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News From Abroad: Whittemore School Students Arrive In Budapest

This fall, Robert Mohr, assistant professor of economics, is in Budapest, Hungary, with 15 students from the Whittemore School who are spending the semester studying abroad at Corvinus University. Over the course of the semester, Mohr, who will be teaching while at Corvinus, plans to keep the UNH community updated about the Budapest study abroad experience through regular columns in Campus Journal. Faculty members planning trips abroad with students or for research purposes who would like to participate in our new “News From Abroad” feature are encouraged to contact CJ at campus.journal@unh.edu.

Greetings from Budapest. I am here accompanying 15 Whittemore School students for a study abroad semester at Corvinus University. My wife, Marie, and my 3-year-old son, Karl, have joined me for the trip. Along with Bruce Elmslie, professor of economics who coordinates this program, we arrived about a week ahead of the students.

My first dinner was at a charming bistro the locals call, “McDonalds.” I am learning that when traveling with a 3-year-old, the immersion into local food needs to go gently. However, even McDonalds provides interesting cultural insights. It is the spot for trendy young Hungarians to meet. The interiors are colorful, sleek and modern. The restaurant offers Internet connections, a “McCafe” with assortments of pastries and coffees, and headphones playing the latest in popular music. McDonalds, Budapest, is a great place to people watch.

Since then, our culinary choices have expanded. A highlight was the introductory meal with the students. Once we had gathered them all from the airport and allowed them a night to rest, we regrouped at “Sir Lancelot’s Medieval Restaurant.” Here, our party of 20 was seated at a huge round table. In keeping with the medieval theme, the restaurant’s walls are decorated with swords, shields and armor. Mounds off food arrived on big platters. Just like the knights of the past, we were given knives but no other silverware. Only the hounds to gnaw on our scraps were missing.

Having a big meal together was fun. It also provided an opportunity for Bruce and I to check in with the students one more time before they set off into their own daily routines. We addressed problems: one set of students was sharing a single set of apartment keys, and in another apartment the hot water was not working. We answered questions about where to buy groceries and a cell phone, and on how to get to the university. Finally, we offered our advice. This ranged from the obvious (take your classes seriously and please, please, please don’t experiment with drugs) to the more subtle (beware of pickpockets, a taxi requested by phone is likely to be cheaper than one hailed on the street, when you change trains on the transit system you need to punch a new ticket, and remember that your passport, not your American driver’s license, serves as identification).

With that we left them. Bruce, who has done so much to help me, flew back to New Hampshire the next day. For the next several weeks, the rest of us will not reconvene as a group. The students will start their classes, and I will start to teach mine. While I will be around to help, I know they prefer to explore on their own. In mid-September, once we are all well acclimated to life in Hungary, we will rejoin to go on a weekend outing to Eger, an ancient city in the mountains northeast of Budapest. Over the coming months, I will be sure to report back to Campus Journal about our experiences Eger and about our adjustment to life in Hungary.

 


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