Nine years ago, Mariann Bencze moved from Hungary to Vienna with her husband and small child, mainly driven by a “desire for adventure.” With a background in linguistics and communication, Bencze quickly realized that the best way she could connect and build community “abroad” was to access and nurture her own. She launched a cultural program facilitator, KultPult, for the Hungarian community in Vienna and now also works in the field of employer branding. For Bencze, this adventure to branch out turned out to be a rediscovery of her roots. “It is important for me to be able to reinforce the feeling in those living abroad that they can be at home anywhere in the world,” she said. It would seem that, indeed, home is where the heart is.
MY FAVORITE …
Hungarian word: közösség – community
Austrian word: Powidl – plum jam
Hungarian tongue twister: Szőrös hörcsög szörpöt szörcsög, rátörnek a hörcsög görcsök. – Hairy hamster sucks/sups a syrup, hamster cramps break on her.
Even after starting off as a bioengineer and completing a master’s in pharmacology from Oxford, Szabolcs Biró still carried self-doubt. While living in the UK, he would hide his nationality, for fear of being judged “based on a preconceived notion of being Eastern European,” he said. He feels that coming to Vienna to do his PhD in neuroscience was one of the best life decisions he ever made. As a medical writer and co-founder of The Brainstorms, a neuroscience knowledge-transfer startup, Biró has found his calling here. He also gets a kick out of the Austrians’ love of titles, which made him think about the significance of his own: “I’m considering putting mine on my ID, which as a scientist, I never thought of doing elsewhere.”
MY FAVORITE …
Hungarian word: Csicskagyász – pathetic
Austrian word: Sommersprossen – freckles
Hungarian tongue twister: Te tetted e tettetett tettet? Tettetett tettek tettese, te! – Do you do this feigned act? you do feigned acts, you!
Ágnes Marosán came to Austria to create her “dream life,” which she felt would be easier to do here, unencumbered by the “filters of national beliefs” that can be limiting in Hungary. “Being in Austria means freedom,” she said, and she certainly hasn’t wasted any time maximizing on that perspective. After establishing the first Hungarian-language yoga studio in Vienna, she built up her yoga community to include events and retreats that help members develop healthier and happier lives. Recently becoming a mother, she and her husband are converting an old farmhouse and barn in Carinthia into YogaFarm Austria, a peaceful yoga retreat center in the mountains where visitors can “find their own voice” and make their dreams come true as well.
MY FAVORITE …
Mantra: “You are valuable!”
Although Bálint Rudi is a full-time architect at a prestigious firm in Vienna, the idea of having a successful career is not his first priority. “I’m not so interested in being defined by my career,” Rudi – who could’ve passed for a skateboarding college student with his goatee and faded orange T-shirt – said. “The path one takes is much more interesting than where it ends up.” Married with a young child, Rudi has many interests: sports, psychology, music. For him, life is about connecting with others, for which Vienna is perfect, “a place that’s welcomed a colorful mix of nations for centuries,” as he sees it. Even though he acknowledges that Hungary and Austria are not all that different as neighboring countries, he takes pleasure in noticing the tiny differences day by day.
MY FAVORITE …
Hungarian word: I just generally love my mother tongue and want to take great care of it!
Austrian word: I rather like the pronunciation of the language.
Hungarian tongue twister: Fekete bikapata kopog a patika pepita kövezetén. – There are black bull’s hooves clattering on the checked pharmacy stones.
RLP Rüdiger Lainer + Partner – lainer.at
Zsuzsanna Bartha-Becskei & Barbara Koncsek
Zsuzsanna Bartha-Becskei and Barbara Koncsek, best friends and co-founders of Sprach Camp Austria, a German-language educational business for Hungarian children and adults, found each other 10 years ago in Vienna. Sharing a common passion for teaching languages, they’ve built up their lives and careers together here side by side. Both feel that the shared history and proximity of Hungary and Austria and the nature of their business allow them to keep ties in both places. When asked if there was anything Hungarian they still missed, their answer was the same: something called a Túró Rudi – a Hungarian candy bar. This confirms that they live by their shared motto: “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”
OUR FAVORITE …
Hungarian words: pillangó – butterfly / gyöngyvirág – lily of the valley, or kincsem – my treasure
Austrian words: Vorfreude – anticipation /Streichholzschächtelchen – matchboxes
Brainteasers, the brainchild of Gergely Szabó, is the first escape room experience in Vienna that can also be the setting for children’s birthday parties. A father himself for the past nine years, Szabó was inspired to expand his business idea to the realm of children. As the name of his enterprise indicates, Szabó enjoys offering children and adults an opportunity to “exercise their brains and develop their cognitive skills” while having fun. In one incarnation of a Brainteasers escape room, children wear face masks while tasked with rescuing a monkey from a lab experiment. Szabó’s favorite word in his native language is mujki, which means “the face of a child.” Even behind the masks, the mujkis in this room clearly light up.
MY FAVORITE …
Hungarian word: mujki – the face of a child
Austrian word: I haven’t found it yet.
Hungarian tongue twister: Görbe bögre, görbe tükör. – Yellow mug, crooked mug.
Ákos Szabó was director of sales and marketing at Index.hu from 1999 to 2008, the last independent Hungarian news outlet that just recently underwent a mass exodus of journalists after being further threatened by Hungary’s repressive regime. Back in 2008, Szabó was the first founder and manager of that portal to be forced out for political reasons. He’s thrived after relocating to Vienna with his family, founding his own digital marketing agency with clients throughout central and eastern Europe. He’s also able to stay in touch with his roots by keeping a weekend house in his hometown. A world traveler in his younger years, Szabó’s favorite German word is Fernweh, which, he points out, “funnily enough is translated into ‘wanderlust’ in English – another German word.”
MY FAVORITE …
Hungarian word: bizalom – trust
Austrian word: Schmetterling or Fernweh very expressive. It’s funny that it translates to Wanderlust, another German word, in English.
Kata & Panni Klementz
Sisters Kata and Panni Klementz are best known for founding the first co-working spaces in Hungary in 2009, followed a couple years later by being among the first in Vienna. Even though innovative co-working spaces are ubiquitous nowadays, at that time, no terms had yet even been coined for them in Hungarian or German. Converting former industrial buildings into loft spaces resulted in their design award-winning enterprise, Loffice. They also help Hungarians expand their businesses into Austria. Austrians vs. Hungarians? They now know both well: “Austrians are coconuts – they take awhile to open up, but genuine once they do. Hungarians are peaches – soft on the outside but eventually you hit a hard pit. Being Hungarian in Austria is being a global citizen.”
István Széchenyi, a 19th century Hungarian statesman, is considered by many in Hungary as their “the greatest Hungarian.” Zoltán Báló, a curator and museologist, lives by a famous quote from Széchenyi: “Respect the past to understand the present and to work for the future.” He works for Cantat Heritage & Innovation in Vienna, which uses digital technology to create engagingly interactive historical installations and exhibitions, an approach that is gaining particular interest during this pandemic. This falls in line with what Báló particularly appreciates about Vienna: “Vienna is such a great place to live, every corner here breaths history and inspiration. At the same time, it also has all the advantages a modern metropole can offer.”
MY FAVORITE …
Hungarian word: Szerelem – Love
Austrian word: Lieblingsmensch– favorite person
Who says every day can’t be Christmas? This a mantra that Anita Gosztola – who founded the first year-round Christmas salon in Vienna in 2016 – lives by, literally. With 25 years of experience in the tourism industry, Gosztola’s entrepreneurial spirit has flourished in Vienna, by thinking outside the box and not letting barriers such as limited timeframes curtail her passion for her favorite holiday. The ability to connect with like-minded, strong female businesswomen was a big draw for Gosztola in Austria. She’s also inspired by one of the most revered women in Austrian history: Empress Sisi, who was a champion of Hungary and just happens to have been born on December 24. “Here, she’s bigger than Jesus!” Gosztola beamed. It just might be true.
MY FAVORITE …
Hungarian word: Meg tudom csinálni! – I can do it!
Austrian word: Möglichkeit – possibility
Hungarian tongue twister: Az ipafai papnak fapipája van, ezért az ipafai fapipa papi fapipa. – The priest of Ipafa has a wooden pipe, so the the wooden pipe of Ipafa is a priest’s wooden pipe.