Relearning English

I have now been in Budapest for just over 5 months. This marks the longest that I’ve ever been away from home. I’ve had bouts of homesickness, but nothing too overwhelming. There are definitely times where I get really annoyed at Budapest and Hungary (usually to do with food!).

Since coming here, I’ve had to relearn some bits of English so that when speaking to Hungarians they understand what I mean. I’m really surprised at the amount of English that is here. Most people know at least a little and a lot of things are written out in English as well. The metro and trams have some of their announcements in English. This was a massive shock to me when I got here. But I guess that makes sense. Everyone that visits Hungary won’t have any knowledge of Hungarian – they’ll have to rely on English or German.


Grocery store vs. Supermarket

Back home, I refer to places to buy groceries as the grocery store. But most people know them as supermarkets here. I think its because in Hungarian, the word for supermarket is szupermarket. I still refer to these places as grocery stores, but usually follow up with supermarket if I get strange looks.

Toilette vs. Washroom vs. Restroom vs. Bathroom

The washroom is called the toilet. Most people seem to know what I mean when I say washroom though. This is one habit I definitely don’t think I could break. Because all my coworkers are from English speaking countries, everyone calls this room something completely different: bathroom, restroom, or WC. Strange.

gyros-take-awayMy gyros take away from my favourite place
To go vs. Take Away

When ordering food to take home, you don’t refer to it as having it “to go.” Instead, your food is for “take away.” I guess that makes sense. But the first couple hundred times I said “to go” the servers usually looked at me confused and confirmed that I wanted it to “take away.” Because of this, I’ve been trained to just use the term take away.

A New Way to Count

I mentioned previously that Hungarians don’t like to follow the conventional way of numbering buildings on a street. But they also have an interesting way of counting with their fingers when ordering things. Back home, to indicate that you would like 2 of something, people usually use their index and middle finger (like a peace sign) to say two. In Hungary, they like to use the thumb. So if you want one of something, you just stick up your thumb. Two of something means using your thumb and your index finger.

Updated 07 November 2011:

Holiday vs. Vacation

Back home, when you take time off from work you call it vacation. But everyone calls it a holiday. I guess its one of the British-isms the Hungarians have picked up. Only North Americans understand me when I say vacation. I have to start calling it a holiday.