I walked around my new home yesterday, which was in equal turns exciting and terrifying. I saw some absolutely beautiful things that made me want to pinch myself to make sure it all wasn’t a dream. I haven’t gotten to the point where this all doesn’t just feel like a vacation. I suspect I will feel that way for awhile.

Raday Street, near our temporary living quarters

One of the strongest feelings I had as I wove through the streets and the markets was that I was an outsider. Because I can’t communicate with most people, I feel like a ghost floating through each place, where no one can see me or hear me.

A market where we'll probably get a lot of our produce

A market where we will probably get a lot of our produce if I can learn how to gesture the word "apple"

The market facade

The market facade

I think I am in a bit of shock. While I like to think of myself as this world traveler, this is the first time I’m going to be living (not just visiting) in a place where I can’t always rely on language to get me by. While the culture is different in Australia, where I lived for six months in college, it was easy to make friends because we spoke the same language. Even if we didn’t totally connect the first time, I knew that we could use our words to help us understand one another.

The Denube River from Buda looking to Pest

The Denube River from Buda looking to Pest

Pest, in all its glory

Pest, in all its glory

This is going to be a challenging experience for me, but I need to remind myself daily that I don’t have to master everything in one day. In fact, it’s highly likely that I will never learn much more than the basics of Hungarian. It is an extremely difficult language. But, gestures work wonders, and I have a feeling that I will learn a lot of survival techniques. I already have four:

1. Eat in places where you can just point to the food you want.

2. Use the smallest bills you have when paying someone so they don’t have to ask you anything (like: “Do you have smaller bills?”)

3. Do not assume that if a Hungarian word looks like a similar word in French/German/Spanish/English that it is the same. It is not. Ever.

4. By feigning ignorance and stupidity in an “aw shucks” sort of way people will take pity on you and either help you or forgive you.

Pretty soon I’ll be flying high…

Statue on top of Gellert Hill on the Buda side

Statue on top of Gellert Hill on the Buda side

Written by Laura in: Culture |

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