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Lesson Transcript

Simone: All about lesson 8. Top Five Things You Need to Know About Hungarian Society. In this lesson, we are going to tell you more about life in Hungary.
Csaba: Yes and we are very qualified to do that.
Simone: Yes we have our Hungarian expert Csaba here and our pseudo-Hungarian expert, me.
Csaba: Hungary is such a diverse country. So there are many aspects to society.
Simone: Right. So it’s difficult to know where to begin.
Csaba: So why don’t we just start with city life Simone.
Simone: Yes after all, most of what you and I know is life in the big city.
Csaba: Hungarian cities are not too different from your average European city.
Simone: Other than its own culture, food and personality.
Csaba: Let’s start with the capital.

Lesson focus

Simone: Yes Budapest.
Csaba: I think Budapest is a city full of contrasts and very representative of the classical and new Hungary.
Simone: It has maintained its history for centuries as well as created a new contemporary feel to the city.
Csaba: And it is also the largest city in Hungary.
Simone: In fact, there are about 1.7 million inhabitants which is almost one-fifth of Hungary and Budapest is located in the northern and central part of Hungary along the banks of the Danube and the foothills of the Northern Hungarian mountain ranges.
Csaba: And it’s the hub of all transportation.
Simone: Right and there are many migrant workers from around and abroad and a large expat community.
Csaba: You can definitely see a lot of foreigners in Hungary. There are large numbers of immigrants from neighboring eastern European countries but most of them are not called immigrants since they are all ethnic Hungarians. There are also large Chinese and Muslim communities.
Simone: A lot of expats and a lot of tourists too.
Csaba: And of course many lovely places with Hungarian history.
Simone: Yes such as the Buda castle. This is one of my favorite places in Budapest especially at sunset.
Csaba: You can see half of Budapest from the castle and you can get a great taste of the Hungarian atmosphere.
Simone: Shall we move on to the other cities now?
Csaba: Sure but you have to know that Hungary has been going through a centralization process for decades. Just think about this. The biggest city Budapest has 1.7 million people, the second biggest Debrecen has 200,000.
Simone: That is a big difference but what does this mean in Hungary?
Csaba: It means that while the smaller cities should not be thought of as waste lands since culturally and historically they have always been important but as many young Hungarians will tell you and not always happily, if you really need to find work, you have to go to Budapest.
Simone: Yes but that doesn’t mean the other cities are boring.
Csaba: Not at all. All the cities and towns in Hungary have cultural events, theaters, concerts, festivals.
Simone: One thing I really appreciate about Hungary is that it is one of the safest countries in the world.
Csaba: I don’t know about that but it is very safe indeed. It would take a very long search to find handguns at all let alone people to fire them. Be careful driving though.
Simone: Oh yes. That is true. The Hungarians drive like there is no tomorrow.
Csaba: Well I think the entire European continent likes to drive fast but it’s just – Hungary’s roads are not always up to the task.
Simone: Let’s talk about family life in Hungarian society now. I find in general that families in Hungary are still quite traditional and the family is a focal point of life.
Csaba: It’s true. Most of our holiday’s center around family gatherings and meals and Filial piety is still an important and valid part of Hungarian society. Most people will travel home every holiday no matter how far it is to spend it with their families.
Simone: On the other hand, Hungarian young people will usually move out quite early.
Csaba: That’s very often the case.
Simone: And what about children then?
Csaba: Unfortunately Hungary is following the European trend that is the birth rate is very low compared to how many pensioners there are in the country.
Simone: That trend has been going on for a while now right?
Csaba: Exactly. Governments have been trying to get our attention to this problem for a while but still the population is decreasing and the willingness to get married along with it.
Simone: I am guessing the entire financial crisis didn’t help either.
Csaba: Not really. The economic development has slowed down quite a bit recently.
Simone: What industries take up a lot of people now?
Csaba: There is the huge service sector and tourism. A lot of income from tourists.
Simone: I have also heard that industries in car manufacturing are important.
Csaba: Yes Audi, Suzuki and General Motors all have manufacturing plants in Hungary.
Simone: What else does the country rely on?
Csaba: The agriculture is virtually self sufficient but gets less attention lately. Also if you ever work with Hungarians, you will see that now-a-days individuality and talent are really appreciated by the workforce.
Simone: Yes Hungarians have always been very proud of their inventors and scientists. I sometimes feel like a Hungarian would rather invent a robot to do monotonous work rather than doing it themselves.
Csaba: That’s true. A lot of people are trying to avoid the traditional 8 to 4 work hours at the office. That doesn’t mean we don’t work harder though.
Simone: I know that. You just need a little push in the right direction every now and then though.
Csaba: I don’t think that’s the right information to share with the listeners about me.
Simone: Just to be honest with them. Talk about politics for a bit.
Csaba: Well if we must!
Simone: Yes sorry.
Csaba: All right. The Hungarian democracy as it is today has only been around since 1989, The End of Communism.
Simone: Yes the people vote every four years to get a new government and new prime minister.
Csaba: And the National Assembly appoints a president for 5 years but the real power is in the hands of the prime minister really.
Simone: Why not tell the listeners who these people are at the moment.
Csaba: The Prime Minister is called Orbán Viktor and the president is Schmitt Pál.
Simone: Okay. One more topic I wanted to discuss which is generational differences.
Csaba: Yes I have always felt that there is a trend that is unlike the normal pattern.
Simone: What do you mean by that?
Csaba: Generally, the older generation is very traditional and follows customs more closely but in Hungary, it’s not necessarily true.
Simone: There is a tendency among young people to be more religious and observe traditions more closely. I have noticed that.
Csaba: I think it’s because of the unifying efforts of the communist leadership who did a lot of damage to traditions and religious studies.
Simone: So today, the youth feels like there is a task to reverse that process.
Csaba: Exactly. Naturally, this is just a general picture.


Simone: Well I think we did a good job in this lesson with introducing a bit of Hungarian society. Don’t you think?
Csaba: Sure. There is a lot more though but I don’t want to ruin the excitement of exploration for our listeners.