More Math-y Adventures

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I started this blog a year ago to help me get ready for two adventures that involved a whole lot of high-level math, in two places I’d never been, with a lot of people I’d never met. I was preparing for my summer at SMP in Minnesota and then my Fall semester at BSM in Hungary.

A year ago, I was questioning my abilities in math. I was in the depths of my Real Analysis course which was the first math class I really struggled in and had to work for. I was incredibly nervous about spending the next summer and semester surrounded by all this high-level math and all those math geeks. What if I didn’t fit in? What if I didn’t like math that much? What if wasn’t smart enough?

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined the ways in which SMP and BSM would change my life. I made so many new friends and met so many new people who I have laughed with, loved with, cried with, and worked with. These math people? They’re my people. I am now so confident in my math abilities and love of the subject. I’ve learned what it means to DO math, as opposed to just study it, and have found the joy in learning and doing as much of it as I can. I’ve become one of those people I used to joke about who read their math books for fun.

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined I would ever feel that I’d “outgrown” my liberal arts math department. Even though there are still courses I haven’t taken, I’m jealous of my BSM friends who go to University and have more than two options of 300-level math courses, and I miss being in class with other students who want to use their math education to be mathematicians. The level of intensity I learned while at SMP and BSM makes me feel like I don’t really belong here.

I’ve spent this semester transitioning back into New England, suburban, liberal arts college life. I’ve been taking a math course on optimization, learning the headaches of debugging hardware in my robotics workshop, writing for my journalism class, and trying to finish up my music minor.

And now I am SO ready for more math-y adventures!

This summer I am going to Boston to work in a bioinformatics lab group. I don’t really know what I’ll be doing or who I’ll be working with, but I am excited to live in the city that my sister calls home, and to be part of a research group again!

Just like a year ago, I can’t know what’s coming my way, but I’m ready for the challenge.

Me and my sister.

Me and my sister on the Bp metro.

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From Hungarian Friends

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“Denial of past actions is the habit of dictators and stubborn preschoolers”
–at Memento Park.

Since my program was only for American math students, I spoke with Hungarians infrequently during my semester in Budapest. But when I did, I was fascinated by what they would tell me about their lives, their friends, their work.

Here are a few of the things which stuck with me most, in their words as much as possible:


On Minimum Wage:
“Budapest is cheap for Americans, not cheap for Hungarians. Minimum wage in America is so high. Here it is somewhere like 3 dollars an hour! I cannot live on that.”
Male, age 22, Temp. Jobs

On Homelessness:
“When I was in the States, I’ve seen the people sleeping on the streets. I thought, `In this country which is so rich and developed, how can they let other human beings sleep in the street?’ But now look at Hungary, look at Budapest. Since we have no money left to put into welfare, the same things are happening here.”
Female, age 50, Teacher

On Guns:
“I live in the ghettos in Budapest. It’s okay, it’s safe for a guy like me. I mean, if you’ve got a problem with someone else, you just fight him. Physical stuff. With your hands. You take him, he takes you, and you get it all worked out. But in America, everyone’s got a gun. You got a problem with someone, you don’t know what they’re going to pull on you. That is what scares me.”
Male, age 23, Student

On Language:
“Growing up in Hungary, I learned very young that not everyone speaks my language. I learned very young that after travelling just two hours, if I wanted to be understood I had to learn to speak something other than Hungarian. You feel like a child when you are in Hungary, having to do hand motions and speak in small words. Me, that is how I feel everywhere that is not home.”
Female, age 26, Medical Secretary

A completely incomprehensive list.

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I leave my home in Bp for my home in the States in three days. (three days!) I’m sad the semester is over.

I made a list of some things–excluding friends and family– that I will miss from here, things that I won’t miss from here, and things that fall into both categories.


What I love about Bp:

Turo Rudi.
The most brilliant snack/dessert every invented. Yet impossible to describe in a way that makes it actually sound appealing.

Turo Rudi even has a CAR! It's that good.

Turo Rudi even has a CAR! It’s that good.

The courtyard in my apartment.

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My courtyard.

Being Surrounded by math majors.
Sometimes I make math jokes by accident and I’m not the only one who thinks they’re funny!

Hungarian.
Some favourite words: cica (kitty), Jó buli. (good party), igen fun (not a real Hungarian phrase!), egészségedre! (cheers!)

Parliament, the Chain Bridge, Gellert Hill lit up at night.

Parliament at night.

Parliament at night.

Espresso.
What is drip coffee but a dilution of deliciousness?

The baths.

Everything cherry (meggyes) flavoured. cherry jam, cherry yogurt, cherry pastry, cherry beer, …

Ruin Bars.
Carrots, anyone?

Travel.
Being able to get to Vienna in three hours.

Vienna.

Vienna.

Grid-ruled A4 paper.
It’s everything I could ever ask for in a sheet of paper!

The Danube & Margit Island.

Forints.
Their colours. Their funny pictures of men, The novelty of carrying thousands and thousands of forint in your wallet. Being able to say “Dude. You owe me some forint.”

The freedom of not knowing what’s going on around you.
Freedom to J-walk like a non-Hungarian. Freedom to look at a stature and make up its story because there is literally literally no way you will ever know. Ever.


Things I miss about home:

Lunchmeat.
Please, please, let me have something that is not a derivative of sausage!

IMG_0713English.
I am tired of not being able to ask for what I need, tired of being laughed at or glared at when I don’t know what someone is saying to me, tired of “speaking” in a mix of *broken English* and charades.

Cell phones.
No more “Meet me on the left side of the statue of John Calvin at 5:53pm, standing directly under his arm. Wear your red Rudolph hat so I can see you. If we don’t find each other by 5:57, then…” (JK. Sort of…)

Not being surrounded by math majors.
See: sometimes I make math jokes… ;)

0.5mm pens.
To go with my A4 paper.

Finding the info you need on the internet.
Information that is online, in English, and actually correct? No way.

Not enough drying rack.

Not enough drying rack.

Dryers.
For nights when I realise I want to wear something that seriously needs washing.

Soup/pasta/bread without sour cream!

Vegetables that are not pickled!
I had no idea that I would miss SALAD. Who misses salad?!

Home. <3

Home for Chsistmas. <3

Mi furcsa Magyarországon? What is peculiar in Hungary?

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I have been living in Budapest for three weeks now, and really it’s been a lovely city to be living in. It’s easy to get around, beautiful, safe, and a fun place to live. I’m enjoying it a lot despite the difficulties of living in a city where you do not know the language.

Here are a few of the things I have encountered in Budapest that were culturally so different and surprising that I stopped to take a photo:

1. Okmánybélyeg

 

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These pictured are 18000 Forints worth of… postage stamps! Somewhere around 80 USD! In tiny pieces of paper!

In order to apply for your residency permit in Hungary, you must pay for it in the form of okmánybélyeg. You need to go to a post office and purchase them, then bring them with you to the immigration office. At immigration, you give the officer the payment who then pulls a glue stick out of the desk and pastes one by one them to your application.

In Hungarian class, we did an exercise in which the prompt was ,,Mi furcsa Magyarországon?”/”What is pecular in Hungary?” My response was the okmánybélyeg. My teacher said they were kind of a strange thing for Hungarians, too. :)

 

2. So. Many. Puppies!

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I thought this puppy was absolutely adorable. :) I walked past him downtown waiting for his owner at a restaurant. Budapest is known to be a “dog city” rather than a cat city. There are always people on the streets or in the park walking dogs and it’s not uncommon for them to be tied up outside grocery stores or restaurants. Dogs are let off their leash a lot more than I’m used to in the States, too.

3. “British” Secondhand Stores 

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I think this is just something that I personally haven’t figured out yet. Almost every secondhand store in the city is marked by a British flag and the designation ,,Angol.” I have no idea why secondhand stores must also be British. But it was helpful when I was trying to find one last weekend! Look for the British flag!

4. Light Switches

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The very first day I was in Hungary I was confused by the light switches. They’re so square and enormous compared to the ones I’m used to in the U.S. I kind of like them now, though. There’s a bigger surface area to hit when you’re trying to find the switch in the dark. :)

5. Eggs

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Two things about eggs: one, they’re not refrigerated in the store. I walked up and down and up and down the refrigerated dairy section in Spar before I understood they weren’t there. Two, you might find some feathers in your carton of eggs!

6. Parking on the Sidewalks

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A lot of the parking in the city involves parking half of your car on the sidewalk and half in the street. When I was dropped off at my apartment the day I arrived in Budapest, I thought the driver was just confused and had hit the curb. But, no, he was actually just pulling all the way into the parking space. :o

 

 


Ma volt az első nap az egyetemen tanulni mateket. Volt jól. Az tánarok nagyon kedves vannak. Most ismerem sok diák.
Today was the first day at the university to study math. It was good. The teachers are very nice. Now I know many students. (I need to learn a lot more Hungarian! Thankfully I am planning to take Hungarian II this semester) 

The first day of math was exhausting, but really good. I am excited to be back in the math classroom with a lot of really great students and professors who are very passionate about mathematics.

 

 

 

on the tube with my Hungarian dictionary

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I am on the plane on my way to Budapest. It didn’t really hit me that I was ACTUALLY, REALLY, TRULY (!!!) going for my semester abroad until a week ago, as I attempted to balance my suitcase on the digital scale, praying that it was under 50 pounds. Logically, I knew I was going, but emotionally it hadn’t quite hit yet that I was leaving home not to return until Christmastime.

I spent the past week in London on holiday with my mom and dad. We had a great time, and I absolutely love that I am already over the major jet lag and time change that comes with a trip across the Atlantic! If you were in London last week, I would have been the young woman on the tube studying my pocket-sized Hungarian dictionary at every possible moment. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few photos from the trip:
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Even though I’ve been to London before, I’ve never actually taken the classic English telephone booth photo. Finally got it.

 

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Ceramic poppies art installation in front of the Tower of London by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper to remember the 100 year anniversary of WWI. There are thousands of poppies surrounding the tower.

 

 

 

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A view of the London Eye from the Thames, rainy as usual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We visited Blenheim Palace. I know this was not the main point of the tour, but our tour guide made sure we took a look at Winston Churchill’s favourite one-piece outfit he liked to wear around.

From Wikipedia: “…the siren suit was invented by Churchill as an original leisure suit in the 1930s. He played a large part in popularizing it as an item of clothing during World War II, wearing it regularly, including when meeting other important people such as U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Dwight Eisenhower and Stalin.”

 

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Hyde Park at sunset.

 

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And, finally, something everyone should remember when riding the Tube/bus/etc. :)

 


 

Update: I am in Budapest and trying to figure everything out! So far things are going really well and I am slowly trying to find my way around my apartment and the city. There will be some notes about logistical things for future BSMers located on my new page “BSM Tips.”

In MN!

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I made it! Well, not quite, but almost. I made it to the MSP airport. :)

I got up bright and early at 4:30 this morning to catch the 6:30 flight to Minnesota. There weren’t any problems and I got here at 8am their time. When we landed, there was a little boy who very excitedly exclaimed to his mom:

“Isn’t this GREAT?! We travelled all this way and we still have the WHOLE day ahead of us!!”

I actually laughed out loud at that (I couldn’t help it. It’s early.) because I had literally just been thinking something to the effect of I can’t believe I’m this tired and we still have the whole day ahead of us…

I’ve had my coffee now, rested a little bit more, and am doing better. I can’t wait to meet everyone at Carleton tonight! I can’t believe it’s already today!