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An accident that gave me home

"They have told me this story many times, but I was too young to remember what happened. You see, I’ve spent most of my life in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, but it wasn't meant to be like that.

I was born in Bulgaria, but in the ’90s the country was threatened by famine and economic crisis. With the situation resembling an image of a ‘devastating war’, my parents decided at one point that we had to leave the country. We packed our bags and headed for Prague, as they thought life in the Czech Republic would be better for us growing up. Everything was ready for our departure - me, my parents, my little sister, and all our belongings stuffed into the car. We drove off and crossed the border. Somewhere along our way, in Hungary, we did a quick pit stop at a gas station. We all went outside for some fresh air and a stroll around the area. When we returned to the car, we were shocked and confused. The windows were smashed and the doors had been pulled open. All that was remaining was an empty, wrecked car.

They took everything. Our passports, our clothes, our valuable belongings - everything. My parents were standing on the side of a road somewhere around Budapest, with no money, no passports, and absolutely nothing else than the four of us. We had no other choice but to stay in Budapest. Despite how dramatic this situation was to my parents, it eventually ended up being the best thing that has happened to me.

I completely fell in love with Budapest. The buildings, the architecture, the vibrancy. When the sun is out, all the streets and squares fill up with lively people, humming sounds, and music. I study abroad now, but every time I go back to visit, my friends or my family bring loads of food and drinks to the big squares just to celebrate life together. It's a beautiful place that, due to an accident, became my home - the place I'll always come back to. I feel it was destined to happen from the beginning, just to make sure I didn't miss out on growing up in the place I truly belong."

- Martina, Hungary

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