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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".  ;)

The Turks did not occupy all of Hungary. The front line was moving

:heart:

Tomi HU :

The Turks did not occupy all of Hungary. The front line was moving

They were at the gates of Vienna.

I do LOVE my Turkish tv shows, I give them that, they know how to unfold a tale very slowly and have a balance of storyline and action.
I may even learn Turkish just to be able to keep up with my shows!
My mother had the funniest and strangest misconception about Hungarians.
My mother was a very open minded and loving person so her response to my telling her I met a nice Hungarian man was a bit of a shock to me, I thought she would be more open about my dating him.
Huge misconception perhaps only because she was still stuck in a time warp.
Her older bro, he was a good 19 years older then her met and married a 15 year old HUngarian women who just about literally stepped off the boat in the US in the 1920's.
She came over with her parents.
My auntie Rose.
My mom remembered how kind and nice her SIL's parents were but they were the classic image of the "immigrant" who just stepped off the boat
Couldn't speak any English, and they were old style country people, her father wore country clothing, the big high boots, puffy shirt with vest , a funny hat and smoked a long pipe.He also had the handlebar
mustache.
She often spent weeks with her SIL and her parents, was told Hungarian nursery rhymes which she never forgot.
Was given Hungarian food, which she loved and learned a few words of basic Hungarian as a young girl just from getting babysat.
When I told my mom I met a cute Hungarian man she freaked out, she thought he was going to be wearing high boots wearing a mustache and playing the violin!
She was so wrong it is not funny. Many people have a idea in their heads and can't see past their noses.
Ok,  my husband was stylish and modern, she still had to find something wrong with him. Said he looked like a "refugee", I with my humor told her, yes, that's what he is! Went a bit "insane" about how she struggled all her life raising us only to have me hook up with a "foreigner" with no family etc. in the US. Just really tough on him in every way possible, it was bad enough she thought he was a "old man" 7 years my senior. I now  understand her more, most mom's do want their girls to marry a professional, not someone who  just "landed". All her years of teaching us how to walk and behave, wasted or so she said.
Long story short, in the end he became the only person she ever trusted enough to tell her deep dark secrets and confine her fears with before she passed away.
Nice to know he finally was proven to be better then she could ever of hoped for in a SIL.
She even begged my Hungarian husband to find her other daughters a man like himself. Sweet but not so easy to find a one in a million man. 43 years later we are still into each other, I know for a fact that anyone with a lesser personality would of been tossed to the way side ages ago. Hungarians are some of the most real honest and stubborn people on earth love em or leave em.

Marilyn Tassy :

......7 years my senior.....

You have lived quite an adventure Marilyn. 

Age differences seem to be common here but is no real barrier, never mind the boots and moustaches. 

Mrs Fluffy is 6 years my junior but hey, I think of it this way, when say one is 21 and the partner is 28, it's quite an age difference at 25%. But at say,  57 and 50, it's only 13% and in any case it all evens out as one has shared experiences and a shared life.

One lucky thing in HU is, what with the Commie timewarp,  Mrs Fluffy knew who the Beatles were and she was actually a big fan of Abba!

Funny about Abba, when we visited Hungary in 1978 my BIL and  everyone was "insane" about Abba.
Not trying to show off but Abba was always a bit too pop for us.( As a teen I was more into Frank Zappa and the Mother's then Abba or teenie bopper music)
My husband used to sneak with his friends with the radio tuned into Radio Free Europe, Stones, Beatles, Kinks etc. were his cup of tea.He and his friends were Mods in the 60's in Budapest. Used to get hassled  all the time by the cops, chased, get their hair cut off, they bleached their hair blonde. Wore tight Mod clothes and a few even had scooters, my hubby had a small motorbike, bad a** Mods in the day... Funny to see his old photos.Do not think Hungary had any Rockers only Mods.
He laughed at his bro when he went on and on about Abba.
Karma, our lovely son was a "innocent" ( thank God) during his teen years, never wanted to drink, do drugs or sneak out of the house with girls, a perfect teen who just wanted to stay home in his room( Who knows what was going on in there but the internet was not on so couldn't of been all that bad)
Anyways, he totally loved Abba, I mean he joined their fan club, had all the videos and music tapes they made, Even went so far as to buy himself a ticket with his hard earned fast food funds and go to Sweden to try and find himself a girl who looked like Annifred, the dark haired girl in Abba.
As it turned out he met a Swedish girl in the park with one leg! She had a male friend with her to "lean on". They had a nice chat and that was it.He said her face was like Annies...
Funny really, made me sit with him and watch his vid's , I sort of have a soft spot in my heart now for Abba only because they meant so much to my boy at one time.
Crazy him, he was lucky that he was not arrested, his big crime was he dug up a cobble stone in Sweden on which one of the LP covers for Abba was shot in Sweden. Must of weighed a good 15 to 20 lbs. Surprised security at the airport didn't notice that.
Now he has his own Abba door stop!
Took my son with me to see Mama Mia in Las Vegas, it was fun to sing those silly songs with the crowd, memories...
It is true though, at one time Abba was the "bomb" in Hungary and most of Europe.
My husband was thinking of getting his old commie police records for a laugh, just would be interesting to see what they actually"had" on him, sure it would be a laugh.

Marilyn Tassy :

.....
Now he has his own Abba door stop!
Took my son with me to see Mama Mia in Las Vegas, it was fun to sing those silly songs with the crowd, memories...
It is true though, at one time Abba was the "bomb" in Hungary and most of Europe.
My husband was thinking of getting his old commie police records for a laugh, just would be interesting to see what they actually"had" on him, sure it would be a laugh.

Hilarious!  While Abba are quite kitsch, one has to admit they could produce the hits.

Why not get the cop records? 

On the other hand, sometimes sleeping dogs should lie.....

Guess we are a bit lazy to go into the central police offices and deal with it.
Would be interesting though.

I have to admit even in my "cool daze" if Dancing Queen was played I had to dance, it was the thing to do.
I was going to say perhaps my son should of" taken off" with his one legged beauty in Sweden, at least she wouldn't "run around" on him like his former wife did!  Had to go there, couldn't help myself!

Another big Cliche about Hungary is Vampire tales.
My husband never even heard of vampires until he moved to the US.
Hollywood and Bela Lugosi , people think everyone in Hungary wants to drink their blood.
It is all Hollywood , nothing to do with reality.
At one time as a very young teen my older sister would only sleep with a string of garlic around her neck at night, that's what a impact those silly films had on some people. No wonder the boys at school called her names and called her strange, she must of reeked of garlic, no need for chastity belts for girls, just give them a garlic necklace! Silly...

Marilyn Tassy :

Guess we are a bit lazy to go into the central police offices and deal with it.
Would be interesting though.

I have to admit even in my "cool daze" if Dancing Queen was played I had to dance, it was the thing to do.
I was going to say perhaps my son should of" taken off" with his one legged beauty in Sweden, at least she wouldn't "run around" on him like his former wife did!  Had to go there, couldn't help myself!

Another big Cliche about Hungary is Vampire tales.
My husband never even heard of vampires until he moved to the US.
Hollywood and Bela Lugosi , people think everyone in Hungary wants to drink their blood.
It is all Hollywood , nothing to do with reality.
At one time as a very young teen my older sister would only sleep with a string of garlic around her neck at night, that's what a impact those silly films had on some people. No wonder the boys at school called her names and called her strange, she must of reeked of garlic, no need for chastity belts for girls, just give them a garlic necklace! Silly...

I thought the vampires came from Transylvania - Erdely.  We've been to his castle.

There's always Bikavér instead of human blood.

I would have thought the one-legged Annafrid look alike would have been called Eileen - sorry stupid joke.

Surprisingly, Annafrid is now a princess (!!!) and lives in Switzerland: Anni-Frid Lyngstad (of Abba fame). Still looking very elegant too.

We took a 3 day trip to Erdely a decade ago. Didn't see the castle.
Stayed in a quaint little Hungarian village in the mountains.
The people were interesting, my husband spoke to several locals there who spoke a form of Hungarian that was very old. Nice people really pretty there too.
Didn't see any vampires though...

Marilyn Tassy :

We took a 3 day trip to Erdely a decade ago. Didn't see the castle.
Stayed in a quaint little Hungarian village in the mountains.
The people were interesting, my husband spoke to several locals there who spoke a form of Hungarian that was very old. Nice people really pretty there too.
Didn't see any vampires though...

I think there are two competing castles.  The one we went to had guys (students maybe) dressed as vampires with rubbery pointy teeth. Bran Castle I think it was.   To be rather blunt, it was rubbish but it was at least 10+ years ago so it might be a much slicker experience now. Bram Stoker who wrote Dracula, didn't even visit Romania and just made it all up! 

Couple of other places we visited in Romania with a Hungarian/Székely  culture: Korond (pottery) and Szováta (for the spa/lake).   Lake was interesting. Very alpine kind of area.

Sounds like it was allot of fun.

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