It came as a huge surprise to me when I got to Budapest and found out that the students here don’t want to come to the “main campus,” as they call the Westminster campus. I asked around, trying to figure out how this could be, because I personally love McDaniel and am so glad that I chose to come here. I found that while the opinion of the Budapesters is not as bad as it initially seemed, there are still some opinions that are rather negative.
42% of McDaniel Budapest students report getting a negative impression of the main campus from the stories they hear from other McDaniel Budapest students that have been there before, and over half say that they get a neutral impression from talking to the main campus students that study abroad.
Why is this?
“The problem is main campus students who come to Budapest say really bad things about the main campus,” said sophomore Caitlin Bennet, who is currently studying in Budapest. “The thing is it really isn’t as bad as we complain it is.”
Is the problem really our fault? It may be a contributing factor, but other things seem to be at work here, too.
This lack of choice seems to be something that some students resent, because McDaniel Budapest students are required to study for one semester in Westminster in order to graduate, unless they have a reason not to, such as an inability to obtain a visa.
Senior Mona Monsefi, a McDaniel Budapest student, says that the College “convince us [that we will] be in good hands in the main campus, but it’s not true as the students who experienced that say.”
An anonymous respondent to the survey echoed this in their response: “Budapest students seem not to get any help in adjusting to campus life.”
However, Rose Falkner, Director of the International Programs Office, says that the College makes every effort to ease the transition from life in Europe to life in America.
“I am the international students’ main contact person at McDaniel, advise them on all sorts of immigration matters, and help them throughout their transition to the college (academic, social and personal matters).”
She pointed out www.mcdaniel.edu/internationalstudents for more information, and also mentioned that international students get peer mentors and a host in the College community to assist them with whatever they may need.
Junior Rhaelynn Givens, who is currently studying abroad in Budapest, sums up the situation well.
“The fact is that the only element McDaniel Budapest and McDaniel Westminster share is their name. Where we come to Budapest for a break, the Budapest students are coming to Westminster with no choice but to work harder. That is hardly an appealing option to most students. Whereas life/fun/activities are central here, classes are our life back at home, and I like it that way,” said Givens. “It is important to keep in mind that campus life was an adjustment for all of us, and will be one for Budapest students coming abroad. It may be an even more difficult transition for them than it was for us coming to Budapest.”
It is also important to note that there are also many Budapest students who look forward to the American experience. Sophomore Fardin Khanjaji says he is looking forward to studying in “one of the best universities in the U.S.”
While it seems that there is room for improvement on a variety of fronts, but I think that improvements will follow as the efforts to better integrate the Westminster and the Budapest campuses together begin.