I have begun to expect a response laden with negativity whenever I tell a person that I am moving to Hungary. The tone of said response (“WHY?!“) is generally not filled with high fives, glowing mushrooms, and whimsical fairies. So, why Hungary you ask? Why not Hungary?
“Why don’t you go to Italy? Spain? France?” Sure, I would obviously like to frolic in those places. I know the history. In addition, I can understand the language there better than in my own household. My mother, a native of the Philippines, still heavily speaks Tagalog with her friends. I have yet to understand a word of it (with the exception of a few bad words). I feel as if the whole concept of being “deaf” while traveling is one that has been my reality for twenty-three years.
I think that part of the negativity comes from a lack of knowledge of the history, region, language, people, etc. I will not feign knowledge about Hungary, but a different approach can be taken in regards to the new and mysterious. Many who have been negative towards my future journeys have never been out of the South. Interpret that statement as you wish.
An anthropology professor I once studied under/worked for did her work in both Spain and Scotland. One charming afternoon I expressed my interest in becoming a professor in the field focusing on Western Europe as well. This professor then suggested the idea of focusing my studies on Central/Eastern Europe (small note: the bulk of my studies have been in Latin America). I thought: why not (apparently a common theme)? As a child I wanted to run a Romanian orphanage. My favorite band, Beirut, is heavily influenced by Balkan music. I even considered doing my honors thesis on the Decade of Roma Inclusion. In teaching here now, I could possibly build the foundations for future academic work. What I like about this region is that I have to research everything myself. I have not been force-fed facts concerning this area like I was about Western Europe (although I admit: the food was delicious). My wandering mind has to travel and find its own sustenance.
I am an adventurer. I am open-minded. I am willing to learn.
And that’s why I have chosen Hungary.
Oh, and did I forget to mention its awesome location? Hungary borders seven beautifully diverse countries: Ukraine, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania.
According to Google Maps (the most reliable source in town), if I drive a vehicle from Budapest I can reach:
Vienna, Austria – 2 hours 15 minutes
Prague, Czech Republic – 4 hours 52 minutes
Krakow, Poland – 6 hours 14 minutes
Venice, Italy – 6 hours 46 minutes
Needless to say, I am pleased with my decision.
A lesson from Miss Jennifer: Live your dream, not the dreams of others.