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What it Means to be Hungarian

Monika Mihók

What it Means to be Hungarian

Monika Mihók

Growing up, I was a quiet child.  My teachers would always tell my parents that I did not talk like most of the other children.  One day, while I was standing in line to sled down the biggest hill on the playground, other kids kept cutting in front of me.  I was excited and eager for my turn, so I got angry.  I yelled, “Get out of my way!”  The whole playground looked up to see whose voice this was.  Everyone was shocked that I could talk.

No, there was nothing wrong with my speech; I just grew up speaking a different language from the other kids.  While I was quiet, I was learning how to speak the language people all around me were speaking.  Listening closely to every vowel I had ever heard had its intended effect: the words that eventually came out of my mouth were loud enough to be heard and clear enough to be understood.

My parents spoke to me in Hungarian from birth because they wanted me to be able to communicate with my relatives in Romania who spoke Hungarian.  Fast forward to the end of my junior year, when I received exciting news that I had been accepted to a trip to Budapest that I had applied for in November.  This trip was for teens like me who live outside of Hungary and took part in Hungarian Scouts, and was an accomplished Scout leader for over a year.  At first, I was hesitant because I didn’t know anyone who  was going.  But my parents urged me to go and told me I wouldn’t have an opportunity like this again.  So, I packed my bags and got ready for my big trip to discover the city of Budapest and the country that my ancestors came from.

June 21st came and I got on the plane Budapest bound.  I was scared and excited to go to a whole new country with new people.  Twenty-six people from around the world joined in one city and all spoke one language, this amazed me.  My journey started in the city of Budapest.  We visited everything there was to see from the top of the Citadella to the bottom of the 50-meter Szemlő-Mountain Cave.  I became so familiar with Budapest that it felt like home.  At the end of the week, we were filled with new knowledge about the history of Hungary and Budapest, and so our journey continued onto the Danube.  We started from Esztergom and came to shore to a different town every night.  I would walk through the towns not as tourists, but as a Hungarian singing folk songs, dancing to music on the streets, and filling tourists with joy by these actions.

Our final destination on the Danube was the old Roman Budapest shore; from here we went by train to the Balaton.  We biked around the Balaton and up steep hills to see the Balaton from a high point.  As I looked down, I saw the clear blue lake and was filled with joy.  I was told stories and tales from strangers about the Balaton area that have been passed down for generations.  This is where I found my voice, in Hungary.  I felt like I could communicate and people would understand me.  I didn’t feel like I was being cut in line anymore because I wasn’t scared to stand up for myself.

And so my Journey came to an end, it made me realize what it means to be Hungarian.

Although Hungary has lost many wars in its history, it has never been more beautiful than in the three weeks I have seen it.  I am no longer the shy girl I grew up as I have flourished into a strong girl who is proud of her heritage.  My goal is to share my culture with others around me as well as inform them about what being Hungarian means to me.

Monika Mihók attends the State University of Connecticut, as an ACES student, meaning she has not yet decided her career path.


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