How's life in Hungary for you?

Hello there,

Can you share your experience with me about interacting with Hungarians while living and working in Hungary? I am not a journalist but it was interesting to read fluffy2560's post mentioning the dark side of the UK and I grew interested.. all he said was true in my opinion but the list did not include human interaction.

I am aware that your view of a strange land and its inhabitants is greatly influenced and formed by the circumstances you live in. Also, I don't believe in the myth spread among the Hungarians themselves that we are a highly vendégszerető/hospitable nation so any comment is appreciated and no offence will be taken.

Thanks,
Jozsef

Hi,

I think we are quite hospitable: all it takes is one friendly guy to stop and help a visitor in trouble out of the hundreds of people passing by.

Unfriendly people won't bother stopping to be unfriendly, so they don't matter.

Hostile people will only hurt local minorities, and they only come out at nights, so I hope they have little impact on the expat experience.

Confirmation bias is on our side this time :-)


But you are right, it would be best to hear about this from the horse's mouth :-)

Like joe said, no offence taken, enlighten us!

Generally (excluding war zones), I think almost all people (anywhere) are hospitable. After all we all human beings (ok, too idealistic but obviously true). The real issue is language and attitude. If one can speak the local language, then it breaks down barriers immediately. My experience is that the perception of friendliness is based upon understanding. An open mind (attitude) helps facilitate understanding.

For Hungarians and say, the British, we're all more alike than different.

fluffy2560 wrote:

Generally (excluding war zones), I think almost all people (anywhere) are hospitable. After all we all human beings (ok, too idealistic but obviously true). The real issue is language and attitude. If one can speak the local language, then it breaks down barriers immediately. My experience is that the perception of friendliness is based upon understanding. An open mind (attitude) helps facilitate understanding.

For Hungarians and say, the British, we're all more alike than different.

Thank you fluffy2560 for your reply (and szöcske, too)! Have you ever felt that you were treated positively here because of your nationality? I mean, are you sure that you would have had the same perception if you were a different national, say Romanian? Please don't take my response as a challenge, it is just curiosity. I used to discuss with other foreigners a lot while living abroad and I kind of miss that..

joe1973 wrote:

... Have you ever felt that you were treated positively here because of your nationality? I mean, are you sure that you would have had the same perception if you were a different national, say Romanian? ..

Yes, I have experienced that but not here in HU. When I lived in another country not very far away, I was a curiosity for the neighbours and introduced as "British" at various social gatherings. After a time, they realised I was more or less just the same as them except speaking English and their interest diminished somewhat (or was I just that boring?). I could have told them them I was not that exotic at the beginning. Perhaps I was just a novelty they got used to. I don't know.

Not being a Romanian, hard to say. However, I expect there's quite a difference in the way Hungarians treat them. I think it's a matter of familiarity. In the UK for example, the majority of people have no contact with Eastern Europeans and no pre-conceived ideas of their behaviour or culture.

I've often encountered pre-conceptions from Eastern Europeans who think they are being discriminated against in the UK but that's just nonsense. The majority of people in the UK don't really care where people come from so long as they fit in with the sense of democracy, fair play, honesty etc. Extremists are not welcome. As a trading nation and an island, we've always had people of different origins in the country and often we've given asylum to political refugees etc. There was an unwritten rule in the UK  was that the British would give asylum to political types from elsewhere so long as they did not wage war inside the UK with rival groups or plot terrorism on UK territory. Perhaps those days are now over.

fluffy2560 wrote:

I've often encountered pre-conceptions from Eastern Europeans who think they are being discriminated against in the UK but that's just nonsense. The majority of people in the UK don't really care where people come from so long as they fit in with the sense of democracy, fair play, honesty etc.

Yes, I can confirm that by personal experience. I don't think the Brits prejudice by where you come from. The reason for that in my opinion is that there have been many different nationals living together through the imperial years. If you learn the language well, you can get by well and make friends over there.

Different experience I had in Germany though, I recieved a warm reception when speaking English with British accent but I was treated in an unfriendly manner when I spoke German. Funny, isn't it? The reason behind it was that speaking English gave the impression of a tourist but speaking German rather told the story of a cheap Eastern-European labourer stationed there for a few years making money on the Germans' back. So speaking the local language in Germany gave me only headache but on the other hand speaking Spanish in Colombia made me a king over there. But again, if I had lived further south (I was near Hamburg) I might have been in a different environment.

My general observation is that people in Germany, for example, welcome other Western-Europeans but generally prejudice against Eastern-Europeans. The same thing happens here in Hungary, too. We like Westerners but don't particularly appreciate people who live further East than we do. When I say "we", I mean people in general without open mind.

You might not share my theory as you come from a set which is welcomed in most countries I mentioned above and you haven't experienced it personally.

Just my two cents - I haven't been here long, but I feel like I've been treated positively because I am Australian.  People seem to like Aussies, for whatever reason! :)

In fact, I've been asked quite regularly "But you are from Australia, why on earth would you come to Hungary!??"  I find that question so strange - your country is beautiful!

Hello Margle and yes, why on earth did you choose Hungary precisely? :D

No, seriously, I guess this question (which is my favourite as well) gives voice to the people's general idea that you would be better off in the UK, for instance. Same language, more money, etc... but you would not find thermal baths over there which is a good enough reason to be here during the winter!

Regards,
Joe

I've lived here in Eger and Sirok for 2 1/2 years now and have had a fantastic welcome, especially in Sirok (where we live in winter). Initially we were a curiosity and everyone was talking about the new English couple that had moved in (there's only 1 other English guy here, in his 70's and rarely seen). People wanted to buy us drinks and genuinely want to get to know us. Now, 2 1/2 years later everyone knows who we are but still want to help us, buy us drinks...and not want anything back. We've made many real friends here.
One down side is that on many occasions it's been assumed that because we're English we're wealthy. House prices go up, car repairs can cost double etc, etc. This doesn't happen all the time but we have to be aware. I've told people on numerous occasions (in Hungarian) that I live here, I'm not a tourist!!
The other side of the coin is that I know numerous people in England who don't take kindly to the amount of foreigners who've gone over to work, particularly Poles. I think I've been treated better here than a foreigner would be in England, certainly the area that I came from.

Hi.

I have lived here for about 5 years and I love the place and the people. I am sure they treat my wife and I well, because we treat them well. We always greet our neighbours and anyone we do business with. We always show respect.

I am quite sure that if I was from one of the eastern countries, the hungarians would treat me differently as I have witnessed these encounters and listened to the opinions of my neighbours.

So far I have not encountered the higher charging phenomina and have always been treated fairly for car and house repairs.

I would not move from Hungary and I intend to live my days out here  :)

First off before I say anything negative let me state for the record I love Hungary and also plan to spend my last days here. That said I can also say we have had both wonderful and horrible experiences here which isn't too surprising. As Americans we are also always asked why on Earth we would want to live here and they just don't accept that it is a wonderful and beautiful place with excellent quality of life. They usually assume we are fleeing some incident in the US. But, in fact for an American on a fixed income it is next to heaven. Our house is magnificent and we are exceptionally happy here in Balatonfured. We went through a total renovation of our 2 houses and also built a swimming pool all of which was an interesting process. We paid cash for the house and also the improvements but we are on a tight budget and had difficulties with several contractors jacking up the prices after th first payment.  This is weird as it has happened to us 3 times no and normally after we gave them large bonuses. I am now leery of giving bonuses for exceptional work as I am afraid they will either jack up the prices, quit, or both. Despite not speaking the language (a little) we haven't had any serious difficulties. The bureaucracies here are painful and can be somewhat frustrating. Same for some strange things such as having 5 electric meters on each house and getting 5 bills monthly.  I asked to combine the meters and was told it would cost me 300,000 forints to do that to save on the paperwork but I told them to forget it and they can keep mailing all those bills.  No big deal to me to try and save them money but I am not going to do it at my expense.  Also, any credits here aren't applied to the utility bills forward and we get these weird cash deliveries from the post man.  So, there are some crazy ways of doing things here.  What is with all the official stamping on everything and why do we have to register our purchases to get the warranty?  But, most of there things are comical and I am sure Hungary will slowly get these things updated to match the modern world. We do have amazingly fast internet and good services so I think these things are just issues that haven't yet been resolved after the Warsaw Pact days. We were robbed and the police didn't even bother to do much which I understand is normal here. It was clearly done by organized crime and we ended up recovering all but $7,000 of the $21,000 stolen from our bank accounts and credit cards. So, that is a big negative here. Still we didn't let that ruin our move here and that kind of crime can happen anywhere. As I said we love it here and have made the adjustment well and are happy we have decided to live out our retirement here.

Thanks for sharing your story, it's great to hear you are still positive and enjoy life here.

I have no idea how all the stamping (and faxing!) managed to stick around so long, but we find the antiquated and vulnerable system of US paper checks similarly odd :-)

Also people rarely buy postal stamps anymore. (I don't even know the current rates.) We just take letters to the post office, pay, then the postal worker peels off the correct amount of stamps, wets them with a special sponge, sticks them on the envelope, and immediately stamps all over them to invalidate them from reuse. They still have prices ending in 1 Forints (~0.5 cents), and appropriate stamps! (e.g. 21 HUF for local delivery of an open envelope flier, with a 20 HUF and a 1 HUF stamp.)
For perspective cash payments are rounded to the closest multiple of 5HUF as that is the smallest coin in circulation.


Here's something to remember and chuckle at next time your time is wasted with stamping stuff for no good reason:

Gyula Kabos, immortal comedian plays a clerk who must provide busywork to employ the incompetent girlfriend of the boss:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTnilMa52sI#t=1m30s

I'm sure translation is unnecessary :-)
Just remember EVERYONE knows this scene: suggesting to save ink by huffing on the stamper is a sure way to get kicked out of any bureaucratic establishment. Well, maybe you as a foreigner might get away with it if your poker face is good enough to pull it off :-)


And there's always Closely Watched Trains:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8lX_71Fc38
Czechoslovakian, but deeply ingrained in the Eastern European collective mind because of the rare instance of nudity in that era.

i personally had very good experiences in Budapest. lived there over the summer for 6 months, met lots of local hungarians (mainly through DJ'ing, which is partially my job) and everyone has been super-friendly and helpful. honestly, there's not many bad things i can say about my experience with hungarian people, except for that hospitality in supermarkets or certain restaurants could have been better, but ok, there's cases like that everywhere.
even liked my stay there so much that we started our own housing company(Moderated)

will definitely go to budapest again over the summer :)

greets
mischa

It is good to read everyone’s experience living there. I’m sure there is pros and cons to every situation, but definitely more pros from what I’ve read so far. How are local people towards other Nationalities? Say people from Asia? Or
Other parts of the globe other than UK and Australia? Don’t mean to offend anyone. Originally from India, but grew up in States. I’m thinking eating local food, and speaking the local language can always help with the experience. I’m sure that can be applied to any place you travel to. As US Citizens how are you settling living there? How do you take care of your driver’s license renewal while living here? Is it easy? Difficult? How long did it take for you to learn the language? Are you fluent? I’m told Hungarian language is one the most difficult to learn.

I am British and when I have visited to do some shopping I have had no problems with the locals as long as they get their money :D

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