Growing up in a communist and post-communist Hungary, with parents who could rarely travel under very limited conditions, I always knew that I won't be living in the country for all my life. With the collapse of communism, there was a cultural shift and for better or worse that made it possible for one to be truly open for another culture.
I was 16 years old when a friend of my mother, the head of one of the first model agencies in the country, asked me to represent the country on a modeling competition. I came back from the contest winning a 3 year contract, requiring me to move to France. After many sleepless nights me and my parents decided that it was too early, I had to finish school, and declined the offer. Nevertheless, this was a confirmation for something that I longed to so much it could be a real possibility one day. I went back to school, passed my language exams in English and Japanese, and focused on my final exams.
Graduating high school, once again, I was contacted by a modeling agency to travel and work abroad. This time I had no ties to keep me back. I left home with a luggage and was working and on the go for the next 4 years. I lived in New York, Paris, London, Milan, Tokyo and Sydney, and have traveled extensively around the globe. I met interesting people and I was independent in so many ways one can hardly imagine. I loved the mash of cultures, and for the most part I flourished. But modeling is a very lonely profession and I had no channels to share my experiences. I also missed working towards goals, being challenged intellectually. I found a small, but very international liberal arts university in Paris with like-minded nomadic souls. Being back to an academic setting I felt finally at peace.
I worked in fashion for 7 years by the time I graduated when I realized that it may not be only a tool to travel and choose my education, but to better understand consumers. Customs, mindsets, mainstream and subcultures across the world can differ but our souls are very similar. To me, it was only after graduating from college that I fully appreciated the world being my oyster. Only then I drew parallels, made connections between what I have seen before and the deeper meaning of it, that finally led me to New York, studying branding, the ultimate intersection of those.
The last decade had certainly made me tougher. In Eastern Europe people show more vulnerability, naturally. In the West, I feel we just learn the importance of showing fragility. To me it was, and sometimes still is, the most difficult thing to conform. I also miss the simplicity of home. Home-made food, abundances of books walking into any home, the firmness of a hug. Going back now, however, is not a route for me. I changed, I adapted to the West. It made me tougher, yet hopeful. Hopeful that I can work towards a better future for which the lens of viability is not the immediate return.
FROM HUNGARY TO NEW YORK
I changed, I adapted to the West
Written by Sara