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While listening to a Hungarian Christmas song on Youtube, I suddently received a wave of memories from the distance of time: the Christmases of my childhood. It’s something undescribable, just like the way Christmas Eve was always celebrated in my family. As far as I remember, it was never about the externals but something you can only see when you draw back and take time to feel it. It was totally about magic, smelling the scent of the tree, being with my family while knotting Christmas candy in white wrap on long strings to hang on the tree, listening to Christmas music that was mainly about the birth of Jesus Christ and going to play in a nativity scene in the church and a local pensioners’ home… and in the evening entering the room where all my family and presents were while lightening all the sparklers on the tree.

But even well before Christmas I prepared for it for a long time, my family would make an Advent wreath every year and we would light one more candle every Sunday – I was amazed how the power of one single candle could bring so much light into the dark room and as more and more candles were lit I was told it’s just the way how the soon-to-be-born Our Lord brings light to the world, the light of love to where it is dark and cold and grief. We’ve had a figure of Baby Jesus lying in a manger and I prepared a dress for him of paper every year. We cut small pockets on it and every time I did something good I could fold one pocket on his dress. “The more pockets you fold, the warmer he will feel” said my dear grandmother and I did my best to act as good as I could during Advent time.

I read quite much as a kid and I found some children books about Christmas, written at the beginning of the 20th century when celebrating Christmas in a happy and prosperous way was mostly the privilege of the rich. The characters of those stories were mostly poor children who dreamed of a warm flat and a Christmas tree –  instead they were happy with whatever small things they would get and give. The stories have revealed how strange traits happiness had – sometimes it appears in situations of need and discomfort, soothing troubled souls, healing broken hearts and uniting families torn apart, at least, in spirit. Probably these moving pieces of children literature motivated me later to offer my help before Christmas to as many people as possible. I’ve been keeping touch with a family in need for years and I’ve been sending a Christmas package to them in every December, not because of the actual value but the human factor, because I’ve been hoping I could bring happiness to them. One more memory I’ve had is purchasing a handmade postcard once from a woman on the street right before Christmas. I still remember how she told be that her husband had just lost his job and how I thought she needed compassion from people the most, even if that means strangers. Yes, these inspirations are those that make Christmas still the most beautiful and touching holiday of the year for me.

Sometimes I hear people saying that for them, Christmas has lost its appeal and now they don’t find it anything else than a holiday coming with duties, spending money and dressing in a fake happiness to mime you are feeling totally content. Maybe the stories of our inner children are dying and the real meaning of Christmas might forever be lost… We are now living a too developed, happy and comfortable life and we have no chance for that strange kind of happiness that I experienced in my childhood readings. We don’t decorate our hearts anymore – “why would we? for the sake of a stupid religious holiday?” some may ask. Still, I’m afraid that with the sense of Christmas one dimension of the human spirit may also disappear.

And now this is the question – how can I save the essence of this human spirit to my yet unborn children? I have no videos from my childhood, only photos and the record of the Christmas music (luckily I could buy it some years ago on CD). And the books I’ve been reading.  I think however that the main thing I should give my children is the sense of wonder around this holiday. I would like them to feel what I felt, I wish they would bring the news of the great joy to the world and that they would understand that it’s a time of the year when others are more important than we are. And I’m hoping they will believe that the newborn Jesus really is born in our hearts every year when we love each other and the whole world on Christmas Eve.

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So… Summer. Wandering around some parts of Europe, trying to fulfil my dream to see foreign lands, feel foreign feelings. Finland, Estonia, Latvia and then finally back to Lithuania once again. It was so wonderful, can’t really find words for it – and do you know what the greatest thing was? Discovering these countries from a completely different angle than from tourists do. Swimming in a lake in Finland by night, picking blueberries in an Estonian forest and standing at the very end of Saaremaa island was something that I could describe best as “uplifting” but even that word isn’t enough for that.

And then – Lithuania. The feeling I missed the most – being a part of a multinational community that is there for the same reason but is a mixture of many different cultures and ways of thinking – was totally present here. The worries I had – that being in the same country for the second time will disappoint me or that it will lose its wonder – disappeared from the first second I put my feet on Lithuanian soil. Really, really, there are so many things to discover there, even a life isn’t enough to get to know it… There were some places I visited for the first time this year, some others I revisited. There were some people I met for the first time, some I met for the first time this year. And there were people I wished to meet, but either one of us didn’t have time for that or they were staying far away from Vilnius.

And then came the terrible few days before my Business French language exam when I almost died from being exhausted and totally nervous… but I did it, and I think I also passed the exam (but I don’t want to feel happy about it too soon)

Now I’m more relaxed and balanced, but also stuck in Hungary for at least six months. But I like my internship place. I just feel the urge to escape once again from here.

Months go quickly, very quickly… And I don’t even feel how quickly I’m changing, too. At the same time, I feel that the end of my stay in France was either so long or just a few days ago. Soon I’m going to a new adventure – 4 countries of which there is 2 that I’ve never been to and another one I have only visited for a mere day.

Adventures… Yes. So many of them. I’m constantly being out of my comfort zone. You know, your comfort zone is the area where you feel the most relaxed, most “at home”, you are the most passive and so on. Some years ago I’ve heard from a girl that your personal development really happens when you get outside of your comfort zone. But now, I could say that I’ve been out of my comfort zone for months, if not years… I really should slow down a little bit. Well, I’m only saying this in relation to the future… For now, I have arranged the most crucial things for my shortest plans, but unti I got here, I had some tiring periods.

Let’s hope though that I can get over the difficulties and continue to be open for new adventures.

One of the beauties of having a laptop is the ability of using internet while sitting in my bed. As it’s Wednesday today, it’s my free day… and I decided not to go anywhere today I am still in PJs, stuck in the Bermuda-square (eheh) of my e-mail box, postcrossing forum, online games and my wordpress blog. I have just had a nice cup of Ceylon tea with milk (but the fact that the tea was Ceylon is, I think, totally unnecessary and redundant information at the moment).

I have slept until noon today, which is fantastic 😀 And I have homework to do, of Business French and Intercultural Negotiation, which is not so fantastic, but at least some interesting stuff 🙂 Unfortunately most of my classes are in English, and only now I can see how bad it is for me because having classes only in French language, just as some coursemates from my college do would have been much more fructifying for my language skills than having them in English. It’s only the French students here with whom I can speak French but for those Hungarian coursemates it’s everybody, even the other international students – in their schools, everyone speaks French while here it’s only the Frenchies and three international students in our group who do it. I am in quite a “what if” situation… what if I had chosen Le Havre instead of Paris… maybe I could learn more French there, who knows. And now I feel that my heart is aching not living in a town by the seaside (Le Havre is a very busy port town by the Channel).

But as in the title I was speaking about plans, here they are: tomorrow a French guy is organizing a dinner in a restaurant for all the group (international and French students together) which should be amazing, I can’t wait for it! I am also looking for a new place to live (as I mentioned). This morning I have written an e-mail as a reply to an announce looking for students for a one-week job in March who speak especially Polish, Danish etc… and Hungarian! (Let’s hope they will reply). And, I have noticed that Ryanair, that low-cost company, sometimes has ridiculously cheap promo prices, also to such interesting destinations as Glasgow, Shannon (Ireland), Porto or Stockholm. Who knows, maybe I’ll see Ireland (where I have been wanting to go for such a long time) sooner than I would think… 🙂

Yes, I know it was a very messy post, but sometimes I have to give out all the things I have inside, even if it means that it means that my writings would be clumsy and ununderstandable for some… 😀

Well. I decided to write here regularly. At least once in every two or three days… Even if it’s a total nonsense, but still, it will be fun to read it later.

The last weekend I didn’t do anything. Almost… I must tell that at the moment I am residing in a student residence in a southern suburb of Paris, but I am thinking of moving somewhere inside Paris from the beginning of March. My roommate Tanya is interested, too, but the question is difficult – renting a flat in Paris is VERY difficult and expensive so I have to do a lot of research on this subject. For example, last Saturday I went to see a small flat in the 19th district of Paris which I loved – but unfortunately the agency required such papers from me that I didn’t have and probably couldn’t even provide. Anyway, I don’t give up. I am still looking for lodging ads of private persons and sub-lets and also mailing people – maybe some day I will find the perfect one. I still have almost two weeks left from February.

Other. There was a conflict with my school earlier this year as according to our Erasmus contract, we were supposed to get 1500 € for the semester. But they, instead of transferring in euros, wanted to do that in forints, according to the exchange rate in the summer (!!!) because, as they said, they received the scholarship from Tempus foundation in euros that time, and they converted it to forints immeditely… Unfortunately the exchange rate of the forint dropped seriously since the summer, due to this economic crisis… so think about it, if we first convert the 1500 euros to forints in a, let’s say, 240 Ft/€ base and we know that consequently, now when we are travelling we would need to change our forints back to euros on a 300 Ft/€ rate… it’s like receiving only 1200 € instead of the original 1500. And they really wanted to do this… until we, students didn’t regress and warned them with lawsuit if they don’t pay the money in euros. Finally, they agreed to do that, so I won’t be exposed to the drop in the forint’s exchange rate, at least in the context of scholarship. Or maybe. Because now that they decided to transfer in forints, the had to collect everyone’s €-account numbers and start the procedure again from the beginning. So… I am keeping my fingers crossed that the money will arrive FAST – that means before the beginning of March.

So, this for today. I didn’t have the energy to re-read what I have written, but anyway. Have a nice evening 🙂

I am in France.

This means a new beginning. And I feel like having the inspiration for a new weblog as well. Being away from home for such a long time will definitely awake feelings in me that I will probably share here as well as daily news and happenings…

It’s also time to look back for let’s say, 1 years’ time (starting from February 2009)… and this is when I realize that I had so many events and happenings in my life. In May 2008, I did Advanced level Business English exam, went to Strasbourg for that amazing EU-experience… then there came the travels, to Lithuania in July and to Czech Republic in November and also my work… besides college of course. Ah well. I have just finished autumn semester and I haven’t ever had such a good mean as now. I am improving.

And I have still so many plans for this semester and of course, summer… Not always “comfortable” ones – doing the administrative parts of my Erasmus and actually trying to speak French while being here isn’t comfortable at all and sometimes it’s very tiring.  But I need to break through that. I need to leave my “comfort zone” from time to time to feel really alive. And I want to prove myself that I can do everything I want, with my mere 19 years.

So, bye for now – although I believe, not for a very long time. I’ll write as soon as I’ll have a bit of time and/or something interesting to happen.

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“My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there” and “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”

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