Newsflash: Hungary is a developed country!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I have a bad habit of forgetting that Hungary is a developed country with a market economy and modern conveniences. In my mind, Hungary is still developing when compared with the U.S. and Western European countries. Then again, there is still a statue of Karl Marx in the main building of my university. Hungary definitely had to play catch-up after the fall of communism in 1989, but so did East Berlin and it is much more modern and developed than even the nicest districts in Budapest. I hate to say this...but when I went to Germany I felt like I was fully back in civilization as I know it. I'm not even sure how to explain it, but my Hungarian professors often equate the U.S. and Hungary on economic, political, and technological terms, but they definitely are not. A simple example is that the school computers still run Windows XP instead of Vista or Windows 7 and the keyboards look like they are ten years old.

There are definitely services, goods, and conveniences in the U.S. that don't exist in Hungary.  There are no drying machines and I've yet to find a reliable wifi connection.  [Side note: for some reason, you can not pull a chair out from a table anywhere without it making a horrendous scraping noise. I can literally hear when someone a floor above or below me pulls out their desk chair. Same in the university classrooms.] As a result, soon after I arrived in Budapest I started assuming that if there is a good or service that I use in the U.S. and really like, it must not exist in Hungary. Yesterday I found out there is a bowling alley (mind blown) and tonight I found out that not only is there pizza delivery here, but that I can ORDER IT ONLINE like at home (mind blown, again).

Urban decay in the 8th district (prostitution district) of Budapest
Even the other Europeans I have talked to have made quips about Hungary being "uncivilized" compared to their home countries. Hungarians insist that their country is in Central Europe because they don't want to be associated with Eastern Europe and the perceptions surrounding those countries. However, every other European I've talked to says there is no such thing as Central Europe.

Hungary also doesn't seem to be too keen on efficiency or order. Yesterday I finally went to the immigration office (scary!) to apply for my residence permit. I waited in line for 40 minutes to get a number to wait in another line for an hour. My number got skipped, so I had to get back in line to tell the clerk. It was a good lesson on Hungarian bureaucracy - I think the only one I'll ever need, ha. The only enjoyable part of my trip to the immigration office was seeing two female employees who had kool-aid red hair like I mentioned in the previous post :D

Quaint square also in the 8th district
I've been in Budapest for exactly one month already...where did time go!? I love Budapest despite the  shelf toilets, pizza served with ketchup on top, and doors with handles that open inward, making me look like a fool (instead of knobs and opening outward). I just read this entire list of cultural differences between Hungary and the US and laughed because it is all true. Living outside of North America has definitely made me appreciative of everything about my life in the states that I take for granted!

P.S. - do me a favor and read this beautiful story of how God is working in my friend Dominic's life! It's quite amazing. Dominic is a seminarian for my home diocese, Lafayette-in-Indiana, and will be ordained a deacon this summer and a priest the following summer! Keep him in your prayers :)
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12 comments:

Robby Dixon said...

Okay, I'm writing this using the school computers at a top-quality American college, and I'm using Windows XP. And half the keyboards on campus are broken.

Liz said...

Haha, hi robby!! well i guess i was comparing to IU...which uses windows 7 and always has brand new computers.

are you sure wabash is top-quality? ;)

Robby Dixon said...

It must be top-quality, from the amount of work I have to do.

Stephen said...

Dubs, why were you in the prostitution district? We might have to have words when you get home.

Anonymous said...

Liz - this is Aunt Martha - my work computer runs XP and Office 2003 and is over 6 years old :)

Anonymous said...

There is no way that USA is more developed than Eastern Europe. I live in a county in the US where local GDP is lower than in Romania.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Hungary is a developed country!

Colin Daeschle said...

well it is and i'm happy about it

Anonymous said...

Wait until you've lived there for about 5 years, have a Hungarian partner and speak some level of basic fluency in Hungarian, then start doing a blog. Your perspective is amusing and immature. I am not impressed.

Anonymous said...

First of all it is not the prostitution district. It is an underdeveloped part of the city, but people live there. There arae schools, surgeries, and shops. I wouldn't label it the prostitution district. Hungary is really in Central Europe. And other countries like Slovakia and Poland are also in Central Europe. Eastern Europe is Russia. Somebody please look at the map. The area is even closer to the Western side. Moscow is like plus 3 hours from Budapest while London is minus one hour. With regards to development, the western world doesn't have anything we don't have. Apart from the money. lol. The economy is an issue. According to my recent experiences the health care in Hungary is better than the health care in the UK. The education is far better. Though it is declining thanks to the EU and Western European influence. Generally even PCs with Windows 8 are available in shops. Older machines in schools and run down buildings all boil down to finances. As old buildings need to refurbished. BTw. I have been to New York City and I think it is very run down and dirty.

Anonymous said...

and lets be honest, Hungary had castles with indoor plumbing way before the idea of the US even existed

Anonymous said...

This seems like a really biased opinion to me.
I feel like you cannot look past what you experience in your own home and treasure Hungary. Yes, we do not have dryers, but have you considered it's not because they are not available (yes, they are btw) but because people prefer to have clothes for more than a couple of months (which is what happens when you use the dryer all the time. I know. I ruined my favorite sweatshirt in the US because of drying it in a dryer.)
We have high speed wifi. Maybe not in public places (altho I seem to be able to find it a lot of places I go) but at home for sure. You can't complain when it takes 5 minutes to download 1GB worth of data.

So I suggest, just like people suggested it before me that you actually learn the language before stating your opinion again. And I would like to know what crappy place you ordered from if they put ketchup on your pizza, as I know that most places make a decent pizza for 3-4 bucks with actual ingredients.

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