Denae McGaha, English Teacher & Communications Manager

  • 1 Sep 2020 10:28 AM
Denae McGaha, English Teacher & Communications Manager
Denae is an English teacher and Communications Manager in Budapest.

When she’s not lesson planning or scheduling blog posts, you can find her singing at open mics around Budapest or writing for her own blog,

She gives a lot of expat updates on her Instagram, @denaeaway , as well.

She loves living abroad and hopes to help others who wish to do the same!

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
Almost three years ago, exactly, I landed in Budapest with the purpose of teaching English. I only intended to come for a gap year, but then I fell in love with my cute little preschoolers, and with this city! Now I’ve expanded into teaching business English as well!

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
I studied abroad in London and Copenhagen during college, but I guess being a student abroad is different than being an expat. Nonetheless, that time abroad convinced me that I wanted to move to Europe one day, and now here I am!

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
It was hard for me to get used to the fact that small talk isn’t really a thing here. Coming from the States, I was used to talking to anyone and everyone, smiling at strangers, and so on. But after a while, I learned to value the relationships and friendships that come slowly, with time. Also--I had heard Hungarian was a hard language to learn, but I didn’t realize it was so hard! But most Hungarians are so gracious and helpful even as I stumble my way through their language.  It’s a lifelong journey, but I’m willing to learn!

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
I know people love to talk about Budapest’s ruin pubs...but they should also try the ruin cafes! My favorite is Rengeteg: the owner makes these luxurious, thick hot chocolates (which are more like chocolate soup...yum!). Rengeteg is located in the Elesztoház complex, so after you’re finished with your hot chocolate you can try out craft beer or classic Hungarian food at one of the other nearby venues!

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
Paprika chicken! The deep red of the paprika makes it as pleasant to look at as it is to eat! I’ve almost perfected my recipe, but of course it’s a delicious thing to keep trying. And of course, I love garlic. Garlic on everything.

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
I’m a big snacker, so there’s always some trappista sajt in the fridge, ready to be paired with some spicy Hungarian kolbász!

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?
Repülő! It was so hard to learn how to say the vowels, but once I did, it was really satisfying!

8. What do you miss most from home?
I really miss having big, indulgent breakfasts! It’s probably not the healthiest, but I miss sitting at a diner and having pancakes the size of my head, greasy sausage, and crispy hashbrowns. It just hits the spot!

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I would love to be a jazz singer! I’m steadily practicing jazz standards and taking voice lessons, so I hope you’ll see me on stage soon!

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
I used to think I’d never want to be a teacher, but then I became enchanted by my class of little preschoolers in I guess never say never!

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
I actually just got back from the Tihany peninsula, at Balaton. The town is almost as obsessed with lavender as I am!

12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Thanks to quarantine I’ve spent a lot of time learning French on Duolingo, so...once travel calms down a bit again, off to France I will go! I’d be especially happy to tour the castles in the Loire Valley. Fingers crossed it happens sooner rather than later!

13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
If the weather is sunny and the air is fresh, it’s very hard for me to resist a sajtos-tejfölös lángos. Paired with a rosé fröccs it’s a perfect summer combination!

14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
I loved everything musical theatre related! I’ve always gotten a rush performing, so I kept auditioning for plays so that I could be on stage!

15. Red wine or white?
Deep red, just how I prefer my lipstick ; )

16. Book or movie?
Action movies! The more explosions the better!

17. Morning person or night person?
I’m starting to appreciate quiet mornings a lot more! Especially if they include a run on Margaret Island.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
It’s been so wonderful to experience the accessible and affordable healthcare that Hungary provides for its residents. Heartbreakingly, that’s not available in my own country, and I really want this to change--especially with the ongoing pandemic.

19. Buda or Pest side?
I’m a Pest girl  :)

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
“Wherever you go, no matter the weather, bring your own sunshine!” -- Anthony J. D’Angelo

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