In Hungary

Cultural differences

Working in another country is an exciting opportunity to experience new ideas, foods and concepts. Hungary, as a European country, is not so dissimilar to the UK, but there are a few things worth noting.

  • Cuisine: The Hungarians are known for their food which is spicy, somewhat oily, and incredibly tasty. You will probably eat a lot of bread (usually white), pasta, meat, soup, stew and pickles but not as much milk, yoghurts and salad as you may be used to. Fresh fruit usually depends on the camp. You could consider bringing dried fruit with you as a snack, or helping your body adapt early by eating a few more carbs than usual…?!
  • Breakfast: (Reggeli - Reg-gelly) Cereal is less common, and is expensive. Breakfast is typically bread with cheese and ham/salami, which coincidentally is similar to the evening meal (vacsora).
  • Lunch: (Ebéd - Eb-aid) This is almost always the main meal of the day and usually consists of soup and a main course. Typically on camp there is lots of pasta, meat, stews and pickles. Sadly deserts are much less common.
  • Dinner: (Vacsora - Va-cho-rah) Usually bread, with cheese and salami.
  • Cleanliness: Some would argue that Hungarians are a much ‘cleaner’ more ‘hygienic’ than the British. They often remove outdoor shoes when entering a house, don’t sit on beds with dirty clothes, and have a change of clothes for 'home-wear'.
  • Health: Wet hair in winter, no shoes on cold floor, sitting on cold surfaces (particularly for girls) are general don’ts in Hungary.
  • Cultural Faux pax: Couple of things to be aware of:
    • National anthems - don’t mess around with these - as their anthem has much more meaning for the Hungarians, than for the British…
    • Food fights: Don’t. Disposable income is a lot less, therefore ‘throw the egg’ is a big no, no.
    • Bibles on the floor. In some places this seems to be a bad thing. Though it may relate to general cleanliness (see above).
  • Generally the ‘meetings’ and general church feeling is more structured and formal.
  • Buildings, infrastructure and much of the public transport generally has an ‘older’ feel to it, though this is becoming less so in recent years.

"Culture Shock! Hungary" is a very helpful book to read. Can be ordered on amazon here.

Travel & Transport

During the week of camp, all transport relating to the mission week is arranged for you. If you need to make your own travel arrangements meaning you arrive independently from the team, the following information may be useful. You must discuss your arrival to and departure from Hungary with your camp leader before booking your flights.

Transport to and from Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport Terminal 2:

  • Taxi. There is one official taxi stand at the airport… all quite straightforward - go outside to the Ticket Bureau and tell them your destination; they will give you a receipt with the estimated cost of the journey.
  • Airport Minibus
  • Bus: You can take the bus 100E from the airport which goes directly into the city centre. Tickets should be bought before travel, and are available at the purple machine at the airport bus stop, found outside the Arrivals terminal.

All information is available at the airport information desk. 

Public Transport – general:

Hungarian public transport is well organised and easy to use.

  • Single tickets, daily tickets, 3-day tickets and week tickets can be purchased in Budapest at any train station, at most tram stops (the purple machine) and some bus-stops. All instructions are in Hungarian and English. 
  • Individual tickets for buses, trams, metro, and trolley buses need to be purchased and also validated, that is placed in the small orange / red boxes which will punch, or mark the ticket showing that it is valid for that particular journey. 
  • The system works on trust, plus spot checks. On buses, trams and trolley buses, ticket inspectors will be plain-clothed and will put on a badge and armband before asking to see your ticket. On the metro inspectors are nearly always in blue uniform and are usually situated at the top of escalators.  
  • If you do not have a valid ticket you will have to pay a fixed on-the-spot fine. Ignorance, not speaking Hungarian etc. are not acceptable excuses.
  • N.B. If you are travelling on an Intercity Trains (IC) then you need to book a seat (pótjegy) in addition to the ticket price.
  • For timetables and fares for travel around the country, see here.