Monday, February 3, 2014

                                           Jó éjszakát Budapestrol!
                 (Good night from Budapest!)

    The students have all left Budapest and I am at the Professor's Guest House by myself.    We hope you enjoyed hearing about Budapest during the past month.   The students were great!   I miss having them around.       

                                                The Chain Bridge at Night

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Last Day of Class

The morning began with our last class of Number Theory. Despite this depressing fact, we were all pretty excited to prove one example of Fermat's Last Theorem. This link explains the proposition that Fermat claimed to have proven: Fermat's Last Theorem. Most likely, Fermat did not actually prove it since the full proof came about 350 years later by Andrew Wiles. Today we proved only one case of the theorem. The proof ended up using so many variables that we nearly ran out of letters of the alphabet to cover them all.

After class, we went our separate ways for lunch but had to meet near the Astoria stop for the day's next activity: a movie! We watched the film, N is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdős, which is a documentary covering the professional life of the famous Hungarian mathematician, Paul Erdős. Not only was Erdős absolutely brilliant, being able to do large scale computations in his head, but we learned he was quite the funny guy too. I found it interesting that since Erdős collaborated with so many people on numerous mathematical papers they made a numbering system out of it. It goes something like this. If you have written a paper with Erdős then you have an Erdős number of 1. If you have written a paper with someone who has written a paper with Erdős then you have an Erdős number of 2. Most published mathematicians have an Erdős number of at least 3. Obviously he was quite prolific. 

After the movie, Professor Hanson guided us to the train station that took us to Szentendre. This small town is well known for its artists and museums. As a class we explored the museum of Margit Kovacs, a Hungarian ceramist.  There were a few wheel-thrown pieces on display but mostly we saw her incredible sculptures. There were many scenes from the bible but the ones I enjoyed most were the everyday images such as two brothers embracing or a large family at dinner. After the museum, we were free to explore the town. Some of us wandered to the Danube River that runs adjacent to the town and skipped some rocks from the bank. We also found some good places to eat dinner and buy artsy stuff to bring home. 

Back at the Professor's Guest House we finished up our last homework assignment and began studying for our final.  

Michael Jordan
Displayed here is 3000 year old artifact
 discovered in a block of ice on the the
 third moon of Jupiter

This spot in Szentendre is known for a
 phenomenon that occurs here called
 hybrid symmetry. If you look at the
 picture upside you will see the
 reflection of Budapest in the water.

This is a cup of coffee

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sundae Sunday!


We are sad to announce that today was the first day of our last week here in Budapest. However, we woke up this morning and decided to make the most of it!

A large group of us started the day off by getting together for brunch at Manga Cowboy. By far the favorite dish was the breakfast hamburger (2 eggs sunny side up on a bagel with bacon, ham, lettuce, tomato, and cheese) and a side of french fries. Rachel, Nick, and I got the Waky Waky Eggs and Baky, 2 eggs, bacon, a buttered bagel, and breakfast potatoes. What are breakfast potatoes you may ask? My guess was something similar to hash browns, but instead I got cold mashed potatoes... so that was interesting, but everything else was delicious!After breakfast the group split. Some of the group went to explore Castle Hill while the others went back to the hotel to work on the homework and take a nap.

Later on in the evening, part of the group went to see a Hungarian Ballet while the rest of us went out to dinner at a restaurant so enamored with pork they had a pig diagram painted on the ceiling. The restaurant proved to be a challenge as the menu was in only Italian and Hungarian.  But somehow we all managed to order something and, amazingly, most of us managed to avoid said meat. After dinner, we ventured to a gelato place for dessert. This little dessert shop was a true treasure and had a clever name! It was called Gelarto (Gelarto=gelato + art) and their dessert was truly an art. What do you usually expect when you go out for ice cream? Two scoops or so of ice cream put into a dish or cone? This place goes the extra mile. Not only do they have delicious gelato and unique flavors, they also turn your ice cream into an art masterpiece by sculpting it into the shape of a flower for you!

Hazelnut and "Surprise" Gelato

Elizabeth had a friend from Germany come down this weekend, so she spent her time revisiting some of the best tourist spots with him, as well as checking out a few new ones! The National Gallery, on Castle Hill, had a very interesting exhibit of realist art, including some very unique (and confusing) works by Hungarian artist Endre Rozsda! Even the titles didn't really give any hints about the meaning behind some of his works, but they were very visually appealing. After the Gallery they wandered Castle Hill and checked out Saint Stephen's Basilica before meeting the group for dinner at the pork lover's paradise. 

That about sums up our Sunday!! We may only have four days left in Budapest, but we plan to fit as much as possible into what little time we do have (and find some room in there for studying for the final, of course!!). 

Sara and Elizabeth

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend Windup-Saturday

As our final days in Budapest approach, we are in need to get all of our Hungarian souvenir shopping finished.  So today was filled with shopping. I (Anja) began my morning up on Castle Hill. Castle Hill, known as Várhegy in Hungarian, was first settled in the 13th century.  There are shops, cafes, and historical buildings.  These include, Buda Castle, Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastion, and the Hungarian National Gallery.  The views of Budapest, especially the Parliament, and the Danube are fantastic. After exploring Castle Hill,  I made my way down to the Pest side of Budapest for some shopping.  I went to a porcelain store called Herend.  It is a Hungarian company founded in 1826 that specializes in hand-painted porcelain.  It was really fun to look around.  Some of the pieces were 1,000,000 forints! (About $4,490) Then I continued on to the souvenir shops, making purchases to bring home like everyone else! 

I (Jessie) went shopping with some friends first down this one street (one that our tour guide from the first day told us was only for rich people) which featured lots of designer stores and widely known shops including the Hard Rock Cafe, a Rolex store, The NewYorker, and H&M which we all vowed not to go into on account of it being accessible to us at home. After picking up some knick-knacks, we moved on to a more exploratory stage. After a couple hit and misses, (getting off the tram finding nothing then getting back on) Natalie lead us to a giant underground mall that bore some resemblance at least to me to the Mall of America. There were five floors. We checked out each one except the fifth which apparently was just a giant movie theater. The first floor was part of a train station and me and Becca bought some really cool trendy European hats. I was very successful in buying myself lots of gifts and not so successful in buying any for my friends and family.... a good excuse to go back!

For dinner, almost all of us went to Cafe Vian.  Some students we were missing took weekend trips to Germany or Slovakia.  We had a great dinner and evening on our last Saturday in Budapest!

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's Friday!


Another day in Budapest began with our daily routine of waking up and having our Hungarian breakfast of yogurt, toast with either jam or nutella with a nice glass of juice! It was not long before we found ourselves in the classroom of our usual attendance learning about number theory! However, the day’s lesson was even more interesting as we learned about the cryptography of Julius Caesar. We learned how to encode and decode messages and discussed the role cryptography plays in the security of the public. An example of what we learned in class today follows:
Using the coding scheme of the letters use the decoding function to decipher the following encoded message below:



Decoding function: P=C-3 (This means subtract three from each of the given letters below)
For example: The coded letter M would be J because M-3=J

Now you try and decode our secret message!


In the afternoon we had a guest speaker who spoke to us regarding Hungarian music! What a joy it was to hear the different kinds of music that is traditionally listened to at weddings, birthdays, or just on a typical day. We also got to hear our speaker sing, and oh boy, did she have a voice! Although there were some technical difficulties with the cd player, we all enjoyed listening to the traditional music of Hungary.

Since it was Friday and the evening was surely upon us, many of us went out and had dinner. However the LADIES felt it was time for special night out on the town with just us girls. So we had a ladies night, where we went out for dinner and drinks (Non-alcoholic of course). The night came to an early end, as we all were quite exhausted from the long week of studying and exploring. We made our way back to the hotel and fell fast asleep, excited to enjoy our last weekend in Budapest.

Mariah & Randie