I believe people like travelling to some degree, and I think I am not wrong in assuming that when we visit a new country we are excited and keen on discovering its history, traditions and aspects of the respective societies that we have never seen before. Exploring the surroundings when abroad it is a favourite activity of mine, the research of important historical events that occurred in that area, talking with the locals about their traditions or admiring the architecture from the past centuries is a true delight for a traveller and a history buff such as me. Due to my incredible ESC opportunity, this year I have gotten to see the idyllic Northern Italy, the misty Slovenian Alps, the rainy rebuilt Berlin in all its glory and some medieval Belgian cities, but coming home for the Christmas holidays made me realise something very important. “Do I truly respect the history of my own country?”
Being away from home can be an eye opening experience because it makes one realise all the aspects that have been neglected before, such as visiting your hometown and uncover its mysteries. We are all in the quest for the perfect city-break, but often neglect the beauty of our own cities. I have decided to make some research and discover the stories that the streets of my hometown has been keeping all my life, and oh boy, I was in for a treat!
For those of you who do not know, Transylvania belonged to the Hungarians and later, the Austrians for centuries before it became a part of Romania in the 20th century. While doing the documentation for this report, I found out that the German settlers first documented my town, which is located in the heart of Transylvania, in the 13th century and transformed it into a renowned craft and trade centre during the Middle Ages. I was impressed to discover the origin of the name as well!
“The city's name comes from the Hungarian word sebes, meaning 'fast', and refers to the river that flows through the city. The German name Mühlbach stands for 'mill river' and refers to the hydraulic mills that were built along the river.”
This made me think of my own family name, which is unmistakably of Hungarian origin, even though none in my family speaks Hungarian. It is a good opportunity for reflection, I would say. The surprises did not end there though; I also came upon the fact that even the famous Austrian emperor Franz Joseph was a guest of my tiny and insignificant hometown!
My journey discovering more about this hidden gem is far from being over, and I strongly encourage anyone to go home and ask: “What secrets can I uncover outside my own window?”