Here are a few things that I have noticed about Hungarians over the two months that I have been here. My interactions with Hungarians are not that different from those that I have with Americans. On a day to day basis, I can blend in pretty well as a Hungarian, but there are somethings that still baffle me when I see them.
Fanny packs – Old or young, sexy or unattractive, Hungarians love their fanny packs and I love Hungarians. However, Hungarians have these really cool leather pouches that have ornate metal plates on the fronts. According to our culture teacher, people who are extremely sympathetic with the right-wing party are the only ones who wear these pouches. That’s right, Hungarians have politicized fanny-packs.
The young people are tall and beautiful, while the old people are short and, well, old. Most girls do wear makeup and all women wear heels everyday. I slightly upset that I didn’t bring mine.
The outfits people put together are kind of hit or miss – either an extreme on one end or the other and no in-between. Some people are super chic; put together with a casual, effortless flair. Others try way to hard to be edgy and I just shake my head in disappointment. Don’t all Europeans have a good fashion sense?
Hungarians have no concept of traffic flow. I have run into multiple people and have gotten stuck in doorway bottlenecks at school. They simply cannot be concerned with efficient population movement.
The young people are polite, love learning about America, and speak pretty good English. They often greet us in the dorm with a polite szia! (ciao for Hungarians). The older people who grew up under the auspices of communism usually come off as quietly disgruntled. However, they have no problem calling you out if you do something wrong – this happens to me a lot and I never know what I am doing wrong.
My ability to fane euro-ness has one great limitation: language. I can pretend to be Hungarian for a little while, until someone asks me a direct question. A few friends were talking about how in the United States it would be rude to not say anything to a cashier, but here it is a common practice for us! Even if a Hungarian does speak some English, they will still think you speak Hungarian and expect you to respond as such. To all of my friends studying abroad in a country where you may be speaking a language you have studied before (i.e. Spanish, French, etc.), if you dare complain about a language barrier, I will refuse to accept your complaints.