Leaving the familiar behind and building a new life in a foreign country – either by yourself or with a family – can be both an enchanting idea and a stressful process. We have asked five of our readers, Hungarian expats, what they miss the most, apart from their loved ones of course, while living abroad.
“I could go on and on about the things I miss from Hungary. Once, I have even compiled a list of 43 reasons why Hungary beats Greece a hundred times in my blog. Here are some of them.. Firstly, the clean and well-kept pedestrian roads, which are basically non-existent in Athens. One can easily sprain an ankle or break a bone while trying to bypass a giant gap or a tree erecting out of the concrete in the middle of the road. Secondly, the instant hot water and the gas heating system – we have to switch on the boiler half an hour before taking a shower in Athens. Winters in Greece feel like an expedition to the North Pole. In Hungary, there is proper heating all day around while oil radiators operate only for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening here. Apart from these, I miss the four seasons, Hungarian architecture, and cosmetic stores such as Muller or Rossmann.”
“Food – definitely the food! Even though, there is an abundance of places with international flavours here it still does not stop me from craving those delicious and heavy Hungarian dishes – chicken paprikash with homemade noodles, my mum’s goulash soup, lángos with sour cream topping at Lake Velencei. I’ve tried to make some of them for my husband, but the ingredients just do not taste the same – probably due to the lack of sun. Also two things, I just can not track down are túró (cottage cheese or curd cheese) and tejföl (sour cream). Some days I am dreaming about a huge plate of cottage cheese dumplings or crepe filled with cottage cheese. Another aspect of living in the UK that I can not get used to is the weather. I miss warm summers and those balmy evenings when you can be out all night wearing just a pair of shorts, flip-flops and a light top. I wish I could just stuff my leather jacket at the bottom of my wardrobe.”
“I can list a bunch of things that do not exist in France but I wish they did. First of all, as a new mum, I miss Hungary’s well-designed family support scheme. There is no other country in the EU that allows mothers to stay at home with their toddlers for 2 years after giving birth. Besides that, I also miss the organised transportation system back at home. Here in Nice, the time schedule of the buses is just a myth, no vehicle comes on time. Another thing I miss is the rich variety of cultural programs in Budapest, whether it’s art, music, sport or concerts. Unless you live in a big city in France, which is not the case for me, you are kind of deprived of that. At home, there is always some interesting event to look forward to, regardless of the season. In the South of France, once the tourist season is over, there is not much to do other than dining in some fancy spot or visiting the nearby village for the 100th time.”
“Well, apart from friends and family.. I don’t really miss much. Perhaps, some services such as hair salon or manicurist. They cost way more in Eindhoven than in my town in Hungary and you do not get the same quality of service either. I also miss Lake Balaton sometimes but mostly because of my memories from childhood. Where I really experience a striking difference though is the healthcare system. Although I cannot say anything good about Hungarian healthcare, it is a reassuring thought that whenever I have some issues I can get an appointment within one week at a private clinic in Hungary, unlike in the Netherlands where it takes quite some time. Also, if you are lucky you pay 50 euros at most, and you can explain to the doctor what is the matter exactly in your own language. They already know your medical history while a Dutch doctor only makes a wild guess and may send you to the wrong department. The professional knowledge of Hungarian doctors is exceptional in the whole of Europe.”
“Sweden was an alluring destination for me and my family to relocate to 15 years ago for its high standards of living and many job opportunities. Even though we are blessed with stunning landscapes and modern cities, what I really miss from Hungary are the thermal baths. Of course, we have the sauna culture here, but visiting a thermal spa in Budapest is a completely different experience. People are friendlier than the Swedish, and it is easier to strike up a conversation. We also miss real good authentic Hungarian flavours, especially when it comes to pastries. Luckily, a few years ago, a Hungarian supermarket opened in our town so we do not have to ask our relatives anymore to send us parcels from Hungary, filled with products that are hard to find here.”