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Dear BSM Student,

It is our pleasure to welcome you among the students of the 2014 Summer Semester of the BSM program. We, the Budapest directors, 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. Later you will meet me, Dezsô Miklós, the Budapest director and/or Prof. Ágnes Szilárd, the associate director and professors at the program, on the 13th of June, at the opening session of the semester which consists of an Orientation session and a Welcome Party.

In case you are lost at the arrival for some reason (delayed, or missed plane, etc.), please call the BSM (mobile) hotline 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: afoti@mcdaniel.hu or office@bsmath.hu or dezso@renyi.hu or szilard@renyi.hu. 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. As far as I know, 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 me at dezso@renyi.hu, have you not done so yet.

Let me summarize here again briefly the recent situation: if you are a US (Canadian, Mexican, South Korean, Singapore) citizen, you can enter the countries of the European Union, including Hungary, without a visa and stay for 90 days (within every consecutive 180 calendar days). Since the summer program is much shorter than 90 days, even including the language option and some travel within the Schengen region, you will stay definitely shorter than 90 days, will need NO further paperwork. With your passport you might travel free within the Schengen region, or leave and reenter it.

If you are not a US citizen (or citizen of the countries listed above), 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, contact me immediately, please.

Once you arrive with your C type visa, you can freely travel inside the Schengen region (most of the EU countries, except Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and the British Islands, but including Switzerland and Norway), you will not need a visa to enter those countries or return to Hungary. However, most probably you willhave a single entry visa, so you may not leave the Schengen region.

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.  Most of you have shared with this info with us already. In case of last minute changes, please send all relevant information ASAP to budapestsemesters@gmail.com, shimota@stolaf.edu, afoti@mcdaniel.hu and office@bsmath.hu. 

In the arrival hall, look for the BSM signs.  A student helper will in all cases be waiting for you (unless it is otherwise negotiated personally with you). In case you miss each other, be patient and try to locate him/her. In dire need, call from the station the emergency number but in no case leave the station/airport before successfully contacting us.

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, they will pick up and save it for you.

ORIENTATION You will meet the officers of the program and your professors on the opening ceremony on June 13th. (Check the academic calendar or our events' calendar for details.)

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.

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 and you need one). A parallel health service will be provided by the college here, in Budapest, allowing access to a relatively good, reliable, English language health service offered by Semmelweis University, the medical university of Budapest. Let me emphasize here that it is a parallel option — does not replace your home insurance, especially, since it does not cover you outside of Budapest, during travel, arrival and does not offer evacuation!

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. 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.

I suggest those who have not done so to join our summer student Facebook group, Budapest Semesters in Mathematics (BSM) Summer 2014 (some spring students still in town joined too, willing to help you give advice about the city etc).

Some advice from our students of previous semesters regarding money things:

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.    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), as everything else in Hungary.

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 offer better rates than banks and normally they don't charge a commission. Do NOT change money on the street!

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.    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.

INTERNET You 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. If you wish to use a local e-mail address, let me know it and a local e-mail account (firstinitialandlastname@mcdaniel.hu) will be set up by your arrival. 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. The Academic program and all other BSM related information (i.e. this letter too) will be available online, at BSM's Budapest website, www.bsmath.hu. We update this website regularly, so www.bsmath.hu might be the quickest source of information. In the Academic Program you will find information about the requirements, courses, and program of the semester. Check the website regularly (now and during the summer).

ACADEMIC ISSUES Finally I'd like to inform you about our course offers.

From our usual course selection, we offer four full courses plus the research option(s) in the summer. These are

  1. the introductory level Abstract Algebra
  2. a Conjecture and Proof/ Mathematical Problem Solving course (the level of the course will be set according to the background of the audience)
  3. an advanced analysis: our Real Functions and Measures course
  4. a combinatorics course: CO1/ CO2 (its level will be set according to the background of the audience)
  5. an undergraduate research course; course description and problems offered last summer This summer's research problems will be finalized and posted by mid-May. Contact Agnes Szilard at szilard@renyi.hu if you are interested in this course.


Since we adjust to the level of the audience, the sillaby of these courses are somewhat temporary and may change during the first weeks of the semester.

In the fall and spring semesters of the program, the first three weeks we have a "free shopping period", when students can sit in as many classes as they wish and decide what to register for by the end of the third week. This clearly would not work with an eight week long semester and therefore, you will need to decide which courses you want to enroll to in advance.

Each course, except the research one, has 8 contact hours (four meeting times) per week, we strongly discourage taking more than 2 courses (i.e., a typical course load should be either two normal courses or a normal course plus a research option).

The Elective Undergraduate Research course is designed for very advanced students. It gives them the opportunity to try their hands on research within a small group setting (or individually) under the guidance of a professor. Sample problems that they can work on are listed at the end of the syllabus. NOTE: those interested in doing EUR will meet with their professors at the Welcome party, where they should arrange for the weekly meeting times. Please, be aware that your EUR course may not be offered afterall! (See the course description for more details.)

Here is an example of problems that were offered in the Spring The list of problems offered may change for the summer! Please, contact Agnes Szilard at szilard@renyi.hu if you are interested in doing research.

Of the ones listed, we assume one or two of the research topics will be offered eventually — depending on your interests. In order to help you (and the professors) make a proper choice, each research topic carries an exam sheet (with one or more exercises) which serve as a kind of entrance exam for the actual problem. Only those will be admitted to work on a problem who are judged by the professors to have made a significant progress by the end of the first week of the semester, and therefore are predicted to be able to complete the course in good standing.

Finally, there will be a series of extra talks on Hungarian language, Hungarian culture as well as Colloquium Lectures on various branches of mathematics. We will also offer "outside" organized activities (e.g. off the beaten track walks of Budapest etc). Watch for announcements on the calendar at www.bsmath.hu! The extra talks and events will (almost) always be scheduled on Wednesdays and Thursdays at or around 2.p.m.

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 13st of June, Friday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. and the participation of each of you is absolutely essential. It will be followed by a welcome party on from 3 p.m., where you will meet most of the professors on the party.

Academic Calendar

First day of classes June 16 (Mo)
Last day of classes August 8 (Fr)
Final exams August 7-8 (Th-Fr)
Transcripts (drafts) handed out August 9 (Sa)

US EMBASSY IN BUDAPEST Last, but not least let me mention the American Citizen Services of the Budapest Embassy of the United States. Please, visit their WEB site http://hungary.usembassy.gov/service.html, it contains useful information for American citizens in Budapest. Pay particular attention to the Tourist advisory section http://hungary.usembassy.gov/tourist_advisory.html. 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

Dezso Miklós


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.

You will spend less than two 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 than the normal Budapest market price. But please understand, short term renting is more expensive everywhere in the world.

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:

.        BSM students pay between 65000-75000 HUF per person per month (right now 1USD is appr. 220 HUF, but varied between 160 and 240 HUF during the last two years) for their housing, excluding utilities, so called common charges of the houses the apartments are in, cleaning, etc.. There are some exceptions, for example you may pay more at a family stay, but you get food etc.

.        Normally 2 or 3 students share a flat, but everybody should get his/her independent room for this price. Those who request it will be housed at a family, if possible.

.        We are trying to, but we can't fulfill all wishes! We'll try to find the best apartment to you!

.        We have limited amount of families, so not everybody gets to stay with one. You will get a roommate instead.

.        Public transportation is really good in Budapest from almost all apartments you can make it to school in 30 min.

.        Please understand that not all the apartments are close to school.

.        We have apartments on the Buda side as well, but with good transportation in nice areas. Living on the Buda side does not mean to live far away from the center.

.        Changing apartment and roommate is possible, but sometimes really difficult. We have limited amount of apartments, so please try to be flexible.

.        Conditions rely on the landlords, some collect deposit some not.

.        Please always pay the rent in time!

.        Let us know if you have any problems with your landlords!

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.