Currently traveling from Exeter to Wellington, Shropshire as I’m working in the UK as Personal care Assistance. At the early periods of my life when I thought I will live my life in between the borders of my home town, an incredibly tiny spot of the gigantic universe, I knew one thing for sure: have to experience as much as possible from the world because that is the only way live a fulfilled life! Back then my mindset was so closed and I remember for a long period of my childhood and teenage years when I had the strong idea that I will not be able to leave that place even just to attend a high school outside of my so-thought entire universe: Vàrpalota. I was disgusted by the idea to not spend all the seconds of my everyday there.. To who that person could turn into by today if I would kept thinking like this?
Since then a lot has changed, but the idea of experiencing diversity has stayed and accompanied me till now and hopefully forward. It just transformed into a crazy lifestyle of constantly challenging myself by changing everything around me and traveling solo around the world to volunteer, to work when money is needed for salary or just simply keep moving whenever it’s possible.
Have you ever done such a stupid thing that you were reflecting on a situation what you would have said instead what you had? I gave a short presentation -if you like a 10′ speech – a couple of months ago at Seattle, WA, USA while I have been volunteering oversees for 2 months. I was lucky enough to be invited to motivate a class-full of university students to travel by AIESEC in Seattle.
I talked about my life and where I came from, how travel unfolded a better Krisztina Kapuvari and made my life so different then my mates’ back to my tiny town in Hungary’s countryside. I was focusing on my totally average life story until the moment I started to challenge myself by constantly moving around at age 27. The first time I went out of my country was 20 years before traveling drastically shaped me into someone I wouldn’t been able to recognize as a university student which was just a moment ago… It was around the time Hungary was sort of freed and the communist era collapsed after the late 80’s. At that time the sudden freedom and opportunity of traveling to the west started a movement in between the generation of my parents. So basically town sized amount of people just sit in their cars and headed west to discover! Fun fact that the period of communism owning a car was really something huge as sometimes they had to wait 5-10 years to receive one during the communist system… So this time people were finally able to cross the border towards the always desired and over-admired west. To see.. To explore… To experience… So at age 7 I was crossing boarder the first time in my life and was heading to Vienna which were only 2-3 hours from my home town by car. Although before breaking the wall and before owning our car by my parents it seemed a milky-way-distanced spot… So I felt god-damn lucky to born the right time in Hungary!
Thinking back how travel shaped me to who I am, I feel so sorry for my parents who had barley been even traveling inside my beautiful Hungary.. This one-day visit to Vienna must been a huge milestone for them at around their 30’s, the age I am just right now…
I can’t imagine my life without the freedom of movement… It is just non-sense to live a life in between more or less the wilder circle of the same 20,000 people at approximately 10 km radius of space of this globe!
Then I’ve been sucked by the educations system, or lack of skills or money or opportunities but mainly lack of openness/flexibility chained me to that piece of universe for around 15 years…
When I was at technical school the macro social/economical environment of mine after Hungary was joining the EU in 2004 finally allowed me to capitalize on a better life standard what this offered to member states like the “poor” east Europeans. So we had an EU sponsored program run at my secondary school to allow 5 students and a teacher to travel free of charge and have a practical experience – as we studied trading – in 5 local shops in north Finland for a month! That was the first bit of taste of cultural shock and life shaping experience for me what only traveling can let people experience! No wonder, I fell in love…
Just to make it clear back that period of my life I was told by both my primary and secondary school head-teachers throughout years that I worth nothing and I will end up being nobody without even a university degree… So no kidding at age 19, participating in something like this built up my confidence so much and the hope I put into my future has been shaped enough to dare about even a university education! So I did apply on the last rounds to study business administration/ economics at a city 25 km (to west) from my town where I spent the first 20 years of my existence entirely .
University is the second best thing happened with my self-confidence! First semester showed me that I’m so much more competent to be there then my former teachers predicted and had been able to get fully sponsored education by the end of my first year as my grades were such great. I studied what I loved. I had a new slice of the universe opening up, a new spot for myself! And as I’m kind of maximalist or perfectionist I conquered it’s highest levels during that 7 years I spent there at bachelor (3,5) and master (2+1,5 gap year). I had been top student of my country awarded by republican scholarship 2 terms based on my grades, my scientific researches and awards and also my social activities at AIESEC.
University means a kind of place where you can discover who you are, learn and develop and master your way of “fitting in the system” attitude. Don’t take me wrong I have no problem at all with a life working for carrier and family! Indeed I had tried that too… Being 6 years as part time employee of a world wide recognized car manufacturer multinational company’s plant near my home town (25km to east). 2 days/ weeks at each semesters started from my 2nd one at uni + all school holidays at the administration departments of that company, first at payable accounting then logistic. So I’ve seen wonderful people as my colleagues fulfilling themselves in that life. I’ve just knew already at age 21 it’s just there as opportunity for me to experience but it’s not what I would be fully happy to continue doing after I finished my education…
Until I was at my master education, I have been only 5 countries and only in Europe. I have been someone who thought to turn out as market researcher with phd… But my heart made me feel this is not my way of living. So for the shock of everyone around me I have decided not to finish my master which only a final exam remained (1 freaking day to do so!) and started to gather practical experiences instead of classroom for more 3-5 years.
AIESEC made me fall in love again with traveling but this time for a different reason: to extend my flexibility, to become someone I never dared to dream and visit a place where my heart was calling me already for years: I went to volunteer in Ghana, west Africa. First occasion for me to step out of my continent.. Was mind -absolutely- blowing that 2 months where thanks to a random change of my return travel plans after repeated dreams during several nights telling me not to leave, I stayed for a regional conference of AIESEC at west Africa. That opened me a new channeling of energies and a new future which I had no idea at that time that was destined to me. I met with people who later became my boss, teammates, colleagues, friends… my loves… Even my “enemies” or let’s use the word opponents at work!
How far I had to come to knew who I am and be who I never even dreamed to be!?
I had to fight for my dream a lot as it included of finding / making financials flow in, breaking down stereotypes of my friends and family about Africa, convincing even myself that I can visit that region where the Ebola outbreak just happened a few months ago and it’s expanding, face with tremendous amount of fear of doing something like this, and even more tasks which seems never ending list to be finished to be able to get that flight eventually to a 3rd world country late august of 2014!
It worth more than these struggles now I can full-heartedly say! I had made the best out of my 20’s and I’m proud of this life I live… I ended up visiting – after summit my final thesis for master – 9 more countries which means 3 more continents since 2014, since age 26,5! So that made me learn that my future is not what I mastered to be to fulfill the needs of the system but to write my own destiny, to follow my heart instead of money, to cut my own paths at the myth of experiencing life… I’m no longer someone looking for validation of head teachers, friends or family… Or society! I’m a conqueror of my unfolded life possibilities! An active promoter of making impossible possible no matter what! A person who wants to make things happen and not just observing life anymore!
This year I’m opening my startup incubator and investor non-profit in Benin Republic to enable my dear friends over there to unfold their possibilities and fulfill their potential, as EU support and improving life standards in east Europe/ Hungary with it’s opportunities enabled the same to me during my twenties!
They don’t have the same freedom of movement, or equality we do over here and the good life of the majority of the developed west… They can’t come to places like me in UK to work hard to earn money to invest in their social impact activities. Like a moving library in Abomey-Kalavi, Benin which I’m pretty sure knowing the young (23 years old) African guy managing it to become the first digital library of his region enabling youth to read at least… As they lack of every other great options to fulfill themselves with growing their imagination and learning about a world they might never been able to actually see. However by this option of having access to books they can do grow their self confidence enough to be open minded and aspire a greater future then their parents could.. I’m talking about rural areas like places without bathrooms, electricity or clean water…
Or an other business idea like being innovator in digital marketing and researching in a place where people barley have smart phones… I did participate in a research included 1135 young beninese mainly from universities concluded that majority doesn’t have access to computer/smart phone and internet daily! And they are the lucky ones from 3 main urban cities of Benin! Can you imagine the access level for digital solutions at rural areas!??
I can’t imagine my life without making things like this possible by working my ass off here in the UK until brexit may stop me in it… I should have been able to develop a strong opinion about this economical /political situation and it’s global effects as I was trained to be an economists, had lectures of EU and it’s policies, learned about it’s history and the whole complexity of the economic changes it enabled so far… And being someone experiences it’s ups constantly since my country joined… But I can’t say I’m with or against this as the situation is quite messy… And I’m really understanding all sides…
But I know I wanna fight against the inequalities what boxed my parents’ generation in between the borders of our country… Against the lack of opportunities talented individuals have across 3rd world regions… Against negative discrimination of people traveling from these places… Against the currently unimaginable future of a child in north Benin when she is barely able to dream anything else but to work on farms/plants for the rest of her life or being used as child worker! I want them to experience life like I could do so far!
Before my volunteering life started I wished them all to be born in Europe instead of that seemingly horrible place for my western-life’s eyes…
Now I’m empowered to be the change for them and channel personal investments, not to build things by Europeans but to make them build their own solutions and empower youth to be the change in their environments!
By today I know exactly what’s my purpose on this globe, what’s my destiny is! I’m proud of the passion I grew during all these major life events of growing into a well-traveled adult from a scared, sensitive and withdrawn child of me, who was barley been able to imagine herself leaving her house… I had managed to come this close to be brave enough to put everyone’s future into the horizont of the road of creating my very own happiness!
I wanted to tell those uni students this story around 1,5 months ago at Seattle… That life is so much about serving others, then making a life for yourself!
I wanted to tell them how much this story is not about me.. How much this story of mine is nothing but being lucky to born some place like they also do! How much traveling is not about me profiting of it to learn new skills like speaking English for instant and so on but how much we shape other’s lives by making it better just a tiny bit at a time… How much it’s about them then me..
Invest yourself fully into the services of others and it will be granted to have a fulfilled life!
Travel with AIESEC to reduce inequalities by contribution to UN’s fight to reach the 17 sustainable development goals: opportunities.aiesec.org