It’s official – I’m Hungarian!
Well, I’m a resident of Hungary. And to say it was a roller coaster ride getting here is an
understatement. But, taking the ride reminded me of a very powerful business and life lesson
that I’d forgotten.
When we bought our apartment in Budapest I really didn’t think about having to obtain a visa.
I know that sounds strange, but up to that point I hadn’t lived anywhere outside the U.S. We
Americans are lucky because, for the most part, we can travel throughout the world freely; so I
naively thought things would be similar if we wanted to live in a different part of the world.
Au contraire, mon frčre!
Now, I wasn’t completely ignorant… I did glance at the requirements for a U.S. citizen to go to
Hungary. What I read (not what it really said) is that we could stay in Hungary for no more than
a 90-day period. No worries, I thought – we’d planned to travel so that wouldn’t be a problem.
It wasn’t until I was corrected by our U.S. intern in Budapest that I woke up from my ignorant
slumber and realized that, actually, we could only be in the region for 90 days within a 6 month
period. We were about to overstay our welcome.
I had thought that once we went back to the U.S. for 6 weeks, which we’d planned to do, we’d
get another 90 days. Nope. I was now totally freaked. If we were just us hanging out here for
kicks, it would be easy to go to the airport and leave. But we were in the middle of renovating our apartment, we were scheduled to shoot the final part of a TV show, and – most importantly
– we had our dogs with us.
To say I was whipped into a frenzy is an understatement.
We scrambled. We met with our attorney, an immigration attorney, a relocation specialist,
and consulted with the U.S. embassy. They all said the same thing: “You need to leave
immediately.” And on top of that, it would be difficult for us to get a residence visa. We didn’t fit
any of the criteria. There wasn’t a category called “We want to live here because we really love
But when had I ever fit into normal criteria?
So we postponed the TV shoot, packed our bags, and headed to Croatia (more to come on that
Spending the winter in Dubrovnik, Croatia didn’t suck by a long shot. George Bernard Shaw
said, “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and see Dubrovnik.”
But even in paradise, I was anxious. If we couldn’t get a visa, we’d constantly be playing the
At one point, I was so wound up that I started to change our plans even before we knew what
the visa outcome would be. I began to second-guess myself. You know how it is when you’re
in a swirl… I jumped the gun and said quickly, “Let’s just pack up the dogs and go back to our
simple life in the U.S.” I’d become so attached to the situation, looking at it in only one particular
Now, I don’t know if it was my stunning view of the Adriatic Sea or divine intervention, but one
day I experienced a burst of clarity in my storm of confusion. The clouds parted and I thought,
“Let’s just go for it and take what we get. If it’s meant to be, it will be.“ This is the philosophy in
life that I normally subscribe to – but this time, I’d simply lost my way.
There was such a sense of freedom and power for me when I remembered what I momentarily
With this new sense of focus and commitment, we went to work while on the road, getting
together all the required documents.
(I mean, come on, what country wouldn’t want us? )
We jumped through all the necessary hoops – no problems (other than waiting for hours and
hours in the immigration office with all the other hopefuls) – and it all paid off.
My life lesson: Everything shifted when I returned to our commitment and let go of the
attachment to having things look a particular way. When you think about it, isn’t that the way
things always work out… exactly how they’re supposed to?
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For 30 years, L. Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. As
the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, lauded by the likes of PR Week and Good Morning America,
he sparks “aha” conversations that lead to personal and business success. His PR firm is
known for landing clients on Dr. Phil, Oprah, Anderson Cooper, the Wall Street Journal, Inc.,
Entrepreneur, and other top media outlets. Wasabi Publicity lives to launch conversations that
make a difference and change
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