“Budapest, a Bit of Everything for Everyone”
Geovanny González is a 32-year-old Mexican, from Mérida on the Yucatán Peninsula, who works as a Spanish teacher. A very easy-going person and active when it comes to sports; he does crossfit, gymnastics, works out in the gym and runs in the evenings.
How did you end up coming to Hungary?
I was living in Vienna and I was looking for a full-time position. Through a colleague I found an opportunity for an interview with the Deputy Head of the school I am currently working for; so I moved here because of my job.
What did you know about Hungary before that?
Nothing really. The first time I came here and I went to the metro station, I kind of felt like I was in Mexico City. The old system, the people and everything is very different from what I saw in Vienna. But I really liked the city and I was looking forward to move here.
What is your current vision of Hungary?
Budapest is a very lively city and after 3 years of living here, I can say it is very foreigner-friendly. But I still think that the people are very close-minded and it can be hard to make Hungarian friends. Apart from that, there is always something happening and the young people here are always hanging out around the city. It does not matter if you are gay or straight, young or a bit older, you will always find something to do because there are lots of options for everyone.
You mentioned you like sports, what do you do to keep yourself active in the city?
I have to push myself to do it as I really love doing sports. Sometimes just out of the blue I decide to go for a run on Margaret Island because of the peaceful environment or around the Parliament where you can enjoy a delightful view while running. I work out at Holmes Place as it offers a lot of classes, including crossfit and gymnastics so I really enjoy my time there.
When you are not doing sports and you are not working, what do you like to do?
I love going out for dinner, meeting up with my friends and just the basic stuff everyone does, like going to the cinema or a bar. I am a coffee fan and I like to discover new coffee places, which is something Budapest is great at; my favorites are My Little Melbourne close to Gozsdu Udvar and Espresso Embassy on Arany János utca.
How is the gay life back in Mérida, your hometown? How would you compare it to Budapest?
It is an open city but there aren’t many gay clubs in the inner city, the only ones you find are in the surrounding area so you can only get there by car or taxi. The gay scene and gay people in general are very nice and friendly, especially with foreigners, which is different from Budapest. If there is a foreigner in a club in Mérida, drag queens invite him on the stage to welcome him and make him feel like he is part of the community. Here I feel that sometimes when you speak to people they either ignore you or they speak very briefly with you. The way they look at you and the attitude in general is a bit rude in my opinion. Not to mention that a lot of times they are reluctant to speak English so it can be hard to get to know people. But on a more positive note, I like that there are many options with different types of people so I know where to go to find a nice friendly crowd. My impression is that Budapest is generally a gay-friendly city.
What about the professional side?
Spanish is a very popular language in Hungary and in Europe so there is a high demand for teachers and there are many opportunities either to work in schools or privately. I am not the only foreigner teaching in the school but I am the only Spanish teacher and it is a great environment to be surrounded by people from so many different countries and cultures.
Do you see yourself staying in Hungary for a longer time?
I think in 1 or 2 years I will be leaving the country, I don’t really think it is the country for me to settle down mainly because of the cultural clash and the difference between the Hungarian mindset and my approach to things. I also have my professional reasons. I love my students and teaching at that school but naturally I want to find new challenges to take a step forward in my career.
How do you see Hungary as a country in the future?
I have a very positive image in my mind. Hungary is one of those countries where there is more opportunity to grow and you can see that it is changing. There are a lot of expats coming to the city and Budapest is slowly becoming one of the most important cities in Europe for work and tourism. The amount of foreigners and the amount of investment that they are putting in the country is definitely helping to shape it up and it is actually up to the Hungarian people to live up to the potential and use the opportunity that is being given to grow and get better as a society.
What would you tell to the expats that are just arriving to the country? What would be your advice?
It would be to learn basic Hungarian because even though the touristic area is tolerant with English speakers, your life and your relationship with Hungarians will go smoother if you know the language. Prepare to have a great time because this city has a lot to offer and also enjoy the beautiful view that not many other places in the world can offer. And please, don’t plan to do grocery shopping on Sundays.