“I looked up Budapest and decided to give it a go”

Leonie and a lion.

Leonie Holly, 21, arrived a month ago from Ireland and already knows how to say hi, thank you and cheers in Hungarian. She definitely enjoys her time here and is open to discover the hidden treasures of Budapest.

Why did you come to Hungary in the first place? Did you have other options?

We had a couple of options. I wanted to go to Sweden in the first place but then it turned out to be too expensive so it was going to work out too difficult. Then I looked up Budapest, thought it looked nice and decided to give it a go. I don’t regret that decision now.

What was your first impression when you got here?

At first, you’re obviously slightly terrified because you’re in a new country and everyone speaks a different language, you’re not too sure how you’re going to get to your flat but we turned out to be okay because the taxi dropped us out right outside the door. I found a local shop where I got the few bits that I needed for the evening ahead. The only difficulty was the currency because in Ireland it’s euro, so here you have to be constantly calculating. At first I had no idea what the exchange rate was so it was scary but eventually I got used to it. It was certainly a different experience anyway, something I’ve never done before.

Where have you been so far in the city?

I’ve been to couple of the ruin bars, obviously. I found this kind of secret place the other day. I can’t remember what it’s called but basically there was no sign over the door and we just saw people going in and said, okay, check this out. It was downstairs, it was a really nice place. It’s nice that there are little hidden treasures everywhere. I’ve been to the regular places like Szimpla and Instant and I really like it. I mean, it’s completely different than in Ireland. There it’s just a club or a pub, here there’s a combination and it gets more relaxed, you can sit down and have a drink, or you can go dance, you can do whatever you like.

Was it hard to find a place to live here?

No, because there are people from my course from last year who have lived here so they had a contact for a landlord. We got the e-mail address and the website and all that stuff. They were really helpful, they sent us all the possible options that we could have for whoever, how many people wanted to stay. It was pretty easy to be honest.

How do you find the Hungarians?

Everyone is helpful as far as I have gone. The biggest worry going to a place is not having any Hungarian but generally everyone has a bit of English and they’re trying to help you out anyway, they’re being polite and if that doesn’t work you can point to stuff and they’ll understand what you mean. So far I haven’t had any difficulty. I can just say that I am very sorry but I don’t speak Hungarian and they completely understand and they don’t force it on you. It’s one thing that I appreciate about Hungarian people is that they do make the effort.

What about the university, your classes? Do you like them?

Yes. I didn’t do much film studies at home but here all of my classes are on film and I really enjoy it. It’s nice to get a different angle and there’s a lot of discussion which is nice. There’s a little bit of discussion in Ireland and here they’re way more open to it and they want to get your opinion. It seems like a better system in that kind of way.

How do you find the weather? It’s quite different from what you have in Ireland.

Yes, in Ireland it’s basically constant rain and here the snow was nice. It’s a different kind of cold because in Ireland it’s drizzly and windy but here it’s dry and cold. Although the rain the other day was horrible because it was kind of more rain, it’s ’rain rain’ and then the other day the sun was shining and it was basically a summer day in Ireland. It was like 12 degrees, it was great to walk around – in Ireland everyone would be out and happy about it.

Are you planning some travelling in Hungary, in Europe?

Hopefully, yes. I have to go to Bratislava at some stage because one of my friends is flying in to there, because he couldn’t get a flight to Budapest. I think it’s only two or three hours on a train, so I’m gonna go up there and see what is that like. Hopefully I will get to Austria and all the parts of Hungary as well, so I don’t have only seen one city. And maybe Prague. We’ll see how it goes.

by Petra Gönczi

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