“It felt a bit like coming home.”
After almost twenty years of moving from one place to the other, Darko has returned to his birthplace, Budapest, to study at the university. Darko has been moving around since he was just eight years old. First with his family to Romania. He then studied in France, Turkey and Switzerland, and later gained working experience in Poland and Lebanon.
“Everything that is distinctive about my life is related to moving around. Therefore, I have a very ‘migrant’ outlook on life. I can live and work wherever I want. I learn new languages easily. Borders are unimportant to me.”
While returning to Budapest was a deliberate choice due to his admittance into the university, in the 1990s, migrating for him and his family was a necessity. The breakup of Yugoslavia made living in Serbia difficult. His parents had to find jobs abroad; first in Hungary, then in Romania.
“I feel very privileged I could live abroad. People of my age in Serbia have a rather closed mindset because of the crisis in the nineties They could not leave the country easily. Migration turned me into a completely different person.”
The constant movement strongly impacted Darko’s indentity. Since Darko completed most of his schooling in France, he feels a strong connection to France. However, as a child born to Serbian parents, when people ask Darko where he’s from, his answer is Belgrade.
“Already as a child it was surprisingly obvious to me that I was from Belgrade. Even though I had never actually lived there, I always felt that Belgrade was where I am from. I really loved going back and still have a lot of friends there.”
Although Darko went to nursery school in Hungary, he forgot most of the language; however, fond memories of growing up in Budapest remain etched in his memory.
“It was a time of great optimism. The country had just opened up in 1990 and you could see the city changing day after day. Where we lived in Buda there were a lot of parks and playing grounds for children. I had a great time.”
Returning to Budapest after almost 20 years has been a happy experience for Darko. Although Budapest has changed, the city still feels very familiar to him.
But will he stay for long? “Budapest is a great city, so if the conditions are right it will do just fine. Just like many other places in the world, I don’t see myself living in one place for the rest of my life. I find unity in movement.”