Have you ever wondered what life is like for a foreigner living in Hungary? Well, Jamil has been living in Budapest for more than a year, and he says it all. This article reports on an interview with Jamil, a 24-year-old American gentleman from Indiana, U.S. who is currently living and studying in Budapest. Especially now, within the political climate we live in, it is interesting to know how a foreigner sees Hungary and the people living in it.

Everyday barriers, are there any?

Even though he regularly makes an effort to learn Hungarian, he communicates mostly in English. He is impressed with (and appreciates) the number of Hungarians who speak English in Budapest, even if they only speak a little bit of the language. He thinks that it is a wonderful thing that so many Hungarians make an effort to learn a foreign language, even if it is for practical purposes only.

In the U.S., very few people make any kind of effort to learn another language, so I think that it is great that people in Hungary learn English, even if they do not care about American/British culture/people.

He gets by easily and he can understand English with a Hungarian accent pretty well, he observed only a few characteristic pronunciation mistakes.


Jamil does not agree with the generally hold opinions that Hungarians are gloomy or that they never smile. In fact, he thinks that “Hungarian people do a reasonable amount of smiling.” Based on his experiences, he finds Hungarian people to be nice and helpful in general. Even though he has been living in Budapest for quite some time, he often asks for help or advice. The Hungarian people he is close with (his friends, neighbours, classmates) are always happy to help him out with anything.

There are common complaints that I have heard about them [Hungarians] (about how they complain or how they are rude) but in my own experience I think that this kind of behaviour is the exception, not the norm.

He also mentioned that he sees many dog owners on the streets of Budapest, and for him that is also an indicator of kindness: if people love animals.

He slightly hinted at the fact that in Budapest, people working in the service industry tend to be a bit more rude on average than what he got used to in the U.S.

People working in shops and in restaurants can be a little grumpy or rude (not always, but much more frequently than I experience at home) . . .  I think that Americans working in the service industry are generally more friendly and helpful than people in Hungary.

The irresistible Danube

His favourite place to be in Budapest is the riverbank. He loves the Danube, and one of his favourite things to do is go for a walk alongside the river at night, when the city’s lights are so beautiful.

It’s a nice way to relax and distress when I am preoccupied with school or something else.

He also appreciates the architecture of Budapest, he thinks that the buildings are “very impressive and eye-catching,” something he would definitely miss if he would go back to the U.S.

One man’s trash, another man’s treasure

Even though he regularly travels with M3, and mentioned that the train cars are pretty old and are at the edge of falling apart, the transportation system is still one of the things he would miss if he moved back to his home town. He thinks that the transportation system in Budapest is reliable and convenient. It is easy for him to get around the city, and he is generally impressed with the infrastructure. It needs to be mentioned that he comes from a smaller town in Indiana, where the transportation is not very good.

Never hungry

He loves Hungarian food. He tried most of the popular traditional dishes such as the goulash, the stuffed cabbage or the lángos, and he enjoyed them all. Túró Rudi is one his favourite treats here. He said that, if he had to pick a favourite Hungarian dish, it would probably be stuffed cabbage. He loves the wide selection of restaurants in Budapest, because he can always find something delicious to eat.

  1. Strange, I’ve been here over 15 years and no one’s asked me any questions like this…guess I’m not a fashionable American…LOL. Corrections… “generally hold opinions” – ‘generally held opinions”… “to relax and distress” – “to relax and de-stress”… “the goulash, the stuffed cabbage or the lángos” – “goulash, stuffed cabbage or lángos”

  2. No e Mail at the present ,, Australian love Hungary .. My Hungarian Wife of 40 years has died and I am thinking of moving to Ungarn for a long holiday ,, Love Hungary and Olga,s home town Mohacs ,,, Alan in Katoomba 2780 Blue Mountains

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