For a young person whose childhood and early adulthood were shaped by a communist and limiting mentality, all simple western things were a huge new thing. Getting on a plane to jump over to a country nearby just to explore a new town was one of those things for me.
Living 22 years in a country that was hermetically closed towards the world was on one hand a positive thing as we learned how to find happiness in the little things we had in our everyday lives and learned to be creative with what we had. I had very few toys, but I learned how to create new ones from materials lying around in our apartment. Thus, chocolate boxes became buses if I knew how to link them with a rope, for example.
On the other hand, communist living led to deprivation and suppression, something that I still struggle with from time to time. Even if the communist times are long gone, it is not easy to shake them off. They left a scar in my soul (as well as on everyone else’s who lived through them) and they simply belong to my biography.
Transitioning from that into building up a life in Germany was a tedious and harsh process for me that meant a lot of struggles, a lot of falling, getting up, and learning to survive, both physically and psychologically.
When we booked our very first plane ticket from Stuttgart to Bologna my mind was blown. I had only been on a plane once before that, and flying was still something I could not really grasp. I just could not believe how easy the booking process and how cheap the ticket was; how simple flying was!
The whole flight and the two days spent in Bologna felt like I was Alice in Wonderland. It was such an incredible experience for me that even if 20 years have passed, I still can feel the joy I had when I was walking the sun-bathed streets of Bologna discovering the old town, seeing the people on the streets, and having a lot of fun with my two companions.
I believe it was the journey that created a longing inside of me for adventure and for new things. I began seeing and enjoying the world outside of our communist doctrine. I woke up.