At the End of the Rainbow?
My return from Hungary was now a little more than three months ago. And with the Comeback Event last weekend I got a last intense flashback on the year that lies behind me.
And now it is time to draw a final conclusion for my year in Hungary and, with the now-won distance from my time there, take a last focussed look back.
Success of the project and success of my stay
One question I hear time and time again is what I actually did there in Hungary.
I usually take a deep breath there, because the answer isn’t as easy as people might think it is. There is what I should have been doing, what I went for to Hungary in the first place, and what I actually did there in the end.
The European Voluntary Service - now part of the European Solidarity Corps - tries to accomplish a cultural exchange between the countries on the one hand and on the other hand, a volunteer’s aim is to take part in or help to develop a project in the other country. But the success of the project is not necessarily dependent on the success of the personal journey and vice versa. At least, it should not be dependent on each other.
My project’s aim was to develop the camp, train the horses and motivate kids and youngsters of the area to take part in regular programmes (archery, for example, and - after they were trained - horse riding).
During my time in Hungary, nearly nothing of this actually took place. We only got a trainer for the horses in April, I wasn’t able to properly help in the archery training because my Hungarian didn’t get good enough, except for the people who spoke German or English, and the same language barrier problem came up with the youngsters of the area.
But I would still call my year abroad a massive success. I learned so much about myself, I met so many amazing people:
- I was able to meet and commute - both private and in trainings - with youngsters from all over Europe and went on journeys with them, to Bratislava, to Prague, to Greece.
- I got insight into a vastly different life, a vastly different style of living, became part of a rural community and was able to experience the year with them together, with grape harvesting, milking goats and other physical works like building of a dog kennel and a roof.
- I got to know and love a, for me prior to that, completely unknown culture, took part in different traditional sports (archery - on foot and from horseback - and Baranta) and traditional cultural eents - national holidays, festivals and open dance evenings.
I would have loved to have learned more Hungarian, but without a regular person of contact to help me gain access to this really strange and different language, that is very hard to achieve. Now other things take more room in my head, but I am sure I will try to learn more Hungarian again in the future.
Thus, I am able to say for myself that this year taught and gave me a lot - insight, into other cultures but especially into myself, new perspectives, new interests, new friends. A network of acquaintances and friends all over Europe, which I hope I’ll be able to fall back on in the future.
Souveniers - material and immaterial
Of course I didn’t return from Hungary empty handed. On the one hand the things I took back from Hungary are immaterial, on the other hand there are also a few physical items, and I’d like to present to you a few of both.
- A Hungarian Kassai bow, model “Agár” (Greyhound), accompanied by a set of colour-matched arrows and a leather quiver I made myself as the final piece in my handcrafting lessons. With this bow I took part in the archery training in our camp, but also went to the horseback archery. I got to choose the bow myself the first time I visited the Kassai valley and bought if off my organisation at the end of my year.
- A Hungarian bullwhip from Bohos, a well-known Hungarian whipmaker. I learned to use it in Baranta. I bought this whip on the festival in Ópusztaszer, which I had visited in the beginning of my year in Hungary.
- A small, willow-woven owl I use as a pencil cup, a gift from the major of Vereb as thanks for my help with the horses and the camp.
- I also got different things as goodbye gifts from my friends in Vereb and the surrounding area, including self-made palinka, different oils for cooking and refining made in Vereb and a bottle of wine from the very same grapes I helped harvesting in the previous autumn.
- A few books, the most important ones “Coward” by Sdravko Nenov, which I got as a present from my mentor, and “Horseback Archery” by Kassai Lajos, which Sebastian brought me back from one of his visits to the Kassai valley.
- Different new accounts on community platforms - including Couchsurfing and even Facebook (you can add me on both, they are linked here on my blog).
- Many new contacts and friends, on WhatsApp, on Facebook, on Couchsurfing, on Youthreporter and via e-mail - both Hungarian and international (not only European). I would like make a special mention here of my Baranta-people, with whom I found a group of likeminded people in a strange country who accepted me into their mids without a second’s hesitation.
- New knowledge, life wisdoms and insights, which I wrote down - as good as possible - in my YouthPass (a kind of certificate for the EVS where the results of the non-linear learning achieved throughout the year are documented).
- Many exciting travel experiences in cities, areas and countries in Hungary and Europe and thus getting to know different cultures and histories.
- I am not sure if I can count this as an immaterial souvenier, but I want to mention the tattoo I got in Krakow, shortly before my year in Hungary was over, as an important token, too: a permanent reminder for myself and about how the year in Hungary has changed me, a reminder of the person I used to be, the person I am now and the person i want to become in the future.
View into the future
And what will happen now? some of you might ask now.
With my blog, in this form, nothing for the time being. “Chasing the Rainbow” was devoted to my year in Hungary, and this year is over by now.
But I found my love for travelling and living close to nature, and already managed to secure the ticket to my next adventure - next spring I am going to Canada, for some time of work and travel. How long exactly isn’t certain yet - it will also depend on the length of validity of my visa.
I plan on writing a blog about my experiences there, too, which will probably be very similar to this one and maybe even accessible on the same web-address. I also want to keep my Hungary-blog online for as long as possible, so people can still read it in the future. So, “Chasing the Rainbow” won’t simply disappear.
Expect to hear from me again, when I spread out my wings to disappear into the Wild West over the pond.
Until then: Thank you for following my blog this faithfully throughout the year! - Yours, Fraukeevs · country · culture · people · aboutme · cultureshock