Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Expat Experience: Carse Ramos, Budapest, Hungary

Carse RamosWho are you?

My name is Carse Ramos, and I’m a PhD student in Anthropology and Sociology of Development, focusing on transitional justice and genocide prevention initiatives in the African Great Lakes region. Originally from the United States, I now split my time between Budapest and Geneva. I study in Switzerland, and work in Hungary as a mentor, professor, and legal research fellow with the Academy of Sciences in Budapest. In my other life, I am a human rights advocate and almost lawyer, as well as an avid traveler-adventurer, voracious reader, caffeine junkie, almost lawyer, sometimes writer and musician. I’m also involved in a very complicated long-term and long-distance relationship with New York City, where I spent over a third of my life.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I first came to Hungary in 2010, during my second year of law school. I did an internship with the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest and stayed as an exchange student in Human Rights Law for one semester. I fell in love with the city and made many friends here, so I came back last year to do my Masters degree. In prior years, I had traveled fairly extensively and even lived in Uganda for a few months in the late spring/summer of 2008. However, my initial stint in Budapest was my first time living abroad for an extended period of time.

What challenges did you face during the move?

The language! Hungarian is difficult – no way around it. During my first stay in Budapest, English-speakers could be found, but they were not so prevalent. Most of the people that I worked with were from various parts of the Balkans, so I actually learned more Bulgarian and Serbian in my initial months here. Still, I managed to get around (as you do), and in the end I had picked up enough Hungarian to cover most basic necessities.

When I moved back, I was in a world of English-speakers. My university curriculum was entirely in English, and I lived in the dorm with other students. The biggest challenges this time around have involved trying to break out of that pre-packaged small world and reintegrate myself into the city somewhat...

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