Useful Tips for Newcomers
September 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
School starts in a week and I am getting very restless. To keep my mind busy, I am spending a lot of time reading blogs from Norwegian students studying both veterinary/regular medicine in Budapest. I came across one blog post today where the author had written a long “insiders guide” to Budapest based on her experiences living here for three years. She had a number of good tips that I would like to repeat here, for anyone interested in reading the original post, click here (it is in Norwegian).
- Cultural Differences– Hungarians are generally very friendly, open and polite. They may shut down when spoken to in English, but respond well enough if you are polite, friendly and don’t mind trying more than once to get their attention. Be patient and open-minded. Always say hello and goodbye when entering/leaving a shop, and always say thank you and you’re welcome.
- Skjalg and I have gotten by on knowing how to say hello, thank you, and good-bye, and then using google translate when we can’t communicate what we are looking for. We were looking for peanut butter at the super market today and got help finding it when we translated it – mogyoróvaj. (It ended up that they didn’t have it, but at least we got help!)
- Crime – Keep your doors locked. Rape is very rare in Budapest and when drinking, Hungarians tend to be more on the tame side than say, Norwegians. Try not to get caught up in the middle of a demonstration. Girls, watch your drinks!
- Taxis – Never, ever get in a taxi that is just waiting on the street, and do not allow yourselves to be tricked by the “taxi drivers” that approach you at the airport. The blog author recommends City Taxi: (+36 or 06) 12 11 11 11. She wrote that they speak english and arrive within 5 to 10 minutes.
- Paying with your bank card – Most places accept card, but it takes a very long time for the purchase to be processed. It is normal to pay things in cash – including rent. Just make sure you get a contract when making large payments.
- Shopping – Large shopping centers are open 7 days a week. There is Mammut on the Buda side of the city and West End and Arena Plaza on the Pest side. Vaci utca (pronounced vatsi utsa) is a great shopping street with shops like H&M, New Yorker, Zara, etc.
- Movies – There are movie theaters at both West End and Arena Plaza. At Arena Plaza there is a VIP-movie theater where, for 100,- ($17) – and the same price as a regular movie ticket in Norway – you get unlimited popcorn, nachos, beer, champagne and soda and sometimes they have a little tapas spread. The seats in the theaters are lounge-style, where you can put up your feet and relax completely.
- Doctor/Hospital – If you are sick, the author recommends going to FirstMed, a private American clinic that is located on the Buda side next to the Mammut center. They are very expensive, but the cost is covered as long as you have health insurance. Just remember to call your insurance provider before your visit and take your insurance papers/card with you when you go. The author warns against going to a public hospital, mainly because it is next to impossible to find a doctor that can speak English.
- Grocery stores – There are hundreds of small shops scattered throughout the city, but there are also large super markets (Spar, Tesco, etc). If getting ground beef, be aware that they have meats that are up in 22% fat. It is best to get it ground fresh in the meat department – just point at the meat you want, say machine, and make a grinding motion with your arm. Lidl and Match carry German, and some Norwegian, products.
- Drinking water– Get a water filter. They are inexpensive and will save you the numerous trips carrying bottled water home during the week. Tap water is safe to drink, but tastes a little funny and contains a good amount of chlorine and minerals.
- We purchased a filter for only 100,- ($17). It took the weird taste away and works like a charm.