My 3 weeks in Hungary or how I picked up any language but Hungarian

Debrecen and Budapest

Debrecen and Budapest

I am now back from my study holiday in Hungary. To say I had fun, I learned tons of things and that I loved it would be too little. It was so intense yet I can say I remember every second of it. I have met tons of interesting people, hearing different languages and struggling with Hungarian bureaucracy… even with buying a sim card 馃槢 . Anyways, most, if not all, memories were good.

Yet, to be honest, if you would ask me if I picked up any Hungarian, my answer would be ehm… the enough words to be polite and such. It is a hard language and my time there was so short and intense that I barely took time to pick up a book I bought on Hungarian grammar for foreigners. Yet, I became quite interested on Hungarian Modern Culture and History, especially the role literature played on it. I became acquainted with the works of Csokonai, Pet艖fi, Fazekas, Ady, Attila J贸zsef, among others and they were wonderful writers. Sure, I read them in English, but I managed to hear some of their works in the original language and they were… wow! If I ever learn Hungarian, it would be thanks to them, but right now… I am just sitting back and enjoying the journey.

However, with Polish, I must say I am trying to feel more confident with speaking. Sure, my writing skills are good, but I need to work on being more fluent. I am so perfectionist that I tend to make long pauses while speaking (in order to think the right declension or verb… and no, I cannot be drunk all day!). Indeed, it takes time and MORE AND MORE speaking, so one of my goals for this part of the year would be working with a good and reliable tandem partner to see if we can speak at least once a week. At least, I had lots of chances to speak with Poles in Hungary and even… in Poland! Yeah, I went on a daytrip to Pozna艅 which was plenty of fun and gave me the chance and confidence that I am heading the right way.

Nonetheless, regarding the title. I must say I picked up 2 languages easily during my stay in Hungary, mainly because I hanged out with native speakers of those languages: Italian and Croatian. Italian was an easy language to pick up since I can say I grew up listening to Italian music and watching some Satellite TV (Italian football was quite popular in Chile in the 90s). Now, Croatian… that is completely different!

I am quite interested in the Balkans from University and having the chance to meet lots of Croatians meant fun and picking up the language easily and with that, Polish does help to understand it. Who knows? Will I motivate myself to learn it? I prefer just to enjoy knowing more about the culture right now.

Polish is my priority 1, 2 and 3… yet I have to see how much time I have available these days. If I do… maybe I can squeeze in some self-studying in a new language 馃槢 . I am still trying to collect some material to see if it is user-friendly and worth giving a shot without giving it up in the middle.



  1. You crazy! So many different languages all at once, I don’t know how your brain hasn’t fried yet. Good thing to focus on Polish, though, I hope you find a good partner to practice with. 馃榾

    • Sometimes I would use the wrong language with the wrong people, but most of us were in the same situation 馃槢
      I still remember a girl at the mobile phone shop who asked me if her English was okay because she hadn’t spoken it in so long or meeting a 12-year-old (nephew of a friend) who spoke 5 languages 馃槢

    • I have several partners I can practice with… all I need is to set times, but I hate time zones 馃槢
      I had language burnouts in Hungary, such as talking the wrong language with the wrong person… but, most of the people I knew were in the same situation 馃榾

  2. I’ve heard that Hungarian was extremely complicated. And bravo for trying to improve more your spoken polish. French is kicking my butt (I was too confident when I started to practice again and I’ve notice there’s A LOT of stuff I have yet to learn and to relearn).

    • It is a hard language since it is not an Indo European language like Slavic, Romance or Germanic ones. Its “closest relatives” are Estonian, Finnish or even Turkish! They don’t like loan words so they often use words from their language family and the spelling is quite weird because I mix it up with Polish (sz is the ‘s’ sound, and s is the ‘sh’ sound in Hungarian… completely the opposite in Polish!).
      At least with French, you do have a base to start with.

    • It is quite hard since it is not an Indo European language like Germanic, Slavic or Romance languages. Its closest relatives are Estonian, Finnish and even… Turkish!
      They also tend to avoid loan words making it harder. Yet, it sounds quite nice.

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