Greetings from Budapest!
Fall 2017 semester is a new fall record for Budapest: 38 students have decided to join the CIEE Study Center here. Classes are underway, and we anticipate yet another great semester. The first week was very busy with orientation, getting to know the city, arranging volunteer work or internship opportunities, beginning to learn more about Hungarian culture and language, meeting the CIEE Faculty members, and finalizing course registrations.
City tour – Heroes’ Square
During orientation week we also made a great city tour to get to know Budapest and its transportation system as well. Visiting Heroes’ Square was quite popular among students. The monument was built for the 1896 Millennium celebrations, to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarians arriving to the Carpathian Basin. Every part of the monument plays tribute to key figures of Hungarian history.
Fall 2017 students in front of Heroes’ Square
Enjoying the city while boat riding on the Danube River is a real treat. During the hour-long ride, students marveled “Buda” and “Pest” the two distinct parts of the city. Budapest is incredibly beautiful from the river.
One of the most stunning sites from the river is the House of the Nation. The Hungarian Parliament holds its sessions here, and the building is often referred to in English as the Parliament Building.
The Hungarian “Országház” House of the Nation
During orientation, Hungarian students joined our group for an evening of “games and conversation” in a local bar specializing in team building, board games, and making friends.
Our CIEE group meeting Hungarian students during orientation
and enjoying various board games
Budapest never seems to shut down. There are always special programs where students can gain a glimpse into local culture. A few examples from September: Budapest Wine Festival showcasing Hungarian gastronomy and winemaking in the Buda Castle; Sweet Days Budapest – Hungary’s major chocolate and sweets makers; the Nemzeti Vágta (National Gallop), a grand international horse race on Heroes' Square, with local riders dressed in Hussar uniform in a proud display of Hungarian traditions. Students regularly receive information about programs in and around Budapest.
We organized two excursions already to explore Hungary. Our one-day trip took us to the picturesque Danube bend to visit two historic and scenic towns, Esztergom and Visegrád. Clouds above us were ominous, but they did not dampen our enjoyment.
View of Esztergom from Slovakia across the Danube River.
Hungarian students joined us for our overnight excursion, which also included a pilgrimage to the museum and memorial chapel of the 1956 Revolution. Other highlights of the rich program were participating in a special village harvest festival, visiting the National Heritage Park of Ópusztaszer, and trying our hands at archery with bows and arrows used by ancient Hungarians.
The Mayor of the village of Bócsa is preparing to welcome us as one of the locals is reading a special poem written for the American guests
CIEE students were invited to join to dance along with the locals
Classes are underway and students have started their internships or volunteer work. In our next newsletter you can read about our special excursion to Transylvania, Romania. We visited the Kalotaszeg region whose folk art is especially well known. Appropriately, prior to the excursion students saw a spectacular performance of the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble’s program featuring the music and dance of Kalotaszeg.
Elizabeth Simon, Ph.D.