Eurovision is Me: Anita, Australia

My name is Anita, and Eurovision is me.

I have just turned 21, and coincidentally my birthday is always around Eurovision. That has to be a sign, right? I am from Sydney, and have always lived here. Australia is such a diverse country, full of interesting characters, and breathtaking scenery. Since being bitten by the travel bug in 2015, I have spent time in a number of European nations, and plan to see more in the near future. I’m also studying Europe, and the Italian language at a tertiary level. Any opportunity to bring up Eurovision, I certainly take it.

I first started watching Eurovision in 2008. I had previously seen very small snippets in 2007, mainly of the UK entry (which I have absolutely no words for), but in 2008, I decided to watch Eurovision in full. This was a decision which completely changed the course of my life. The reason for deciding to watch Eurovision for me was an interesting one – I had been told about how silly the contest was, how meaningless it was. Instead of just accepting this, I decided to give it a chance to see what all this criticism was about. Sure enough, it was a bit silly, but there was something more to it than that. I was totally captivated by the sheer number of nations competing, and back in 2008, we saw a bit more linguistic diversity than what we do now, so essentially I was hearing languages, and learning about countries that I didn’t even know existed – I was 12 – I was young.

After the contest, something strange happened. I had this song stuck in my head. It was really annoying me for the fact that I couldn’t really work out what it was. After some rigorous google searching, I realised that it was the Turkish entry from 2008, a song called Deli. I can relatively safely say that I hadn’t heard the Turkish language before, and certainly not in the form of music, but yet there I was, singing the words to the song for weeks on end.

The real first signs of obsession appeared when I spent every spare moment on Wikipedia reading their Eurovision Song Contest page. I absorbed so much new information and I was honestly hypnotised by the enormity of what was in front of me. There was so much history to take in, and I just couldn’t get enough. This continued pretty much until 2009, where I avidly watched the contest again. More years passed, and I eventually realised the huge world of National Finals and the even bigger world of the Eurovision bubble.

I began making friends in this so-called Eurovision bubble, and I craved the friendship of people who had fallen into this magical world like I did. I made some very good friends in these years, friends I’m still in contact with to this very day. There was also a craving deep within me to keep looking into the contest and its history, and as I got older, I began writing about the contest in a more academic way – through school and university.

This is the 9th year I’ve watched Eurovision, and the magic has never faded. I continue watching because of these connections I’ve made with people across the world, and because of the sheer joy it brings me. There is nothing else like it in the world, and the feeling it gives me is unlike any other I have ever felt. Eurovision is more than just a song contest to me, it’s a way of life.

Eurovision is me because I allow it to be. For many years, I was embarrassed to even say I liked Eurovision, and now, I’m out of the Eurovision closet, so to speak. I knew I needed to give back to the Eurovision community somehow, and Eurovision Union was my outlet for this. The growing success of this very website fuels me to strive for more, and I know that this is going to be a lifelong commitment, for at least as long as Eurovision lives.

Eurovision is a big deal to me, and it’s not as simple as ‘I like this song’ or ‘I like this country’ – it’s a hobby to live and breathe every single day. I’ve always maintained that there’s more to the contest than just 2 semi-finals and a final. There’s always something happening in the Eurovision world, which again, fuels my love for the contest all year round.

Eurovision isn’t exactly the type of hobby that all people can get on board with. Over the years I’ve been connected to the contest, I’ve faced a lot of questions, and often find myself defending the contest – which inherently means I’m defending myself. I really struggle with this, even to this day, because how can one describe what this contest means to them, when they’re so absorbed in the bubble, and the other person isn’t?

From now on, I hope to be able to answer this question of ‘Why do you like Eurovision?’ by simply linking this (long and potentially painful) story – but this is my story – and if you’re still sceptical by the end, just remember that you don’t necessarily have to understand (although I sincerely hope that I’ve explained it well) but you must accept that Eurovision is me – this is no longer just a phase, this is my identity.

This story isn’t over – this story will continue as I begin my actual physical journey to Eurovision. When this will happen is yet to be decided, however what I do know is that moment will be one of the grandest of my life. My dream is to see the contest from the eyes of an audience member, but also alternatively as a member of the press. For many years, fan sites have offered me the news for when I couldn’t be present at the contest, so I almost feel as if it is my duty to offer the same for those who have also yet to attend the contest in person.

My final comments are to reiterate tolerance and acceptance. I want no-one to feel the embarrassment I did for all that time. Embrace the culture, embrace your passion, as cliché as this all sounds. For those who continue to judge, think about the fact that an insult to the contest is often an insult to one’s lifestyle, or personality when it comes to Eurovision fanatics, such as myself.

At the end of the day, yes, it’s just a song contest, but for many, it is so much more. Eurovision is me, and you have to be ok with that, whether you like it or not!

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