It is not really a question, but more like sharing experience.

I have lived in Budapest, Hungary during the first 32 years of my life until 1973 when I came to Brooklyn, NY. as the wife of a first generation American. (I am a Hungarian Jew, a Holocaust survivor.) I grew up poor, started working at age 14, received my Business Administration (Kozgazdasagi Technikum) kind of degree at night school at age 25. Our government and economic system was socialist (we were building socialism), not communist. The idea of Communism was somewhere in the future, something to aspire to. Hungary had both co-ops and state enterprises, in the cities and the countryside, both functioning well although before 1956, industry received much greater government support. There was full employment and changing jobs had been easy: it was treated as a transfer from job to job and benefits such as paid vacation, continued to accrue. (I have a work history of 16 years by age 32). We had 'Socialized Medicine', meaning free healthcare and almost free medicine. Higher education was free but to get into a university, one had to excel in his/her studies and pass rigorous entrance examinations. Even then, depending on the number of applicants, occasionally one had to apply more than once to be accepted. (My first cousin got into the University of Engineering promising two years working outside of Budapest in a smaller city after graduation.) In general, education and continuing education was strongly encouraged in every field, even to be a waitress or a seamstress. Educational level became a status symbol. There were all kinds of vocational and technical schools that provided both technical skills and higher education unlike in the USA. Culture in general was affordable, almost free: I could afford to go to see a play, listen to a classical music concert or go to one of the two opera houses or any art museum more than once a week after work or on weekends. Parental leave? At one time when the government had been concerned about very low population growth, women were offered 3 years of paid leave to have babies. (My brother and his wife received an apartment after signing a written promise to have two children.) Kindergarten and preschool education for all was the standard, and they were excellent, since both parents were working full time. I have more to say but need to leave to go to Bed-Stuy. Andrea

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  • Andrea Bobrow
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-12-19 18:07:41 -0500