Budapest city lights tourism

Moving abroad can be motivated by different reasons: work, studying, family etc. No matter what your goal may be, there are certainly some things that you are going to miss from your home country. Please keep in mind that this is a 100% subjective (and definitely biased) list and feel free to share your thoughts on the topic 🙂

In my case, it was on the occasion of my Erasmus scholarship that I decided to take on the adventure of moving to Madrid for half a year. I wanted to experience living in a different culture, and I was open to learning new things in life.

First and foremost, I want to state that I love Madrid, I love the Spanish atmosphere, and I had one of the best times of my life there.

However, I knew that I would return to Hungary.

As time went on, there were more and more things I was missing from Hungary. So I decided to take notes with the aim of sharing it at the end of my experience. Once again, I could write a separate list about the benefits of Erasmus and why I loved living in Madrid, but this article covers “the other side” 🙂

Besides the obvious ‘friends, family and personal aspects’ category, I divided my points into four categories that probably include things that correspond with the observations of other expats. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Enjoy, reflect and share your thoughts!


The moment when I realised that the shops do not sell sour cream or anything similar (the closest is crème fresh, but still…) came really quickly, within a few days. The truth is that I have never been a sour cream addict, and I would have never thought that it is going to be the first thing on my list, but it ended up being the first realisation.

Living abroad you discover the true versatility of sour cream and how many different ways Hungarians actually use it.

Then came the lack of paprika, which I was prepared for. Spaniards love their paprika, but it is much sweeter and smokier than the Hungarian spice. The real reason it bothered me was that I wanted to make stew for my flatmates, which is not possible with Spanish paprika, but luckily, my Hungarian friends were kind enough to bring some when they were visiting. Let me say, our stew – the ‘nokedli’ made with cheese garter in lack of better options – was a success and I cherish Hungarian paprika much more ever since.

I do not want to overload you with my love for gastronomy, but there was one more thing I must mention: the ‘fröccs’ (spritzer).

I had to accept that no one serves fröccs as good as Hungarians do.

Obviously, I am biased, but the Spanish prefer to drink their wine in different ways. I tried to order fröccs twice, both of the times I received one part red wine, two-part water (without gas). So I decided to rest my desire for fröccs until I get home.

Little did I know that I will prepare more Hungarian meals during the semester than during my whole life before. I think the Hungarian cuisine has become an essential part of our identity. It is something that I am pretty sure every Hungarian misses abroad.


Madrid Budapest
Madrid vs Budapest – Left: DNH, Right:óPhotography

I have always been drawn to architecture, and I have to say, I love Mediterranean-style buildings. I could walk around Madrid for days…. but this is also true for Budapest.

I miss the historic buildings, I miss the wide array of architectural styles and, most importantly, I miss the Danube.

The River Danube might seem like a dirty flow of water for some people, but I find the way it divides the city magical. It gives some rhythm to the life of the city, and it is what makes Budapest Buda-Pest. I also miss crossing the bridges and admiring the cityscape.

Madrid Budapest
Madrid vs Budapest – Up: DNH, Down:ás


Oh, the mighty Hungarian language! After a few people asked me what language we spoke at home and after the hundredth time that people could not get my surname right in writing, due to the ‘é’ accent, I realised how much I missed my mother tongue.

The semester made me realise how unique the Hungarian language truly is.

I could walk around the apartment (and basically everywhere, except for touristic places where you could definitely bump into Hungarians) and say whatever I felt like saying (not that I had an urge to swear or anything like this).

The day I found out that one of my teachers was Hungarian-born, I basically went crazy with joy. She said “szia”, and I could feel my heart beating fast. You truly learn to appreciate small things in life 🙂

I think the most striking for foreigners is that they cannot even guess what the words, sentences mean because Hungarian is unlike any other language. At least, this is definitely what my friends told me, adding that we seemingly have very long words and use complex expressions. My French, Italian and Spanish mates could more or less understand each other’s language, but they always gave me the most astounded looks 😀


Fortunately, I only encountered one person who mixed up Budapest and Bucharest (helpful guide here), and there were only a few tries at the “hungry-Hungary” joke. But that is enough for Hungarian pet peeves 😀

One of the first differences I noticed during the winter months was that the sun rises much later there than in Budapest. Of course, I am aware that this is a natural process. Still, it was hard to get used to walking to my early morning classes in darkness.

Something else that bothered me way more than I expected was the driving style and culture. I did not expect that I would cry for the Hungarian way of driving, even though I knew that Mediterranean nations drive “very passionately” to say the least. The colour of the traffic lights seems to be irrelevant, while the honking of the cars creates a distinctive, endless melody. I cannot imagine living in the very centre of the city or along Gran Vía.

Nonetheless, I believe that it is cultural diversity that makes our world so lovely.

I could go on with detailing my cultural experiences, but I wanted to stick to the most relatable points.

I believe that getting to know new cultures is a very enriching experience. My Spanish adventure was definitely one of a kind, but Hungary remains my home, sweet home 🙂

Featured image:ás

Source: Daily News Hungary

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