This week I had a great conversation with one of those strangers who contributed to where I am today. We haven’t seen each other since 2008. This person was my then English teacher, who worked for and later managed the British Council in Budapest.
At the age of 17 I failed my end of year English exam. Together with the rest of the class. This might suggest that it was not only me to blame. The results of that year were important, without good grades it was difficult to get into a university. Only, I didn’t aim for a university. To the amazement of many around me, I went for a vocational training. This helped me find out what I wanted and what surely didn’t want in my life. In 2001, already at uni, one of my lecturers mentioned a School in the UK, that piqued my curiosity. I checked their website that I could hardly understand that time, but I knew I wanted to be there. In 2006, I took the courage and applied for one of their Masters courses. I received a conditional offer of admission, and I was over the moon. However, the conditional offer meant that I had to pass the IELTS Academic test at a pretty high level within a very short period of time. The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English speaking environment. English for me was a lingua franca, a tool, never the final destination, for my interests laid elsewhere. Although I have taken various courses with the British Council, my first attempt to pass the test was unsuccessful. I tried again. And I scored below the required level again. By that time I have deferred my offer of admission, hoping I can start the following year. I started taking private lessons from the teacher I started my confession with. He did his best. In May 2008 was my last chance to pass the test, the course was going to start in September, and deferring one more year was not an option. Everyone I knew in the British Council was there standing on the corridor, cheering on me. Even the examiner who has just arrived from the UK that day, did her best to help – everything was recorded, and all I can say, she proved to be an excellent mime… The results came in. I made it. I quit my job, where I only spent a few months but I felt it sucked the life out of me. I left Hungary in the middle of September, not having a clue what will follow. On my first week in London I visited the gentleman at the admission department, who had been following my journey for over a year. I didn’t have to introduce myself, he just looked at me and said: “Adrienn, finally”. It turned out to be the most challenging year of my life, and looking back, I don’t know how I survived. Exactly 10 years ago, towards the end of 2009, I received my final results, and some time later, I attended my graduation ceremony, the most beautiful celebration one can receive. One friend then told me: “The world is your Oyster now”. Apart from still using my old Oyster card when I visit London, this experience provided a solid base that I can still rely on, that made me convinced that I can achieve anything, if I work for it and I use my creativity.
The last 10 years were full of adventures, special experiences and people, I lived in two foreign countries, visited a couple more, and struggled a lot. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. What amazes me the most is that, not many but, a few of those friends who had been with me in 2008, are still with me today. They certainly proved their patience for they needed it in industrial quantities to be able to put up with my very dramatic ups and downs. One single decision changed my life to the extent that is hardly believable. I have celebrated the occasion in style, with a trip at the end of last month, that was a beautiful summary of the last decade: tears and laughs, extraordinary places, generous people and valuable lessons.
English is still only a tool for me to reach the stars, but a pretty handy one if you live with a constant hunger for knowledge and experiences. Learning a language never ends, so my meet ups with above mentioned not so stranger anymore, will become regular in the following months. To make an other dream come true.