How the distance changed my point of view

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This summer I travelled along the Croatia coast.  I was sleeping in hostels, and I was travelling by hitchhiking, so every day I met new people.  It was the best experience that I have done so far. Back in my home town, I was beginning to miss certain aspects. I couldn’t pin point what they was but all I knew is that I was becoming sad and completely lost in myself.

To understand me you have to know where I come from. My whole life I spent it in the same city, Liège. It’s a small city back in Belgium, two hundred thousand citizens, it’s not as much as Budapest but it’s significant. It’s really a particular city in the way that we have our own mentality; it’s really like a little community.  Most people know each other, it’s almost impossible to stroll in the street of the downtown without seeing someone that you know. Everybody is proud to be “liègeois” and this is THE common value that we respect it and that it brings us together and makes us feel part of this community.  Somehow this city builds our own identity.

In our mentality, we are the center of  Europe and even worse, of the world (I feel so stupid to admit that to you). I know it’s really pretentious, it’s difficult for a foreigner to understand it but we are like that. So when I announced that I decided to exchange my life through Erasmus the reaction of my entourage was very amazed. “Why are you leaving this place? We’ve got everything here” (it’s a little bit caricatured). And I have to admit it,  I couldn’t answer  this question but something attracted me to this incredible experience.

So I found myself in an unknown airport, looking for an unknown metro station, asking questions to people I did not understand, directed to an unknown city, Budapest.  When I  arrived in this city, it  welcomed me like it was my home city. It doesn’t matter that I’m not a local, everybody was so helpful and lovely with me. So I began an unknown life, my independent life. Indeed, I always lived with my parents.  For the first time I had the opportunity to understand what does it means to live on your own.  And what a good surprise! It’s a big contrast to my home territory, but I love it. I’ve never had the possibility to meet as many interesting people, local people and Erasmus. I saw many completely different cultures and lifestyles than mine, especially Hungarian culture.  But the most important has  had to be meeting so ambitious people. So ambitious that at the beginning I was hampered to have been so close during so many years and never thinking far than Liège.

Looking back, and it’s not the end of this incredible adventure just yet!. I have discovered how many possibilities I have to live my life on my own in another way that I would have no learned back in Belgium. Budapest gave me the opportunity to look at the world with new eyes, I realized that  it has made a whole new person of me and that I would never look at the world, Europe, my home, as I did before. This city gave me the possibility to grow up and change my way which didn’t suit to me. I found out a lot about myself and why I had this bad feeling after my trip in Croatia.

So I would like to take advantage of this confession to thank this beautiful city, by the way which I fell in love, to offer me the possibility to discover a new side of me. I’m glad I chose to live a small piece of my life in Budapest with its multicultural environment which gives you the possibility to live your live on your own.  Now I have grown up with largest open eyes that would have not been possible if I had not come to live here.

Marlène Gillard


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