Dating while living and working in a foreign country can either be 1 or 2 things — exciting and interesting or an absolute wasteland. For me it is a wasteland. The facts are this. I am a Black woman living and working in Budapest, Hungary. I have a decent job and a decent apartment, but a man — decent or otherwise, is nowhere in sight. And like Carrie said, “.. you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend or an apartment” and I had 2 out of the 3 so I considered myself to be marginally blessed. Now, this is not a lament — this is just me stating some facts about my life as a Black expat living in Central Europe.
I left — read fled — New York at a time when my personal and professional life was in turmoil. My family had suffered a traumatic loss and my boss at the time was a heartless idiot who repeatedly questioned why I needed to support them as much as I did. So when the offer to move to Budapest came, I readily accepted and quit my job on the spot. Now, 5 years later I can say it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It is one that I have never regretted, despite the lack of any worthy romantic entanglements. Not to say I had a flourishing love life in NYC, no it was dismal too, but I was very focused on climbing the corporate ladder and enjoying my busy social life with my equally career focused single friends.
I am not climbing anymore. No — I have not reached the apex of my career but I am satisfied. I am no longer aggressively trying to prove my worth to the powers that be. Work life in Europe is a different animal. In the right job, with the right boss, and the right team behind you it can be less frantic and more satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, there is pressure but for the most part it can be managed between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. The priorities here are different. People expect and are afforded a work-life balance.
I arrived in Budapest when the city was on the verge of becoming a popular tourist destination. It was finally climbing out of the shadows of its more popular neighbors to the West. I found the city to be vibrant and full of character and I was hopeful when I first stepped out and greeted the magnificence of the Parliament on that cool September night.