That's right; what looks like a greeting in the English language is actually used while parting in Hungary. When I first moved to Budapest in April of 2008, my brain could hardly adjust to this would-be lingual contradiction. Since then, though, the usage of the Hungarian "hello" has changed. More and more, people will say "hello" to mean, well, hello. Gone is the singular "goodbye" translation. The word fits somewhere between the casual "szia" (hi) and quite formal "Jó napot kívánok" (I wish you good day).
People in my apartment building use "hello" most when greeting me on the stairs, perhaps because they can't tell if the person bundled in hat, scarf, mittens, and tights is a teen who would not require a polite greeting or a woman who would. And so this word that seemed so strange to my ear because it was almost English is now commonplace.
Such is the case with many parts of life here in Hungary. The cars parked on sidewalks, people staring on public transportation, grocery stores without bags, paying of all bills at the post office, or ubiquitious white Hungarian cheese that seems to take on the flavor of whatever dish it is in once struck me as odd. Now, they are just commonplace. In fact, I had to sit and think for a moment to remember things that were once odd to me.
I don't have life here mastered, of course. Knowing little of the language is still quite a barrier. But many things that were once intimidating, strange, or frustrating don't even catch my attention now. My, what a difference TWO YEARS make. I'm thankful for the semblance of normalcy, of feeling natural here. Life is still quite the adventure. There are always new challenges. But hello now means hello, and I can get the hang of that.