After just about every class, I come away surprised at how cutting edge our professors are here in Hungary. I think it might have something to do with a) a small country and b) the quality of our university but it really is amazing. Just to give you a rough estimate we have had as lecturers: 1) former foreign minister of Hungary and ambassador to the US 2) former commissionar of the EU and ambassador to Denmark 3) man who is starting a new political party in Hungary 4) man who is president of the fan club of Hungary's biggest soccer team and 5) the foremost authority of Hungarian Art and Architecture.
The foreign minister and ambassador to the US was a beareded, humble old man that somehow in a class on European Integration got stuck on the relations between China and Russia. Still, the man had an amazing mind and went back to teaching history after he got kicked out of government. I wonder if a conservative government were in power right now, if all our professors would be in power and instead our professors would be liberal. Who knows.
The former ambassador was also a substitute but his English was better than mine. The man had amazing fluency and just rolled out stories about Copenhagen that we couldn't believe.
The man who is starting the new political party is the one pictured on a recent news magazine. Although he is quite arrogant, he was educated in the UK and knows his stuff about Hungary. He teaches at the NATO defense college in Germany and heads a think-tank here in Hungary.
The president of Hungary's biggest fan club is quite the instructor and hes only about 30 years old. Now some of my friends think he has a secret love interest, but I had better not put that here. Anyway he told us that when he gets called to speak on TV, about 4 out of 5 times its for politics but every once in awhile its to talk soccer.
Our art history professor is simply amazing and knows everyone in the field. He commands respect everywhere we go including the parliament and has so many ins in the city. Every museum we visited people were crawling on the floor to do favors for him.
Finally I can't forget to mention the two econ teachers I have. They have the most bizarre stories during communism. One worked in a gulag in the Soviet Union for a period of time. He tells us stories like one time he got off the train in Bucharest at 3 am and saw people lining up for bread because they had to get there that early if they wanted to get any of the rations. This is only one of many stories he has to offer. This might sound quite conceded and all that, but I think anyone studying in a small country like this would feel pretty amazed at what academics have to do to keep a small country afloat in the world. Or something like that.