Fulbright chronicle #15

It’s time to say… hello and see you later.

My program has come to an end. I’m leaving this evening. Back to home and back to normal. My last year was about this Fulbright scholarship let alone the time needed for making up the application. I am tired and it is about time to go home.

I’m trying to collect and organize my thoughts, but it is too difficult now. Needles to deny, I am overcome by emotions. If anyone asked me why this visit was so important to me, I would mention two things.

First, professionally, it was a huge experience. I learnt a lot. Now, settling down in my life again, I know this is going to be a fresh start and not the continuation of my previous research program. Okay, Lucas is going to remain my man, but that is all to it. I have new methods, new approaches to apply. My horizon has enormously widened. Ross is a great master and I’m really grateful to him for taking the trouble to teach me. Okay, I know, teaching and learning cannot be enough let alone too much, so it could have been more – under any condition it could have been more, but as a matter of fact it was something great. Thanks to Ross I could understand what Lucas told me about Friedman, the excitement and the inspiration one can receive from his professor. I will always regard Ross as my teacher and academic supervisor.

Second, I have friends here. There are a few things I firmly believe in and one of them is the possibility of some ‘Big Encounters’. It is rare but happens from time to time. I mean we meet people by chance but some of them turn out to be permanent and determinant parts of our lives. I believe and I’d like to believe that my friends here are such constituent parts of my remaining life. The times I had the privilege to spend with them are among the best moments of my life and I will never forget these days. And I sincerely hope this is not over to us. I mean I believe in this ‘charma-thing’ that the gifts we receive we need to hand over to others not to break the flow of love in the world, but I really would like to return their generosity and kindness directly to them.

Now I am associate professor of economics at Budapest Business School again.

This picture was taken after my farewell lunch on Friday. With Melissa Castle-Kirincic, Steve Slivinski, Ross B. Emmett, Mason Hunt and Paul Bernert–the people of the Center of the Study of Economic Liberty, my intellectual home here.


… and with the lovely and wonderful Callie:


And, finally, with Shereé and Ashley:

A few hours to go here.


My life at Duke: some more pictures

There are two things I have not yet shown about my life at Duke and in Durham. One is my usual morning walking route to 9th Street and then to the Rubenstein Library.

My weeks at Chicago were very hectic. Unfortunately, I had to see those parts of the city I did not want to see and all my physical and intellectual efforts there were consumed by keeping my life intact as much as possible and focusing on my research. I got really tired there as I needed to build up a whole new life in days. It is not a compliment, but you can imagine how difficult it is to form new habits, new routines to preserve the possibility of being focussed. Needles to say, I got tired by the end of October, so my moving to Durham was a great relief. It was a fresh start.

This simple fact rendered my life at Duke a continuous celebration. I was in high spirits and relaxed at the same time. The libraries, the Center Bruce and other CHOPE people run are simply perfect. Paige and Lisa, the ladies at iHouse, endow the whole university with a unique atmosphere. Duke is an extraordinary place–and it is always a source of happiness to return. Whenever you are at Duke… you know you live in a dream.

So I was prompt to get my life back on track, as soon as possible. I wanted to live every single moment. A part of this effort was a daily routine. Getting up early to make my call to home, a run in the empty streets around the campus, a shower and then heading to Panera Bread at 9th Street. To have some freshly baked bagels, to listen to music, and to watch the people around me from a distance. To be present without getting involved. Ideal.

The road to 9th Street, along Swift Avenue. I really loved it…

And the hiking trip on the last day with other internationals and Claire. And Leila, of course. It was great fun.

Fulbright chronicle #14

Arizona State University, W.P. Carey School of Business, CPCOM 4th floor, 76 steps away from my office.

With Edward C. Prescott in his office after a nice chat. He knows a thing or two about models of the business cycle… Okay, he knows everything. I am very grateful to him for making some really important points on my research, calling my attention to some underdeveloped ideas.

Having met him is a great gift, honour and inspiration. These conversations meant the world to me. You cannot overestimate the simple presence of such a mind at a department…



Fulbright chronicle #13

The day when I became an honorary Canadian.

In Wintertime snowbirds roam the Arizona desert and the Florida beach. This is the name of those mainly elderly people who escape from Canada and the Northern states of continental US from the harsh weather season. The Great Canadian Picnic is invented for them: to create an opportunity for people from Canada to reunite far away from home. As Kim is a natural born Canadian (her town is called ‘Rosalind’ which has the population of 400, but only on better days, according to Ross) and Ross lived and worked there for more than a decade, it was natural for them to hang around at the picnic. Trevor, Morganne and I joined them and it turned out to be a great afternoon. I don’t remember the name of the sixth member of the company, but she is a ‘she’. I’m so sorry…

We took a short hike in the surrounding mountains–the South Mountain Park is a scenic area. At the park entrance we had lunch: mainly fry bread, bought at a food truck. We Hungarians also have a similar thing, when bread pastry is deep-fried. Here it is a Mexican specialty, served copious amount of bean and onion, instead of garlic, cheese and sour cream. Delicios and… aromatic. Here is the pictorial.

Is someone is a Canadian by heart, he or she wears the red maple leaf proudly…


Phoenix and mountains rising in the distance…


Yes, this is the Wild West.


Hiking: from April to October it is not advisable to go out for a hike after morning and before late afternoon. Hot is unbearable…


And the menu: fry bread for everyone.


In the meantime…

In the meantime due to severe weather conditions, Crerar, Mansueto, and Regenstein libraries of the University of Chicago close at 10:00 pm tonight.

I remember, when preparing for this visit, I put forward the idea of a Winter visit at Chicago. I wanted to enjoy Wintertime in the city of wind and snow. Then Ross enlightened me. Winter in Chicago is not something to enjoy. It is something to survive.

My life at Duke

My program is about to come to an end, so while doing my best to max out my visit here, from time to time I find myself looking back upon the past few months. It is fun but the few people who kindly have not forgotten about me sometimes wish me ‘have fun’ or say ‘hopefully you will recharge your batteries’, so they seem to think this is a holiday or something… The reality is that I have no working days under net 10 hours, seven days a week. I get up at 4 AM, go out for a run (or a walk with a healing ankle), have a shower and leave for my department office. After having a tea I start the day at 6:30 AM which normally lasts until 6 PM. A 8 PM I am in my bed.

So looking back. Except for my months here in Arizona, my sweetest memories take me back to Duke. Duke is a special place… This was my second visit there and the first time for me to live there in the literal sense of the word. I had my own flat, my own kitchen, my own washing machine, my own post box. I had an early morning routine, walking along Swift Avenue until the railroad crossing and Main Street to turn left to 9th Street and Panera Bread. The lazy mornings looking around through the large windows of the bakery… The walks to the bus stop to wait for an H2 bus to come… The parks with thousands of squirrels… And Paige and Lisa, of course, the ladies at iHouse. So the other day I realized I have not yet told anything about Duke and Durham and my life there. Here are some pictures.

Duke University Chapel and the surrounding parks and buildings. The Chapel follows the methodist traditions and has a fabulous choir.


The Sarah P. Duke garden is within walking distance along Chapel Drive. It is an arboretum having thematic parts, such as Japanese garden, a lake and some fountains. A perfect place if you want to take a walk in a refreshing and soothing zone.


One of my favourites: the Rubenstein Arts Center. It is an art gallery and a building for arts students with rehearsal rooms and studios. Very silent and calm, and anyone is free to enter. On Tuesdays, on the special Ruby days, free coffee is served and you are welcome to show up to have a chat about arts, dance or theatre.


The centre of the civilised world: the Rubenstein library, as known as David M. Rubesnstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. A fancy name for a library, isn’t it…? My workplace at Duke. Actually, this is ‘only’ a reading room at the ground level of Perkins Library, one of Duke’s several libraries. The recipe for an outstanding university: have a library and spend some millions of dollars on books… for 100 years or so.


On Sunday mornings it is fun to take the bus to Chapel Hill, the neighboring small town. Chapel Hill is the home of North Carolina’s iconic university, the University of North Carolina (UNC). Carolina people, the Tar Heels, are very proud of the country and really love wearing their ‘national’ costume. This is Nike sneakers, shirts and caps but all in the special Carolina blue. If God is not a Tar Heel, why is Viagra Carolina blue? You can imagine the shade…



To be continued…


Fulbright chronicle #11

One of your lovely duties as a Fulbrighter is to be ready to answer when you are asked about your home country. This has happened today. I was happy to attend the panel discussion on the current political and economic events in Eastern Europe, organized by the Melikian Center at ASU. Being surrounded by smart and like-minded people asking sensible questions is always a pleasure. Special thanks to David Brokaw and Keith Brown for the idea and to Mason Hunt for organizing the event… and for the pictures.

Here are some photos Mason took. I really look like an expert…

Fulbright chronicle #10

It was an exciting weekend – we ( Ross, Scott and I) attended the Desert Hockey Classic tournament in Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona. Glendale is to the West from Tempe, so you need to take the highway to get there – and it takes at least 30 minutes. Or so, if the roads are packed. And this is still the large Phoenix area. On the way we drove through I had a view of the various parts of the metropolitan area. Skyscrapers, industrial sites and residential areas – it was an exploration for me.

Gile River Arena is in the middle of an open-air amusement park – and Scott is really amused in the picture:


Fountains, palms, restaurants and shops all around…


Gila River Arena is the home for Arizona Coyotes, so this is a real NHL indoor stadium. Huge, beautiful (as beautiful as a stadium can be) and terribly cold. Its being cold cannot clearly visible, admittedly:

A picture of the company. Scott Scheall (on the right), Ross and me (on the left). Typical photo in one sense. There is a guy doing his best to put himself in the picture. But who is the funny girl behind us…? Clearly, I was unprepared for a photobomb, so I didn’t asked her number. But I should have, definitely. Lesson: if there is a pretty girl around, don’t wait until the next period. She left without my saying hello.


Collective prayer á la MSU Mavericks. The hockey team is not from Michigan, but Minnesota State University.


One of my dreams when I was a youngster was to become a hockey goalkeeper. I still love the stuff they wear. The other was to be the bass guitarist in ‘Therapy?’. I had the trousers and the hair cut!


And last but least… the most important thing. The shovel girls. They were stunning…

Fulbright chronicle #9

My home. From time to time people around ask me to tell them about my home. Sometimes they are friends, but sometimes just people I come across. The cashier in Memorial Union’s foodstore asking whether Hungary is bordered by an ocean… Or friends really curious about my home.

I am a terrible writer. Miklos Radnoti [or Michael Radnoti, if you like], one of my most cherished poets, has already told what I could.

I cannot know…

a poem by Miklos Radnoti

I cannot know what this land means to other people.
For me, it is my birthplace, this little nation embraced
by flames, the world of my childhood rocking in the distance.
I grew out of her like a tender branch from a tree
and I hope one day my body will sink into her.
I am at home. And if a shrub happens to kneel down
beside my foot, I know both its name and its flower;
I know who walks on the road and where they are going,
and what it might mean when in the summer sunset
the house-walls shimmer and drip with crimson-agony.
For one who flies above, this land is merely a map,
and does not know where lived Vörösmarty Mihály,
what does this map hold for him? factories and wild barracks;
but for me crickets, oxen, steeples, peaceful homesteads;
he sees factories in his lenses and cultivated meadows,
while I see the worker too, who for his work trembles.
Forests, singing orchards, grapes and cemeteries,
among the graves an old woman who quietly weeps.
And what seem from above train tracks to destroy
is a conductor’s house and he stands outside and signals;
many kids surround him, a red flag in his hand,
and in the courtyard a komondor rolls in the sand;
and there’s the park, the footsteps of long-lost loves,
the kisses on my mouth both honey and cranberry.
And walking off to school on the edge of the road,
to avoid being called on, I stepped on a stone;
look, here’s the stone, but from above, this cannot be seen,
there is no machine with which all this can be revealed.

For we are guilty too, as other peoples are,
knowing full-well when and how and why we’ve sinned so far,
but workers live here too, and poets, without sin
and tiny babies in whom intellect will flourish;
it shines in them and they guard it, hiding in dark cellars
until the finger of peace once again marks our nation,
and with fresh voices they will answer our muffled words.

Cover us with your big wings, vigil-keeping evening cloud.


January 17, 1944


Translated by Gina Gönczi.