“Slowly and slowly, I’m really beginning to feel myself at home, so when I travel out of Budapest for a week or two I miss Budapest more than any place where I grew up. Budapest is the city where I’ve become an adult from a teenager and the city where I’ve become independent.”
Ferdaus Momand is a 26-year-old student from Afghanistan, one of the very first students who had the chance to get a state scholarship and the opportunity to study in Hungary. He came to the country in December 2009.
“I had the experience of being a refugee at a very young age.” The year he celebrated his 4th birthday, the civil war broke out in Afghanistan, so his family had to leave their old life behind and move to Pakistan. “We spoke the same language, we had the same religion and the culture was also the same, yet I had this feeling of not being in my own country.”
After ten years in Pakistan, in 2002 the family was able to return to Afghanistan. When Ferdaus got the scholarship to Hungary, he had five or six months to pack up his life, get a visa and get prepared for the big journey.
“I was somehow psychologically prepared that I will be in an absolutely different country with different language, religion and culture. I found the people very kind at the beginning, yet I felt the difference.”
The condition of getting the scholarship was to learn Hungarian for a year, in preparation for his university studies. According to Ferdaus, learning the language helped a lot and was an opportunity for him to get to know the country.
Now, he feels more at home in Hungary than ever before. “I have a lot Hungarian friends, don’t feel myself an outsider because I also speak the language and because I don’t actually believe in differences between races and countries.”
During the six years he has spent in the country, he was living in a dormitory with other students. He had the chance to get to know people from different countries with different cultural backgrounds, to make friendships and gain experiences which he would have possibly never done in Afghanistan. Living in the Hungarian capital helped him become the person who he is now.
This does not mean that he doesn’t miss his country. “I miss a lot of things: first, my family because I haven’t seen them for three years, I miss food, I miss the place where we lived because it was very calm, peaceful and clean. Here, it’s a bit noisy sometimes; I just miss not having to run all the time.
I’m very busy and sometimes I need the peace I used to have back home, which is an other kind of peace we generally don’t have in Afghanistan [he’s laughing]. And I also miss the weather, the summer.”
Sooner or later Ferdaus wants to return to Afghanistan, but before that, he wants to get a Master degree in International Relations and work for an international organisation. “When I return to Afghanistan, I want to go having an education and experience, so I would be able to make a difference as much as I can, as much as I’m able to. This is the plan.”