Hung(a)ry without Hungarian

Budapest, Hungary

Yesterday I confessed to Carter how uncomfortable I am going to countries where I don’t speak the language. “There are still places like that?” he asked.

Today, as I was trying to ask for the check for my goulash, I commented on how I feel like such a stupid American that I can’t even ask for the check in Hungarian, and my new roommate assured me that with my German and Arabic, I was hardly a stupid American.

I could learn Hungarian, in between TEFL classes. I could learn just enough words to ask questions I wouldn’t understand the answer to, add it to the list of increasingly random languages I know little bits of (Dutch, Kurdish, Swedish Battlestar Galactica subtitles…), and become even more confused. Or I could just spend the next four weeks asking, “English? Deutsch? 3arabi?” At least people will have options!


  1. But even sign language isn’t universal! I mean, the Arab sign for “7isaab” doesn’t work everywhere! We did manage to get fed and pay the ladies, though!


  2. Oh, plenty of people speak English and/or German here, and I’ll get along just fine without learning Hungarian … but it does make me feel like something of a snob….


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