Dear BSM student,

It is our pleasure to welcome you among the students of the 2011 Spring Semester of the BSM program. We, the Budapest director, the professors and the staff have great expectations of working with you!

I ask you to read this letter carefully, including the last part containing information about the courses of the new semester and the additional message about the housing arrangements.

CONTACT 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 (0630 4743924 from Hungary, answered by Anna, i.e. Ms. Anna Fóti, our student coordinator, who you will meet upon your arrival or soon after that). 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, who will be available during the Babilon course as well to assist your needs. Later you will meet the directors of the program, either Prof. Ágnes Szilárd, the associate director, on the 19th of January - in case you participate on the language program - or on the 4th of February, the opening day of the semester, you will meet me, Dezső Miklós, the Budapest director of the program (we are both professors at the program as well).

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 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 Anna on the mobile phone 0630-4743924 within Hungary or +3630-4743924 from outside of Hungary.

VISA. I hope everybody is in a good shape by now, you either need no visa to enter Hungary, or have already submitted your visa applications at the appropriate Hungarian consulate. Let me repeat, in case you think you need our assistance, send a message to and, have you not done so yet.

Let me summarize here again briefly the recent situation: if you are a US citizen, you can enter the countries of the European Union, including Hungary, without a visa (you still might apply for the D type visa and residence permit prior of your arrival, but based on the recent information I assume all or most of the US and Canadian citizens will arrive without a visa). You are, however, required to obtain your residence permit within a month of your arrival. You will have to do the paperwork and spend time in government offices in Budapest to obtain your residence permit. You will need exactly the same documents for that what you would have needed in the US, except that instead of the 80USD money order, you will be required to pay 18000 HUF cash.

If you are not a US citizen, most likely you will need a visa which you hopefully have applied for already. In case you still do not have a visa and there are no definite plans when and where to pick up, or your visa is not D type, contact me immediately, please.

Please note that those arriving with D type visa SHOULD NOT LEAVE Hungary before they get their residence permit. If you leave prior that, most probably you will not be reentered into Hungary, should you need a visa, or, in case you may enter without a visa, you risk that you will have to apply again for a residence permit (pay the fee again, collect all documents again, etc.) We will assist - in either case - you to get the residence permit and get your local address registered ASAP (see later, at BABILON).

Once you have your residence permit, you can freely travel inside the Schengen region (most of the EU countries, minus Romania, Bulgaria and the British Islands, but including Switzerland and Norway), you will not need a visa to enter those countries or return to Hungary. However, if you are not an American citizen, for other European countries, like Romania, Croatia or Turkey, England, you might need a visa.

ARRIVAL Please send us by email your exact arrival schedule (airline, flight number, city arriving from, exact date - make sure to add one day to your departure date since your flight across the Atlantic will be overnight) so we can pick you up at the airport. In the arrival hall, look for the BSM signs. We need this info ASAP. Please send this info, as well as info about any last-minute changes in your schedule, both to and to

If your luggage gets lost and the carrier ask for your address in Budapest where to deliver it when it arrives, please give them the BSM address: College International, BSM, 1071 Budapest, Bethlen Gábor tér 2. We have a 24-hour reception there.

BABILON Those who come in mid January and take the intensive Hungarian language course: be prepared for the challenges 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 little time for the daily routines of shopping, etc. The Babilon course begins on Wednesday, the 19th of January and end on the 1st of February. On the 2nd of February, Wednesday those who have arrived earlier will go with Anna to the immigration office to pick up their residence permits if they have the D type visa or apply for the permit otherwise. The language course might continue the next day (you will be informed by the staff of the school) and the BSM program itself will begin with the orientation on the 4th of February, Friday.

ORIENTARION We (Anna, Ági and me) plan a preliminary meeting with all of those attending the language school on the 19th of January, Wednesday, early afternoon. This event will take place at Bethlen tér, the BSM headquarters; Anna will pick you and usher to Bethlen tér from the Babilon School. You will meet first time all the other students participating in the program and may ask questions as well, get entrance card to the college building, etc. This short orientation will be given by Ági Szilárd (I will be out of Budapest from the 4th of January till the 26th, but will be back for the beginning of the program).

Otherwise, normally you would meet the officers of the program on the opening ceremony in February. However, please feel free to send all of your inquiries to me, Ági and/or Anna at as well (though Anna might not be able to answer the academic questions). From the beginning of the semester we will meet regularly.

HOUSING We do our best to find your 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 lose 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 from this semester on, those who arrive without a visa, 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. Again, on the 1st of February, Wednesday all of those who attend the language school will be guided by Anna to the Immigration Office to register your local address (and apply for or pick up the residence permit), while the other cases will be handled individually, most of them on the first Wednesday of the program.

INSURANCE 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.

MISCELLANOUS 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, however, only sold for HUF (Hungarian forints).
  3. 3. Bring some American cash (cash is always handy in case of emergency). 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. Your apartments should have internet connection as well and calling via skype or other internet based connection should be the cheapest way.
  5. 5. Be warned that many of the smaller shops close relatively early (6 PM) and are often closed on Sundays. However, even in the downtown area there are big supermarkets and malls open late evening and/or the weekend (there might be changes during next year, all shops might close for Sunday).

INTERNET You all will have Internet access and may use your home e-mail address if you wish at the computer lab of College International, our umbrella institution. You can use your laptop all over the building via WiFi. 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. Alternatively, during the first days at Bethlen ter you may visit the computer lab and an account can be set up for you. To use the computer lab, print or copy pages, you will need your entrance card. There will be 100 pages (printed or copied) preloaded on the card and you can top it up in the appropriate office at Bethlen ter.

All BSM students are keen about an immediate INTERNET access in their apartment. We have made serious efforts and I hope all of the apartments will have fast internet connection, but in that case you will naturally have to pay a bit extra to the rental fee, since only long term internet connection is available in Hungary, and the lump sum fee need to be paid for the period when the apartment is unoccupied, too. In that case, however, the use of the service is free of additional charge and is unlimited, and much faster (most of the cases).

FURTHER INFORMATION 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 (those, who will arrive only by the beginning of the semester, will receive their Academic program upon the arrival as well.) 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 (early February). 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 (now and then after the 19th of January). We have set up a BSM Wiki page as well at (or you can reach it from the BSM website It has a bit of sparse information right now, but hopefully you will fill it up very soon.

ACADEMIC ISSUES 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 3 (or, due to the exceptionally large number of participants, even 4) 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. 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 "NA" (non-attending) 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 canceled later. 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, preferably, in an e-mail sent to at your earliest convenience, but not later than the 26th of January.

This semester we expect the now usual high number of students. For the beginner courses, in case of high interest, some of them, such as introductory combinatorics, number theory, topology, etc., might be offered in two separate sessions. Some new advanced combinatorics courses have been introduced, so interested students might choose from Combinatorics of Finite Sets and Extremal Combinatorics (or both) and the brand new Combinatorial Optimization.

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
MPS Mathematical Problem Solving
NU1 Number Theory 1
PRO Probability Theory
SET Set Theory
TOP Introduction to Topology

Advanced math courses

AAL Advanced Algebra
CO2A Combinatorics of Finite Sets
CO2B Extremal Combinatorics
COP Combinatorial Optimization
DIG Differential Geometry
FUN Functional Analysis
GAL Galois Theory
GEO Topics in Geometry
GRT Graph Theory
MAP Mathematical Physics
NUT1 Topics in Analytic Number Theory OR
NUT2 Additive Combinatorics
RFG Representation Theory of Finite Groups
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:

LOG Mathematical Logic
BIO Combinatorial and computational aspects of bioinformatics

Non math courses:

HL1 Beginner Hungarian Language
HL2 Intermediate Hungarian Language
HUC Hungarian Art and Culture
HIS Holocaust and Memory
HMS History of Modern Science FILM Film Analysis - Great Masters of European Films
OPH Old World and New World Political Philosophy

The syllabi of the above courses and the Academic program will be given to you soon after your arrival, and both will be available on the BSM local WEB site

CALENDAR 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 4th of February, Friday afternoon from 3:30 p.m. (orientation) and 5pm (welcome party) and the participation of each of you is absolutely essential.

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

Spring 2011 Opening Program

February 4 (Fr), 3:30 PM Orientation session, Room 102, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.
February 4 (Fr), 5:00 PM   Welcome Party, Room 224 (may change), Bethlen Gábor tér 2.
February 7 (Mo), 10:15 AM classes begin, 2nd floor, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.

Academic Calendar

First day of classes February 7 (Mo)
Feedback session February 24 (Th) 4 pm 4 pm
Registration deadline February 24 (Th) 4 pm 10 am
Last day of classes May 20 (Fr)
Final exams May 23-25 (Mo-We)
Transcripts (drafts) handed out May 26 (Th)
Official holidays (no classes): March 15 (Tu), April 25 (Mo)
Spring break: April 16 (Sa) - April 25 (Mo)

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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