What an interesting year

In August I started my 11 month trainee period at FinnAgora. The amount of change that has happened during this time both personally and in a much larger picture has been somewhat overwhelming. 

I have lived abroad for more than 10 years before coming to FinnAgora. I am no stranger to moving with all my belongings, which consist of one large suitcase, to a whole new place with different people and unique smells. And I think because of this experience I created no expectations of what my time in Budapest would be like. I had no daydreams of how I would live, what kind of people I would meet or what the job would be like, I just arrived and thought that everything would unfold in time. 

Nothing was a bad experience, just an experience, and even if the job I did wasn’t new from other things I’ve done before I learned a lot of how to be patient but also where my limits are as a person. Lessons that many have said they’ve learned during the pandemic as well. 

Before the pandemic we were planning events, I was performing in pubs as a stand-up comedian several times a week. I was seeing people constantly, meeting friends and going to Hungarian lessons. In January I started washing my hands more often as I read about this new flu in China called Corona-virus. At the end of February I started cycling to work to avoid people in the metro. And in March the day after a stand up show, a stand-up gig got cancelled and suddenly every gig in town was off. And from that day it took only about 4 days and suddenly I was sitting at home in my pyjamas with my computer having mild anxiety over how fast everything seemed to change. Then the borders closed, colleagues flew to Finland and I stayed put. The worry for my mother grew daily, who works in a freight harbour and is in constant contact with people from different countries. The rage I had when she told me the multi million company she works for can’t afford protective measures for her and her 4 colleagues as the overpaid managers work from home. The frustration that came over me as the inequality of this world made it so that the ones that have had to take the hardest hit of this pandemic are those who already struggled.

I woke up to my own privilege as I got news of friends getting fired, friends being nurses and risking their lives as I sat in my pyjamas having some crisis over how I couldn't go to Lidl between 9-12.  I am very privileged, and I do use the word privilege and not the word "lucky" that tends to be used instead. I wasn't fired, I wasn't a nurse or a cleaner and I wasn't suffering from loneliness as me and my boyfriend took on the task to watch all the season of The Sopranos. It was easy being angry at the world, when you have the time to do so and don’t have to worry about how you will pay your next months rent. I think the world showed its true colours during this pandemic and it will be curious to see how history books will depict this time and the inequality that has only been strengthened during it. 

But there was something good with the pandemic, suddenly Budapest was quiet. There was less sounds, less people, less chaos and it felt like the city took a deep breath after being tired for years. Maybe a small pause was what we all needed in this world of noise. A small moment of peace when we have to face ourselves, our limits, our values and the world in all its ugliness. Maybe this pause will make us all expect less from the world, assume less, daydream less and instead of living in clouds of our thoughts stay in the present, because our realities can change in a matter of days and what good would it then do that we have then dreamt instead of being awake.

Written by Rebecka Vilhonen