‘I had an absolutely amazing time abroad’
Though Scott Giles was able to visit places like Paris and Rome (as seen above at the Coliseum) during his semester abroad, his most memorable experiences were “the ones that I just spent alone exploring the city of Budapest.”
“You can learn more from one semester abroad than an entire 4 years at one place,” says Scott Giles ’19, “and you will likely never get another opportunity like this in your lifetime.”
The computer science major took full advantage of that opportunity during the spring semester of 2017, when he studied in Hungary at AIT Budapest, an institute specifically designed for English-speaking computer science students.
“More than anything, I learned an extraordinary amount of history and culture about a part of the world that I knew little to nothing about -- Eastern Europe,” Giles says. ‘I also learned a lot about myself. I was able to leave everything behind and go across the world by myself, which is definitely a worthwhile experience. I also learned a lot in my classes, but the bigger experience was definitely the trip itself.”
His most memorable experiences, he says, “were the ones that I just spent alone exploring the city of Budapest and learning all that I could. I also had some great travel opportunities during Spring Break, but the best experience I had abroad was actually living in the heart of a foreign city and getting to learn all about the culture and history there.”
Giles wanted to study abroad because he thought it would be a unique learning opportunity.
“I don't think there will be many more times, if any at all, where I am able to pick up and move to a different country for almost five months while still working or taking classes. I ended up picking Budapest because I had heard great things about the AIT program, thought the city looked and sounded amazing, and thought I could learn a lot from going there.”
Two of the three classes he took at AIT will count towards his major and he was also able to transfer credits from the third.
There were stresses associated with choosing a program, then applying for it, Giles said. “There is just a lot of very important paperwork that needs to be done and if you forget anything it could mean not being able to enter the country,” he says, “but the AIT staff was simply amazing at helping me work through all of it and in the end I got everything done in time.”
“Thankfully, I was able to use my financial aid package from the University of Rochester and take out a few more government loans through U of R as well,” Giles says. “If not for this, I would have never been able to afford the study abroad experience.”
His advice for other students who are thinking about studying abroad:
“Absolutely do it! I can guarantee that you won't regret it, and even if you end up not liking it that much you will be able to look back and say that you did it. In the end, I had an absolutely amazing time abroad and would recommend it to anyone. “
Scott Giles with the skyline of Budapest spread out behind him.