Let me introduce you to Andrejka, a lovely lady with a passion for travel and a fair amount of spunk! Her faith that things will work out and her desire to make the world a better place is inspiring to me. You can practically feel her optimism in the air around you, encouraging you to also think only positive thoughts. She is quick to smile and will instantly put you at easy with her welcoming presence. I hope you feel her lovely disposition through this interview!
I am from Budapest, but I didn’t come here in a straight way. It is only 300 kilometers away, but it was actually four years and three countries before I came here. The thing that also really surprises people is that I am 31 years old. When I take off my glasses and put on proper make up I look a lot younger. I’m actually proud of my age, I feel good about it. I also feel good about being single, it’s ok. But sometimes some people are really hard about this, they are like, “Oh you are so old and you don’t have your own home, a real career behind you.” In Hungary it’s still these traditional things like owning a house, and having a family and having children which matter. It is not acceptable for many people that you are a vagabond and you don’t really need a fix home.
In Hungary I had a very bad job- marketing, sales kind of job. Which for some people is ok, but I found out that with my personality it is not really ok. It wasn’t really working out and in the end I was really heartbroken. I thought, “I need to get out of here”. I really believe it was fate pushing me out because I always felt like I didn’t really belong there. But I was afraid and it was just comfortable to stay there, to sit around. It was an ok job; you have your family and your responsibilities and all that. Then I had this push and I went to my European voluntary service, which is a one year volunteer time financed by the EU. I went to Germany, to Leipzig, which is somewhere I really knew nothing about.
It was one really hard year though, to find myself personally. That year I saw and read Eat, Pray, Love and I had a real feeling that something similar was happening inside me. In the end it was a really long journey, inside myself. I stayed two more years because my boss really liked me. She said, “You can stay but we don’t really have the finances for you, but if you are a student we can offer you a student job.” I believe in fate, the kind of fate, that if you are supposed to do something, you get help. I got accepted to university. I didn’t have any idea how many people applied, but later I found out it was over a hundred applicants for the eleven places they offered. For me it seemed really easy to get in and one of my other friends helped me to get a scholarship. Between that and my small salary I was actually living better than in Hungary with 40 hours of a proper job.
I spent two years working and studying which I am really proud of because it was not my native language. I finished university, did a thesis, did exams. I was also working and actually had a busy social life. I think it was my best two years. There were sometimes big meltdowns and sometimes big hops. But I was really, really lucky to have met the people I met and to have to job I had and the boss I had, who is still one of my really good friends. I still have contact with her and I am really grateful for everything she did for me.
I was actually able, because she was so flexible, to go abroad for one semester to Poland. I tried to learn Polish, but it wasn’t working out. I also tried with Russian, but it also wasn’t working out. Now my new plan is French. I would like to work maybe one day for the United Nations or something similar where you can save the world. And there you always need French besides English. I was resistant until now, but I have to give in and learn French.
My current job is finding internship placements for Erasmus students with Erasmus plus funding from the European Union. They are between the ages of 16 and 20, usually, depending on the country. They are in secondary school and are learning a job so they will become a waiter or an electrician or something. If I am lucky they speak at least English or at least German. Some of the two languages. If I am unlucky they speak a little bit of one. And if I am really unlucky, which happens often because they are socially not in a really good place, they don’t speak any languages other than their mother tongue. And sometimes they don’t even speak that correctly, but it’s a really big chance for them to get out. Most of them are abroad for the very first time in their life. With sixteen, seventeen, I cannot imagine that.
I was always traveling with my parents. They took me everywhere with them. I was used to traveling around even though we were in the Soviet bloc so you could only travel to a few countries, for example Bulgaria. So for me, being sixteen or seventeen and not having been outside your village, it’s unimaginable. It’s hard for them too because they think that everything is the same here as it is at home- that they are the stars. That they are known, that they have their status- but everything gets turned upside down, because that’s not how it is. I think it’s a really good experience for them because you get to figure out at a young age if you like being abroad or not.
It’s interesting. There are so many different people and so many different personalities. It’s amazing. These kids are sometimes coming from really bad economic situations. One time my coworker told me, “You have to watch out because this girl is half gypsy”. I didn’t ever really have to deal with gyspies. You see them on the streets and in Hungary they have a really bad reputation unfortunately. I was like, “what do you mean? How should I behave toward her?” Because I was planning on behaving normal with her, if she was a bad kid I would deal with her like she was a bad kid, I don’t care about her skin color. I hope I don’t care about her skin color. I just hope I can handle it well. There is always a first time.
I’m in Favoriten. Everyone tells me, “Yeah, it’s not so nice”, but I like the flat and my flat mates. I am actually between two parks. It’s really great. And it’s on the border of the 5th district and is five minutes by bike from my work. It’s very green and most of the houses are nice. The flat is really nice. It’s like finally feeling like, “ok I’m staying”, and I can start to really think about what I want to do.
The two most important things for me are having a bike and having a library card. I finally got them. When I have these things I have my secure points and I can start to build up my social life. Like going to Facebook group events or Couchsurfing events and language exchange meetings. If I had the time of course, but I am working crazy hours and that makes me tired. I sometimes even bore myself because I think I talk about work too much, but that’s ok. It’s what I do. If I had a child I would talk about my child. My child is my work.
I would like to go back. I think it will happen if and when I find a partner, for long time. I feel bad, but I would like to have a family, I would like to have children. I don’t want to have children just to have children. I imagine there is a point in a relationship where you trust the other person so much that you want to have something with together with them. It would also depend on him and also very much on my job. I love to travel, that is really essential for me. And I actually like to feel a little bit special. Like being abroad. When you are a foreigner living in a different place you are special- a little bit outstanding. And I like that. But maybe not Hungarians in Vienna, there are really so many.
I like that it’s a big city, but it’s still really, really comfortable. And not slow, but really calm. It’s really ok. If you take a stroll on a Sunday in the city center, it’s really nice and beautiful. I also really like that it’s full of green. There are so many small green places that you discover and are like, “Ah-ha!” And I really like the summer here. I always find that people get friendlier here in the summer. You can sit out and enjoy the sun; I think Vienna is perfect for that.
I also like that it is a really multi-national, multi-lingual city. It is still a little- not racist- but you can feel the disapproval. Especially when you are pronouncing things in German. You must speak ordentliches Deustch. It’s sometimes hard to be someone from abroad because you will never speak the language perfectly; you will always have an accent.
I think that the best way to describe these past years for me is that I left little pieces of my heart around Europe and its really great because I can go almost anywhere and find friends and feel at home. It also really sucks because they are never there at the same place in the same time, but I think I would do things exactly the same.