Learning Hungarian in Budapest Update 1 – No excuses!

The astute reader of the blog will have noticed a distinctive lack of updates in the last few weeks. I did try and make a comeback recently with my post: An overdue update from Budapest but I realised quickly following it that I was still not in a position to get back to regularly writing.

It’s been a very stressful last two months. Not only have I had more hours on the day job than ever, but coupled with this I also had to find an apartment and deal with 117 frustrations – as you do when moving to a new country.

Add on top of this that the temperature has been an average of 35 degrees celcius (95 fahrenheit) and without airconditioning I have literally melted in my apartment. For some reason there seems to be a clear reduction of productivity for me when it gets too hot.

Luckily the summer is coming to end an end soon, and if the people I’ve met down here speak the truth a nice and cold winter is fast approaching.

The phenomenon of being overwhelmed to the point where I had to abandon my French studies, Add1Challenge and even writing for Actual Fluency is a topic which I have addressed a bit in the past.

There are many reasons why we get overwhelmed by life. As somebody who struggled a lot with depression I sometimes lack the mental energy or surplus to get the hustle on and crank out the extra stuff. This is a bit unfortunate because I know you guys out there want to hear more about what’s going on.

I can tell you now that I have not done much in terms of language learning in the past two months.


I’m not trying to be too hard on myself, but I honestly think that I have been making excuses. It’s a common productivity trap

Have you ever heard yourself say:

– I’ll get started tomorrow
– I don’t feel like doing X right now.
– I’m too stressed to do Y.

The fact of the matter is that productivity rarely presents itself as some kind of surge of inspiration. Usually we have to force ourselves to take one step and then we get sucked in.

Like this blog post for example. I just opened up my writing software and started writing. After a few minutes I was totally hooked and managed to write this entire post in no time.

Yet I’ve been procrastinating doing just that for WEEKS!

I guess what I’m getting at is that I personally rarely feel like doing anything. I don’t get divine moments of inspiration that prevents procrastination and supercharges productivity.

I have to make it happen myself.

So with all the excuses out of the way, let’s get started on Hungarian – shall we?

Hungarian is a super difficult language and a quite unique one at that to boot. I became deeply fascinated by the language when I first arrived here in Budapest and I just knew I had to learn it.

My strategy will be very similar to the one I employed for my Russian mission last year. Strong emphasis on tutoring sessions to improve my spoken language as well as listening comprehension.

For vocabulary I will return to my good old friend Memrise and find some suitable decks that have audio and are sorted by frequency.

I’ll also turn to [easyazon_link identifier=”0415567408″ locale=”US” tag=”af101-20″]Colloquial Hungarian: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)[/easyazon_link] to achieve something I have never done in my life: To finish a textbook! I was recommended this book by Alex Rawlings and after having seen his 9 month progress video I definitely trust him on his recommendation.

This will be my first foreign language that I actually learn in the language where it’s spoken and I can already feel some of the benefits of doing it that way.

1. You get a ton of free vocabulary.
2. Since few people speak any useful English, I’m actually very motivated to learn Hungarian because it’s harder to exist without it compared to say not knowing Danish in Denmark.
3. There are many practice opportunities if you seek them out. Granted ordering your coffee in Hungarian is not likely to make you fluent in a month but it’s a small win that boosts your overall morale and motivation.

Learning a language in the country does have a few downsides as well, so just for balancing purposes I’ll list them here.

1. It’s easy to think you just learn the language passively and not do any actual studying.
2. Budapest is JUST touristy and expat-friendly enough where you are not going to have significant problems conducting most of your life entirely in English.
3. Finding opportunities to practice beyond basic greetings and ordering a coffee can be difficult. Especially for introverts.

With that being said I’m super confident that I can achieve great things in the year I’ll be posted here, at least.

My sub-mission during the year I’m learning Hungarian will be to bring up my other languages to more useful levels.

I’m already improving my German by attending a bi-weekly German Meetup here in town. It’s a great way to practice and make new friends.

My Russian has been on a bit of a stand-still lately, but I aim to start improving it with more vocab and watching more native material. I already previously mentioned a funny tv-show in Russian and I think watching more episodes will be very beneficial.

That’s about it! I hope that your language learning missions are going great as well and if you are in Budapest be sure to give me a shout.

PS. See you in New York City for the Polyglot Conference! I’m so excited about going to the US for the very first time. Hope to meet a lot of you NA based language learners over there.

All the best,