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Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Hungary

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Hungary can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Hungary?

What are the most common clichés about life in Hungary in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,

Priscilla

Many people think Goulash is a stew don't know it's really a soup and goulash stew should actually be called "Pörkölt".

Hard to say as I met my Hungarian husband and friends years before I came to visit Hungary.
I have allot of family members in the US from Hungary,Poland and Ukraine so I sort of already knew a bit about the foods and some of the culture growing up.
My first trip to HU was in 1978 when it was still under Soviet rule. I was only 23 years old but had a 2 year old son who we brought to meet his HU family.
I was not into the clubs or going out to meet people other then family so not sure how it was for young single people at that time in HU.
I felt a bit sorry then for the people, noticed how little many people had in the way of material goods, felt a bit ashamed at myself for visiting for 6 weeks with 6 suitcases full of clothing, of course babies need allot of stuff.
Now days I think allot of the camaraderie that there was in Hungary is gone. It's more about making money then enjoying small everyday things and people. Everyone has the noses in a cell phone and no one wants to connect with others, same world wide however.

And yes, goulash is a soup not a stew and please don 't make it from canned items!!! And please, don't make it out of elbow macaroni , canned stewed tomato and ground beef into a messy mush of a stew. That is called cowboy hash not goulash.
Also Hungarians or not Hungry,how many times have I heard that, make em a sandwich!

I know this is a very old fashioned concept but when I first told my mother I met a Hungarian man she went a bit crazy on me.
I think in her minds eye she saw a person wearing knee high boots and sporting a handlebar waxed stash and smoking a long pipe.
One of the people she saw as a child entering the US straight off the boat.
I was asked by a client once in the states if Hungary was a Muslim country and if the women had to wear burkas, this was 15 or more years back too.
Also not every Hungarian wants to marry a American as many in the west think they are a hot commodity. Not everyone is after a US green card, ( not like my former DIL)
Most in the west do not understand how well educated the average Hungarian is well read and up on world events.
Much more so I think then most people in the west are.
And of course not every HUngarian knows how to folk dance or play music.

Some stereo types are perpetuated by Hungarians themselves, our family doc in HU put of doing certain important screening tests on my husband because she just assumed he drank alcohol and his health issues were from that and not from an actual health issue.
After nearly 2 years went by she finally asked him if he drank when his answer was no she was surprised. Of course he might have a drink once in a blue moon if pushed to.

Marilyn Tassy :

......Some stereo types are perpetuated by Hungarians themselves, our family doc in HU put of doing certain important screening tests on my husband because she just assumed he drank alcohol and his health issues were from that and not from an actual health issue.
After nearly 2 years went by she finally asked him if he drank when his answer was no she was surprised. Of course he might have a drink once in a blue moon if pushed to.

I once saw a doctor who spent all his time during the consultation smoking.  He was a cardiologist too.  He just happened to be the one on duty.  There's a retired doctor down the street. He's a heavy smoker as well. 

And one of one of our acquaintances has had lung cancer surgery and Mrs Fluffy caught him last week smoking on the sly in a supermarket car park.

So, stereotypes, drinking too much,  yes probably, smoking, even by the experts who should know better, absolutely.

The Muslim question was quite a reasonable one as Hungary was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699. For me, living over 2 hours drive from Budapest, the most common misconception is that Budapest is typical of Hungary in general. In just the way that London is quite different to the rest of England, Budapest is quite different to the rest of Hungary.

Super sweet and gentle hearts.  Men are soooooo sexy!

Hungarians are Europeans.

Funny about the doctors smoking.
I used to frequent a ladies gym in Erd in the mornings.
We all waited outside for the owner to open up in the mornings. As we waited about half the ladies would be drinking a coffee, eating a sweet and smoking all at the same time. crazy really, in Cal. if that happened they would be shamed into running away , not working out.

One huge misconception I think is believing you can learned to speak fluent  Hungarian in a short time.
Have actually only met one person who did that and it took her a good 5 years of having her MIL visit for months on end teaching her the language.
All in all on the street, most not everyone but most people will take me for a Hungarian of sorts.Just by looks alone, as soon as I express myself they no longer think I am a local.
Another misconception is people in the west might think most Hungarians have not seen the world. After the wall went down many Hungarians traveled everywhere.
My neighbors bro has been to the US, Japan, all over Asia and just about every country in the EU, He was one of the male dancers in the old HU rock group,NOK. I couldn't believe my next door neighbors bro was that talented of a dancer and had traveled everywhere.
Hungarians do not tend to brag as we in the west do.

WAY back when...during the Iraq War of 2002-2003 timeframe, I was deluged with questions like:
Can you be hit with a SCUD missile?
Are you in danger from all the Muslims in Hungary?
Do you think the Iraqis will invade?
How long do you have to wait in line to buy toilet paper?

Specifically about Magyarok, no, they don't all look like Zsa Zsa Gabor. No, not all the men are vampires like Bela Lugosi. Yes they smoke a lot, yes they drink a lot. No, not everyone drives a Trabant, but they are fairly common just the same. Yes, the Trabant is partially made of wood.  Yes, there's a large porn industry in Budapest.

Honestly makes me smile to go down memory lane...

Vicces1 :

.....
Are you in danger from all the Muslims in Hungary?
Do you think the Iraqis will invade?
How long do you have to wait in line to buy toilet paper?
...
Honestly makes me smile to go down memory lane...

There are only about 6000 Muslims in Hungary (as far as I remember one report). Hardly a massive threat.

Remember the (old) joke:

Q: What's got 1000 legs and eats cabbage?
A: A meat queue in Russia

Those were the days (best forgotten).

You, having a misconception about Hungary...

MOHCTEP :

You, having a misconception about Hungary...

Best to use the quote function here, bottom right to help determine who is the "you" in the thread.

fluffy2560 :

Best to use the quote function here, bottom right

On a PC. If one is using a phone or tablet with a smaller screen form factor it is not so easily visible. It is hidden in a drop down menu accessible only from three dots (...) next to the "Reply" link.

MOHCTEP :

You, having a misconception about Hungary...

And thus another attempt at joke has failed... :(

No worries, it is hard to be funny online.
I am a very sarcastic person with a crazy way of seeing life situations, not everyone gets my humor or lack of it.
All I know is if I didn't make myself laugh at least I would be a very miserable women by now.
It often seems I am the only one in on the joke.

MOHCTEP :
MOHCTEP :

You, having a misconception about Hungary...

And thus another attempt at joke has failed... :(

utterly baffled

fluffy2560 :
MOHCTEP :

And thus another attempt at joke has failed... :(

utterly baffled

It saw it as sardonic humor.

For example, for years now I have wondered if I even understood the country I was born and raised in. The people. The ideals.

This year removed all doubts. I do not. :|

If I do not even know my own country, how can I comment about "misconceptions" about Hungary? I find that humorous. In a sad way of course.

Another option is to consider that no expat really "knows" Hungary, thus can not comment on the difference between a misconception and what it is really like here. And watching the spin of expat opinions on this is also funny, in its own way.

Don't feel bad we also feel like people with no country.
Citizens of the world is a better term then citizen of here or there.

fluffy2560 :

Q: What's got 1000 legs and eats cabbage?
A: A meat queue in Russia

I've heard it like this:
Q: What is long, green, and smells like sausage?
A: Train from Moscow.

Explanation: 1) local trains in Russia are almost always green, and 2) during Soviet times Moscow was always better supplied, so it was quite common that lots of people from other towns and villages would go to Moscow to buy basic stuff — like meat.

I ran across this link today:

Hungarian Stereotypes…Explained

with the following list:

   - If a Hungarian passes through a revolving door right after you he will come out before you
   - Two Hungarians can have three different and often contradictory opinions
   - Hungarian women are beautiful
   - Hungarians tend to eat rich dishes, full of fat
   - Hungarians complain a lot and they are rather pessimistic when expressing an opinion
   - Hungarians do not make a toast with beer
   - Most Hungarians think we are the descendants of Huns
   - Hungary is a horse riding nation

Follow the link above to get each "explained".  ;)

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