February 2nd,2007, Friday –
My family and I moved from Budapest Hungary more specifically, ‘Bekas megyer’. We flew on a plane on February, 2nd, 2007, Friday.
My parents have told me that one of the main reasons for our move was education. In Hungary like most of Europe, a diploma from Canada or the United States is generally worth more, solely based on being fluent in English, this is most desirable in Europe. My parents felt that my brother and I would get far in Europe (Hungary, more specifically) due to our ability to speak English. My father had a job offer in Canada and he thought that his new job as well as a Canadian diploma would be quite pleasing. This seemed like a very good opportunity to gain experience and move beyond a comfort zone as well as build a guaranteed stable future for me and my brother.
My parents decided to move to the city of Port Coquitlam because my father knew some friends who lived in the area and felt that it would be better to not move to a city where we did not know anyone. At least we knew some people that we could talk to in our language.
my family brought old photographs so that they could show my brother and I what my family looks like back home, these were memories that they wanted to pass onto us and share with us. My family left behind friends and grandparents, aunts and uncles as well as cousins.
Leaving behind family –
We came here knowing that we had no family out here, we had each other, my brother, father and mother. It was hard for me to maintain relationships with my family back home, it is a 9 hour difference so we had to figure out the correct times that we could skype and video chat each other.
My grandmother would send me work books so that I could study Hungarian and about 3 times a week my mother would sit me and my brother down and teach us how to read and write in Hungarian and complete work books so that I would be fluent in Hungarian, this took a lot of time and effort for both my mother and me. It probably wasn’t easy to teach an energetic young child after school, even more work. I hated learning all of the stuff but now I realize how important it was for me to know.
Hungarians have many traditions and a few superstitions, our Christmas tradition is quite different than that of here. ‘Santa Claus’ and instead of the elves we have ‘Krampus’ who helps deliver the gifts to the stocking on the 6th, we receive our stocking on the 6th of December.
If a child has been bad then ‘Krampus’ will give them sticks instead of toys and chocolates, in the olden days the sticks were meant for the parent to beat the child with for the child’s behavior. On December 24th (Christmas eve) we get to stay up late and Jesus and his angels bring gifts for under the Christmas tree. If you were bad, instead of receiving sticks or coal you receive nothing. Also the Hungarians never toast with beer, they refuse to toast with beer because, when the 1848 Hungarian revolution had taken place against the Habsburgs, 13 Hungarian generals had been executed.
The Austrians clinked their glasses after each execution, after this the Hungarians swore to never toast with beer for 150 years, but this continued on. My family does maintain these traditions.
Difficulties / Hardships –
One of the biggest difficulties that we were faced with when we moved here was basically starting from zero, a small apartment and two kids who were getting bullied in school because they were unable to pronounce English words correctly. My father had to take on a job that would allow for my mother to be a stay at home mom, they did not trust anyone but family to care for my brother and I but since all of our family was back home and the few friends they had out here had jobs of their own, my mom had to stay home. My mother went to Medical School in Hungary and worked in a laboratory for a while before we moved. Her education was pretty much useless as she would have had to restart med school in English and was not able to use her previous school. There had also been accounts of racism, whether it was from students at schools or even people in the community.
One of our neighbors told us that they didn’t like the fact that we spoke Hungarian at home, this was solely based on the fact that she did not understand it. The gardener that worked for the complex that we lived in for some time had began making remarks to my parents and me saying that we should go back home where we belong and that we were not welcome here. He told the neighbors that I spread rumors about the chemicals that he had put into the crops because they made my dog very ill. He blew leaves in my face on purpose using his blowing tool while I was riding my bike and I couldn’t see and accidentally rode onto the road.
These were all acts that my parents could not ignore, they had enough and when they approached the head of the complex, the response was infuriating. The complex acted like these happenings had been mere misunderstanding and that they were blown completely out of proportion. They acted very naive and didn’t want to believe that the instants had been true. We ended up moving from there due to the looks and attitude that we were given.
My family’s immigration story must relate to many others, there was good and bad but we always look at the good and appreciate everything that this country provided us with. This summer my parents arranged a trip for me to go to Hungary on my own for a month and visit some friends. I haven’t been to my country in 10 years now and I am excited to see how it has changed and what I remember of it. Overall immigration, no matter what the reason for it is. It is a very difficult thing to do, learning a new language, adjusting to new laws, learning the currency, basically re-learning everything that you once knew.
I remember that when I was younger I really wanted to move back home because I was getting bullied and I tried my hardest to learn English and through lots of practice I eventually did but, in the mean time students would make fun of me and wouldn’t play with me. I made such an effort to appeal to everyone and when I had become fluent in English I tried to hide the fact that I was Hungarian, because I knew what it felt like for people to hate you because of something you have got no control over. People were cruel but over time you learn to separate yourself from people who have not experienced the pain of leaving behind your entire family and moving to a country you have no idea what to do in. I found friends who could relate to me and we shared similar stories, we bonded over our immigration experience. Even though Canada has been a wonderful place, I would move back to Hungary in a heartbeat. That feeling that you get, the warm feeling of being in your country and feeling like you belong. That feeling is priceless.