Brexit and how I feel about it

On the day of the UK’s component of the European Parliament Elections I was interviewed live for a Hungarian news channel called HirTV. It was a very interesting experience to see how a brilliant news reporter works live and what sort of linguistic and other challenges one has to overcome in split seconds, when in front of the camera. Here’s what I said – and what I didn’t have time to say

23rd May 2019 – Thursday. A beautiful, sunny day when the UK had to go to the polls in an unwanted and bizarre election. Nobody wanted it, as Brexit was meant to have happened on March 29th.

Understandably, the Hungarian media was also interested in the unfolding events. As part of a live broadcast to spice up the Hungarian news on HirTV, I was asked to answer a couple of questions to give a taste of how we Hungarians living and working in the UK feel about Brexit.

The preparation

I must say that my Hungarian is a bit rusty. Being a language teacher, I’m not proud to say this but it’s true. It’s been almost 12 years now that I’ve lived in London. Despite having a Hungarian husband and Hungarian being the language that we mostly use when speaking with each other, you’d notice tonnes of English and also German words in our generally Hungarian conversation.

I didn’t want to use English words when on Hungarian TV, nor did I want to struggle for Hungarian words. So I did a bit of research online to prepare.

I didn’t know the Hungarian jargon for ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ for example, or soft and hard Brexit. I had to read a few Hungarian articles and memorise a few new words and concepts and so I found out that the Hungarian say ‘organised’ Brexit and ‘unorganised’ Brexit (‘rendezett’ or ‘rendezetlen’ Brexit). Interesting word choice!

I also watched a couple of Hungarian video interviews on Youtube to immerse myself as much as possible in the language, and I avoided having to write or speak English that day.

The correspondent

Katalin Zoldhegyi, foreign correspondent is a brilliant news reporter. From what I could see, a good correspondent has to …

  • be well prepared and informed up to the minute,
  • ignore anything that’s happening around them on the streets – challenging!
  • follow the news live and know exactly when it’s their time to start speaking, know when it’s their turn,
  • sum up succinctly, in a couple of minutes max (if not seconds) the latest news,
  • be very empathetic with their interviewees and know how to help them out when they get stuck.

Katalin ticked all the boxes. She’s a very experienced and well-respected person on TV and I remembered her well on the telly from our days back home.

The hiccup

30 seconds before we were due to be live, an officer walked up to us, asking for the crew’s filming permit. Katalin explained that we’re live in seconds and that she’ll show it once we finished, but the guy was adamant. What shall we do?

Luckily, my hubby Viktor was around to support us. He jumped on the case and improvised. His solution: To distract the guy’s attention, he pretended to be looking for the permit – in my bag! Of course, he couldn’t find it, minutes went by and he still couldn’t find it … and then, our live broadcast was over and Katalin handed over the permit that was in their bag. Phew!

The interview itself

After Katalin summed up the latest news regarding the elections, she introduced me as a language teacher and entrepreneur who’s lived and worked in the UK for almost 12 years. I was asked two questions about people’s willingness to cast their vote in these elections and how we Hungarians feel about Brexit.

  1. How do the Brits view the elections, do they go and vote at all?
    My answer: What I see amongst our acquaintances, friends and clients, is that there are two kinds of opinions. There are those who do take the elections seriously, and they want to express their views and vote, no matter what the outcome of Brexit is going to be.
    And there are those who are simply fed up and confused about the situation, and feel that these elections are completely pointless. They are the ones who probably won’t go to vote.
  2. How do Hungarians living in the UK feel about this lingering Brexit that’s been around for almost 3 years now?
    My answer: I believe we follow with patience and curiosity the events unfolding, but Brexit itself doesn’t cause too much of a headache for us. I’m aware that as an EU national, we’ll need to apply to be registered in the EU Settlement Scheme which seems to be a relatively simple online process. To do that, we’ll need our national ID and a few documents that prove our working status here in the UK, and that’s it, so it doesn’t cause too much of a concern.

That was it. Katalin rounded it up by saying a couple of words on the speculations around Theresa May’s position at the time (it was the day before she announced to step down as Prime Minister) and the news moved on. It was all succinct to the point.

Watch it here, the news on the EU election starts at around 15:00 and they switch to us in London at 15:40-ish.

How I see things …

After we sorted out the hiccup with the permit, we recorded another short video for later use, with similar questions, plus I was also asked whether we Hungarians here were fed up with the Brexit chaos.

My answer, and my overall opinion:

I’m actually very sympathetic with the Brits. I can really understand that this is an unprecedented historical challenge that the UK has to deal with. The best we can do as EU nationals living and working here is to follow the events with patience and curiosity, trusting that the UK will find a way to get through this.

We love the Brits. We love their quirkiness, we love their creative ways of thinking and doing things, and we are incredibly grateful for the UK to have allowed us to build 3 exciting businesses and giving us plenty of opportunities for personal growth. We’ve learnt a lot here, and we strive to continue serving people to the best of our knowledge, providing value.

My husband Viktor and I run 3 businesses in London: we have a boutique hair and beauty salon called Figaro London in the city. I run a language training company called ProLingua Global, working in it as a German and Hungarian language coach, and I also organise networking events and workshops for language professionals.

When it comes to Brexit affecting us, all I can say is that the number of our clients has not decreased, despite the fact that a lot of European clients and acquaintances who lived and worked here have left the UK. Still, we are growing steadily.

The challenging aspect of Brexit in our case has more to do with recruitment and finding staff. We feel that there’s less workforce on the market that we can reach out to, especially when it comes to beauty professionals.

So it’s an interesting ambiguity. We’ve never had as many clients as we do now, we are growing, but the decreasing number of quality workforce makes this growth slightly slower.

The centre of our universe will always be London …

… thanks to our businesses and dear clients, but we do keep one eye on Hungary too. I’m sure that there will be a point in our lives when we’ll feel that we’d want to bring this knowledge back to Hungary, to contribute and make a difference over there too in some shape or form, but with a continuous base here in London too.

For now, we just continue concentrating on our duties and responsibilities here and trust that the UK will find a way to get through these challenging and difficult times.

Rant over, these are my thoughts on Brexit and co, and I’d love to hear your thoughts too.


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