Studies: International Business School
Native county: Hungary, ten million inhabitants, twice the size of The Netherlands
Loves: theatre, traveling
Hates: liars, and hesitating people
Last time you were in Magyarország?
‘Only three weeks ago. Friends from America and New Zealand are traveling around Europe. They asked me to show them round in Hungary. It was great to see my parents and friends again. I will go again for Christmas. I hope there will be snow in Kecskemét where my parents live. That happens less and less often.’
What’s the latest news from Hungary?
‘The general elections are drawing near. The socialist party is waging an interesting campaign. They claim that the former conservative president Viktor Orbán is a man who always follows his own interests, not those of the country. In the campaign he is compared to a weathercock, turning whatever the wind.’
What did you expect when you came here?
‘I expected to meet many new friends and to be able to study in an international environment so that I could brush up my Spanish, German and English and meet people from many different nations. So far I have not been disappointed. But still, there is room for improvements. The international students stick very much together. They hardly meet any Dutch students. The school should try and organize events to break the barriers. Apart from Anne Frank, tulips and windmills I have not learned much about Dutch culture.’
Did you notice any typically Dutch habits?
‘Dutch houses have these huge windows. They start almost at ground level and go op to the ceiling. I don’t understand why. People have no privacy at all. I found two historical explanations on the internet. One is that the big windows date back from medieval days when witches were prosecuted. With big windows people outside could see that you were not doing any occult things. The other explanation is that the windows made it much harder for fishermen’s wives to cheat on their husbands when they were out at sea.’
Could you live in The Netherlands for ever?
‘No. The culture is so different. Hungarian men are very polite to women. They open doors and get you a seat. The boys in my class enter the room, sit down and don’t care a bit if the girls have found themselves seats.’
The biggest mistake to make in Hungary?
‘Ha! Not to open the door for a woman. Another thing you should avoid is underestimating and feeling sorry for the people in Eastern Europe. Okay, we do have problems, but nothing that cannot be solved. We joined the EU lately. Doesn’t that prove something?’
Do you do your own cooking?
‘It’s cheap and it’s fun. If I eat goulash a lot? Yes, but what we call gulyàs is a soup. The meaty stew that Dutch people call goulash is called pörkölt in Hungary.’
Give us a characteristic Hungarian proverb?
‘Sok lúd disznót gyöz. Many geese beat the pig. United we are strong.’
What’s your favourite pastime?
‘I love going to the theatre. But that’s very expensive over here. I also like reading novels that make you think, like Protected Men by the French author Robert Merle.’
Who is Ayaan Hirsi Ali?
‘Don’t know. Doesn’t seem to be a Dutch name. So she was the one who made Submission together with Theo van Gogh. Yes, I have heard from that.’
What question did I forget to ask you?
What’s your motto in life?
‘I want to fulfill my dreams. Sometimes, when I’m in a pessimistic mood, I try to remember that optimists enjoy their life to the fullest.’
Source: Hanze Mag