According to, the author of the article has visited Hungary numerous times and moved here with his wife not so long ago. He said that it is a whole different world in comparison with his homeland, Southern California. He has experienced the following 9 culture shocks while he was living in Hungary:


The very first disznóvágás (pig slaughter)

In September, in a very early morning his father-in-law and one of his father’s friends, Zoli, had just had disznóvágás. The writer of the article was shocked; he became sick from the sight of the events. The steaming blood was all over the pavement which was licked up by Zoli’s dogs.

It was the writer’s very first disznóvágás or as he refers to it (and other foreigners): pig slaughtering. From the early morning till dark, all of the family members were involved in the pig’s killing and the after work. The men have done the hard work, they hacked and sawed; the women have prepared the eatable meat; the writer have boiled the pig’s organs. The pig’s head has come to the surface from time to time. All of them helped making the kolbász (sausage, spiced with paprika) and the hurka (organs and rice sausage).

It was a messy procedure but it has showed the reality where meat comes from.

Everyone is smoking

The statistics said that 30 % of Hungarians smoke (even though the writer of the article thinks that it is more than that). He recalls the time when he was sitting in the car, waiting for his wife to arrive from shopping when he saw people passing by, smoking. Only two people were without a cigarette but they had also lit it up.

Another occasion which comes to his mind is when he was at the dentist right in the middle of filling when the dentist stopped to answer the phone. After that, she lit up a cigarette and blew the smoke out of the window. However, she did a perfect job which only cost 20 dollars.

Food is very important for Hungarians

Hungarians take eating seriously. The writer grew up with Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr and microwaved chimichangas. For him, food was something which is meant to be consumed fast and quick. In Hungary; however, people take food as a religion. The famous question what you always hear: ‘Mi lesz az ebéd?’ (What’s for lunch?). And lunch is more than a few sandwiches.

Sunday family dinners are sacred and consist of three courses: soup, probably húsleves (clear broth soup chicken, turkey and/or pork with vegetables) or another possibility is the gyümölcsleves (cold fruit soup with cream, cloves and cinnamon). The traditional main course is pörkölt (meat stewed with onions, garlic and paprika) with the side dish of savanyúság (pickles or sauerkraut) and the main course is served with nokedli (little egg dumplings).

Usually a traditional meal ends with a dessert which could be rétes (strudel), bukta (jam filled buns), diós rácsos (sort of walnut coffee-cake) and dobos torta (a sponge cake with chocolate buttercream topped with caramel).

Not all the toilets are the same

In Hungary, it is common if the toilet has a shelf right where your crap makes its debut. The thinks that this is designed this way so that you can examine your own product (whether you are healthy or not). Maybe another feature is to minimize the splashback. Either way, it is disturbing for a foreigner who is not used to this to see his stool sitting in the toilet.

Learning Hungarian will be pretty hard

The author of the article has been visiting Hungary every year for ten years. Even though, his Hungarian is still at an elementary level. He can express himself on a basic level but if the discussion requires more complicated conjugation and vowel harmonization, he has lost. He thinks that the Hungarian language is a unique language. English has more common features with Russian and Sinhala (a language spoken in Sri Lanka) than with Hungarian.

Hungarians are pessimists, straightforward people and they have the Hungarian temper

The writer shares his experiences about the Hungarian soul: if we take the Hungarian history, it has been not very keen to the Hungarian people. Harsh invasions and occupations have suppressed the Hungarian culture. There were many oppressors: The Mongols, the Turks, the Habsburgs, the Germans, and the Russians; all of them scared the Hungarians. Thus, they become suspicious, cautious and critical.

For example, in California, if someone asks ‘How are you?’ the response to this is usually ‘I’m good, How are you? ‘If you ask the same question in Hungary you will hear them complaining about something. It can be called pessimism or realism but Hungarians express themselves and they are straightforward people. If someone has a problem with something they will let you know about it. This may feel that they are rude or dull but this is how things are done in Hungary. You cannot take it personally; the people’s temper is different here. You should get used to it and to hear a lot of ‘bazd meg’.

Pedestrians do not have the right of way

It could be hard to use to, as it was hard for the writer of the article, that drivers do not give the right of way for pedestrians. The writer said that he had almost been run over a couple of times.

Even though the walk signal is green for you, drivers turning left will still almost hit you. Hungarian drivers are fast and aggressive and have little patience especially for pedestrians. The writer’s advice is to look both ways again and again to avoid being run by.

Pálinka will find you and try to kill you

This fruit brandy booze is everywhere around Hungary: you cannot go to a party without a couple of bottles or a flask of pálinka. This fruity drink will be offered to you all the time and refusing it will be taken as an insult. Hungarian nagyik (grannies) believe in its healing powers: Have a headache? Pálinka. Menstrual cramps? Pálinka. Feeling nervous? Pálinka.

Dubbed films are required by the law

Changing the channel you will notice that every foreign show or movie is dubbed. It is not really Hungarian-like to do subtitles. The author thinks that this can be connected to the language itself as translations are not the same as the witty and funny Hungarian expressions.

However, the writer thinks it is hilarious when Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to the screen with Hungarian dubbing but his Austrian accent is unfortunately missing. Dubbing in Hungary has a long history and the voices of the films are national stars. The most celebrated is the Hungarian Flintstones which is translated by the writer and poet, József Romhányi, and made the dialogues into a constant rhyming prose. All of the episodes are filled with wit. You should forget Fred and Barney – the Hungarian counterpart is Frédi and Béni.

Source: Daily News Hungary

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