AIT Budapest was a 'perfect fit'
Grant Sorbo, third from right in the back row, at the John Lennon Wall in Prague. Sorbo, who spent the spring of 2017 at AIT in Budapest, advises study abroad students to "travel outside of the boundaries of your program's city. Experience the surrounding region or continent and critically compare and contrast what you find. But, above all, have fun and be willing to be spontaneous; accidents and mishaps often turn into the most memorable and influential experiences.”
Grant Sorbo ’18 was initially skeptical about studying abroad. And when he changed his major to computer science, he thought it would be difficult to fit it into his schedule.
“After realizing many of my friends were looking into study abroad programs, I decided to do some initial research, and soon found a seemingly perfect match,” Sorbo says. “AIT -- Aquincum Institute of Technology -- is a specialized study abroad program in Budapest, Hungary, for computer science students. Many of the classes I could take there would cover requirements back at Rochester so I wouldn't fall behind, and others covered advanced topics not found in the standard CS curriculum. I was sold, ended up applying, and was lucky enough to attend in the Spring of 2017.”
His study abroad experience paid off in several ways, he says.
“I gained a great deal of experience working with specialized technologies through my different classes, and came out with a semester's worth of new computer science knowledge. But, as I think anyone who studied abroad would say, you take much more from the experience than just the academic part,” Sorbo says.
“I made incredible new friends from many different US schools with whom I am still in touch, and explored so much of Budapest and the rest of Europe. I would even say that I learned more about myself during my time abroad, after comparing my perspectives and experiences with those of locals and other traveling students.”
Applying for study abroad programs and organizing the trip itself “ was very seamless,” Sorbo says. “I was lucky that AIT was a University of Rochester sponsored and recognized program. I didn't have to do an excessive amount of legwork. I was able to send transcripts relatively easily, and then had to attend a few meetings to cover ground on study abroad basics, but none of it was too difficult. The AIT application itself is straightforward, the most nuanced part being the written statement.”
Heidi Kozireski at the Center for Education Abroad was especially helpful in answering questions about going abroad and how it would impact Sorbo’s Rochester life. He also worked with the staff at AIT. Four of his classes transferred back to count towards his B.S. in Computer Science, one of them being Theory of Computation which will directly count as CSC 280, a core major requirement. The three others will count towards advanced elective classes.
While in Budapest, Sorbo saw the Buda Castle and castle district, the Hungarian Parliament, the Szechenyi thermal baths, the Citadel, St. Stephen's Basilica, City Park, and more. “I experienced Budapest nightlife with my friends and ate at some incredible Hungarian restaurants,” he says. “I also traveled around much of Europe. I surfed on the beaches of Lisbon, Portugal; hiked to the top of a volcano on the Canary Island of Tenerife; spent Easter weekend exploring caves on the Croatian island of Hvar; went ice skating in front of Vienna's palace-like City Hall; watched the Eiffel Tower light up at night while sitting on the Trocadéro lawn; walked along the longest still-standing stretch of the Berlin Wall; walked up to the roof of the Duomo in Milan, Italy; took part in Salzburg, Austria's Mayday celebration after hiking to the top of the snowy Untersberg mountain; and more.”
His advice to other students thinking about studying abroad:
“Wherever you go, do your best to immerse yourself in the local culture. Try learning the language, learn about the local food and why it's special, understand your city or country's customs, culture, and history whether troubled or triumphant, and meet people who live there.
“Beyond that, if you're in a place to do so, travel outside of the boundaries of your program's city. Experience the surrounding region or continent and critically compare and contrast what you find. But, above all, have fun and be willing to be spontaneous; accidents and mishaps often turn into the most memorable and influential experiences.”