Because of the internationalization efforts of the Hungarian government, there has been an increase of foreign students pursuing their educational field in Hungary. It is indeed a great opportunity for these students to experience the wonderful and unique culture of Hungarians. Although studying in a foreign country puts you in the battle against homesickness and culture shock, there is always a brighter side to look up to and make you laugh once in a while.
Whether you just arrived recently or has been studying here for years, in this article, you can find different scenarios that somehow prove why you are a foreign student in Hungary.
I thought the windows are broken.
Turning the window knob to a 90-degree angle, you can pull the windows inward to witness the view outside and feel the fresh breeze of air. But if you accidentally turn the knob at a 180-degree angle and the top hinge detaches itself, one would immediately think that the windows are broken because it’s falling off. But there is no need to panic because “European windows” as what we can refer here can support a tilt and turn mechanism. You can open windows just like a door or tilt it inwards to allow easy ventilation (which most foreign students think that they are broken).
I find it unusual to say hello as a goodbye.
Learning the common greetings is necessary whenever you travel or reside in a different place. In Hungary, you can say “szia” (hello) in greeting your friends who just arrived and say “viszontlátásra” (goodbye) before parting ways. However, the common scenario inside grocery shops is that shopkeepers greet you with “szia” before and after leaving the store premises. If you come to think of it, Hungarians still say hello even if you are leaving which is unusual for most foreign students but they’ll get used to it anyway.
I say köszönöm instead of bocsánat when I accidentally bump a person.
When you go shopping on your first few days in Hungary, you can observe that people often say köszönöm (thank you) to their customers. Practicing how to say thank you in Hungarian is one way of showing respect and appreciation. On the other hand, in crowded places, it is somehow unavoidable to bump a person accidentally. If ever this happens, you can say bocsánat (I’m sorry) to express that you didn’t mean it. But the thing is, learning another language that is totally different from your native language takes time, lots of practice and hilarious errors. In some situations, such as accidentally bumping into another person because of the crowd, you might utter köszönöm even though you wanted to say bocsánat. We all make mistakes, anyway.
When I listen to Hungarians talking, I thought they are having an argument.
Because the Hungarian language is not a common language spoken around the world, the accent might not be familiar to most foreign students. One of the common observations is that when Hungarians talk in their native language, they sound like they are in an argument. The fact that Hungarians are straightforward might add to this insight.
I ate foods that I’ve been trying to avoid my whole life.
One of the most challenging aspect of living in another country is adjusting your food tastes because some ingredients might not be easily available. Some international students also have dietary restrictions or follow a religion that prohibits certain food products. Unfortunately, not all products in Hungary have English translation which makes doing groceries and choosing food might take longer for foreign students. Most of the signages are also written in Hungarian. Because of that, there are some who (by accident) ate food that they are avoiding.
I encountered Hungarians doing crazy stuffs just to attract attention.
The countryside of Hungary has fewer foreign students compared to Budapest. As a foreigner, it might become a normal day-to-day scenario if some Hungarians stare at you which can be uncomfortable at first but you’ll get used to it over time. But some might go beyond the ordinary attention-seeking actions. A personal experience I had was when I heard loud barking sounds from behind while waking with my friend. So, I looked back only to get disappointed that it was just a guy barking like a dog inside the van. Whether it was a prank or not, it surely did catch our attention.
There are lots of challenges that come along if you study in a foreign country. But one can also perceive such challenges into a different perspective where appreciation of cultural differences happens. Once there is appreciation, it is easier to establish understanding and hopefully, make a long-lasting connection bringing harmony despite the diversity.