25 “Normals”

In honor of being in my community for only 25 more days, here’s a list of 25 things that have become normal to me here. (Thanks to my fellow YAGM in Argentina, Tara, for the idea!) By no means are any of these complaints and not even necessarily things that I see as better or worse than what my “normals” were in America. I just thought I’d share a part of my list I made in my journal a few days ago. This list is mine specifically, based around my experience alone. My “normals” may not be the same for other volunteers or residents of Hungary.

As you read through this list, I ask that you keep in mind this quote by Wade Davis, “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality; other cultures are not failed attempts at being you – they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”

1. People around me not speaking my native language
2. Riding the train being the most common form of transportation to get to other towns and cities
3. Walking to all my work sites
4. Most cars being stick-shift/manual
5. Lunch being the bigger meal of the day
6. Pickles and/or bread served with a lot of the traditional meals
7. Seeing young women’s/teens’ stomachs (because crop tops and sheer shirts are in style)
8. Paying to use any public restroom
9. Almost all pets always staying outside (It’s very rare to see an animal allowed inside.)
10. Slippers and/or Crocs found in every house and highly encouraged to wear
11. Always having fresh vegetables, eggs, and meat straight from the source (In my case, my host grandparents!)
12. Drinks being room temperature
13. Being welcomed into a home with pálinka (a strong Hungarian brandy)
14. Celebrating Name Days (Children’s names are chosen from a long list of Hungarian names, and every day of the year is a Name Day for at least one name. For example, yesterday was Kármen and Anita’s Name Day, so all who have either of these names were probably given small gifts and well wishes yesterday.)
15. Hardwood floors (I have yet to see a carpeted floor in Hungary!)
16. The jingle of the milk trunk passing through the neighborhood (the same noise as the ice cream trunks I would chase down when I was little)
17. Going to a bakery for fresh bread every few days (if not every day)
18. Unshaven legs/armpits
19. Bikinis being worn by whoever wants to wear them (pastors and grandmas included! 👍)
20. Not being allowed outside with wet hair (because of fear of getting sick)
21. A lot of women/teen girls always having manicures
22. Baths (These are public buildings with various numbers of different-sized pools. The pools are filled with different minerals/relaxants and are used as a source of relaxation and self-care for all people.)
23. Repeating something multiple times for emphasis (i.e. “Szia, szia, szia” as you hang up the phone.]
24. Soup being served at the beginning of almost every lunch
25. Middle/High schoolers traveling alone to other towns or to Budapest for school every day

2 thoughts on “25 “Normals”

  1. This is so enlightening! Love to hear about the small and big things other cultures incorporate into everyday life.


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