A Journey to My Identity: I Felt Only Hungarian for a Long Time, Although I Look and Am Also Arab

I don’t know about you, but I am sure some people can relate to what I am about to write down. Growing up in a mixed-raced family has its ups and downs. I come from a family of an Egyptian father and a Hungarian mother. I have lived all my life in central Europe, trying to fit in but never could completely. I have always looked Arab, yet I kept telling people that I am indeed, Hungarian. It was getting harder to explain my Hungarian identity to people when I started wearing the hijab. From that moment on, whatever I did, I always was “the Arab who speaks Hungarian”.

In my household we never really had Arab food, never listened to Arab songs, we never had conversations about politics in the Arab countries. So, in my deffence I think it’s fair to say that, I never really had the chance to embrace it.

I always felt like 100% Hungarian, since this is where I was born and raised, kept all the traditions, I even went to folklore dancing from a young age. Even though, my father is Egyptian, I never really had an “Arab experience” until I visited Egypt. Back then, I didn’t feel like this was my “thang”. But it all changed when I went on a scholarship to one of the GCC countries, Kuwait.

Hungarian Folklore – Daily News Hungary

Kuwait made me feel like home, that it was okay to feel both Hungarian and Arab at the same time. I met many people who came from those mixed-raced families, for instance, an Algerian-Moroccan girl who was born and raised in France. How amazing is that? I thought to myself, “Wow, how exceptional it is to be aware of your roots and yet still be at peace with yourself?”. She’s the embodiment of united colors of Benetton, she is as Arab/Amazigh and as French as she needs to be. I have learnt a lot from this girl.

The moment I let my other half, my true Arab self come alive, things became clearer. I found myself dancing to the newest hit of this Kuwaiti singer – Essa Al-Marzouq (he is really good, check him out!) – with the girls, I was dying for moulukhiya, I couldn’t get enough of those family places where the kids were running around the parents, the mom is talking freely with her husband sipping her tea, the husband casually chilling crossed-leg on the bench, smoking his shisha. The fact that they are all loud, and using way too much gesticulation during conversation made me realize: “This is so me! Be yourself for once. Don’t push it down like you used to”.

I finally felt that I am that girl who can be both. I no longer have to compromise anymore to fit in. In Kuwait, I could be both. I felt like I belonged there. It is a bigger journey now to be accepted as the new me, back in Hungary. But what I have learnt from this journey, is that it is okay not to be as people expect you to be. I needed 25 years and one year abroad and amazing friends to figure this out, but, finally, I can confidently say that I have found myself. And I am not going to let it go.