Expat Genius 04 Ago, 2017

Coming back home: an expat experience

First Generation Hungarian American Returns Home

By Bert, Genius in Budapest

It was on a hot, humid summer day, right before work that I decided that living abroad was the next step in my life. The thought had occurred to me before, and toying with the idea was nice, but it was on that day that I decided that I would begin taking steps in order to make it a reality.


My name is Bert, I am 28 years old, and I was born in Washington, D.C. Up until the summer of 2016, I had lived my entire life in Virginia. I had attended the elementary, middle, and high schools of the same town I’ve always lived in, and the only school I attended which was not in that town, was when I was accepted to George Mason University in Farifax. Within a few months of graduating college, I began working for DHL in a nearby town, and was quite successful at it. I could have stayed working and growing with that company, but I always knew that there was more for me. The world.


I spent the next two and a half years making the necessary preparations for the move: Acquiring my Hungarian citizenship, waiting for the Hungarian State to issue me my Hungarian passport and create my Hungarian Birth Certificate. The wait took so long, that I was hired by a Hungarian company, and ready for me to start working, but my paperwork was still being processed. This wait almost jeopardized my move entirely!


After nearly 3 years of preparing, and struggling to have my official paperwork complete, I arrived in Budapest, Hungary. At first, everything seemed fairly simple. I had a place to stay while I hunted for apartments, got situated at my workplace, and began acquiring things necessary to begin normal life as a Hungarian citizen. Cultural differences soon begin to surface, as well as differences in context, soon began to haunt me. Hungarian idioms, jokes, mannerisms, although I understood the words being said, the context of what they meant were sometimes alien and lost to me. It was especially difficult to take care of personal matters that required a higher understanding of Hungarian legal language, such as gaining my permanent residency card, which is necessary to have in order to attain basically anything in Hungary. The immeasurable red tape, and insufferable beurocratic sludge at government institutions did not make any of this easier.


It is now one year after I arrived in Budapest, Hungary, and I’m just finally beginning to feel like a Hungarian, like this country is my home. The journey hasn’t been easy, and it still sometimes feels weird on a daily basis, but I believe that the journey has been well worth it. I’ve heard many similar stories from friends of mine, who are also 1st generation Hungarian Americans, who now reside in Hungary. Difficulties adjusting to daily life in Budapest, despite being able speak the language fluently, and having previous encounters with Hungarian culture, and way of life. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for a person who is not of Hungarian heritage, and does not speak the language.


This last bit is what brought me to join Expatgenius. I want to help people moving to Hungary, whether it is for work, school, or family, to have an easier time adjusting to life here. With the knowledge of how difficult it is to take care of paperwork matters in Hungary, I’d like to help others overcome these difficulties with greater ease than I did. I would also like to see those people spend more time enjoying the city, and the Hungarian countryside, rather than struggling with administrative matters.

Thanks to Bert our Genius in Budapest for sharing this great post!