Eager for Acknowledging Different Lives / Junpeng Zhang

Jun. 23rd, 9pm. Too hungry.

I haven’t had many things to eat for the whole day except half bottle of water and some snacks.

I usually wait until this late to go out so that I can get a table at Chinatown Restaurant. They are very busy even at 9pm sometimes. Unfortunately, it is that kind of day. I went inside with an innocent face like I couldn’t believe the image I was looking at in front of me. The main dining hall is full. They finally decided to put me in a side hall, and I was sitting with their employees who were having their dinner on that table.

I was trying to be easy-going and agreed to sit with them. For them, they were very surprised that a customer joining in their table, although some of them served me several times before. I never had a conversation with any of them when I ordered my food. It’s just a common sense that Chinese waiters or waitresses don’t chat with consumers while picking up orders. Then, I started to think about maybe this is a good chance to ask things about their lives. With my curiosity, I asked a waiter who served me most times about how his life is here. Although he didn’t want to talk about his wages, I did find some interesting facts here.

He told me that he left Fujian Province, China and moved here like an immigrant with his family since he was very young. He went to middle and high school in Budapest. After graduating from that high school, he enrolled in business classes at the local community college. He told me there weren’t many choices for colleges in Budapest; the number of good universities is very limited. He doesn’t want to pay that much money to take Corvinus University, and he knows that he doesn’t have that intelligence to get in there.

He also told me that in Hungary you can choose to learn English or not, but the price is different. Some areas are defined as Hungarian-speaking districts and some are English. If you don’t know this fact, you will get disadvantages. For example, he told me he was very silly that he didn’t know learning English in an English district can be much cheaper than in Hungarian districts. He went to a high school in a Hungarian district and picked English as his major. He was very regretful with this decision, which cost him four times of the money that he was supposed to pay.

From an immigrant perspective, he still cherishes his past in China, but now he hardly ever goes back visiting. In other words, they are not Chinese citizens anymore. If he comes back, he will only be a traveler. I respect the way he lives and I didn’t continue to find out why he wanted to migrant with his family.

People always have their own way to live, we probably will not agree with all of them, but I left my respect to him and thanks for his service for the summer.

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