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Dear BSM student,

It is our pleasure to welcome you among the students of the 2015 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.

A clickable version of this letter can be found at

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 (003630) 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. You will also meet her on the 15th of January at 2:30 pm during the pre-orientation, in case you participate in the language program. You will meet me, Dr Dezső Miklós, director on the 30th of January, Friday at 3:30 pm, for the (academic) orientation.

In case you are lost at arrival for some reason (delayed, or missed your plane, etc.), please call the BSM (mobile) hotline and we will arrange to pick you up from the airport/station at your new arrival time. Or you may send your message to Budapest through email to the following addresses: afoti@mcdaniel.hu or office@bsmath.hu (equivalent to the earlier bsm@mcdaniel.hu address) 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 arrival) you may call Anna on the mobile phone 0630-4743924 within Hungary or 0036304743924 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 received your visa from the appropriate Hungarian consulate. 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 (See a clickable version here): if you are a US (Canadian, Brasilian, Japanese, South Korean, Singapore) 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 about 18000 HUF cash. We will help you through this process and accompany you to the Immigration office in due time. However, we will require your thorough cooperation.

If you are a citizen of an EU country, you do not need visa, of course, to enter Hungary and the residence situation is also much simpler. However, in this case you should be sure to enter the Schengen region with your EU passport, should you have any other citizenship.

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, 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.) Again, 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, except 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.

DEPARTING TO HUNGARY Lately it was drawn to our attention that some US airline officers have doubt about entering our students on the board of the aircrafts heading to Hungary (possibly via another European, Schengen region ports) without a so-called D-type visa, claiming that they are entitled to stay within the Schengen region free of visa only 90 days, but there return ticket is booked for a date over this period or they have no return ticket. In order to avoid inconveniences, download this letter to be shown to the airline officers in case of doubt.

ARRIVAL IN HUNGARY 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, we have just a few missing cases. In case of last minute changes, please send all relevant information ASAP to budapestsemesters@gmail.com, shimota@stolaf.edu, afoti@mcdaniel.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 the emergency number but in no case leave the station/airport before successfully contacting us.

If your luggage gets lost and the carrier asks 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.

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 Babilon school 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, 14th of January and ends 30th of January, Friday. A Babilon timetable is attached to this message.

On January 28th, Wednesday, there will be no Babilon classes. That day, a group of students will go with Anna to the immigration office to get their residence permits if they have the D type visa or apply for the permit otherwise.

There will also be BSM related events during the Babilon course, e.g. the pre-orientation at 2:30pm the January 15th, Thursday, to discuss question emerging till that point, get an overview of your upcoming semester, life at BSM and in Budapest including safety issues.

The BSM program itself will begin with the orientation on the 30th of January, Friday, at 3:30 pm There will be a Welcome party the same afternoon starting 5pm. Classes start on February 2nd, Monday, at 10am. (The class schedule will be posted around January 30th.)

PRE-ORIENTATION There will be a preliminary meeting with all of those attending the language school on the 15th of January, Thursday, at 2:30pm. This event will take place at Bethlen tér, the BSM headquarters; Anna will usher you to Bethlen tér from the Babilon School. This is when you will meet all the other students participating in the program for the first time, get an entrance card to the college building, etc. Otherwise, you will meet the officers of the program during the regular orientation on January 30th, 3:30pm, also at Bethlen ter.

In the meantime please feel free to send all of your inquiries to me at dezso@renyi.hu, Agnes at szilard@renyi.hu and/or Anna at afoti@mcdaniel.hu (though Anna might not be able to answer the academic questions). From the beginning of the semester we will meet regularly.

RESIDENCY PERMITS By Hungarian law, all visiting students must register at the Immigration Office in Budapest. Those who arrive without a visa, must apply for a residency permit as well. This is a bureaucratic nuisance, but our office will do its best to help get your permit as soon as possible. We are going to arrange an appointment for you with the Immigration Office during the first weeks of your stay in Budapest. On the 28th of January, Wednesday the first group of students will be accompanied by Anna to the Immigration Office to register your local address (and apply for/ pick up the residence permit). Everyone else will go in small groups during February. The exact schedules (who will go when) will be announced later.

Once again, you are 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. This may be a time consuming and tiring process. We will help you through it and take you to the Immigration office at due time, as outlined above. However, we require your full cooperation.

Please note that those of you who have no D type visa will be required to pay about 18000 HUF for the permit in the form of fiscal stamps that are available at the post offices. (Ask for 18000 forints worth of OKMÁNYBÉLYEG.) The Immigration Office accepts no cash or credit cards/bank cards!

See the "visa" section for more info on residence permits.

HOUSING 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 -- she may be able to find you alternative lodging. 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 emphasize: 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, starting Wednesday, the 28th of January you will be guided by Anna to the Immigration Office in small groups to register your local address (and apply for or pick up the residence permit). The exact details (including who goes when) will be announced later.

More on Housing 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 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 (within easy commute to school) 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 better way, but it rarely worked, normally only caused extra trouble for both of us. Therefore, I ask you to act independently only if you are absolutely sure about your possibilities. However, be aware that in that case we might not be able to help you later.

The Budapest office maintains a list of furnished and fully equipped apartments with landlords who are willing to rent them out for short term. The price of these apartments (per person) is calculated under the conditions given, and therefore somewhat higher than the normal Budapest market price. But please understand, short term furnished 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 normal procedure you will be assigned (and guided to) an 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 - such as having internet everywhere. However, the monthly rent does not cover the full renovation of the apartments after each semester, so your 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.

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 find out what type of costs and up to what extend are met by it. We suggest a proper, valid insurance policy, covering at least up to 30000 euros of your health expenses as well as covering evacuation costs.

A suplemental health insurance will be provided by the college here, in Budapest (included in your tuition), allowing access to a relatively good, reliable, English language health service offered by Semmelweis University, the medical university of Budapest. However, let me emphasize here that it is a parallel option, but does not replace your home insurance, especially, it does not cover you outside of Budapest, during travel, arrival, neither evacuation to the US!

See the full terms of the local insurance here.

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 refunded prior your departure upon returning the chip card. The list of the name of the forthcoming BSM students will be deposited at 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 (a very basic one is about 3000 forints and a sim card is about 2500 forints, half of which can be used for calls). Sometimes calling abroad via a cell phone 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. DUE TO A VERY RECENT NEW LAW ALL STORES LARGER THAN 200square meters WILL BE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS i.e. supermarkets as well.

INTERNET You will all have Internet access both at school and at home and may use your home e-mail address. You can use your laptop all over the BSM building via WiFi or use the computer lab of College International, our umbrella institution. If you wish to use a local e-mail address, let me know it and by your arrival a local e-mail account (firstinitialandlastname@mcdaniel.hu) 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 all of the apartments should have fast internet connection. This also increases the rental prices a little bit 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. However, the use of the service is free of additional charge and is unlimited and fast (most of the cases).

FURTHER INFORMATION Additional information and a survival package will be given to you upon or a bit after your arrival, during pre-orientation on January 15th. (Those, who will arrive only by the beginning of the semester, will receive all info at the Orientation session, January 30th, 3:30pm.) You will find information about the requirements, courses, and program of the semester in the Student Handbook as well as the homepage www.bsmath.hu, which is the most up-to-date source for any info. There you will find the first version of the schedule of classes by the end of January. Check the website (www.bsmath.hu) regularly after the 15th of January!

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 large number of participants, even 4) classes parallel to each other, in order to avoid (as much as possible) conflicts of classes we need to know in advance what courses you intend to take. (You will have three weeks to finalize your schedule, see below.)
We will ask for this info via an online questionnaire which you will receive by the 15th of January. By the same time an up-to-date list of all courses we are planning to offer will be available at http://www.bsmath.hu/ . After studying it, we ask that you fill out the online form by January 22nd, Wednesday.

We need your pre-registration info in order to set up an optimal schedule (i.e. one with as few schedule conflicts for everyone as possible). Because of that try to be as specific as possible - if you mark 6-8 math classes you might take, it will be of little help for us in scheduling the courses. 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 number trying to indicate the chance you'll take the course).

This pre-registration info is "only" about your plans: the semester starts with a trial period of three weeks, when you can sit in as many classes as you wish. Only after this period must you register for the courses you really want to study; therefore your pre-registration iformation will only inform us about the approximate number of students in the courses and the possible conflicts of classes we should try to avoid when preparing the schedule. (But note: it is impossible to make a schedule that would pefectly suite all needs.)

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.

INFO ON PLANNED COURSES Once again, an up-to-date list of all courses we are planning to offer will be available at starting the 15th of January at www.bsmath.hu.
Let me emphasize that the list of the courses is not final! In case of having low interest in a course or due to any other reason a course may not be offered or may be canceled later. Once again, I'd like to ask you to pre-register (indicate the courses you may like to take) by filling out an online form which you will receive via email by January 15th.

This semester we expect the now usual high number of students. The introductory courses, in case of high interest, some of them, such as introductory combinatorics, number theory, topology, etc., may be offered in two separate sessions. Details (syllaby) will be posted by January 15th.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to two courses that are based on the high reputation of Hungarian mathematics teaching and nurturing talented high school students: "Discovery learning for gifted students" and "Classroom Observations in Mathematics".
Once again, an up-to-date list of all courses we are planning to offer this semester will be available at http://www.bsmath.hu/ starting the 15th of January. After studying it, please, fill out the online form which will be sent to you by Agnes Szilard our associate director. The form has to be filled out by January 22nd.

CALENDAR Please note that the program will start with an orientation session: it will take place at our Bethlen ter headquarter on the Friday, January 30th, 3:30pm and the participation of each of you is absolutely essential. It will be followed by a welcome party on the afternoon, starting 5p.m. You will meet most of the professors at the Welcome Party.

Note that all important dates are entered in the BSMATH UPCOMING EVENTS google calendar from which you can import them into your calendar if you wish. Other dates concerning BSM such as announcements of colloquia talks will appear here as well.

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

Pre semester important dates

January 14th (Wed), Hungarian language course starts, Babilon language school.
January 15th (Thu), 2:30 pm Pre-orientation session for those who are already in Budapest, BSM (Bethlen Gábor tér 2.)
January 22nd (Wed), Pre-registration data is due (see above)
January 28th (Wed), The first group visits the Immigration office
January 30th (Fri), Hungarian language course ends.

Spring 2015 Opening Program

January 30 (Fri), 3:30 PM Orientation session, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.
January 30 (Fri), 5 PM   Welcome Party, Room 224 (may change), Bethlen Gábor tér 2.

Academic Calendar

First day of classes February 2nd (Mo)
Feedback session February 19th (Thu) 4 pm
Registration deadline February 19th (Thu) Noon
Last day of classes May 15th (Fr)
Final exams May 18-20 (Mo-We)
Transcripts (drafts) handed out May 21 (Th)
Local math competition: April 25 (Sa)
Spring break March 28 (Sa) - Apr 6 (Mo)
Official holidays
(no classes):
April 6 (Mo), May 1 (Fri)

Comment: Since May 1st is a Holiday, there will be a long weekend on May 1 (Fri) - May 3 (Su).

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

Dezső Miklós, director

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