But only up to a point. Goodbye, Hungary.
When I lived in the UK, I complained about everything except the food. The weather, the commute, the prices, the poshness. Eventually, I moved to Hungary, and here I didn’t complain about anything, except the food.
I am in some Facebook groups for expats here, where people ask questions, give answers, and, sometimes… complain. But every complaint is followed by a rain of comments conveying this message:
“If you don’t like it here, go home!”
These complaints can be as diverse as life is. Sometimes they are petty and arrogant, and even I want to tell those people to go home.
But other times people complain about real problems. For example, last year, Hungary approved a law against LGBTQ+ people that violates human rights defined by the EU, of which Hungary is a part of. Expats, amongst others, showed their disagreement and anger. And the same rain of “go home!” comments followed.
This is not a problem you fix by telling people to go back home. This is an issue that people should be vocal about. Expats have the right to be upset, and to want things to change, even if this is not their home country.
Foreigners who live in a different country to their own have a voice too. If they work, pay taxes, and contribute to the development of society, have the right to speak up. Being an expat, an immigrant, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t mean you are less of a citizen. It means you bring the experience of what life is like in a different place and, perhaps, you’ve seen different solutions to a common problem.
From Love to Indifference, to Complaint
During my first year in Budapest, I was in love. I adored this city so much that I couldn’t stop talking about it. I even joked that Hungarian Tourism should pay me for bringing so many visitors to visit the city.
The second year was severely affected by the pandemic. I didn’t agree with most of the measures implemented by the Hungarian government, or lack thereof. And that started to instill in me a slight feeling of discomfort.
By the third year, I caught myself complaining all the time. My friends joked that I became Hungarian, as people here are known for being pessimistic. But I didn’t become Hungarian, I just didn’t like to live here anymore.
I realized it was time for me to go. I will leave Hungary in a few weeks and move back to my home country of Portugal.
I realized that the pain of inaction would be greater than the cost of action. I could stay here and slowly fade into a grumpy old lady who can’t stand the cashiers at the supermarket, the waiters at the restaurant, or the public workers at the immigration office.
Or I could take life into my own hands and go check out the greener grass on the other side. We all know the teaching in that proverb, but sometimes, the grass truly is greener elsewhere. Sometimes, the lawn where you stand has dried and turned brown, and there is no bringing it back to life. There is only the next chapter, somewhere else.
You Might Be Living in Hungary Without Knowing
This is true for my experience with Hungary but also valid for most aspects of your life.
Your relationship with your partner has brought you more heartbreak than joy lately.
Your job that started out exciting but now is a bunch of repetitive tasks you do without motivation.
Your jogging sessions made you feel invincible but now leave you longing for a teams sport.
Things change, it is the nature of the world.
“The only constant in life is change. — Heraclitus”
People, places, and situations that used to light you up eventually bring you annoyance, anger, and disappointment. Sometimes, some of those people, places, and situations change for worse. They suck. You are entitled to call them out. You are entitled to complain. We all need to vent sometimes.
But don’t complain while sitting still, waiting for things to change. Do something about it! If something craves change, change it. If you can’t, it might be time to move on. Time to finish that relationship, quit that job, and find a new passion. Remember, no action is also a form of action.
Complaining has very little to do with concrete reality, and a lot more to do with how we perceive that reality. Our perception is shaped by who we are, our past experiences, and the phase of life we’re at, amongst other aspects.
Even though I complained a lot about Hungary in the previous year, not everything was dark — far from it! I still adore this city with all my heart, I made friendships for life and created some of my fondest memories.
Budapest and these 3.5 years here will always hold a special place in my heart.
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” — Jack Kerouac
Thank you, Hungary. Köszönöm Magyarország.