Even though we come from different cultures, there are several common threads that unite us. Dropping the hippie-speak, in my life on Earth I’d come across kids and later adults who were exactly like me: mother from one culture, father from another, raised in one or more “alien” cultures, alien to the parents. And the interesting thing was, no matter what our background we always had that one thing in common, the question of who we are, where we really belong, that sense of people putting us into boxes, boxes they created for us, that sometimes forced a false sense of identity upon us, an identity we may have not otherwise identified with.
What I hope to achieve with this blog is to add another voice to the ones already providing insight into this feeling of belonging everywhere and nowhere at once. It is not a definitive voice, merely one that hopes to add color to what is already out there. It is my wish that the reader doesn’t get deterred by my ethnic heritage, but rather, is able to apply it to him or herself, or those around said individual. It is also my uttermost wish that this blog manages to reach those who are lost and think they are alone.
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And Now for the Slightly Longer Version
This blog is about delving into one of the cultures that make up my cross-cultural heritage. At this moment that just happens to be the Hungarian part, which I never really paid that much attention to growing up, but which has now become a huge part of my life once again. That’s not to say that the other parts of me are hidden away. I still feel very French in many respects. And let’s not forget the American side, the core of my being, even though I don’t have the papers to prove it. But I also feel European, and if I’d have to decide between one or the other for the rest of my life, I’m not sure I could make that choice without that proverbial gun being held to my head, and most probably not even then. Though – some will argue – the choice has already been made. I am after all here, not just in Europe but in Hungary, the country whose genetic makeup I share to some extent. But here’s the crux, while I am here, in my mind it’s still temporary. Every place I move to in a lot of ways is only temporary. Deep in my heart I know that sooner or later another city will strike my fancy, and I’ll be off.
My Hungarian side either gets completely neglected, or else it gets glorified. There seems to be a fifteen-year pattern which brings my Hungarian roots back to the surface. Or at least, once it lays dormant, there seems to be a fifteen-year time span for it to rise again. Right now, being surrounded by more Hungarians than foreigners in my social circle, and of course living in Budapest, the Hungarian side is alive and well. Which isn’t to say the other parts are lost. I still long to find some French people here, still miss some of the music and places. I miss American TV and literature, some places there, foods, holidays. But right now I’m in Hungary, a place I relocated to willingly, and basically, I’m just trying to make sense of it all with a more grown up perspective than the last time I was here. I never grew up here, but this place is home.
Is this the typical life of a Cross-cultural Individual? I really don’t know. Back when I didn’t know the term existed, I ran an ad in a German magazine asking about people who were like me, grew up in one place, but didn’t feel connected. I got several replies and – because I was too young and careless to see this through – never followed up on them. I guess in a lot of ways this blog is an extension of that experiment. I like to write, I like to take pictures, and I love to engage with people in any way possible. I’m not claiming to be the poster child for Cross-cultural Individuals, nor do I want to be self-deprecating. My hope is that enough people will recognize something in themselves from these writings for it to matter, offer some help in any way possible, even if “merely” to say the they’re not alone. Growing up that was a huge issue, being the only one with that particular experience. It says a lot that one friend and I became close recently because she is the only person in the world who knows what it’s like to have lived in the German town I lived in with one half of my genetic makeup. And we only met when I was eighteen.
To sum up my family history as briefly as possible, I’m Hungarian on my dad’s side – though apparently his side of the family was pretty mixed as well (there’s been talk recently of potential Hungarian relatives in Australia), something I’m not connected to at all on my mother’s side, have a French passport and grew up in several states and Germany. Of those, I feel very connected to America, Hungary, and France and – even though I graduated from a German school as well and have no problems with the language – feel no connection to Germany or the land my mother came from. A typical Cross-cultural Kid story I’m told.
I’ve learned to embrace my identities, but identity struggles have a way of resurfacing at very odd moments. I was fine living in Finland for several years, until I was called back to Hungary in – what can only be termed – a stroke of fate. The emotions and ideas that surfaced after fifteen years and three months of no contact with the country of my fathers, and the questions I was asked there by friends are what prompted this entire blog.