International Exchange Opportunities

Excerpts from the Report by Andrea Fröhlich (PhD candidate, University of Cambridge) on trip to Central European University - 2010

I spent the winter term of 2010 at the Central European University in Budapest as part of the Doctoral Support Programme. Being a graduate student of central European history at a British university, I found the Doctoral Support Programme to be a wonderful opportunity of combining a research trip, with history seminars, addressing the problematic of studying and writing about central European history. I do not have the opportunity to attend seminars devoted to the study of central European history in England.

The main focus of my doctoral dissertation is the consolidation of the Lutheran Reformation in seven mining towns (Kremnica, Banská Štiavnica, Banská Bystrica, L’ubietová, Pukanec, Nová Baňa, Banská Belá) in sixteenth-century Royal Hungary. As well as conducting archival research in Hungary, I have also had the opportunity to visit archives and libraries in Austria and Slovakia. [...]

I found both the university academics and admissions staff to be extremely helpful and approachable, when I was completing my application for the Doctoral Support Programme. I knew I needed to spend some time in Budapest, using the National Széchenyi Library and the Hungarian National Archives, and the Doctoral Support Programme allowed me to combine a research trip with the structure of courses and Hungarian language classes. I also had the added advantage of being registered as a Hungarian student, thus being able to avail of student discounts on public transport, and receive a room at a very reasonable rate in the CEU accommodation centre. The Student Life Office were extremely helpful in giving guidance about living in Budapest, so I was a lot less alone than is usually the case on research trips.

All the seminars I attended had a small number of students, an interactive teaching style, and a very pleasant and comfortable learning environment. I had the opportunity to broaden my general knowledge of central European history from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as give presentations and receive feedback on my own research. I also availed of the Hungarian language classes. Held in the evening, the classes did not interfere with my time in the archives. I have previously taken Hungarian language classes in England, but found the CEU classes to be extremely good value in comparison to what I have paid to learn Hungarian abroad.

To conclude with the most rewarding experience of the programme: the academics, particularly in the Medieval Studies Department, took a personal interest in my stay far beyond attending seminars. Appointments with archivists and other historians in Budapest were set up for me and I was put in contact with others who were pursuing a similar area of research to me. My research topic defined itself during my stay in Budapest, thanks to the interest shown to me by the academics at the CEU. I would strongly recommend the Doctoral Support Programme as a very rewarding experience to anyone pursuing doctoral studies in central European history at universities outside central Europe.