2 years ago, Ik, a Koren friend of mine got two internship opportunities. One in the U.S, I don't remember exactly which state, and one in Hungary. Without hesitation I advised him to choose Hungary. At that time I didn't know much about Hungary, I never visited the country except for few volleyball competitions in my teenage years, actually the only thing I knew about my neighbour country was the awesome party stories others have told me. Plus, I grew up with great Hungarian friends, so somehow I associated Hungary with fun, out-going, full of life people, crazy parties and this is how I backed-up my ''you have to go to Hungary'' advice. At that time, I had no idea I would end up here as well.
In the meantime, I left China and one month later I visited the Christmas Market in Budapest. That year, 2019, Budapest was rated the best Christmas Market in Europe. It looked more like Christmas came by surprise and people hurried to decorate the city and arranged some mulled wine and Kurtoskalacs stands for the possible visitors. Was it really that bad? No. Does it deserve the best ratings? Also no. Is it worth going there just to visit the city? Totally! In fact, that short visit made me consider moving to Hungary.
Ik arrived in Hungary almost at the same time as Covid19. Poor guy, he spent most of his time in a lockdown. I didn't come here until beginning of June, 2020. Unlike Ik, who lived in the capital city, I moved to a small village somewhere South of Hungary. My boyfriend got a job offer here and when it came to choosing between moving to Germany or Hungary we decided based on our previous trip to Budapest and the convenient location, right between Romania and Austria, not far from our families that Hungary would be the right choice. Somehow I had the impression my experience will be similar with the one in Budapest, but boy, wasn't I wrong?
Szederkeny is a small village, around 1300 inhabitants and except for the guest house owner, nobody there spoke English. No, I didn't talk to everyone, but none of the cashiers at the only two shops the village has understood me, nor the waitresses at the pizzeria. The guest house, or the Panzio - as they call it in Hungarian, wasn't pretty good, we had a swimming pool and a super nice view of a horse pasture. Swimming and watching the animals was relaxing, but being used to the city noise and the crowdedness, the new environment didn't really please me. I've never felt so lonely. 3 months later, almost at the point of depression, I convinced my boyfriend to move to a city nearby hoping I will find more activities, other than going for a morning run and swimming in the pool. I got to see Ik before he returned to Korea and in early September, we finally moved to a beautiful city somewhere in Southern Hungary, close to the Croatian border.
Pecs is the fifth largest city in Hungary and when I say beautiful, I mean it. The neighbourhood is fantastic, we live up the hill and although it's a pain to walk around, I enjoy every step. At night, from far away it looks surreal, you wouldn't say you are in Europe, but just from far. We have a clear view of the Pecs TV tower- 197m ( I call it the Pearl Tower of Hungary. It looks like Shanghai Pearl Tower in miniature and it gives me a familiar feeling). I won't describe the city now (stay tuned for the next post), but I'm attaching some pictures here.
There are many things to do in Pecs, unfortunately we didn't have the chance to enjoy it too much. Not long after we moved here, in October, all the public places closed due to the pandemic and I spent 6 months at home. As there are not so many sightseeing places in Hungary, these 6 months felt like an eternity. This whole time made me realize how much I miss China and the freedom there, especially when there were no restrictions whatsoever.
In exactly 2 weeks from now, I'll be leaving Hungary and I start having mixed feeling about it. Not in the way that make me want to stay here longer, more like starting to see the beauty in this city. Summer is here and people are getting more relaxed, almost like Snowdrops after a heavy winter. The city is coming back to life and it's a pleasure to walk around or dine at a restaurant. Oh, I almost forgot, the food...I don't know if it's just me being a gourmet or the food here is actually quite delicious. All I'm saying it's that I couldn't eat anything spicy before getting here and now, one year later, I have a weakness for paprika. Eros Pista paprika paste in any dish is a game changer! Not to mention the Goulash, the most famous Hungarian dish, 10/10 for sure!
Wrapping it up, if I could go back in time, I would choose a different living destination, as an extrovert I'd say don't even think about it, there are far better choices out there for people like you, but all together this year wasn't that bad. Most probably Hungary is a nice place to live when there's no pandemic/lockdown and I was just unlucky to get here exactly now. I would recommend it if you're an introvert student who's looking for a calm place to study abroad, is good for people who enjoy the quietness and loneliness and a perfect place to spend your retirement years unbothered by others. Life quality is ok, prices are relatively cheap and the rents and low. Next stop - Austria.