P1080045CutRecently I have been reading magazines and browsing websites aimed at expats, i.e. foreigners who are moving to or living in Hungary. All of them – no exception – painted a wonderful picture of our country, the people and life. Had I not known what country they were praising, I would have packed my suitcase and moved. Luckily, however, I am already here – in the ‘paprika capital of the world’, a ‘cultural cornucopia’, and home of big brains in the heart of Europe.

Statistics about our pessimism are published on a daily basis, and we have learnt to live with that. We know we are at the top end of the list in suicide rate and alcoholism, and whatever questions and aspects of life a research is based on, Hungary officially lands at the top of the pessimism list. There are speculations as to why this is the case, whether it is history, genetics, the economy, cultural values, education, health care or something else – most probably a combination of everything, but there is no definitive answer.

What strikes me though is that wherever I read from or talk to foreigners, they have such a different view on life in Hungary. So how is it possible, that we live in the same country and they see everything in so much better light? There are many people who visit Hungary then fall in love with the place and stay.  Maybe they can see, feel and appreciate what we cannot: the rich culture, the beautiful architecture, the spirit of composers, scientists and Nobel Prize winners; the home of a language that so few of us can speak in the world and that is said to be one of the most difficult ones to learn; the nostalgic atmosphere in cities, old-fashioned customs and traditions; courtesy you do not experience elsewhere; a nation of cultured and educated people, rich folk traditions, safe cities, and the list goes on.

We could keep blaming the economy, our genes or the national anthem for the melancholy, or we can start to appreciate, be proud of and enjoy what we have, however trivial it might be – like four beautiful seasons, men opening doors for women, three-course Sunday family lunches, or even a Túró Rudi. What would it take to pretend we are all foreigners in this wonderful country?


main sources

The Essentials Guide Budapest, Nord Anglia 2011



  1. 10-17-2013

    Nice piece of writing, Zsófi! I really like it.

    The fact that you are able to distinguish four seasons strongly underpins your point on optimism.

    (Am I supposed to use English here?) 🙂

    • 10-17-2013

      Thanks Balázs 🙂
      Yes, this is the English site, but feel free to read the article and comment on it in Hungarian on the Hungarian site.

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