements October 24 2 (Fr) will be off, October 18 (Sa) working day

Last, but not least let me mention the American Citizen Services of the Budapest Embassy of the United States. Please, visit their WEB site (, it contains useful information for American citizens in Budapest. Pay particular attention to the Tourist advisory section ( Previous semesters a couple of times we had BSM students scammed in Vaci utca, which I naturally would like to avoid in the future.

Looking forward to seeing you in Budapest

Dezső Miklós

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Dear BSM students,

Since the housing arrangement has become a crucial issue during the last few semesters, we would like to share some information with you about the housing situation here in Budapest, in addition to what is written in the welcome letter above. It is really important for you to know what to expect before you arrive.

All BSM students spend around four months in the country. It is nowhere easy to find reasonable accommodation for such a short period and unfortunately BSM has no dormitory facilities. Most probably you would not be able to find places with such conditions. This is why we believe it is our (the Budapest office's) duty to solve the housing question. In some of the cases during the last semesters some BSM students thought they were able to solve their housing in a more clever way, but it rarely worked, normally only caused extra trouble for both of us. Therefore, I asked you to act independently only if you are absolutely sure about your possibilities. In that case we might not be able to help you later.

The Budapest office maintains a list of apartments with landlords who are willing to rent out them for short term. The price of these apartments (per person) is calculated under the conditions given, and therefore a bit higher then the normal Budapest market price. But please understand, short term renting is more expensive everywhere in the world. And, in most of the cases, BSM landlords have their apartments empty for a month in the winter and 3 months during the summer, when we have no BSM students in the city. Therefore, they are paid rent only for 8 months per year.

According to the normal procedure you will be assigned (and guided to) and apartment upon your arrival, as close to your wish described in the housing matching form as possible. The procedure after that is described in the welcome letter above.

In general, please note the following comments: Finally let me ask you to keep your apartment in a good shape during your stay in Budapest and give it back in the same condition you got them. During the last semesters we (almost) completely succeeded in changing the BSM apartments to certain standards, which meet the requirements of the BSM students. However, the monthly rent does not cover the full renovation of the apartments after each semester, so you cooperation is essential in keeping the apartments in good shape. Moreover, any damage will be deducted from your (local or US) security deposit. It is very difficult to demand high standards from the landlords if the tenants do not obey the standards themselves. So, please, keep the apartments in good shape, clean and tidy condition during your stay.

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