Blog: We do not need to reinvent the wheel

Sometimes, all it takes is somebody with a vision, says Slovak lawyer Peter Hodal.

Peter HodalPeter Hodal (Source: Zuzana Burdanova)

Living abroad allows you the opportunity to break away from your daily routine.

It allows you to spend more time by yourself

Including what you do with that time. Basically, you learn how to recreate your social environment from scratch.

You gain a different angle

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It’s very hard to distinguish yourself from the problem when you are in the same aquarium. Distance allows you to view the situation in a more isolated manner.

You become more sensitive to dysfunctionalities

Things that you may not have necessarily noticed before become obviously flawed once you have a point of comparison. At home, you find yourself just sort of accepting things.

The question remains – what are you going to do about it?

Many things that work abroad could also work here. You basically have two options: remain passive and continue complaining, or take action. Get together with a group of like-minded people and express your voice.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel

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You do not need to go abroad to get the latest knowledge. It’s also available in books. The problem lies in the fact that these books still need to be translated from French into the Slovak language.

Once you have lived it, you are enlightened by it

It creates a certain emotion, somewhere along the lines of I have seen it, I know that it can work and I want to realize this idea at home.

Sometimes, all it takes is somebody with a vision

Many people will tell you it can’t be done, but you become more motivated to share that knowledge with others. You become more skilled at persuasion. You can say - look - it works like this in Salzburg…

It’s also a question of asking why?

Why does it work in Belgium, and not in Slovakia, where 90% of doctor’s visits are taken within the exact hour of the appointment?

What is it about their system that works better?

Clinics in Belgium are open from 8am until 7pm. In Slovakia, most offices close at 3pm. All that expensive medical equipment is not put to maximum use. Then that waiting list for mammograms only continues to grow.

You cannot always apply the same solutions from one country to the next

Under communism, people were socialised in a certain way. As a result, they have difficulty understanding certain things that may be common operation in the West.

You find yourself missing things you took for granted abroad

Maybe you used to ride your bike to work every day in Amsterdam, but you can’t do it in Bratislava. You realize the quality of your life has deteriorated as a result and you become driven to make a change.

You ask – why is it not here?

Of course, it’s nice to have an idea, but much harder to put it into practice. It is a challenge not to be discouraged and lose interest. But I can see that these communities are already forming and growing larger out of need.

What they want is still missing at home

This testimony was originally published in Zuzana Palovic’s book, The Great Return. You can learn more about the book as well as Palovic’s own journey as a Slovak migrant that later returned to Slovakia at

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