Settling in tour

Trip Start Jul 29, 2010
Trip End Jun 30, 2011

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today I met with the consultant from our relocation company in Budapest so that he could give me kind of an orientation tour and help me set up some of the normal living stuff here. We spent the afternoon driving around Debrecen and occasionally getting lost while the GPS lady scolded him. He wasn't that familiar with Debrecen, but just having a native Hungarian speaker with you when you try to do this stuff is pretty key. I either wouldn't have been able to do it some of it at all, or it would have taken me so long that I would have had to stretch it out over several days.

We started at the bank to open an account for me so that I could withdraw money in HUF and not pay exorbitant exchange fees everytime I use my US ATM card. It was a pretty simple process, but it did take about 2 hours. Part of that is my fault though. I get stressed out over financial decisions normally, so trying to pick the right type of account in another country took me even longer. You have to deposit a minimum of 150,000 HUF (about $750/month) in order to not pay fees for the account. According to Gergely, this is more than an elementary school teacher makes in a month here. The teller at the bank was super nice, and seemed really appreciative just when I used the Hungarian words I knew, like 'igen' instead of 'yes.'

From there we went to the brand new library down the street from my house. They have a section of books in English, which I was happy to find. Most of the books are pretty old; no new releases here, but I may get to read some of the classics. You have to pay for your library membership; it's about $11 to sign up. Gergely was nice enough to co-sign for me because they won't just give a foreigner a library card. So, if I fail to pay my late charges or bring all of my books back, Gergely has to pay for them. I must look trustworthy.

We also went to the bus company's office and got me an ID/bus pass that I can use to get discounted tickets for the time I'm here. If you buy their $1 bus pass with your picture on it, a monthly unlimited bus ticket is $30 instead of $90. I swear I would be spending so much more money and would be pretty much lost if I wasn't getting all of this help. I'm grateful for it.

We also went to the gym to get pricing and class schedule info, the bike shop to look at bikes, the book store to get a city street map so I would know which buses to get on, and the grocery store so he could show me and translate some of the regular grocery items which otherwise I would have no idea what they were. For instance, they sell several brands and types of milk here; many more than we have in the US. One of them is called 'kefir'. I asked him what was different about it, and apparently it's the fat off the top of the milk. It's the heaviest milk you can buy, but I guess people do drink it here. He even showed me the feminine products and told me to let him know if I needed him to translate anything. It was a little awkward, but I thought it was nice of him. I told him I could figure out the OB section on my own though.

I learned several words today and might be starting Hungarian lessons soon:

yo reggelt - good morning
tej - milk
tejfol - sour cream
sajt - cheese
akcio - sale
krem - cream
marha - beef
sertes - pork
csirke - chicken
pulyka - turkey

Maybe now I will be able to order food at restaurants and know what I am getting =)
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Alan W on

Sounds like you're settling in well. Sorry for the late follow up. Trying to survive the rest of NI week. Have fun.

deb on

yum, the kefir sounds yummy. this is really nice that your company offers this service. i'm glad that you're settling in a bit.

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