If they can do it…I can do it
Since the age of about 13 or 14, I wanted to live in Europe. I originally thought about France, but the idea was to live in a country where they did not speak English. I wanted to live among the locals as a local.
This would not have been possible earlier in my life because I got married right out of college to a man who did not want to leave the Long Island/NYC area. I had children and by age 50, I was selling my house, getting divorced and each of us in the family went our separate ways.
What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?
It came about unexpectedly. I was working at Colombia University when the economy took a dive, the department was restructured and I was let go. I was unemployed for two years but was simultaneously working on my dissertation while unemployed. I completed my doctoral research and dissertation but had no job. A friend in Hungary said he could help me get a job at a college there. I interviewed with a person he knew and was offered a teaching job. There was nothing holding me back. I always wanted to live abroad and this was the time to go. The opportunity presented itself and I decided to take the chance to do it.
What were the specific obstacles that you faced?
There was no partner or significant other and the kids were not in the picture. I was only responsible for myself. There was no job I would have to quit. The main issue was some items that needed storage. Also, the key was budgeting how much money I needed to continue to pay the bills in the States. Working abroad they paid for my phone, Internet, apartment, transportation and gave me a small salary. It was enough to put away to save for airfare to come back home for the holidays.
Also, determining what to bring with me was a challenge. I needed clothes for the year, kitchen tools and I loved o cook. I brought a lot of books with me. I went with five suitcases.
Then there was the language. I knew a little before I got there, but I learned more. My work colleagues spoke English and helped me when I needed it.
What helped you get through them?
I had two friends I knew in New York who moved back to Hungary. They are like family and were always very helpful.
When I broke my arm and was in the hospital after the operation, everybody I worked with came to help me. Some went to the hospital to help translate for me.
Were there people that tried to discourage you?
With my children who are not travelers and don’t go abroad, there was a lack of understanding. One family member made me feel as though I was abandoning my parents. They were fine and still are. Their expectations were different for me.
How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?
I loved it. It was the best experience of my life. I spent a year there and it went too fast. I thought about staying, but I had debt in the US that I would have had trouble paying off. I was concerned about my credit score and didn’t want to abandon debt.
I had an ‘inkling…’ I planned to stay and wanted to stay, but I had to get back and I didn’t know why. It turns out both of my sons were going to be fathers. Within a year of coming back, I became a grandmother.
What advice would you give to others that are contemplating finally living their dream?
Write down how you would like your dream to play out. I wrote it a lot so that I could recognize it when I saw it. What would I think at the end of my life that I may regret not doing? If I don’t do it, I would feel as though I was missing something.
Realizing my dream helped me have a different perspective on life. I was wired the way they saw me. I kept hearing, ‘You are so brave!’ People think I would have never tried it. I didn’t want to be the one to say, I always wanted to but…
Click here to read more about Diane and her life in Hungary. Follow her here: @magyargirl