The World

My Work and Travel (US) experience

For some of you this might be a bubble-bursting read so stop reading now if you don’t want your dream-like vision of the US be disturbed. So. I’ve spent two summers in the US working summer jobs as a European student through the Work and Travel program which has been pretty popular among non-western European students since it enables them to spend a summer in the US, work, earn some money and travel across the country. Sounds as an amazing opportunity, right? Well, it is. Or at least it can be if you set your expectations right. The thing is, many students will tell you only about the good side of this experience because their pride doesn’t allow them to admit that their American summer was less than only rainbows and butterflies so you come to expect that it really is a dream-like vacation. The only difference being that it is not a vacation. It is work. So, let’s start from that.

Even though you can spend your summer with only one job, the one that had brought you there, you are most likely to have (at least) two jobs because you soon realize that you won’t be able to have any savings with only one source of income. Reasons for this may vary – you might not get enough hours in a week, the season or the place you work at may be slow (if you work on tips) or you might just want to earn as much as possible. Having two or more jobs means that you don’t have much free time to actually enjoy summer and everything boils down to late night hangouts when you and your roommates finally get home from work. This was a problem for me because I don’t like to sacrifice my sleep and be sleepy and cranky the next day, so I would always rather go to sleep after work (and by this I mean after 11, 12 p.m.) than do so at 3 or 4 a.m. But, surprisingly, having only one job doesn’t make things much better. This is because most of your roommates/friends do have at least two jobs which means that you are bound to spending  most of your free time alone. Even if you don’t mind doing so, you probably won’t have many things to do and this is where I reach my second point.

W&T mostly takes place in small, touristic places on the coast where students as workforce are mostly needed and which don’t offer much more than the beach, restaurants and clubs. Believe me, all of that gets boring in a few weeks at best. If you get a job in a city this won’t apply, but that’s rarely the case. Next thing that people going to the US should be warned about is the food. It is not good, it is expensive and mostly tastes as if you are eating cardboard or crazy amount of sugar and fat. No exaggeration here. It is really hard to eat healthy because all the food somehow seems fake.

So, after being a waiter or a cook or a ride operator or all three for three or four months in a small touristic resort you finally get to the fun part – travelling. This is great, but there are also a few thing worth considering here. First of all, travelling doesn’t always equal vacation. Most of the students want to see as much as possible in their travelling part which often means rushing from one place to another, sometimes even a couple of cities in a day which doesn’t actually give you a lot of chance to experience the place you are visiting. It also means a lot of time in planes/buses/trains/cars and a lot of suitcase-dragging, and as much as you can picture this as a great movie plot, in real life it only means work exhaustion being followed by travel exhaustion. And oh, when you get to travel it is not even summer anymore, but early fall, colder and rainier weather.

I decided to write a post about this topic because this program is almost always presented as a great way to experience American life and culture and nobody talks about the hard work, the exhaustion from the American tour and the fact that you won’t actually experience much of America by working on a small island with twenty hotels and fifteen restaurants. After all, you have to invest quite a lot of money in this program so it is best to know all sides to it before deciding to plunge in. I cannot say that I’m sorry I went there, but neither I enjoyed myself that much so I could say it had really payed off. Hadn’t been a fan of the country before I went there and I’m still not one.

Here is a picture that pretty much sums up the whole thing.

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The Life

Lives Based on Real Movies

10551128_359991664149902_3878886552322674640_nThis is a big year for me. I have just been reading through my older posts and came across this sentence: “Turn your life into a magical trip, the kind you would like to watch an amazing movie about.“ Well, I have. And now I want to tell you why you should do the same.

But let us start from the beginning. Throughout my growing up, I always felt different. I was always the one on the side, with not so many friends, not having so much fun, sometimes even experiencing a mild version of bullying. I mostly did not agree with my peers nor found their activities and conversations interesting, so I just stayed aside. I just did not find what they did right for me and always rather concentrated on my school work than on being falsely interested in them. For all those reasons I cannot really say I remember my school years with endearment.

For a long time I could not understand why I could not have this cool life I would see in movies and had the most challenging questions over my head: „Am I on the right side even though I am almost the only one on it? Is something wrong with me or with them?“.  In other words, I was mostly considered weird and never fit in. Now I say – thank god I never tried. Instead, I always followed my inner instinct and did what I felt was right even at the expense of being lonely, which is never fun during those sensitive years. But I knew I was on the right track and decided to stay there. The best decision ever.

The same track lead me through my high school to the point where I did not get into the college I wanted. Twelve years of almost straight As and then a door just slammed in front of my face. Instead of making a drama out of it, I opted for the second best option and decided to make the best out of it. I enrolled into another school, in another, completely unfamiliar city, with no prejudice whatsoever, but it just never felt like home, so one day I just called my mum and told her I was quiting, coming back home, and trying again next year. I simply felt that I did not have to settle for the second best and that I could have what I really wanted. Almost everybody tried to convince me it was risky business. And it was. But I just felt the decision was right. I was still on the right track and  what I was about to do was exactly what I needed to do to stay on it. Half a year later, I was proven right – I got into the wanted school. And I never felt more alive. The feeling of knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be is incredible, and the pride because you followed your inner voice to get there even more. Now I am near the end of my Masters and planning to take up postgraduate studies sometime in near future, and I know that, as long as I stay focused on it, and embrace all the life’s ups and downs (and there’s been quite a few of those so far), my path is getting me there.

When it comes to being the only one on a side, I have been that person a lot. But, following the same principle, when you stay strong about what you know is right, eventually you have beautiful people gathered around you, who prove that you were never actually meant to be on that other side, and that holding it up and never caving in is something to thank yourself for.

Finally, the amazing things that happened to me this last summer are what really showed me that the proper attitude towards life pays off big time, sooner or later. I have always dreamt big. I have always wanted to see places and go places. So I did.

A year and a half ago, I set the goal of spending my next summer in the U.S. Even though I did not have the money for it and knew that it would take many classes-plus-work months, I set my goal and the decision was made. It was challenging, but the goal was eventually achieved. I spent three beautiful months there and returned home enriched in all the possible ways. It feels amazing. Now I have beautiful memories, places to come back to, people to visit and call friends, the most incredible love story to cherish, some long wanted opportunities opening up, and, most importantly, the knowing that the world starts opening itself up to you once you have opened itself up to it.

I am twenty-four and my life now feels more amazing than any of the movies I have ever seen. Go and make yours even better, because no one else will.

The Life

Feel this moment

Sometimes (optimistically put) in life you do not feel exactly how you want to. That is perfectly normal and, luckily, perfectly curable. Just take a moment and ask yourself these questions. How would you describe this very moment? How would you put the beauty of it into words? Which of the riches of life do you possess at this very instant?

Let me give you my answers. To begin with, right now I am sitting at my front porch. I am home. I have a home. Not just that I have a roof over my head, I have a home meaning family. I arrived to my hometown a couple of days ago from a city I go to college in, and my little, two member family, are treating me with full love and care. Here I am a daughter, a granddaughter, and an absolute priority.

It is a nice, serene, summer evening, my yard is full of flowers, the lawn is neatly mowed, and I am absorbing the perfect balance given to me. I am lucky. Still, I do not feel exhilarated by it. Truth be told, that is a feeling that was rarely present during my summers here, and very, very missed. Simply, I am too young for this homey, calm atmosphere. I need thrill, excitement, but here… no luck with that. This is a small town where I mostly experience boredom. I generally do not fancy small towns, and this one is particularly idle. I have only one friend here, which is currently in another city, I have no siblings and I mostly spend my time home with my mother and grandma, which are a beautiful family, but not really a type of company a twenty-something like me might wish for. I am relentlessly trying to turn my mother into a friend even though I know it is in vain. She likes her small-town kind of life, while I am at the completely opposite end of the spectrum. I love active kind of living, adventures, challenges, discussing life and ideas, and her appetites are far from that. And that is okay. I just have trouble accepting it because she is the only one here who could even remotely satisfy my need of company, which I need, because otherwise my boredom gradually transforms into an awful state of numbness. I love my own company, but I also like having an alternative; I am happy, I am just having no fun.

So this is my moment – I am grateful for the beautiful home I have, but the idleness of it goes against my perky nature, and I have never found a way of reconciling the two. In other words, I feel stuck. The up side to it is that I am aware of it and have accepted it. Still, even though I am usually the one giving advice here, suggestions, recommendations and advice are highly welcome 🙂

The Life

A little reminder

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For quite some time now I’ve been wanting to post on how important happiness is for the overall functioning of the world, but it is strangely hard to articulate something so self-explanatory, yet so important. I guess what I am trying to say is the following – focusing on the good makes you feel good, and when you feel good you want to do good things. As simple as that. So simple that it may seem unecessary to even mention it. Yet, we often get caught in the net of unnecessary disturbances which distract us from what really matters, and it turns out not to be so simple. Therefore, a little reminder. Keep your focus sharp –  if you want to attract happiness, you have to learn that the only way to do it is to produce happiness. Not just for the sake of yourself and your own life; somehow, the happiness created in this way is the best investment in the world, in the future of us all.  It is not always easy, but try hard to resist all the bad influences – remember that absolutely nothing positive comes from a negative attitude. We all want a positive life and a positive world, but often forget about the source of it all – it is you. Keep it simple, keep it positive and good things will come. Guaranteed. 🙂

The World

ISIS Is Real

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I have to admit that my overall positive attitude to life has recently been challenged by the negative input relentlessly coming from the world. Each time I feel good about my own life, I feel guilty because I cannot ignore the massive suffering going on elsewhere. By elsewhere, I mean the Middle East. Things happening there, while I am writing this in the comfort of my room, have nothing to do with humanity, civilization or sanity. It is savage. Is it really possible that the jihadists are unstoppable? If so, are they really the gods they consider themselves to be?

ISIL, ISIS or simply the Islamic State is a monstrous expression of religious extremism, and what can be inferred from the overall context it finds itself in is that the West has not been prepared for the possibility of religion playing such a huge role in the world of today. As Wood states in his article on the topic, „. . . another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul“  (http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/). Now that the role is being played in such an extreme way, it can no longer be ignored; the only, and probably the hardest way to solve this problem is to understand it (if you are interested in understanding it, I highly recommend the forementioned article). Why the hardest? Comprehending that, at this very instant, there are people acting as killing machines in the name of religion, and taking pride in it, is something that severely challenges a Western, secular mind. More so when you realize there are people from the same Western culture leaving their countries to join those killing machines. It really seems like an SF movie, not real life. But it is real; very, very real. I am not going to embark neither on finding a possible solution to stopping the ISIL nor on thinking up a potential system of preventing similar situations, since it exceeds the scope of this text and probably the competence of its writer. I just want to highlight two things. First, the importance of researching religion, its impacts and manifestations in the modern world in order to understand phenomena such as the Islamic state, and second, even more important since it is the prerequisite for the first, the awareness of the role of religion and the potential danger coming from it.

And this is where I have to mention the media. Massive executions happening in Iraq and Syria are never breaking news, never reach the headlines. They are treated as something happening somewhere else, as something not having anything to do with us. I understand that people want to be entertained by the media, escape their everyday lives by entering some celebrity’s made up fairy tale world and that the media cater to that. I understand it, but the civilized human inside of me rejects to approve of it. Too many people remain unaware of what is happening there, and even more sadly, totally uninterested in it. I know there is not much we can do about it, and stressing over it may not be of any use, but I simply cannot not emphatize with the victims of those terrorists. They are not someplace else, they are not somebody else; they are our fellow humans, who share this small planet with us. Therefore, you should care. There should be awareness of this ongoing horror because ignorance may be more comfortable, but it never brings change about. And change is crucial and desperately needed here; there must be a way to stop the horror of the Islamic State and the first step to it is you stopping whatever you are doing and taking a minute of your time to think about it. It is real and it is here. And most of all, all the victims of it deserve it.

The Life

Alive

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You know what else is worth writing about? The moments you really feel alive. The  moments you can hardly feel the ground under you because you are experiencing something surreal, the moments that come as an invaluable reward for putting effort into letting yourself be truly you and make you feel like the strongest drug has just kicked in.

If I were to give you a recipe on how to reach those moments, I would not waste a minute thinking about its main ingredient – relieving yourself of fear. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. The only fear I have is one day looking back at my life and realizing how much more exciting it could have been. Don’t be afraid of being different – you should only be flattered by it, there is no prosperity in sameness. Don’t be afraid of not being understood – if you understand it, you have the most important audience covered. And most of all, don’t be afraid of the future. Of the pain. Don’t hold yourself back just because there is a chance of things not playing out the way you want them to. That chance always exists. Don’t reject something or someone because they might not be here tomorrow; there is no forever, just the present we have the power to make amazing. Seize your present.

I have once heard a psychologist say: „I feel sorry for those who take life seriously.“ After years of having that sentence coming back to me, I can truly relate to what he meant. It is actually no big philosophy at all, but I guess it takes a lot of ups and downs to come to realize it. Or just a congenial fear-release mechanism, which would probably mean you have one of the most valuable life assets; I feel lucky to be a member of this category of people.

The key is the following: you only have a couple of decades to live through, so… why so serious? All the good and all do bad will eventually come to an end, so why not make the good, the best imaginable, prevail? One way of achieving this is to let go of all shoulds, are-supposed-tos and musts and live like you really are alive. Do you want to spend your years filling out the conventional checklist leading to happiness and success, or do you really want to be happy and successful? Hoping your answer is the latter, I’ll tell you this – do not give fear any room to live, to grow, to rule. Just don’t. You owe yourself that. Turn your life into a magical trip, the kind you would like to watch an amazing movie about. Enjoy so much that it almost hurts.There is no place too far away, no activity too not-for-you. Free your mind of all the limits imposed by society; you don’t have to fit into the rules you see people around you living by – they are rules just because someone decided them to be and had the power to impose them. You should be the power holder of the matters of your own life, so make it be what you really want it to be. Do what you really want to do. Now. Not someday. Today is someday. Live in such way that you miss your every yesterday, devour your every today, and can’t wait for your every tomorrow. And take risks. Whenever you can. After all, are they really risks? What do you actually have to lose? It’s all about gathering as much experience as you can, the good ones and the bad ones. If it feels right, the only risk you take is missing an opportunity to bring a spark to your limited number of days. .

You know the feeling you have when you have just done something you had never thought you would be able to? If you do, work on having it as often as you can; each one is your new birthday. If you don’t, go out there, step outside your comfort zone and experience it. Get reborn. Feel alive. Shine. It is incredible.

The Life

Go Live Alone, You’ll Love It

I really think that the people who miss out on many of life’s beauties most are those who are incapable of being alone. By that I don’t mean incapable of not being romantically involved with someone, but incapable of being alone in usual, everyday situations; of doing things without doing them with somebody, of going to places without going with somebody. It really is a shame for them and my sincerest recommendation would be – change the attitude towards it. It is incredible how much the quality of your life improves when you allow yourself to enjoy all of the opportunities which are out there, just waiting for you to grab them, even when you don’t have anyone to accompany you. Some things are even better when done just on your own.

Go to the movies alone. Don’t not go just because at the moment there is nobody else interested in watching that movie. Go just because you want to see it and eat popcorn; you don’t need somebody sitting next to you to be able to do that. It is not the end of the world and it doesn’t always have to be a social event. The same thing goes for theatres and other places of the kind.

Go have a coffee alone. Or lunch. This one is my favorite category. I don’t know how it goes in other places, but in my culture, going to cafés or restaurants is to be done strictly in company; very rarely will you see a person enjoying their meal or drink alone. There is a particular label, social stigma attached to people sitting is such places alone – they must be lonely and desperate and are alone not by choice, but because they don’t have anybody to go with. I happen to think it is the absolute opposite of that; they are just confident enough to feel comfortable alone and don’t have a problem with spending time just with themselves – they actually want  to have their drink alone from time to time, just to relax and think. Most people here cannot even imagine entering a café or a restaurant alone; it is like another person at the table to talk to is some kind of a protection shield against the attachment of the aforementioned label. A lot of my fellow students share the same practice when it comes to student cafeterias and I find it particularly interesting; most of them would rather starve than go wait in line and sit with their food alone. It is a meal, it doesn’t have to be a social occasion.

Go travel alone. It really is amazing; nobody but yourself and a completely new place around you to be explored. Doing it in a group is mostly a drag anyways; you have to compromise and do the things you don’t actually want to, when you could be relishing each moment exactly the way you want to. It is incredibly liberating to have no company but the place you are in. And it is a perfect opportunity to really get to know yourself; to hear nothing but your own thoughts and have nobody to rely on but yourself. Don’t waste your opportunity to travel somewhere just because you can’t find anyone to go with you.

The point is that if you’ll always count on arrangements with others, you won’t experience much. So don’t. You should be the best company for you, not the one you resort to only where there is no other choice. But bear in mind that there is a difference between being with you (which is something you are doomed to for life) and actively being your company. Enjoying the latter really is an invaluable skill. Work on it, it will pay off in incredible ways.

The Life

Men and False Anticipation of the Future

Why do they do that?! I don’t mean to be that “basic” girly-girl obsessing over all these men-women issues. I also resent generalizations. But I can’t ignore this question. It comes from my own experience and is near to being proclaimed a rule, at least in my life.

So, it goes like this. You (okay, it is I) meet a guy, we arrange to meet sometime, we do meet. It is a date. Talking, getting to know each other, trying to present yourself as keeper material… you know, the usual stuff. Then he mentions he cooks. Yes, it causes a particular internal wow-moment on my part; I don’t know if it is the stereotype-shattering or what, but it is sexy. Like, a guy who knows how to take care of himself. It definitely raises his value in a girl’s eyes. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is the subsequent moment in which we have this dialogue:

He: “Meat is my favourite… I love making veal in cherry sauce, that’s my specialty,”

I: “Woow, I’ve never tried that, sounds awesome!”

He: “Really? You’ll have to come to my place to try it sometime…”

I: *mental image of him cooking for me* “I guess I will,” (neutral to flirtatious smile)

Okay, to those who might not understand what is going on here, here’s an explanation of the processes in the female mind caused by this kind of communication – He wants me. He definitely wants to see me again, why else would he be mentioning us in the future tense? Okay, but don’t make a fuss out of it, it might not mean anything, play it cool.

Then the date continues, everything’s nice, the rest of the usual process takes place… an overall cosy atmosphere. And then we encounter the future tense. Again. “…oh, but we’ve forgotten to try that beer we’d been talking about! Never mind, we’ll do it next time we meet.” WILL. NEXT TIME. Now this can’t be by accident anymore. So the date comes to its end, all positive, all good, both of us smiling, it’s promising. A kiss on the cheek, a kiss kiss, no kiss, doesn’t matter. A bye-bye and he disappears from my sight. Forever. Okay, maybe not so suddenly (always), but the whole thing fades out really soon and the future of ours never happens.

So, my question would be the following: WTF?! Why would you say such things if you don’t have the intention of seeing the person again? Let me clarify.  First, it hasn’t happened once, I’ve had at least four cases of this identical situation. Second,  I am not the princess type who never texts or calls first and expects the guy to do all the work; I make an effort without exaggerating in it, so it is not that they might have thought I wasn’t interested. Third, you might say it was just their way to my panties, but they never even tried to come near them. They just seemed like nice guys who liked me and then disappeared.

I don’t have a problem with guys not liking me, but I do with them being misleading. I don’t know if they are aware of themselves doing it, but we surely are. But maybe it’s just me…

The Life

Why having your very own special it beats having the special one

Passion is everything, absolutely everything. If you have that something that makes you warm on the inside, that makes you want to jump around and scream from the rooftops, it means you’ve found it. And that makes you a lucky person. My it happens to be two-part. I want to do linguistics and bake. And that is what makes me me, what gives purpose to my life.

But don’t confuse the it with the one. I really believe that the happiest people are those who don’t need the one in order to have the it. Discover your passion, something you love doing, something you want to achieve, something entirely yours. That something that you get extremely excited about, that makes blood rush through your system… that special something that makes getting up in the morning worthwhile, you know.

What I am aiming at here is that it should really be something and not someone. If you have both, there is not much more you can wish for, but never make another person your utmost goal. It is absolutely beautiful to be in love with someone, but being in love with your special it is what it is really about. It means that you are capable of being in love with yourself, and that truly is the greatest love affair you can ever have.

It might seem strange to a lot of you. You would probably argue it sounded selfish because we should dedicate our lives to others, give as much as we can to others and not let our egos be in charge. I agree. But I don’t think it is selfish to love yourself. I think it is the most selfless, philanthropic thing you can do because you can only love others if you start by learning how to love yourself. Otherwise you can’t really know if you are doing it right, right?

I see each person as a project that needs to be worked on. You need to work on you and make it the best you possible. And that is why you need a passion. A passion, an it makes you grow. It is a fuel like no other which simply adds meaning to everything. Find something that fulfils you, that you really enjoy doing, that makes you smile… something that feels right. That way you’ll never be lonely.

But why not the one instead of the it? Because it’s not even close to being the same. You and your it are the only things you actually have, the only sources of happiness you can always count on. Because other people are just passers-by who leave their mark at different points of your life but are only temporary. And that is a fact. It is not that they are not important, it is just that they are not and must not be the core. Only you are here from the first until the last breath. If you want to be truly happy and satisfied with the life you have, don’t look for your happiness in others. It is not there. You need to be perfectly happy just on your own. You are enough. So learn how to enjoy you, the only permanent company you’ll ever have. Learn how to respect you enough not to need others to be happy. Find the it and fall in love with yourself. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to fall in love with the special one.

Intro

Intro

I feel I have so much to say. I haven’t written in a very long time and it feels like I’m going to explode once I start doing it again. I mean, I am doing it again. I should allow myself to explode. And I will. It is strange, this writing thing. I have heard a couple of times in my life that people write diaries when they have no one else to talk to besides the sheet of paper in front of them. And when they are sad, lonely… and need to feel less lonely. I did that as a child. I would keep a journal and share my thoughts, my feelings with it, describe my everyday situations and thereby feel I was making them eternal. At the same time, I felt like I had a companion, someone who understood me. I wrote out of sadness. But not the sadness sadnesss, just that adolescent sadness that most of us go through. Now I understand that period of my life. I understand the girl I was then.

At some point I stopped writing and began living. I gained some confidence and began enjoying life. It was getting better and I didn’t feel the need for that paper-companion. I’ve been enjoying my life ever since. I remember the thought of putting something on paper crossing my mind a couple of times, but I never did it. Now I can guess why. It could’ve been out of fear that the sad, lonely girl in me was waking up again. You write when you’re sad, right? Well, things are very different now. I feel the urge to write again, but this time as a happy, fulfilled, satisfied person. A person who has grown up enough to perceive writing as something positive, as something emerging from positivity and creating positivity. The most beautiful thing imaginable, actually. I want to transmit the feeling to the world. The feeling that makes me dance from the inside. I want people to see how I see the world, how good it makes me feel because it might inspire them to find their own special way of feeling good in the world and about the world. At least I want to try. I am in love with the world and I want the world to become in love with itself. I want people to feel good, because if people feel good, they don’t feel like hurting each other. I want to believe that.

I really feel this is the right moment for it. I feel I have so much to say I don’t even know how to start. And I am a little bit afraid of it. Am I capable of expressing everything I want to express? The only way to find out is to try. To allow myself to get to know myself, to explore my writing abilities. It is promising and scary and absolutely beautiful at the same time. I don’t have the ambition of becoming a writer, I just want to be a person writing because it feels right. And because it might make people feel right, at least once in a while.