This week I'm happy to introduce Meryl from McLendon's in Budapest, for the next installment of the Perspective Series. This is a series about expats sharing their experience of living and traveling abroad and how it inevitably changed their outlook and perspective on life. I'm a new reader of Meryl's blog but how could you not love her and her sweet family? She blogs about her new life in Budapest (which was never on my travel wish list but after looking through her pictures, it is now!), her two mini me's, and their travels abroad. Hop on over and say hi!
Hi there, Lost in Travels readers! I'm Meryl and I'd like to share my corner of the world with you. Two and a half years ago my family moved to Budapest, Hungary from Houston, Texas, where my husband and I both worked in the oil and gas industry in Texas. When his company offered him an opportunity to work in Budapest, we jumped! I'd like to share some of the experiences we have had and some pictures of my favorite spots.
The moving process itself went smoothly, but adjusting to Hungarian culture proved to be a bigger transition. Hungary has a strong and proud cultural identity. Everything from its language, its food and its many, many festivals is distinctly Hungarian, with very little connection or overlap with any other country or culture. Hungarians even name their children from a defined list of nationally approved names.
The first order of business was to attempt to learn the language. Hungarian has a 44 letter alphabet, with each noun having 17 different forms. It has no connection to any other language, although some think it sounds slightly like Finish. We started with the highest hopes and ended with the deepest of frustrations. It was a flop. We learned enough to get by and that was enough for us!
Aside from the language, adjusting to Hungarian culture meant a few changes. I (try to) cook like a Hungarian because the ingredients are more limited. I buy a few groceries every day, because our refrigerator is the size of a dorm room mini fridge. I drive like a grandma, because most of the streets here were built to accommodate golf cart sized vehicles. After countless theory and driving lessons and examinations, I still don't have a Hungarian license... and it doesn't look like I ever will. I am no longer surprised when old ladies (strangers) hug and kiss my children... they absolutely dote on children here. Sometimes I am taken aback by the cool nature of some Hungarians, but it's easy to understand when you consider that Hungary was under strict Soviet control for over fifty years, with the last of the troops leaving in 1991. Those that were around at the time will remember this as a terribly oppressive period for the Hungarian people.
After making the much needed adjustments to Hungarian life, we were able to appreciate the physical beauty of the city, including its amazing buildings and bridges, the blue Danube splitting the city between Buda and Pest, the impressive tree-lined thoroughfares of the Pest side and the villas that dot the rolling hills of the Buda side. Hungarians love festivals. There is never a weekend without a big festival of some sort. Another fun fact about Hungarians: they absolutely love thermal spas. There are several spa houses that offer steamy hot open air baths located inside beautiful buildings I often mistake for museums. They are perfect for beating the cold, Hungarian winters. There's a lot to love about our new home.
As for our old home, I love and miss Texas and Louisiana! My short list of things I miss includes: drive through anything (fast food, ATMs, pharmacies, etc), Target (or any one stop shop / big box store), Netflix, realistically sized parking spaces and parking lots, and the ability to buy things online. As for the people, I miss the diversity of America. After moving and travelling throughout regions where the people are more homogeneous, for lack of a better word, I realized I took for granted that America is the ultimate melting pot of culture, color and creed. This will be a welcome change when we do return.
Thanks for reading and thank you, Chelsea and Jeremy for letting me share some thoughts and pictures of our home in beautiful Budapest! Meryl
If you have lived abroad and would like to be featured please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
You can read more of the Perspective Series here.
Linking up with Shanna and Rolled Up Pretty
Thanks so much for writing Meryl! Be sure to stop by her blog and show her some love!