Floto makes the most of study abroad in Hungary


Lance Floto, second from left, with friends, at Lake Bled in Slovenia. A church stands on the island behind them in a region that felt like a “fairy tale land.”

Aug. 3, 2015 -- Lance Floto ’17 studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary this spring for two reasons: to experience a different culture and, at the same time, to be able to take classes that could count toward completing his major.

He accomplished all that at the Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT)  – and more. Through AIT, Floto learned about a Budapest startup called opp.io and a summer internship it was offering.

Guess who’s spending the summer in Budapest as well?

“There is only one other engineer, a designer and the CEO, and it has been a great experience to work on a small team,” Floto said. “I have worked on both front end and back end development and have learned so much is just a few months!”

AIT, which became an official UR study abroad site last fall, is devoted entirely to computer sciences and software engineering– and is designed specifically for North American students. Instruction is in English and the class size is an intimate 5 to 15 students.

The process of applying for AIT and arranging details of the trip “was pretty easy,” Floto said.  “All of the staff speak English and respond to emails quickly. They also helped us with our living arrangements when we arrived as the students are spread out across the city in apartments.”

Four of the five classes he took will transfer back to the University of Rochester, which was “one of the best things about the program and will make graduating in 4 years much easier,” Floto noted.

Because of Budapest’s central location, he also was able to visit 18 different countries.


Floto (at right) with fellow YellowJacket Kevin Gerami at the Happy Wall in Copenhagen. The interactive pixel structure allows visitors to manipulate tiles to create words and pictures. Built from the remnants of Tuborg’s cinema tribune, it sits in a large cobblestone square near Copenhagen's famous Nyhavn docks.

Floto said he had “many great experiences,” but two in particular stood out.  In Florence, Floto climbed to a basilica on the top of a hill with a great view of the city.  It began pouring rain, so Floto went inside the basilica, which was empty and lit by only be a few candles.  “After we spent about an hour exploring the basilica and the cemetery behind it, five monks walked into the basilica dressed in white robes and they began leading a Gregorian chant service. It was such an eerie and surreal experience to watch and listen to the monks.” 

A four-day trip with friends to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, with day trips to Lake Bled and Skocjan Caves, was also memorable. “At Lake Bled there is an island in the center of the lake with a church built on it, and on the side of the lake there is an old medieval castle atop some cliffs,” Floto said.  “Of the places I visited, Lake Bled felt the most like a fairy tale land.”

As a result of his internship this summer, Floto added, “I have become a better programmer, but my main goal this summer was to understand what it is like to work at a tech company, and more specifically what it is like to work at a startup. Working with a small team that is going through all the stages of trying to build a company has been one of the best and quickest ways for me to learn about the industry.”

To learn more about the AIT program, contact Marty Guenther,  the undergraduate coordinator for the Department of Computer Science. To learn more about this and other study abroad opportunities for Hajim School students, contact Rohan Palma, the school’s study abroad adviser.


Sunset at Istanbul.