Xpat Interview 3: Mr Neil McGarry, Principal of Britannica International School, Budapest

  • 31 Jan 2023 9:20 AM
Xpat Interview 3: Mr Neil McGarry, Principal of Britannica International School, Budapest
1. What’s been happening at work and at home since your most recent Xpat Interview?

Click here to read his recent Xpat Interview

This is a tough question, first up, given that my previous interview was just before the pandemic began. It has been an incredible period of change within the education sector in general and even though we have been relatively back to normal at Britannica for over a year now, there remains concerns and worries within our community.

On a positive note, my technological skills have gone ‘through the roof’!

At home, my youngest son has finished his IGCSE’s and started sixth form, my eldest continues to thrive in the army and we have a new dog, ‘Bingo’ a Mudi/Spaniel cross, who was rescued by one of the Britannica teachers.

2. What would you have done differently here if you knew then what you know now?

I think I would have bought a place of my own five years ago, rather than wasting money on ever increasing rental prices.

3. If you could change one thing about Hungary, what would it be?

I wish it had a coastline. Having lived on an Island, with 27 lovely beaches, previously, I miss the sea, I know we have the ‘Hungarian Sea’, aka the Balaton.

4. What advice would you give to a new expat in Budapest?

Don’t be afraid to try something new.  The opportunities here are endless.

5. Which superpower would you choose?

The power to influence the mind.

6. Who inspires your life most these days?

My wife and children plus some inspirational and loyal friends who I have known for decades who have really gone through or are going through tough times and showing incredible bravery and courage.

7. What is your most treasured possession?

My dog.

8. What are some of your biggest challenges these days?

At work, the pandemic, the war and the cost of living crisis have made running a school and recruiting and keeping great teachers a massive challenge.

At home, keeping the weight off ‘post 50’.

9. What’s your favourite bar, restaurant, and music venue in Hungary?

Beer Brothers or La Fabbrica
Pomo D’oro or Caviar and Bull
Sziget Island

10. Please share a guilty pleasure of yours…

I love all things linked to Formula 1.

11. What is (would be) your favourite karaoke song?

‘More than Words’ by Extreme (sung badly alongside my friend Ben.)

13. If your next expat assignment was on a desert island, and you could only take three things with you, what would you bring?

Assuming my family and dog were part of the assignment, a fully equipped gym, a device able to show unlimited sports channels 24/7 and with access to unlimited films and books and a deckchair.

14. Unicum or pálinka?


15. What is your biggest professional achievement since moving to Hungary?

Guiding the school community safely through the pandemic.

16. How are your Hungarian language skills these days?


17. What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you in Hungary?

Arnold Schwarzenegger writing me a letter requesting permission for two students from Britannica to be absent for the last week of term as their family were staying at his house in America. Obviously, I said, ‘I’ll be back’ with a decision in a few days.

18. After a good few years here, what is your favourite thing about living in Budapest?

Budapest lit up at nighttime is still an incredible sight.

19. Which question would you ask if you interviewed yourself?

What unique experience have you had in Budapest?

  • How does this interview make you feel?