ESTEEM Stories: From Budapest to South Bend

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

This story comes to us from ESTEEM students Helga Feiszthuber and Nora Markia.

feizsthuber1I always imagined America as the country of sunshine, beaches, flip-flops, burgers, and tailgates; I was surprised how wrong I was. I have never been in the U.S. before I came here this year, and I didn’t really know what to expect. A few people said that studying at Notre Dame takes a lot of effort, and it is a “bloody” job, so I should prepare myself for the worst. Well, I thought that the ESTEEM program couldn’t be more challenging than the introduction to C++ programming or Functional Analysis so I hopped right in. However, I faced other challenges, especially cultural differences and language barriers, and I’ve been out of my comfort zone so many times that I’ve lost count. But I feel that because all of the challenges that I faced and overcome I could grow more personally and I could became a part of a wonderful new community.

It has been great for me to experience how much the students in the program take care of each other.  We spend a lot of time together, whether we’re going to “Settlers of Catan” parties, attending local concerts (performed by Jon Schommer), going ice skating at Compton with Daniel


 Ward, traveling to Canada with Daniel Kestell, getting stuck in the snow with, or partying with the Irish. This is the first time that I have experienced entrepreneurship, and now I believe it is a very powerful tool that, combined with our engineering skills, can really make a difference when we return home in June. Starting an ultrasound company back in Hungary seemed like a wild dream 10 months ago, but now as we move forward with our thesis it is more realistic and I can’t wait to make it reality!! I didn’t even have a name or a logo when I arrived here in June, but now I’ve developed a business plan, carried out customer validation by interviewing dermatologists and patients, and am now competing to win the McCloskey Competition.

It’s nearly the end of the program, and I know that I have changed a lot. It’s strange: at the beginning the “American classroom” was very scary, but all of my earlier fears have turned into excitement and curiosity because of the support from our classmates and teachers.