Interview with Katalin Gulyas from Budapest, Hungary
Budapest and a red tulip
My name is Katalin Gulyas and I come from Hungary. I have an economist degree and have worked for big international companies in Budapest before coming to Limburg. On my weekends I was a tour guide in the local Royal Palace of Gödöllő, where originally I am from.
I first left my home for abroad to gain some international experience in 2006 to spend a semester in Northern Ireland.
I do believe in destiny, therefore I was not surprised I ended up here. Believe it or not but in kindergarten where children are still too young to read so instead they receive signs to find where to hang their coat and where to leave their boots, the teacher gave me the red tulip.
Eijsden and How to design your own garden
I moved to Limburg in October 2013 to finally be in the same country as my boyfriend, who was born and raised in Maastricht. We decided to settle down in Eijsden, just outside Maastricht. The Netherlands is really different than Hungary, not only twice as many people live here, while Hungary is 3 times bigger in territory but also weather wise much colder and more rainy here. It gave me hard times in the beginning but because of the location, if I longed home, I just booked a cheap flight and in 1,5h I was in Budapest.
The size of the gardens really surprised me when I first saw them, practically for us these are just the front gardens. Still the Dutch people manage to fill them with such taste, you just shall take a walk in the neighborhood and look around. Sometimes it makes me think here people have a class in school how to design your own garden as none of the gardens are the same.
With an umbrella on the bicycle
I have to admit before 2013 I could count on one hand the times I have ridden a bike since I was a child, simply because in Budapest you do not bike, you use the metro, tram, bus. Sitting back on the saddle was not easy, especially when you see the locals in the middle of winter- 10cm snow on the bike lane- with an umbrella, moving forward, without falling…so I was unbelievably proud of myself when I managed to peddle from Eijsden to Maastricht, which is about 10km. People all over the world know the Netherlands is not particularly famous as a country with mountains, it is rather plain, well not right before Eijsden-at least in my perspective…it was a shocking experience when a local elderly couple simply rang the bell on me to move to the side so they do not have to slow down for me. They were roughly at my grandparents age, leaving me behind, a young and strong woman in their dust. Since I gained my confidence-and balance- back on the bike we try to discover the bike routes, which are surrounding us.
Speaking Dutch in two stories
I did have Dutch class in Budapest to have some basic knowledge when I made my move here. I knew my boyfriend does not have a full year off to help me integrate but as his whole family lives in Maastricht and the smaller settlements around I thought it would go easy. My mother-in-law is very caring and though she does not speak any other language only Dutch, and as my Dutch at the time was not on the level to have a real conversation, it led sometimes to misunderstandings. When my partner came home and I told him (what I thought) we talked about and his mom told him too what she thought we talked about, somehow the 2 stories never matched up. We did have a good time and laughed only on totally different things.
Glass half full
What really surprised me here is the absolute positive attitude of people towards everything. Here they tend to see a glass half full than half empty, which is very uplifting and makes you think and actually forces you to look at things from different aspects. Obviously everybody realizes it rains here, it rains a lot and often. So instead of sitting inside and get grumpy over the grey sky Dutch rather say: at least we do not have to water the flowers in the garden…which is honestly-true.
What I learnt in Limburg is: stop running, slow down and try to enjoy life.
We would like to thank the International Women-Club South Limburg for their support!