First impressions of a spontaneously magical city – The story of Csaba from Massachusetts
My initial impression when arriving to Hungary was that there’s Budapest and there’s the rest of the world. Since January 14th this viewpoint has yet to change, although, I am happy it hasn’t. The city has so much to offer each visitor on several budgets.
Thus far, the locals have been genuine people. Leaving Boston for Budapest was an easy decision due to having Hungarian ancestors. With close family supporting me from the start, our high hopes for a pleasant adjustment became a reality.
The first few months were quite bureaucratic due to applying for the Hungarian citizenship about a year before arriving. There were several phone calls with mixed Hungarian and English words within our conversations on where to go, who to speak with, what to fill out, and how much time it will take. A few offices had no windows and security guards galore, at least we all felt safe, besides the lack of sunlight. From this, I had an impression that foreigners who truly wanted to be here, sought out several options to not move elsewhere. At first, I figured people wanted to stay here for just one or two reasons, however, I’m now believing it’s the remarkable reasons, such as the vibrant cosmopolitan culture in Budapest.
Every district offers diverse subcultures which are reflected in the locals, the buildings, the restaurants and the activities. Currently living in the 13th district near Béke tér has been a true expat experience. Not being situated in the heart of downtown Budapest, being close yet not super central has proved a benefit. For one who seeks a true culture swap this district offers exactly that. With signs that don’t have English translation beneath their names, my days have been advantageous and appreciated. This district assists you tremendously while adjusting to life in Hungary. All the while, there’s no pressure to learn the language right upon arrival. The thirteenth’s locals will work with you and won’t become agitated if a few words here or there are scrambled. They’re appreciating someone attempting to speak their language.
Leaving a home with millions of residents to another that has much less has led to acknowledge the personal interactions with locals. Throughout every country visited, I’ve always stayed true to having a ‘local’ experience. This has proved to satisfy many feelings more than a few travelers long for while outside their home country. With Hungary’s population quite smaller than the US, seeing friends and family unexpectedly happens more often than I’m used to. This has been soul saving. For instance, it seems on the days I am alone or feeling down, I’ll recognize someone or vice versa, we’ll speak for few minutes and carry on. I love this about Budapest, how magical it can be to one’s soul. Correct me if I’m wrong but the universe works in truly amazing ways in Hungary.
Several people have asked what is one thing that I adore daily, reverting to the first sentence of the article: ‘there’s Budapest and the rest of the world’ is my guaranteed answer. Time moves differently here than any other country I’ve either lived in or visited. An ingredient to this amazing Hungarian cultural recipe is the spontaneous days; from nine in the morning one is at work and before sunset you are with friends at a bridge that’s been closed to road traffic, yet open daily to the public for summertime enjoyment – that is Budapest. A fellow expat who then turned into a great friend began with a mutual friend asking if we’d like to meet one another. We both agreed and met at a wine bar (Cintányéros) in the eighth district and got to know each other.
This then led to us heading to Why Not in the fifth district to continue our discussions on travel, family, and life thus far as an expat in Hungary. The conclusion of the night was attending the opening day of the Liberty Bridge being closed for the coming months. It’s the evenings that turn into early mornings such as this which is why Budapest has my heart, home and happiness. This city has changed the way I look at so many aspects of life and how I deal with situations, good or bad, that arise. The spontaneous, unrestricted and unique opportunities here in Budapest cannot be compared with any other city. The impressions of Hungary, especially Budapest are growing stronger with time. The language will come with perseverance and time. Until then, I’m enjoying living in a city that truly has a world of its own.