If you are reading this, you are most likely an expat mum. Even though there is a multitude of positive aspects to living abroad, it does come with its challenges. Sometimes it can help to read stories of other expat mums on how they dealt with the initial difficulties when they moved to Hungary. While you are here, don’t forget to check out the first part of this series!
Claudia (38) – Germany
I relocated to Hungary 6 years ago when my husband got transferred here for his job. Both of my two children were born in Budapest. The first birth was pretty depressing and stressful. The doctor was not around much, the birth nurse was cold and clinical and they brought in medical students without even asking! But in that hospital, they were lovely with the new mothers and babies. The second time was better because I paid a nice nurse to be with me throughout the birth. However, the women in the nursery looking after the babies were horrible to the new mothers. Both hospitals had dirty showers and bathrooms with no toilet paper. I had a miscarriage in a third hospital and it was awful – no one came when I was bleeding heavily even though I rang the bell several times. I ended up staggering around the corridor looking for a nurse who then told me off! Doctors are generally nice here but the support staff is horrible.
The lack of English speakers in the country made it very hard to find babysitters, deal with nurseries, etc. I had to learn Hungarian fast to cope, which was not easy as I had to juggle family life and my start-up business. I struggled to find friends with the same mindset and interests. Here, most mothers set mediocre goals, they lack the drive and ambition to achieve more career-wise. They believe they made it in life once they got married and had a couple of children – at least, that was my impression having talked with some of them in public playgrounds.
Our children haven’t reached the age yet to attend school. The kindergarten we found is Ok-ish though, in terms of staff, extra activities, trips, building and services. However, I don’t like the fact of how little attention they pay to the kids’ diets. Fattening foods with little nutritional value, too many sweets and poor variety. I don’t have experience of being in another country as a parent so it’s hard for me to say much regarding pros and cons but surely maternity leave length and all tax benefits are helpful.
I didn’t find the local community very helpful. We mostly have expat friends we’ve met through my husband’s job. Personally, I haven’t experienced any racism but I’ve seen Roma people being treated differently in public places.
Read more: Here is how the government supports families
Saloni (45) – India
We relocated with my whole family to Hungary. I already had my two sons at that time, therefore, have no experience with maternity hospitals. We don’t earn that much to afford international private institutes, therefore, it was tough to find schools that fit our needs and to settle our bilingual children into a solely Hungarian-speaking environment. I also struggled myself feeling socially isolated. Hungarians are kind of reserved and often keep to themselves. You would assume that after many years working at the same company, your colleagues invite you for a coffee every now and then after work, but instead everyone just rushes home barely saying goodbye once the office hours are over.
We have mixed experience with primary schools, it depends very much on the class teacher. We were lucky that ours were nice, but the kids still did not enjoy it. Schools are traditional, with very little time to socialise or interact. Over-assessment and lots of tests are common. The curriculum is fixed by the government and they choose the books. There is very little room for freedom or creativity. Luckily, our kids adapted well enough to this old-fashioned education model. However, pity that most of the people employed in the educational sector do not speak proper English.
Sometimes people, mainly elderly women, on the bus in my district make comments when they hear us speaking English with my sons. We were quite shocked each time it happened. My older son had some trouble feeling different from other kids as no one else was bilingual in his class but he was also doing ballet, for which he was ridiculed. One of my younger son’s teachers said that kids like my son who speak two languages can’t speak either of them properly. This was in a bilingual school!! Some teachers tried to downgrade my sons’ English and critique them often, seemingly to get the upper hand. Amazing that an English teacher would be jealous of a kid!
Elodie (26) – France
I came to study in Hungary when I was 18 and I met my partner at the university. Later on, I started working as a French teacher and we decided to stay here to be close to my mother-in-law.
I had been several times to Hungarian public hospitals but I can’t say they were good experiences due to communication problems. That is why we bought maternity care and birth packages in a private hospital. The staff speak English well, treat patients better, they’re kinder, hospitals are cleaner, no queues ( because you should make an appointment beforehand). But the service fee is too expensive, and if any problem occurs they would send the patient to public hospitals. Also, in case of any emergency, they direct you to a public hospital. Private hospitals can’t take pregnant women into labor before 36 weeks of pregnancy. Personal experience: during my pregnancy, I got severe pain, we went to the private hospital where I was supposed to give birth later on. They couldn’t find the reason. My gynecologist advised me to go directly to a public hospital. We went to Péterfy Sándor Hospital, where they eventually found the cause of the pain.
Living in Hungary has both negative and positive aspects. My daughter has a food allergy and we really struggled to find alternative food, especially when we take a trip to the countryside. There are not many low-floor BKK vehicles while stairs are everywhere (metro, shops…). It makes transportation difficult with a buggy. On a positive note, the environment is safe and there are many playgrounds in my neighbourhood.
I’ve made two Hungarian friends at the park but we don’t really keep in touch. I also met a French friend who has a two-year-old son and was expecting his second baby at the same time I was. We’ve really bonded over the past year. It’s not necessarily easy to make Hungarian friends as they don’t speak English and learning Hungarian, when you are a busy mom, is quite difficult but I am trying. I haven’t really faced any discrimination while living here. The closest is that sometimes people have strong reactions to us speaking French or English, but those are more often positive or silly than negative.
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