Amy and Timmy are Hungarian students studying business who agreed to have drinks with my colleague and me. Amy is a tall brunette with piercing blue eyes and a strong demeanor. Timmy shares eye and hair color, but she is a bit smaller and seems more carefree. Both women are in their last year of college and their ideas and interests expand far beyond the borders of Hungary.
“I want to do charity work in France this summer,” explained Amy, “I want to be able to give back to the people in need and I think this is a great opportunity.”
Timmy shares Amy’s desire to serve and her wanderlust, “Next summer I will be a camp leader in the United States!” She told me excitedly, to which I asked what state she will be visiting. She returned a sheepish smile and said, “I’m not sure yet to be honest. But, I know it will be great no matter what state it is.”
These young women are particularly impressive to me in that they speak Hungarian, English and German. It was such a treat to see them transition between languages with ease and I asked why they learned English and German.
“In school, we are required to take English courses,” Amy told me, “then, when we get to university we have to take another language.” They laugh at the realization that they both chose German. I laugh alongside them and we realized our table cumulatively spoke six different languages. “I think its very important to learn a different language. It opens doors that might not have been available otherwise,” Timmy said, “I personally want to learn Spanish at some point.”
Spanish being my first language, I offered her tutorials in return for help with Hungarian. I jokingly asked if Hungarian will be easy to learn and both girls simply shook their heads at me.
As our conversation turned to world issues, I was surprised by their opinions on pollution and environmental consciousness. It began when I mentioned how impressed I was with Budapest’s environmental awareness; a sentiment they did not share.
“We have good public transportation, yes, but there is still a lot of work to do,” explained Amy, “We have the framework for an excellent system of environmental protection, but there is still a lot of laziness from the people and at the government level.” I explained how similar this is to the United States, but how in some states there is not even a framework.
“I think its very important to learn a different language. It opens doors that might not have been available otherwise,” Timmy said, “I personally want to learn Spanish at some point.”
“There is certainly a lot of work to be done on both sides of the Atlantic,” concludes Timmy, “but, I think our generation might be the one to get it done.” We drank to this and then went outside for a pleasant walk along the Danube shoreline.
As we walked, we discussed our favorite programs and music. We found even more in common in terms of our tastes in sitcoms and pop music. Ultimately, this experience showed me how the disparity between Hungarian and American students is much smaller than I originally thought.