Tag Archives: Choice
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When home is not the place to be a child

27 Sep

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “When Childhood Ends.”

With him recovered (recovering?) and me having lived abroad for more than two years now, it is sometimes easy to forget (pretend to forget?) that I grew up with an alcoholic father and a depressive mother. When I see them laughing together when we skype, or hear them ask me what could I possibly not be happy about given everything they offered me, it is easy to wonder whether it had really been that bad, or whether I had simply been imagining it.

But then, holidays come around and I go back to visit home, and get to see the mark on the wall left by a glass he threw in a fit some years ago, and get to look at the cards I gathered from these foreign places we were at for Christmas and New Years Eve, where instead of dancing or being out celebrating, I was in was room, comforting my sister, as we listened to our mother cry. I also see the fridge that I still shudder to open, dreading to hear the clinking of dozens of beer bottles and am still uncomfortable going in the basement for fear of seeing cases of alcohol. Then I remember not having ever had friends over, because I never knew if he was going to be awake or not, embarrass me, or worse and recall setting up longer practice hours and more tutoring session just so I wouldn’t have a reason to come home before nighttime, when I would sneak past his room and lock myself in mine.

I remember my sister crying herself to sleep every night and me not being able to stop her; I remember the screaming matches and the fear I felt for my mother and me not being able to protect her; I remember the pain in my grandmother eyes when mother would come home from working overtime to cover for him and me not being able to ease her; I remember me, sitting on the ledge of my balcony, thinking it would end if i were to move an inch and not being able to do it because then who would sit with my sister and play piano for my mother and help in the kitchen my grandmother? And then I remember the day he raised his hand and me, an 11 year old blond, blue-eyed girl blocking it.

That girl cried herself to sleep that night but vowed to never do so again. Crying never helped anyone. It caused headaches, and puffy eyes, that would raise questions in class next day, and would make it hard to focus. No, crying would not do it; working hard in class and on the court, getting ahead of everyone else, and being accepted in a college abroad more than eight years in the future, that was the way out. That girl never cried because of him or because of home ever again. But that girl, she was not a child anymore.

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When home is not home anymore and How playing a 10k in Italy decided my future

28 Mar

When home is not home anymore and How playing a 10k in Italy decided my future

After travelling for 21 hours straight, crossing an ocean and having two lay-overs, I would have expected to drop dead of tiredness not have an epiphany. Yet, as I found myself over Los Angeles, looking through the little window of the plane, I felt a shiver down my spine and a warm feeling inside of me: “I’m coming home” was all I could be thinking.
This past week, I was technically closer to home than anytime before in the past 8 months: in Europe, with my parents. However, that is not my home anymore. In my parents’ house, where I’ve lived for 12 years, stands my empty room and that is a place I’ve been wanting to leave for at least 10 out of those. Seeing my parents for the first time in such a long time, I expected to be at least content. I wasn’t. I was annoyed at their joy of seeing me, at their smiles, at their hugs. I couldn’t stand their poor English and their insistent question and thirst of hearing and seeing me. I didn’t want it to be that way. I certainly felt bad pretending, smiling and telling stories, in order for them to indulge my every wish, which they did, without even thinking, just because they finally had their daughter back.
I don’t know yet if Los Angeles is my home. I haven’t exactly lived in the city for on campus, in a shielded bubble. However, I know for sure that it is not where my parents are anymore. Flying to Italy, I was excited: I would play tennis at a tournament again, I would hear a foreign language, I would eat delicious food and I would admire good-looking Italian men. It was the excitement of discovery. Flying back to the US, I was excited: I would be back, start anew, ready to take on a new quarter, change my life, motivated. It was the excitement of coming home, recharged, with grand plans. 8 months ago, I remember being on the same flight to LA, but having the exact opposite sentiment, the first one I described: the shiver of experiencing something new. I was a bright-eyed little girl going on an adventure, leaving home behind. Now, I come back here, almost an adult, content to have explored something new, but happy to be home.

But now, a little about Italy.

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US College workload and course-work from an international perspective (Day 2 of NaBloPoMo)

2 Nov

I know this shows that i posted twice 2 today, but it’s just because i changed the time zone of my blog. I’m still going through the challenge of posting every day this month.

This is probably one of the most approached topics when being questioned about my experience at UCLA as an international student. How difficult is the school work? Is language a problem?

And, as vague or as cliché this may sound, what I have learned over the past 3 months in the US is that college is indeed what you make of it.

To begin with, in a short answer that I know many are looking for: No. College coursework is not this incredibly difficult, unachievable task. And I’m not even talking about barely passing; I am talking about getting good grades. On the other hand, it is definitely not an easy endeavour and you can always chose how hard or easy you want it to be, which is probably the appeal of a us college in which there is no fix curricula.

What do I mean by this possibility of making it as difficult or as easy as you want?

There are several aspects to it.

Firstly, and probably the most striking difference to the university system back in Europe, is the fact that you can and sometimes even must take courses from across different fields. Some of you may not know, but European universities are specialised, meaning you apply directly after highschool to medschool, to law school, to architecture school, to engineering school, to political science university, to psychology university, etc. You usually have an exam related to the subject and the coursework you will have to do in order to graduate is fixed. Should you decide to switch your career after a year you usually have to start all over at a different university compared to simply switching a major in the US. This liberty that the US college system gives you is empowering and liberating as you can explore different fields without pressure to pursue them and even get a minor in a secondary passion of yours. On the other hand it is definitely tempting and easy to choose only the easy classes, especially for the General Education requirements most colleges have. This is the first aspect in which college education is what you make of it. Challenge yourself and choose your classes based on your interests and passions or go with the flow, and choose the ones that are known to have indulgent teachers, nice TA’s and easy finals.

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About how and why I became brave or “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.”

17 Jun

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Dale Carnegie

The most overused quote ever and I still love it.

This is probably one of the most used motivational and inspirational quotes and perhaps there is a reason to it. I am a huge consumer of motivational speeches/music/quotes/books and am proud of it. Because I know that they have an effect on me, because I know that if I listen to a certain song in the morning I’ll have a different attitude, because I know that if I hear a certain speech I’’ start the match believing in myself, because all of these and much more, I surround myself with inspirational material.

And this quote right here sits at the top of my list and above my bed. Not only do I feel the energy growing inside of me every time I read it, but I have lived my life according to it and was never disappointed.

Dreaming of knights in shiny armour and despising princesses dressed in pink.

Ever since I was little, I dreamt of being a knight. I wanted to identify with all the heroes I read about and this is a habit I still have, especially with female heroines. I still want to be Arya Stark from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, even though I am much older than her and I wanted to be Katniss Everdeen in „The Hunger Games” trilogy. I dreamt of being Zoey Redbird in the „A House of Night series”, and still feel a little bit like Beatrice Prior from „Divergent”. Part of my being a tomboy came natural, but part of it was an act, and even to this day I am not sure how I really am. But I know now, what I also knew then, that a life lived in fear is not worth living and have decided long ago that I wasn’t going to be a prissy princess but a fearless warrior, exactly like Eloise, daughter of D’Artagnan or like Merida in “Brave”.

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I was the first one to get shots at the doctor, the only one willing to kill a spider or touch a worm for a dare. I was the first one to go down the zip line or jump into a river from an 8 metres high rock as well as the one always suggesting the scariest rides in the fun park. I was the one going on the diamond marked slope even on an icy day or choosing to explore the forest on skies/snowboard. I didn’t say no to parasailing or scuba-diving and did not refuse to take word in front of 500 people. I rode the kicker and glided on a butterbox and even though I fell and was injured continued to try and jump and ride on. Continue reading

Changing my “About” page, again or My life is about to start

13 Jun

I once read a quote, I don’t really remember it, but it said something about how fast everything changes when you are young and during these days I could not agree more. I reread my “about page” as well as a post I wrote about having to change that page, and I notice I almost do not relate to the person who wrote that anymore.

I am no longer a senior, having just graduated and identify as an UCLA freshman. My focus is no longer getting into college and I am no longer stressing with applications but embarking on a journey, as cliché as that may sound.

highschool graduation

In less than 2 months I will pack my life in 2 pieces of luggage, each about 23 kg and fly toward a new life on a new continent, in new city, where I know no one and will only come home for a short period of time next year in June. I am so excited about finally starting to live my dream, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel a tiny little bit anxious. I am thrilled at the possibility of reinventing myself, meeting so many new people and cultures, forming new groups and friendships, doing a lot of extra activities, continue with my passions and simply live. I have waited so long for this moment and I cannot wait for it. Exams now seem pointless, I do not need great grades, but I am studying for them, because this is who I am, I want to be the best, and plus studying keeps me busy and makes time fly faster.

tennis

A huge part of my life until now has been tennis, and I’ve gone through a lot with and for it. Even though I was courted by some Division 1 Universities, together with my family, I decided that I would for sure get into higher ranked colleges just based on my academics and because I was senior year, tennis fell on my priorities list. The transition from international junior player to simply doing it for fun has been extremely difficult for me and I could not adjust to my new position. So, despite not playing competitions during the year, I continued to train at a slower pace but managed to rediscover  the joy of simply being on the court and thus brought a new mentality to my game.

Now, I stand at a crossroad in this area of my life. Both my trainer and I, especially after seeing some videos of UCLA girls playing matches believe I could be on the uni team. I certainly have the level required. But I could not contact the coaches there. I desperately hope that they hold try-outs or at least allow me to challenge members of the team, because I need to know if I’m not good enough for the team or if I could help them and even strengthen it. In preparation for that decision, that is no longer mine, I have started training a little bit harder again, both on and off court and will play my first tournament in almost a year next week. Fingers crossed. I didn’t tell anyone yet, but even if I don’t get on the team, I will continue to train and play at club level and will try, for one year the 10.000$ tournaments, which are the lowest category for above-18 years players. I have saved some money and plan to use it to offer me the chance to fulfill my dream. If it doesn’t work out then I will finally admit that maybe it was not meant for me and focus on something else, but I do not want to live with regrets and questions such as “What if”.

Anyway, much has changed and I am sure I will go through a life-changing process in the next few months and will keep you updated on my other areas of interest which have yet to change, other sports, languages and international politics, but for now I believe I have to go back to studying.
52 days left until my life starts 🙂

life starts now

Knowing it’s going to end or Do you still try?

9 May

Getting to the second part of my post about love (This was the first: Am I heartless? or About not sacrificing your dreams for him/her.)

So basically I have reached the second question which was:

2. Why so serious? Even knowing it’s going to end, why not?

I wonder why more and more people are so set on sealing the deal. I see so many young people settling for less then they deserve and know they deserve only out of safety reasons. Don’t they still want to try, experience, have fun anymore? Are they so afraid there won’t be a next guy/girl that likes them back?

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Trusting anyone is hard after a while

15 Feb

I found it difficult to convince myself to post things here for the past couple of weeks. I felt I was a hypocrite for believing that the stuff I write has any meaning or that the writing itself- any value. I missed it, so I kept writing in my diary but I didn’t trust myself enough to publish anything.

Today, I learned that perhaps trusting somebody isn’t that bad. Having been hiding all my life, pretending, trying to elude questions and maintaining a happy appearance has hardened me. Especially after the one person I confided myself in disappointed me enormously, trust became something nobody could earn from me. All I could see were false friends waiting for the opportunity to see one of my weaknesses, to use the information I would let slip against me or to their own advantage. Slowly but surely, without me even realising I began asking myself every time I spoke: “Do they need to hear this? Does this give any of my secrets away? Could they use this?” Inevitably, I stopped giving voice to many thoughts for this fear. I was never alone, being lonely would be a hint that something was not quite right, that I might not be that happy person. But I didn’t have friends either. I got along with everybody and nobody actually suspected that I didn’t particularly hang out with somebody. I was constantly on the move, gravitating between groups but never really bonding with anyone for fear of being exposed.

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