Breezing Through Budapest: Erutay’s Abroad Life.

December 20, 2019

So, I’m about to Charles Anazado you. Can you tell me ‘good morning’ in Hungarian?

Hmm. Ah wait. There are like three ways to say this thing. Let me think.

Dun do this to Charles, I’ll make a Twitter thread! 

Haha. I said wait now! So there’s ‘jó napot’ which is like saying ‘good day’. Then there’s ‘jo reggelt’ which is the proper ‘good morning’ and then ‘szia’ which is just a casual ‘hi’. I use szia the most here.

You try! Okay let me let you show off a little. Can you say ‘good morning’ in your native Nigerian tongue’?

Oh easy. That’s ‘ma vo’ in Urhobo. 

Like my real people, the Quebecer of Canada would say, c’est magnifique! Now, how does a Nigerian find herself all the way in Hungary?

Thank you oh! That’s how they ask questions. Have you ever heard of AISEC?

I may or may not have joined my third year in uni and dodged all meetings after. 

You what? Okay, listen first. About two years ago, I was fresh out of NYSC and stuck in a job that felt like, how do people say it? Hell!

Ha.

No, for real. It was so bad, I just wanted to move and change countries. Like japa-ing just came and built four duplexes in my mind. Back then I thought if you weren’t travelling for school or if you weren’t truly exceptional and an international company wanted you, there was no chance to leave. A masters was out of it for me, there was no company calling, it was just me and Lagos traffic looking at each other like. Then my brother called me one day.

Give us this tea!

So my brother had always been active in AISEC, he was a Vice-President of something, I can’t quite remember it now, but it gave him access to certain opportunities the organisation had. He told me about an internship opportunity in Hungary with one of the companies AISEC is partnered with. After the internship program, they’d provide you with a job. See, after that, if you had told me ‘good morning’, I’d have said “thank you, it’s also a good morning in my country Hungary right now.” 

How now! So how crazy was the visa process?

See, nothing can be too crazy when you know at the end of the tunnel, you’ll be avoiding Sandfill traffic for good. But particularly, getting the Hungarian passport wasn’t too stressful two years ago. When you successfully apply, AISEC sends you an email detailing the process to get the visa. I remember at that time, the application made it out to be that AISEC was like this mandatory IT program you had to go through to graduate, so that really helped in hastening the process. Then there were some documents yo needed to get from your university to corroborate this, but see — all of that isn’t really relevant now because in 2019, that visa gate? They’ve used leg to close it small.

Say whet?

Hungarian immigration policies just became stricter around the time I moved. Even for people just coming in for school. I tried helping three people come in over the past year and let’s just say 2 ended in tears and one just did not work out. It’s a madness.

Uh-oh

But if you do find a way to come in through AISEC, it’s really helpful. Companies here need interns because they’re cheaper than full-time employees and they do the same work for less. There’s no worry about —

Wow, I hate slavery. Same work for less?

Well, if you’re looking for one of the easiest ways to come into the country and to become absorbed in its workforce, that’s it oh.

Hmm. Speaking of working, how does working in Budapest compare to working in Lagos?

We’re talking country, you’re bringing Lagos inside this matter! 

Look, Budapest has THE BEST work commute/ transport system I have ever experienced in my whole life. Like I am one of those people that is perpetually late, it’s like a curse.

We outchea!

Correct! So, to get to work, I need to take like two means of transportation. Like a bus and a tram, so while it’s not exactly a big distance, it is a distance. I can leave my house at say 8:30 AM, looking to get to work for 9:00 AM, and I promise you, I’ll still have like five minutes to spare.

*Stares at Ikeja Bus Terminal. Ikeja Bus Terminal stares back*

Haha. Like the timing of everything is so efficient. My dad has lived in the UK for about ten years, even he had to speak on the efficiency. Budapest has a 24-hour working transport system. Like there is no time of the day for you to be a stranded babe. Some transport system will be working. Like it’s so crazy how much thought they put into it like a bus can drop you somewhere, and to spare you the hassle of having to walk to the next bus station, there is a tram on the ready just waiting to take you there. The best part? The majority of their transport system is electric, the buses, trams, trolleys, it’s crazy.

Diz tew much!

During my orientation week at work, the supervisors were complaining about traffic in the city. In my mind, I was just thinking, you merely adopted the five-minute traffic, I was born into the third mainland traffic. But if I had to say something else about working in Budapest, it’s that hmm — the pay?… Not too, too great.

And I oop. People googling ‘how to join AISEC’ just froze rai now.

Haha. Okay, let me explain. Hungary is in Europe right? But its currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). To get an idea of the exchange rate, just know ₦30,000 is like 25,000 HUF. A high portion of the country lives on less than €20,000 a year. But while you might think that’s not a lot of money, with the exchange rate, it earns you a decent living in Budapest. Let me give you a little example.

Let’s hear it.

So from my salary, I can do a bunch of things, I can’t do many things, but we’re pushing it. I can pay my rent. I can you know, shop in Fashion Nova. I can send money back home. You know savings are a little shaky, but there’s money left over for extras. Like take my phone for example.

Okay, we see you iPhone Ten Xmas!

Haha. But you see this phone, funny story behind it. So when I first moved to Budapest, I didn’t have a phone for like the first 4 months because of something weird here. Infinix phones do not work in Budapest! They just don’t! When I came here, I found out my phone just did not work with my Hungarian sim card. Me that I was already happy to leave +234 gang on WhatsApp. It only worked when it was connected to wi-fi at home, it took me a little while to figure out the phone maker was the issue. Anyway, after four months of steady pay, I was able to change my phone and a little while after, I could change it again, so there’s that.

Got it! Now speaking of rent, how expensive is it living in Budapest?

I’ll be honest. Accommodation here favours the Hungarians. If you’re an immigrant or a foreigner, there’s a chance you’ll be scammed just a smidge. So if you’re looking for accommodation and you have a friend/work colleague who speaks the language, best to go with them. It was why I had to switch accommodation after my first couple of months there. My landlord, who I thought had you know, small conscience, brought like the most ridiculous electricity bill for myself and my other two flatmates. Like 100,000 HUF in an apartment that was supposed to cost 300 HUF monthly, as an all-inclusive rent. I left after the second month he brought that kind of bill. I don’t play with demons.

Facts, facts. So off the top of your head, what are three things that make Budapest a great place to live?

Well let’s see. 

  1. It’s not Nigeria

Haha. Oh no!

Then two, well I’ve already talked about the traffic. Three has to be how many nationalities you can run into in this country. Because there are so many multinational companies in Hungary, you can find Nigerians, Brazilians, Camerounians, Mexicans, just all the cans walking by you on the street. And just for good measure, let me just drop the transport system again, it’s that good. Oh and so many tourist attractions, it is insane.

Buhari is shaking. Tell us three not so nice things about living in Hungary so he feels good about the jollof rice at home.

The language barrier! Hungary isn’t my final real country so I haven’t bothered learning the language, and it is the absolute ghetto. I have to pay extra attention in buses that don’t translate instructions in English, communicating with people is hard, but because I don’t particularly need it in my everyday life, my job has a number of English speakers, we’re just pushing it. Then there’s the weather. It doesn’t match up to Canada, those people ar eliving in the ice age and they don’t even know, but it gets pretty cold, like -6° on some days. But that’s where any bad stops oh. Great place, 8/10 would recommend.

So imagine this, I’m a Nigerian bragging to you about the one thing we have going for us – jollof rice. What is the Hungarian equivalent and does it match up?

Hmm. I don’t know how to say this without sounding somehow… Let me just say it. Hungarians cook like… Well, their food tastes as if… The thing is, Hungarians cook as somebody always mistakenly pours half the salt container inside the food, every time!

Haha. What in the world?

No seriously. One time I felt like I was just going to die and I’d have had to explain in heaven that it was a lack of spicy food that killed me.

I.AM.DECEASED. Okay, last question. If you could tell Nigeria one thing now, what would it be?

I don’t mean to sound ridiculous. I could see a flag, I wouldn’t know what that is. Sorry to that country.


Somebody please hide this interview from GMB!

Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 12 PM (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

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