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Dear BSM Student,

It is our pleasure to welcome you among the students of the 2016 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 page carefully, as it contains vital information regarding your arrival, first few days, accommodation etc.

The country code for Hungary is 36. 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 +36304743924 , answered by Anna, i.e. Ms. Anna Fóti, our student coordinator, who you will meet upon your arrival or soon after that. Most probably she is the first person you will meet from the staff (apart from, in some cases, the student helper meeting you upon your arrival).

You will meet Dezsô Miklós, the Budapest director and/or Prof. Ágnes Szilárd, the associate director on the 12th of June, Friday, 2:00 pm, 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 your plane, etc.), please call the (mobile) hotline and we will arrange a new pick up for you. Or 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 cell phone 003630-4743924 or +3630-4743924.

If you have not yet done so, 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 this info with us already. In case of last minute changes, please send all relevant information ASAP to budapestsemesters@gmail.com, afoti@mcdaniel.hu and office@bsmath.hu. 

At the airport/train station, in the arrival hall, look for the BSM signs.  A student helper will in all cases be waiting for you (unless it is negotiated otherwise 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 asks for your address in Budapest where to deliver it, please give them the BSM address: College International, BSM, 1071 Budapest, Bethlen Gábor tér 2.   We have a 24-hour reception there, they will save it for you.

You will meet the officers of the program and your professors on the opening programs of the program June 10th, Friday, 3:00pm (Academic Orientation Session) and in the evening at the Welcome Party (details to be announced later).
(Check important dates, events will be posted at at our events' calendar. Check it periodically throughout the semester.)

There will also be a pre-orientation information session for those of you who will be participating in the Hungarian language course prior to the semester. It will be June 2nd, Thursday, from 1:30-2:30pm. Those of you who arrive on a later date will have their make-up pre-orientation and Cultural Discourse on June 10th, 1-3pm. These programs will be held at BSM, VII. Bethlen Gabor ter 2.

Those who come at the beginning of June 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, June 1st and ends Friday, June 10th. Click here for the Babilon timetable.

As mentioned above, there will be a pre-orientation session at BSM headquarters on on June 2nd, Thursday, 1:30-2:20pm to discuss all questions emerging till that point, and get an overview of your life at BSM and in Budapest including safety issues.

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 understand it before signing.

Please do not pay any rent until the contract is signed (but sign a contract as soon as possible). In case of any doubts, uncertainties, ask Anna! Let us know of your concerns - we cannot help you if we do not know about them.

More on Housing

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.

Let us 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 make sure to know what type of costs and up to what extend are met by it. We expect you to have have a proper, valid insurance policy, covering at least up to 50000 euros for your health expenses, including evacuation to your home country. Several US companies offer appropriate insurance for your travel, study abroad needs e.g. Gateway US, IMG, CMI or ISOS.

Your tuition includes a "parallel" health insurance provided by College International (our umbrella institution in Hungary) allowing access to a reliable, English language health service offered by Semmelweis University, the medical university of Budapest.
However, it is a parallel option only — it does not replace your home insurance, especially, since it does not cover you outside of Budapest i.e. during your travels and does not offer evacuation!

BSM "campus"
BSM does not have a campus as such. It is located in a large building surrounded by a courtyard. The building is equipped with security entrances and you will be able to enter the building only using your chip card which will be given to you at the pre-orientation or orientation session. You will have to pay a deposit of 3000 HUF (cash), which will be returned prior your departure upon returning the chip card.

A list with the names of the forthcoming BSM students will be deposited at the entrance desk of the building, so in case you want to visit the BSM building before the official beginning of the semester, you will be allowed enter.

We suggest those who have not done so join our summer student Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1526653930974523/. Some spring students still in town joined too, willing to help you give advice about the city etc.

Also: check out our map for "useful stores around BSM" as well as a "Things to do" and "Bucketpest list" from the Spring, 2014 class.

In addition, here is advice from our students of previous semesters regarding finances:

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.

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 us know and a local e-mail account (firstinitialandlastname@mcdaniel.hu) will be set up by the time you arrive. 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 as a rule all of the apartments should have fast internet connection upon arrival. The fee for it may be included in your rent or you may have to pay 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. How you pay for it depends on your landlord.

Last, but not least let us 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, Anna Foti, Agnes Szilard