“Tell me where central Europe is, and I can tell you who you are”
There are quite many moments which makes me think about where I exactly am. As a Hungarian in Vienna, sometimes I tend to forget I am actually living abroad. Especially during Christmas time, when I can eat lángos and listening to my mother tongue language in every corner of the city. Totally feels like home, believe me!
I attended an event organised by one of our projects in Vienna yesterday and I even met people who were not Hungarians by nationality or origin, but were coming from Budapest. To tell the truth, sometimes it can be annoying, but most of the time I find it fascinating and funny.
One day, I was curious and counted how many Hungarians I bumped into on my way from work to home. My lucky number was 8. To be honest, I pretty much fun of number eight, because if you lie it down, it’s an infinity symbol and my volunteer experience let me discover the infinite opportunities and potentials that central Europe has.
Before I moved to Vienna, I have never attached too much importance of my nationality or being a central European. I have been always considered myself “just” as a European. According to an MA23 research (Municipal Department 23 - Economic Affairs, Labour, and Statistics) in 2017, 39 percent of Viennese, i.e. 734,709 persons, had a foreign background. 534,532 persons or 29 percent of Viennese held a foreign nationality. Many of them are obviously from central Europe. I found it amazing.
The quote in the title of my post is from a historian, Jacques Rupnik. I read this sentence for the first time when I started my experience with Interreg. It was a bit strange back then and I did not really get the meaning of it. Our office is not big, but truly central European, sometimes it feels like Babel, but we have many cultural things in common. Almost every single day, something turns out, we share some similarity in words, food, history, even behaviour.
I have been attending German language classes in the last months. This week one of my colleagues asked me whether I already had a clue in which context we used “servus” (it is a special Austrian greeting). I was laughing a lot, because we also use this word in Hungary, so I was aware of this expression since my early childhood.
When I arrived, I also had concerns what can I do here, how someone can volunteer in an office environment. I was a bit afraid that it might be boring. Then, the reality provided me the opposite.
First, I spent almost a whole month with travelling around Europe, I met the coolest people from IVY in Brussels. I also had a chance to go back to my home country and work there on national events. I was helping out our team to organise an annual conference in Berlin with around 400 people, too.
As a person who works in communication, which is not a rocket science, sometimes I think about the usefulness of my daily job, but after I saw what our projects do, it has assured me that my work is important too.
They are working on making central European regions a better place, while my task is to give them visibility. I have no doubt anymore.
You can follow my adventures if you type #dianainvienna to Instagram’s search engine.
Servus aus Wien,