sabato 22 settembre 2012

Once upon a time in Hungary

Dear diary,

The other day I found in my mailbox a postcard from my Hungarian friend, Ferenc, or Feri as I prefer to call him. Ten days ago, or so, while we were chatting on gtalk, I told him about my famous postcard collection and asked him to send me one from Shetlands, where he was at the time on a business trip. He took a very nice postcard for me but since the post office was closed, it was sent from Szombathely, a lovely Hungarian town that used to be my home during the spring semester in 2008. I never spoke about those months on blog, although I always had the intention to do it. However, that year was one of the best periods of my life and deserves a special chapter.

To start a Hungarian story, I have to tell you that at the time I was doing my MA in Italy, in Forlì to be precise. The course consisted of two years of study, the first in Italy, the second one abroad. No one forced me to choose as a destination Kőszeg, a small but very beautiful Hungarian town in the region Vas. Actually, everybody was making fun of me because of that, asking me what I was going to do in the middle of nowhere, in the country whose language I even didn't speak. The official excuse was that my thesis topic was on Hungarian minority in Serbia and that I would, I was convinced, learn Hungarian language in a less than a year. At the moment I couldn't even imagine that moments I lived in those months would be so intense and important.

It was the end of September of 2007 when I left Trento and moved to the Vas region. For someone, like me, who was living in the north of Serbia for a while, coming to Hungary was like going back home to certain extent. I remember clearly that day, when we got to the Austrian - Hungarian border. The police officer didn't want to allow my dad to enter the country because he was not in posses of visa. Hungary at the time was not yet in Schengen, and regardless my father was the EU resident, by law he was not allowed to pass. Luckily there was Ferenc, from the beginning of story, who was my Hungarian contact in case of need, and he managed to arrange things. Actually, that was how we met for the first time. Later he brought me to the dormitory. I was so thrilled to meet the other students. In those first months, my roommate was a Russian girl Masha and we got allong quite well.

The group of students was small but particular, mixed of Hungarian and foreign students. A part of Masha, there was another Russian, Anya, three Turkish girls, Simge from Istanbul, Zeynep and Gokten from Ankara,  two guys from Kosovo Atdhe and Shqiprim, and the rest were Hungarians, Petra, Dori, Nora, Eszther, Delinke, called Delcsi, Gabor and already mentioned Feri. Our lessons took place in the European House, and it was really a sort of home, a place where we studied but also had moments of relax and fun. I liked most lunch time, when we would go to the local restaurants. In the first semester we were going all the time to the Irottko, and there was also a very nice pizzeria, called Rocco where we used to spend our evenings playing billard and chatting. While in the second semester, there was also another place, called Wich kitchen, or better Borszorkánykonyha (Thanks to Eszti who reminded me).

I had really great time in those first months.  My closest friend, even today we are still in contact, was the Turkish girl, Simge, born the same day as me, 4th December. For that particular reason, although I am six years older, that we call each other sister. Somehow, being a part of ISES (Institute for Social and European studies, guided by prof. Ferenc Miszlivetz) is really like being part of a family, and no matter that time passes by, life continues, the spirit never passes away. I was speaking about that with Feri the other evening. There is a girl from Ankara, called Pinar, who studied at the institute the year before I came, but we got connected and became friends, although we never had a real chance to meet. ISES connects people, and that's great!

I liked so much being in Hungary that I decided, at some point, to extend my permanence to another semester. Due to the fact that my Russian lessons were in Szombathely, the capital of the Vas region, after Christmas break I moved there. In the morning I would get up early to catch up a bus that would bring me to Kőszeg. I was not alone, there was a new Russian girl, Zlata, who was staying at the other dormitory, to make me company. In the second term the group changed a bit. Gabor went in Erasmus in my Forlì, new girls arrived, as Dora Preszeller, now living in Italy, Agnes, or Agi, and Veronika. There was a guy called Roland. Maybe I forgot someone, not easy to remember after all those years.

In that semester I had a little misadvanture. In March 2008, I went to visit Dori Preszi, she was organizing the 8th March party and my flight back to Italy, I had some university meeting, was the day after from Vienna. Dori lives in Gyor, so it was so easy for me to get to Vienna from there (and took less time, too). Unfortunately, when I arrived to the train station, I met a woman who robbed me. It was quite unpleasant situation, in a foreign country, with my Italian permit of stay stolen too, my credit cards, money, etc. Luckily there was Dori and her mum, who helped me economically to get to Vienna and arrive home safely. Funny enough that the thief decided to send all my documents to the Szombathely dormitory (inside of my wallet there was my Hungarian student id). Luckily, it ended well but at that moment it was not as funny as it is now.

Those months of my life in Kőszeg and Szombathely were so nice, so positive; I learned new things and met really great people. Had a lot of fun, too. The period I spent in Hungary will be always part of my memories, and I will remember it, with affection, for long time. Once maybe I'll go back for a visit. It would be interesting to see how much those places changed. Or not.

Thanks to all Hungarian, and not only, friends who made my student exchange perfect. Hope to meet you all one day. 

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