I first saw the main square in Oradea, also known as the Szent László (Saint Ladislaus) Square within the Hungarian community, when I was a first-year student at the university, and I was really impressed by it. This was the first place where I truly felt like stepping into a big city. The first time I sat down there was the same day when I moved into the dormitory, and even as early as back then, I felt that this place was going to be very dear to me. And so it has been.
I didn’t spend much time at the square in the first two months because of my university studies, so I only crossed it in a rush to the railway station. But after the advent fair, everything changed. I had never been to a fair that big before and I still remember hurrying to get there, pumped up with a child’s curiosity. Soon I found myself visiting the square with my university colleagues in order to learn more about each other and forge friendships. Later we made a habit out of it, and the square gradually absorbed me. I used to spend some time on the square during the exam periods, watching people come and go and hurry to the trams, which helped me find peace in a chaotic period.
Even after the exams were over, the routine remained unchanged. I started to realize that I regularly walked down to the square, simply to pass some time. We started using it as a meeting point. If we wanted to have fun, we saw each other on the main square first, where all the concerts and cafés would be found.
This is how I spent the first year and the first part of the second year. Then everything changed in the second semester. In the morning hours, right before the quarantine, I was sitting there with one of my best friends, hoping that the university wouldn’t close down because of the unexpected pandemic. To my disappointment, the next day we learned that we would start studying online, and I had to say goodbye to the square, hoping that this topsy-turvy world would disappear in a few weeks. In hindsight, I was wrong.
I am writing these lines as a third-year student, and I can only hope to go back to my favourite square before graduation.
By Hannelore Hevele-Bubuian 3rd year Hungarian-English major
Photos by Arnold Szabó and Tamás Szabó, 3rd year Fine Arts-Graphics majors