Greetings from Budapest!
Fall 2013 Students have all arrived safely, begun their classes and they are settling in to enjoy a great semester in Hungary. The first week was very busy with orientation, getting to know the city, set up volunteer work or internship opportunities, beginning to learn more about Hungarian culture, meeting the CIEE Faculty members, and finalizing course registrations. Navigating the city and its public transportation first appeared to be a daunting task but, after the Scavenger Hunt, students felt comfortable. Students were assigned to small groups for the assignment, were able to get to know each other, and had a lot of fun discovering great places of the city.
Excursion to Danube Bend
On our very first group excursion we visited two beautiful and historically significant cities, Esztergom and Visegrád, north of Budapest. First, we travelled to Esztergom, which is the birthplace of Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen and a former medieval capital of Hungary, and also the seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church. The Esztergom Basilica is the country’s first, Europe's third largest, and the world’s 18th largest church. Esztergom coincides with Hungary’s historical beginning as a state and students enjoyed having a history class in situ. The Esztergom Basilica is also a topic in our art history class, and we were all enriched by Miranda’s excellent presentation about the architectural aspects of the building. We also visited the Treasury of the Basilica where priceless medieval goldsmiths’ objects are on display, including the cross used in royal coronation ceremonies.
Esztergom lies on the right bank of the Danube River; the River’s left bank is already Slovakia. It was a thrill for students to walk across the newly-rebuilt Maria Valeria Bridge and arrive in a different country.
The view of Esztergom Basilica and the Royal Palace is best from Sturovo (Párkány) in Slovakia with the Danube River in between.
The other historical town we visited was Visegrád which is located in the Danube bend region. The city has always had an important strategic role in Hungarian history. It used to be Hungary’s capital and an important diplomatic center: The first royal summit of the central European countries was held here in the 14th century, and a new Visegrád Treaty was signed here again in 1990. We visited the 12th century fort on top of the hill overlooking the Danube.
Our group lunch was held in a renaissance-style restaurant fitting for the town’s history.
We welcome back Tünde Turai, Research Associate, Institute of Ethnography, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, who spent last semester in Washington, DC as a Fulbright Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She teaches our course, Ethnicity, Folk Culture, and Rural Society in Historical Hungary.
On August 20, on the occasion of Hungary’s National Holiday, József Sisa, Director, Institute of Art History, Hungarian Academy of Sciences was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Officer’s Cross (Civilian Category). The Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary is the highest State Order of Hungary. Prof. Sisa teaches architecture in our course, 19th and 20th Century Hungarian Art. He was awarded for his work in architectural history, scientific and research work, publications and teaching activities.
Jan Wessel, a fall 2011 participant, returned to Budapest with a Fulbright grant. He wrote to us: “My experience was so enthralling that I have wanted to return ever since. Now I have that opportunity through a Fulbright scholarship!” Jan will carry out research in economics and also enroll in some related courses.
Andrew Walker, also a fall 2011 participant, is also back in Hungary. He is teaching English in a bi-lingual secondary school in Budapest.
Elizabeth Simon, Resident Director
Judit Fekete, Resident Coordinator