I just sent out an email to our wonderful friends and family to update about our first week, which has mainly been consumed by school. I haven't had two minutes to do anything still, but that will hopefully change as we get settled and get our routines with school going.
There are many things that are the same as when I was last here 5 years ago, even when I was here 9 years ago. But there have been a TON of changes. I expected things to change of course, but some of the things have just astounded me!
1. Cars... 9 years ago hardly anyone used cars because they were so old (war era) and gas was so expensive. 5 years ago I noticed a lot more people driving some old cars and a few new ones, and they really worked on developing some major roadway/highway systems. Today, tons of people have cars, and they're not the super old ones that look like they're going to break down at any moment. The cars people are driving are way nice (still tiny European ones that you wouldn't see in the States really). The gas is still about $6 a gallon (I had to convert because they fill up in liters). Kim told me that the big difference is the economic mindset people now have. They are now doing things the "American way" by buying on credit or taking out loans, which was something that few did before. So interesting...
2. Houses... There are so many new houses being built around here. You can't really build in Budapest because it's been around for centuries, but the further out you go, the more new houses are being built. Several people around here live in some of the "newer" houses, and they are super nice! The price of the homes has sky-rocketed of course, again thanks to the new mindset of doing things the "American way."
3. Shopping... It was a pain in the neck to try and get to the grocery store before. You had to take public transportation or find a ride. You only went to the huge grocery store once or twice a month, and you would get your perishables like breads, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat products at a little local shop that you can walk to in the neighborhood. They still have these, and I know I will be going to one soon. But last year they built a brand new large grocery store just a mile down the road from where we live, which means that I can walk to it! I was stressed about this because I didn't know how I would do that with a baby, but now I know that I can walk.
4. Prices... It is sad to say, but the expense of living over here has just gone up considerably. Hungary is trying to join the EU but can't because of its low economic status. They are trying to bring that up, which means that things will continue to get more expensive. Some things were always more expensive here than in the States, but most of the food was significantly cheaper. I still find lots of good, cheap food at the stores, but I do notice that it's still more. The prices for the American foods (only available in the "International" aisle at the biggest store) are astronomical, but I guess if you want a few comfort food items you might be willing to pay for them. I just saw yesterday that a box mix for brownies is about $9 here! I won't be buying those!
Still more things have changed, probably many more things that I don't even know or haven't been able to experience yet. And there are a lot of things that have stayed the same. I will have to write about those another day. I need to do a few more things and think about heading to bed in the next couple hours.