It’s officially been a month since moving to Budapest.
And of course, we are still in a period of adjustment. Prof would say that it took us about three months to fully settle into a routine in Cyprus. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same amount of time to make that kind of transition. We have four months left, and I thought it would be helpful to make some notes about the differences between Cyprus and Hungary.
Comparison Chart of Cyprus and Hungary
|Country Population||1.14 million (2011)||9.8 million (2016)|
|City Population||Nicosia: 116,000 (2011)||Budapest: 1.7 million (2012)|
|Korean Population||approx. 20+||approx. 1,000+|
|How Long We Lived in Country||10 months||5 months|
|No. of Korean Churches in City||0||4|
|No. of Asian Grocery Stores in City||1||5+ (counting stores with Korean goods)|
|Reason for the Move||Sabbatical||Semester Abroad Program|
This short list gives you an idea of the differences of living in a large landlocked country versus a small island. It also shows you the availability of Asian grocery stores to make Korean food, as well as finding an Asian community in Hungary (of which none really existed in Cyprus).
Hungary, meet Cyprus.
In Cyprus, we were very fortunate to have met a Korean missionary family one Sunday in Nicosia, which led us to meet almost every single Korean person on the island in 2012. Living in Budapest would be a different story. We would see and hear Korean people walking around Budapest, but we would not know if they lived in the city or were tourists. Our boys met other Korean students at the international school. But with my limited Korean language skills, I feel quite intimidated to speak to other Korean moms.
From Driving to Walking
With Budapest’s fantastic public transportation system, I find that taking the metro or tram to be much easier than navigating on the road in Hungarian.
What’s one of the best parts of Hungary’s public transportation system? It’s timeliness. They are on time, which is great! The other great thing about public transportation is the free exercise called walking. It took some time for our boys to get used to walking everywhere. They are used to the U.S. driving culture so much that they could not walk for more than 15 minutes before they started to ask, “Are we there yet?” There were days when Linus would be so tired that he plopped right on the escalator steps or rested his hands on the floor of the subway. (Gross!) Then I picked him up and held him as he caressed my hair with his subway touched hands. (Oh, it made me cringe every time he did that.) After one month of walking, little Linus has the strength and endurance to carry his backpack and walk to and from school.
While I do miss the opportunity to drive on the left side in Cyprus, I was grateful that we didn’t have to pack two car seats for this five-month excursion to Budapest.
Now if I could learn to read a map on BKK Futar, the Budapest public transportation app, to help me get around the city. Thank goodness the boys are better at directions than me. Had it not been for them, I don’t know if we would have made it back to the apartment on those walks to the local park.
Adventures in Cooking
To prepare us for our life abroad in Cyprus, Prof and I took four months of Greek lessons in Michigan. Mr. T taught us words and phrases to help make life in Cyprus smoother. But after awhile, I figured out that my English would be fine because many Cypriots knew English. That’s because Cyprus used to be a former British colony.
You won’t find that to be true in Hungary.
And believe me, I tried to learn Hungarian before we left. It started off well. I could repeat “Jó napot” (“Good day” in Hungarian). Then the second word was, “viszontlátásra,” and I said, “What!???!” That was the end of lesson one on the CD. (Viszontlátásra means “goodbye” in Hungarian.)
Of course, had I found a better language program, I might have been able to avoid this cooking mishap.
Finding edible food for two picky kids was a tall order. On day two, we found a rotisserie chicken they would eat, even though it had a little spicy kick flavoring. I went back on another day, thinking I picked up the same package of rotisserie chicken. But when Prof opened up the package, he said, “Hon, you got him chicken liver.”
“What the what???!!!”
I ended up throwing that entire package away. If Prof and I were not going to eat chicken liver, then you know the kids were not going to either.
After one month, I have already witnessed the beginnings of Hungary’s culture of kindness. Younger people still get up and let the elderly sit when there are no empty seats. Mothers with prams (aka strollers) also get help. When grandmothers cannot carry their grocery carts up the steps, men step in and help. Hungarians have done the same when Linus was so tired and could no longer stand on the subway, they let him sit in their seats.
There has been the occasional grandmother that has wagged her finger at Linus for being disruptive or too loud, but I chuck that up to culture too. One of our Hungarian counterparts said that there is a word for these types of grandmothers, but I cannot remember the word. Still, I like to think she was trying to do her civic duty.
Have you been to Hungary? What’s your take on Hungarian culture?