Proud Hungary – The Budapest story of a Colombian guy
On a pleasant spring afternoon over a glass of beer at Kolor, I had a very pleasant chat with Germán. Born in Colombia, he is a theatre- and dance-lover who came to Budapest almost three years ago. Although he misses some particular things from his hometown, Bogota, Germán loves Hungary, the people and the language. Let us find out what sort of epiphany he had in these Magyar lands.
How did you end up in Hungary?
I studied International Business Administration in Colombia. After graduation, I joined an international non-governmental student organization called Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales – AIESEC, which provides young people with leadership development and cross-cultural global internships and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe. Through AIESEC, I spent some months living in Mexico and Guatemala. During my stay in Guatemala, AIESEC advertised a position of the Head of Marketing for their office in Hungary. At that time I did not know anything about Hungary, so I just came for a fresh start. I worked there for a year until June 2013. Later on, I worked for a European Commission Mobility scheme about youth employment, which was also for a determined period of time. I am currently working for a start-up as a Marketing manager. The company directs to the beauty and wellness marketing sector. We are developing an online portal where you can search and book different services like massages, hairdresser, spa, men’s grooming, etc. Users can provide online feedback for further recommendation and they pay in advance for the treatments.
How long are have you been here?
I will complete three years this June. Every now and then when I walk by the Danube I still can’t believe I live here.
What are your impressions of Budapest?
This city is amazing. The cultural life here is very rich. Although there is not a strong English-speaking niche of plays, foreigners or ex-pats are still able to find dance performances or plays. I also think that Budapest is a lively place and transmits good energy. For instance, I have been to Paris, which is a beautiful place; however, I felt the city has grown to a point where everything became too sterile. I missed the spice that Budapest has. Moreover, there is always something cool, interesting or even bizarre happening around you. It is a capital city that’s big enough to be fun without ending up in chaos. I came from Bogota, which has an approximate population of ten million inhabitants, so I know what real chaos is. Budapest is still very lucky.
How is the gay scene in Bogota compared to Budapest?
Bogota is actually a quite tolerant city. As long as you are not showing off too much, you can have a very normal gay life. What I miss about it is a super club complex we have. Once you paid the admission fee, you can enjoy ten different parties. There are subsections for girls, boys, different types of music, etc. I miss that kind of buzz. I think Budapest still needs to develop a plain fun-oriented party culture. Here I feel that parties are for people aiming to either show off or hook up. Nevertheless, I think things are slowly changing. When I arrived here, there were basically two or three parties. Now there are at least five or more places to hang out. I particularly like those parties that change venue from time to time. It makes clubbing more exciting.
Where do you hang out in the city?
Well, if I want to have a good coffee, I love Higgs Field Art Gallery and Café (near Arany János M3 metro station, Hercegprímás u. 11). It’s a cozy art gallery and it’s usually not very crowded. For drinks or a great craft beer, I like going to Élesztő (near Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, a 5-minute walk from Corvin-negyed M3 metro station, Tűzoltó utca 22.). I also love Kolor (near Deák Ferenc tér metro station, in Gozsdu Udvar). Besides their great atmosphere, their staff is really friendly. When it comes to parties, I love a house party. I have a friend who is great at hosting them. I used to be a clubbing animal, but nowadays I enjoy hitting the pubs like Ankert (near Opera M1 metro station, Paulay Ede u. 33). I would suggest two incredible spots: the middle of the Liberty Bridge and Fisherman’s bastion. Both of them are great places to sit down and spend time with a bottle of wine and good company.
Do you have any hobbies?
Theatre and dance. I feel lucky because Budapest has a theatre in every corner. Back in Bogota, I did theatre for more than ten years including some musicals. In Budapest, I took some jazz dance lessons with Janos Lakatos, an amazing artist, who guides you to use your full body capacity without being stuck in too much body technics. Once you commit to the class, you forget everything about your daily routine.
Any plans for the future?
Right now, the project I am doing at the start-up is taking my full attention. I really want to see this company take off. For the long term, I would like to get more involved with PR for theatre, to unite my passion with my field of expertise.
Photo: Dóra Kovács