Living in Hungary: Things you’ll notice about Hungarians as a foreigner

Hungary- the land of Palinka, schnitzel, paprika, sweet wine, and all things fried. As with most countries unfamiliar to you, Hungarian cities might come with a bit of a culture shock. Below you’ll find a list of things you should expect upon arrival to this lovely country, whether it be Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, or any of the smaller towns.

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They aren’t yelling, it’s just how they talk

I constantly feel like people are yelling here, but it’s just how Hungarians talk. The first time I experienced one of R’s family dinners, I quietly asked him “why are they yelling so much?” He just says that’s how they talk. They’re loud; no one’s mad at you, and no one’s mad at each other (probably).

Blowing their nose as loud as they can in any, and every public place

This might be a me thing, but I hate the sound of sneezing, people blowing their nose, loud chewing, basically anything of the sorts. People carry packs of Kleenex everywhere. Once I saw a lady pull out a LEATHER HOLDER for her Kleenex on the tram. I saw someone carrying around a pack at the gym, just incase their nose starts to run mid set, I guess. It’s always the loudest they could possibly blow their nose too. I think sniffling is considered rude here, but is everyone always sick?

Everyone’s afraid of getting sick

The heat in every store, bus, tram, restaurant, bar, and house is always on sauna mode. I swear the biggest fear engrained in every Hungarian’s brain is the common cold. It might be freezing outside, but dress in layers because any time you go inside, almost anywhere, you will be sweating. Also, as someone who usually goes barefoot, that’s not okay here. If you go into a Hungarian household, and you don’t have slippers, they will INSIST you borrow a pair of slippers, or flip flops in the summer. You might catch a cold…..

Never say no to food

It’s really rude to refuse food if you go in someone’s house. It’s also rude to not offer visitor’s food. Be prepared either way.

Service is… Questionable

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for a while, and the service you receive in most Hungarian restaurants would not be up to par with North America. Do not expect your server to quality check your meal after dropping it off, do not expect them to be overly friendly, and expect to have to chase them down for the cheque. That’s the hardest part. I honestly have no idea what would happen if you felt the need to complain about your food. Do they take care of it? Make you something new? No idea. I don’t think it’s a thing here. Tip is often included in bills, but I always tip if it’s not. I don’t really know what’s expected. I always think that serving here would be so easy because you can be kind of bitchy and no one bats an eye and no one jumps on the server to complain that somethings wrong (when it’s not) so they can get free things. I shouldn’t get started on server problems because that might take over this post.

Poppyseeds and walnuts

These are staples in Hungarian diets. Pasta with poppyseeds and sugar, walnuts in most baking, same with poppyseeds. It’s hard to get away from them.

Say hello to everyone, and also bye

You might notice the person you’ve never spoken to saying “szia,” as they pass you on the stairs going to your apartment, or saying “hallo,” when you leave. Or they’ll walk in the gym and say “sziasztok,” which is hello or good bye to more than one person. These greetings are like aloha, they mean hi or bye, and everyone says it to everyone when they arrive or leave. I feel like the people at the gym I go to think I’m rude because I don’t usually do that. Whoops.

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As an outsider, it’s important to be respectful of the cultural differences when visiting new places. There are several other small things I’ve noticed while being here, and none are bad, they just seem strange or different to me. But who am I to judge? I’m just some Canadian girl.

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Ten things you might be forgetting before you move abroad

Leaving the country is always stressful, especially if you have a one way ticket. There are so many things you have to think about, packing is arguably the least of your worries. Here are some things that I can offer some insight on, whether you’re going to study abroad, moving for work, or just travelling for fun.

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ONE: Visa

Okay so this one probably isn’t something you forgot if you’re leaving for over three months. If you’re moving for work your employer will likely figure this out for you, but if you’re going for vacation or to study you will most likely be on your own. My number one piece of advice here is to apply early. Figure your shit out sooner rather than later.

TWO: travel insurance

Very important because getting injured or sick in a foreign country is a lot scarier than it is at home. For me, if I’m taking full time courses I’m still covered under my parents medical (score), so I’m not really sure what the best options are, but I’m sure there are endless resources.

THREE: unexpected costs

Save!!! Your!!! Money!!! Things are often more expensive than you think they will be and who wants to rack up their credit card when they’re just trying to have a good time? Costs like your return flight if you buy a one way, travel insurance costs, transit, taxis, or unexpected events (theft, lost luggage, etc.), should be at the back of your mind.

FOUR: your vehicle at home

Depending on how long you’re going for, you might want to cancel your insurance, or even sell your vehicle. If your vehicle is old and kind of shitty I would sell it, because there’s some extra cash in your pocket. If it’s not too long or you’re personally in love with your car, cancel the insurance and park it somewhere to save money.

FIVE: gym membership/phone

Lots of gyms allow you do stop your account for a period of time, and then they’ll start it again when you return. I would also look into gyms in your area before you arrive. Lots of phone companies do the same thing, or you can just switch to the lowest possible plan while you’re away and then return to your normal one when you return.

SIX: phones, again

Speaking of phones, what are you doing upon arrival? Make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave and get a sim card with data. It’s so very helpful to not have to rely on wifi to be able to look at a map or get a transit schedule.

SEVEN: passport

Make sure it has at least three months before expiry, and if you’re going for a long time, renew it. Also it’s not a bad idea to keep a photocopy both with someone at home, and with you.

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EIGHT: prescriptions

Visit your doctor and get a copy of any prescriptions you need, and also refill as much as you can before you go.

NINE: cash/credit card

Make sure you have some cash for when you arrive so you’re not stuck searching for a currency exchange right away. Also, make sure you notify your credit card company that you are travelling so it works.

TEN: place to stay/ job search

Make sure you have a place to stay, whether it be temporary or where you’ll be staying the whole time. And, if you’ll be working, start hunting for jobs and making connections as well, because it’s difficult to find work in some countries as a foreigner (Norway).

It’s a lot to move, I know. Don’t panic. It will all be okay, and all of the stress and preparation will be worth it. I hope this helps you think about things before you leave, and don’t forget that any travel experience is good travel experience.

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Packing for Europe: 8 months abroad in the winter

I always struggle with packing. I struggle packing for a weekend, I didn’t even want to being to pack for eight months of Norwegian winter, plus what if we vacationed somewhere warm? And do I check one bag or two? So many questions.

At first, I was set on packing in one suitcase (hockey bag), and everything fit no problem. The only problem was the weight limit of 50lbs, when with everything, mine was 80lbs. One day before leaving, I bought an extra checked bag, and filled one suitcase with shoes and other items that weren’t clothes, and the hockey bag was only clothing. If anything, I’ve decided that I need to invest in good luggage. Hockey bags are light, which is nice, but not easy to carry. I didn’t know what I actually needed to pack, and what I needed to leave behind. It was hard to find a guide that didn’t just tell me to pack less. I’m all for packing light for a week, even a month long trip, but for eight months?! C’mon. The following will include what I packed, what I didn’t pack, and what I shouldn’t have packed.

What I packed

I didn’t delete one of the many packing lists I made. This is one I found on my laptop, I always write specific clothing articles that I own on my lists, so some of those things might not make sense. You’ll notice I’m all about the basics though, I love simple things that can go with everything.

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The essentials

Some of my favourite items EVER, that I pack every time I travel are:

Lululemon Jet Pants– These are the most comfortable pants. They’re so cute and comfortable enough to feel like sweatpants, but they’re acceptable in public.

Lululemon Jet Pants – They only seem to sell these in grey right now. I love the plain black ones. I think the “On the Fly” pant is quite similar.

Toms wedges– These are my favourite shoes I think. I used to wear these when I served, and they’re comfy despite the heel, cute, and go with almost anything. I wore these everyday in Paris. That’s how comfortable they are- walking around in Paris comfortable. I bought the ones that were lined with fur and water resistant before I left for Norway because they were on sale, and actually cheaper than the normal ones. These are also my go-to shoe to wear to airports, because yes, I am that girl that travels in heels. Judge me.

Toms Desert Wedges

Grey Pea coat– I love a good pea coat. Considering most of my wardrobe is black, the grey one is a must because I feel like I’m branching out, but still neutral enough to go with everything.

Mine is from Guess, but is no longer on their website.

Chelsea boots Also one of my favourite pairs of shoes. These are dressy, but casual. They’re one of my go tos.

Guess Safari Chelsea Boots – These are no longer on the Guess website, but I found them on Amazon.

Nikes The Air Max Theas are one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve owned. I never work out in these because they’re awful for that, but they’re good to wear when you’re doing a lot of walking.

Just the solid black ones- there are so many on the Nike website.

Lululemon pullover- The neck of this is high so it’s warm, and there’s thumbholes. I love anything with thumbholes.

Lululemon pullover – Mine is no longer on the website, but it’s obviously black, but otherwise similar to this one.

Leather pants– I mean, they just look like leather. They’re not actually leather, but they look a lot nicer than the faded black jeans that I wear often.

I’ll never be able to find the ones I have, but they’re from Vero Moda, a brand that actually sells jeans that fit me.

The airplane outfit obviously isn’t packed, but it’s still included on my list. For colder weather travel, I wear black Lulu leggings (high times are one of my favs), a sweater or warm cardigan with a tank top underneath, usually a my leather jacket, the wedges, and I bring a massive blanket scarf in case I get cold, and either my Indiana Jones hat, or just a hat. In the summer, I still wear leggings, but only wear a tank top, and a warm-ish oversized cardigan because airplanes are always freezing.

Always pack an extra outfit in your carry on incase they either lose your checked luggage, or in case you spill something or other wardrobe malfunctions!!!

That basically sums up what I packed- keep in mind I was MOVING. I packed a lot, but needed a lot.

What I failed to pack

I should have packed more winter accessories. I had quite a few scarves I wish I brought, and toques that I should have packed. I didn’t bring mittens or gloves, which was really dumb, or an umbrella. I ended up buying an umbrella, mittens, and a new scarf. I should have brought my fur coat, because I think I would have actually worn it in Europe. I have never worn it in Vancouver because it doesn’t get cold enough. If you’re going somewhere cold, like Norway, it would be a great idea to load up on clothing that can be layered. I didn’t bring enough warmer sweaters that could go under nice coats, maybe because I don’t have many of those, but still. I was severely lacking in the layering department and cold most of the time I was outside.

fur coat

This would have been so useful.

What I shouldn’t have packed

I didn’t stick to that list completely and packed a quite a few extra tops and workout clothes that I never touched. I packed an absolutely stupid amount of underwear. It’s so small I don’t think I realized how much I brought, and also forgot I usually do laundry every three days. I packed too many pants. Do you see how many pairs of jeans are on that list? Do you know how many jeans I wore? I wore the black ones, the leather ones (They’re not on that list. Oops), and a denim pair a few times. I wore every pair of jeans, but I had to make a point of it, even though I usually just wanted to wear the black ones. “You packed these, you’re wearing them at least once,” is what was going through my head. I don’t think ANYONE needs the amount of jeans I brought with me, so keep that in mind. I ended up tossing a pair of brown boots before I left too. My bags weren’t overweight, but they just we bad quality and I didn’t want them anymore. That’s another thing- pack a few good quality things over a bunch of mediocre quality things.

luggage

all of our luggage coming home

Next time

If I’m moving abroad, I would probably pack two suitcases again. Just a vacation, I would try to stick to one carry on. Checking bags is just such a hassle, and I always get way too stressed out about my things going missing.

Next time, I will have nicer luggage.. Any suggestions for cute luggage that will last a long time, let me know!!!

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