Nine months have passed since I first moved to Budapest, and formally started learning Hungarian. Since then a lot of things have happened. I’ve discovered first hand just how hard it is to keep focus on your languages while also trying to work, pay bills, and sleep. I’ve experienced some of the complicated emotions that people have when learning a language abroad, such as culture shock and being overwhelmed by how much there is still to learn. It’s also been unsettling to not always be in control of what I’m saying and sometimes to have experienced blanks. But nonetheless, here we are after all that time.
I think the biggest shock has been that learning Hungarian hasn’t been easy. I always knew it wouldn’t be in my head – it’s a brand new language with almost no European influence – but somehow when it came to actually learning it myself, I was a bit put out. The elementary stages took ages to cover. As I explain in my video, having to learn really long and confusing words like ‘fényképezőgép’ for ‘camera’ really slows you down. It’s so important to get through those stages before you can start talking about having any kind of basic fluency, and whereas if I’d learned a language like Portuguese that might have only taken a few weeks, after my basis in Spanish, French, Italian and Catalan, for Hungarian this took half a year.
It’s been an interesting experience to try and sustain my motivation too. The whole time while I was standing in shops looking like an idiot and sounding like one too, just trying to ask for a receipt, there was this voice in my head telling me “Just think how easy it would have been if you’d only moved to Poland!” This voice distracted me for a while and led me to dabble in some Serbian and other ‘confidence boosting’ languages, before I thought “hey, what am I doing here?” and went back to Hungarian.
There’s still a lot left to do, but the reaction I’ve received to this video on my Facebook Page especially has really given me a boost. I’d like to get as close as I can to B1 by the end of the summer. I’ll let you know how it goes!