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2 posts from October 2015





Greetings from Budapest!

We send you warm greetings from Budapest where it is becoming much colder and the leaves are falling fast. Students are taking midterm exams this week and it is hard to believe that half of the semester is already gone.  

We begin this newsletter with our first overnight excursion – a special theme based one – which combined history, art, nature, heritage, and fun.

The „Kids of Budapest 1956” Pilgrimage


We joined a memorial excursion organized by a foundation called Pesti Srác (Kids of Budapest), which was founded for the commemoration of the youth who fought for freedom in the revolution of 1956. The 1956 Revolution broke out on October 23 – now a national holiday in Hungary – so learning about it with the help of this excursion was especially appropriate for the fall group. This was a memorable live history lesson as we visited sights of the freedom fight, including the famous Corvin Alley, and the prison cells and execution room – now a museum – of revolutionaries. We also traveled to the National Historical Memorial Park in Ópusztaszer. The excursion was especially enjoyable as we traveled with a group of Hungarian students from Kőrösi  Csoma Sándor Secondary School.

DSC07917{Standing in the ‘Small prison’ with the flag of ’Kids of Pest’ }

DSC07925{Solemn moments for students with pictures of those freedom fighters who were kept in this prison}

Katherine shared her thoughts about this visit:

 “It is nearly impossible to imagine the great strength that the Hungarians must have kept in the prison.  It was a terrible place; cold and devoid of hope. The cells were very small; even with the door open I still felt claustrophobic. One story of these prisoners struck me in particular; one young teenage boy who the Soviets kept there until he was 18 so that they were legally allowed to kill him. Terrible as they may be, I think that it is important to remember the hardships that the 1956 revolutionaries endured.  It was an event that defined a generation and a history that continues to define the Hungarian people and society today.  I am fortunate that I was able to glimpse at this history.” /Katherine, Fall 2015/

We closed the excursion on a lighter note:  we had a chance to enjoy the thermal bath in Lakitelek and also tried our feet learning traditional Hungarian folk dance to everyone’s delight. 

DSC07990{Students soaking themselves in the thermal bath in Lakitelek}

Shelby{Trying on a traditional dress from Kalotaszeg, the region where we will be in Transylvania}

DSC08033{Folk dancing was a highlight among the students}


The next day we traveled to Ópusztaszer, to the National Heritage Park and Open Air Museum.

The Feszty Cyclorama is located here depicting the arrival of the Hungarians to the Carpathian Basin in 896. The huge, circular panorama painting recalls the events of the Conquest of Hungary. Árpád Feszty, with the help of several contemporary artists, completed the painting between 1892 and 1894.

The Heritage Park held other excitements for us:  traditional yurts the Hungarian tribes used and a lesson on the usage of various bows.   Students also enjoyed a horse show with a fantastic display of traditional Hungarian horsemanship and archery.   

DSC08074{Group photo in front of the Hungarian Millennial Monument (896-1896)}


{A lesson on the proper usage of a compound bow }

20150927_104203{One by one we were tried to hit the mark}

20150927_113600{Showing us horsemanship dating back to the once nomad Hungarians }

We also visited the 1956 Memorial chapel, designed by György Csete, Kossuth Prize winner architect. We held a minute of silence to remember Gergely Pongrátz, whose gravestone is in the chapel. He was the leader and hero of the Corvin Alley resistance, one of the fiercest battle scenes during the defense of Budapest.

DSC08081{1956 Memorial chapel, symbolizes both the victory and the defeat of the revolution}

DSC08076{Gravestone of the Pongrátz brothers}

One of our students reacted the following way:

“The 1956 excursion gave me new insight on the history of Hungarian people and the challenges that they have faced. It was very powerful to see the 1956 Memorial Chapel as well as the prison where many people were kept and killed during the revolution. It is fascinating to think about the recent history that has taken place here and learn about how it has impacted the Hungarian culture and way of life”. /Katie, Fall 2015/

Best regards, 

Elizabeth Simon, Resident Director

Judit Fekete, Resident Coordinator




Greetings from Budapest!

Warm greetings from Budapest, where fall has finally arrived after a nice long Indian summer. The semester has started with a big group of 28 students. All of our students are well adjusted, settled in their dormitory rooms. The first week was very busy with orientation, getting to know the city, beginning to learn about Hungarian culture and language, meeting the CIEE Faculty members, finalizing course registrations and internships.

During orientation week we also made a city tour to get to know Budapest and its transportation system. We took the tram number 2, which is not just a great way to see the fantastic beauty of Budapest but it was ranked among the top 10 tram rides by National Geographic, being the best European line on the list. Visiting Heroes’ Square was popular among students. The monument is part of the World Heritage Site and 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. 

1Fall 2015 participants at Heroes' Square

A highlight of the orientation week was taking a boat ride on the Danube. The boat departs from the center of Budapest, from Vigadó Square and makes an hour round trip to Margaret Bridge on the north, then to Rákóczi Bridge on the south.  Student marveled the two distinct parts of the city, “Buda” and “Pest”, and just how beautiful Budapest is.


20150910_181214Students enjoying the view from the Danube
20150910_184034Corvinus University of Budapest – our host institution - during our panoramic boat ride on the Danube

Students also took part in our first CIEE organized group excursion to the Danube bend. It is probably the most picturesque historical part of Hungary. We went to Esztergom which is a former medieval capital of Hungary, the birthplace of the first Hungarian King, St. Stephen, and the seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church. The town is situated on the right bank of the Danube River, and traveling across the Maria Valeria Bridge to Slovakia was a lovely adventure. 

BasilicaThe view of Esztergom Basilica is best from Sturovo (Párkány) in Slovakia with the Danube River in between.

The historical town, Visegrád 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 lunch was held in a renaissance restaurant, where we enjoyed a feast befitting royalty. 


20150918_122825Students are ready to have a renaissance feast
20150918_151005Dharani, Christine and Shelby at the Danube Bend

We closed the day with trying a fun bob sled track in Visegrád. Students had lot of fun!

20150918_161357Daria and Katherine with Laura waving at the Visegrád Bob sled park.

Best regards,

Elizabeth Simon, Resident Director

Judit Fekete, Resident Coordinator