By Hakeem Babalola
What are you doing in Hungary is a question many migrants get every day. And Hungarians usually ask this question with honesty and straightforwardness.
It seems a normal question to ask a foreigner. “What are you doing here?” But then it becomes much deeper. Instead of mere curiosity, the question often reveals how Hungarians perceive their country and themselves.
To Hungarians for instance, “It is absolutely absurd for an American to have the desire to be more than a short-term tourist here,” declares an American who says he really likes Hungary.
Many Hungarians simply cannot comprehend why anyone other than the citizens would choose to live in Hungary. It is even more difficult for them if such migrants are from the so-called advanced countries.
“Are you crazy? You’re strange! Have you thought about London? Vienna is better…” is a common response whenever a foreigner reveals his or her intention to live in Hungary.
However, majority of migrants passionately believe Budapest has an interesting culture with unique cuisine and plenty of activities.
Budapest’s beautiful, centuries old buildings with amazing architecture makes it a world-class city as far as foreigners are concerned.
Among the things that put Budapest on foreigners’ top scale is the fact that it is a relatively easy place to get around, “especially when not driving a car”.
Unlike many capital cities around the world like London, Paris, New-York, or Rome, foreigners describe Budapest public transportation system as great.
“My favorite thing about Budapest is having the ability to walk just about anywhere I want to go,” says a Texan living in Hungary. “That is impossible where I come from. To get anywhere in Texas, you have to drive a car. There is always a lot of traffic, which I loathe. And, it seems to take a lot longer to get around”.
Says an Australian who has been living here for six years: “Tourists end up living in Budapest and the city is becoming a multicultural society”.
On the whole, migrants seem to understand Hungarians perspective regarding the question – what are you dong in Hungary?
“Economically, Hungary leaves a lot to be desired,” reasons Marcus. He adds that the wages in Hungary are generally lower than in America.
Some observe that unemployment is high. Moreover, things like electronics, clothing, and fast food cost double or even triple that of other countries. And like many countries, the economy is sluggish to rebound.
Hungarians may be right after all. What are you doing in Hungary?