Mónika G. crafter, designer, blogger, Hungarian expat in Luxembourg

Mónika Gulyás

Dear Monika, thank you for accepting to do the interview with me. First, I will ask you some questions about your current occupation, hobby and goals, then a bit about your integration history.

What is your current occupation?
I don’t go to a regular place of work, but I’m a mother, a wife and a dog owner. Consequently, I’m a housekeeper, a cleaner, a cook, a driver, a hairdresser, a dog-sitter etc. Actually, I work hard in the background to create a calm and cosy home for my family. And in my spare time I’m a crafter, a designer and a blogger. I make cards, home and party decorations, stamped and decoupage boxes, mixed media canvases and much more.

How did the idea of writing blogs come to you? Did you have previous experience with blogging?
My daughter, Eszter, was about one year old when I was asked to write about our life in Luxembourg for an online women’s magazine once a week. So, I figured out that I would write thematic notes starting with a little personal introduction, followed by an informative (and maybe humorous) writing on a special theme. For example, I wrote about the schools, the doctors, the hairdressers, the holidays and festivals in the Grand Duchy, or what to do if you want a new driver’s license or if you want to buy property. But when this online magazine ceased, I wanted to save my stories, hence I created a blog and I continued writing. And when I learned how to create a blog, it was easy to create another blog for my creative projects and then another one in English.

How did you get involved with design and home decoration?
I’ve always loved home decoration and interior magazines, and I’ve always loved to decorate. But I think most women like this. The difference is that I don’t have to buy the decorations, I can make them. I’ve always been a creative person and a crafter. But when I joined an English designer team, it was an expectation to create unique projects with special techniques and to present inspirational projects to other crafters, in order to show them how they can use a stamp or a die-cut.

What do you consider to be the greatest achievement in your activity so far?
Well… I’m really proud of myself that being a Hungarian, I can be a designer team member of two English crafting blogs. I also received many recognitions and awards with my cards from the USA and the UK as well. My blog is becoming more and more visited, my creations are more and more popular on Pinterest, I often get nice comments. For me this is a huge success.

When did you move to Luxembourg and why?
It was the same year and month when Hungary joined the EU, May 2004. My husband got a job at the Court of Justice of the EU.

Before arriving, what did you know about Luxembourg?
Frankly, just a few things, hardly anything.

Apart from Luxembourg, have you lived in other foreign countries before?
In my early twenties, I was a baby-sitter and I lived in London for a year.

What were your biggest challenges as an expat at the beginning of your new life in Luxembourg?
To learn one of the official languages and to find an occupation when my hubby was at his place of work.

What surprised you in this country in comparison with Hungary and eventually with other countries you have lived in?
My surprises were pleasant, mostly. And what is really amazing in this country, is that you can choose from 4 languages to communicate or to arrange things here. It doesn’t matter that you speak only French, or just German, or even just English, you are not lost here. But of course, they are happy if you try to speak in Luxembourgish.

Where did you find help for integration?
What is integration exactly? I don’t speak Luxembourgish, I don’t vote here, I’m not a member of any Luxembourgish organisation, so in this respect I’m still not integrated. But I feel good here and that’s the point! What helped me at the beginning, was that I could meet other Hungarians. When I started my life in Luxembourg, the Hungarian expats and expats’ wives had a lot of possibilities to meet and talk about their experiences. We were in close connection and organized many programmes together. And when Eszter was born in 2006, I could join a Hungarian baby club.

Do you have contacts with fellow Hungarians in Luxembourg? If yes, in what form?
We have some Hungarian friends and families and we meet occasionally at home or in restaurants.

How do you find the Hungarian community of Luxembourg?
I think it’s quite good. I mean there is a well-known stereotype about the Hungarians abroad who don’t stick together and who don’t help each other. But my experiences are just the opposite. We have an online forum (mailing list) where we can ask or offer help, where we can sell our unwanted objects or even offer it for free. It works well and I met only a few times trolls or people who showed the lack of tolerance.

How would you describe your current life in Luxembourg with 3 adjectives?
 Pleasant, joyful, calm.

How long do you plan to stay in Luxembourg?
It depends on our daughter. Since we only have one child, after retirement, we will go where she goes, we will live where she lives. But who knows really what will happen in twenty years? Life can always surprise you!

What would your advice be to Hungarians who have just arrived in Luxembourg?
Join the Hungarian forum and ask freely if you need help, you can also find programs there for Hungarians. And of course, read my blog! Though it’s not updated anymore you can still find useful information about Luxembourg.

Thank you very much for the interview! : – )
 No, I thank you! : – )

Interview in writing: Zsuzsa V. Karsai

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