Greetings from Budapest!
Warm greetings from Budapest where we have been having typical winter weather: gray, overcast sky and short days. Snow has not fallen yet. Holiday lights are everywhere and students have been enjoying the Christmas market in the middle of the city at Vörösmarty square. They look for presents or just stroll around tasting chimney cake or mulled wine. Next week is final exams and due dates for term papers. We will close the semester with a Farewell Dinner together with students and faculty.
But before we say good bye, we would like to share with you highlights of a significant element of our program:
Internship and volunteer work
Students in Budapest are encouraged to spend some of their time volunteering or doing an internship, which is a major vehicle for us to increase student integration into host culture and to positively impact our local environment. This semester more than 70 % of the students are engaged in volunteer work! Here are some highlights:
Secret Sauce Partners
Secret Sauce Partners, Inc. provides online merchandising tools for the fashion and apparel industry, pioneering the way consumers shop for clothes. Based in San Francisco, this company reaches all the way across the Atlantic to the SSP offices in Budapest, Hungary. Their flagship product – Fit Predictor – can already be seen on partner websites like Saks Fifth Avenue, Gilt.com, Bloomingdale’s, Lands End, and many others. This semester five students completed an internship at this startup company. Please read Zoe’s thoughts about her experience and tasks:
“I worked as a data intern for Secret Sauce Partners this semester. Secret Sauce Partners is a technology startup company that has developed online products for fashion retailers to utilize on their websites. At Secret Sauce, I was responsible for reviewing various data feeds from fashion retailers and determining if certain requirements were met to ensure that Secret Sauce could integrate their products. I really enjoyed my internship because I had the opportunity to meet and work with really smart people who are passionate about what they do. My internship definitely enhanced my entire study abroad experience because I felt like I was truly immersed in the culture. “ /Zoe, Fall 2015/
Sophie is completing an internship at the Hungarian National Gallery which houses the largest collection of Hungarian art in the country. Some of the responsibilities she has are giving tours around the museum in English and helping the Education Department run activities in English for children, adults and seniors.
Emily is volunteering with the American Corner (AC) in Budapest. The AC is a US information center where she has administrative duties. Emily helps with program planning, and delivers presentations about the US and American culture. Administrative tasks, proofreading, corner talks, presentations are also among her tasks. The main aim of the AC is to create cultural bridges between the US and Hungary.
As part of its Elementary School Outreach Program, American Corner Budapest participated in the Thanksgiving Day celebration of a local elementary school in Budapest where Emily delivered a presentation about the history and traditions of Thanksgiving in the United States. During another program of International Education Week, Emily presented in front of a hundred of 5th and 6th graders.
Though Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Hungary, we celebrated it with a wonderful group dinner in the dormitory. Food was plentiful as students also contributed some of their special favorites such as Minnesotan specialty food with wild rice and mashed sweet potatoes.
Traveling within Hungary
Budapest is practically in the heart of Europe and students like to take advantage of the proximity of other major cities in the region. With cheap flights available, students use their three-day weekends to explore the rest of Europe, but they also explore Hungary. Eger and Lake Balaton were popular destinations among our students. Eger is a gem of medieval monuments, home of one the most famous Hungarian fortresses, whose heroes and heroines successfully defended it during the Turkish invasion. Lake Balaton is also called the “Hungarian Sea” being the largest freshwater lake in Europe. We would like to share some photos about our students visiting Eger and Lake Balaton.
Freshmen’s ball (Stork’s ball in Hungarian)
The freshmen’s ball season is around November in the middle of the first term of the academic year. Because this is the final event of the initiatory ceremony, many senior students come to watch freshmen, as they become real members of the university society. This is a great event which takes place in the main building of the Corvinus University, with four floors and six separate stages.
The Hungarian Santa is actually called Mikulás and it is celebrated on December 6th, on St. Nicholas' Day. In anticipation of Mikulás’ visit, children put their polished shoes in their windows the night before and Mikulás leaves presents in them: all kinds of chocolates and candy. This year Mikulás also visited the CIEE office to leave some goodies for our students.
With this newsletter we say good bye for this semester. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to sending you news again in spring 2016. We wish you Happy Holidays and a prosperous, healthy New Year!
Elizabeth Simon, Resident Director
Judit Fekete, Resident Coordinator