Let’s talk about…

You need 20 minutes to cook rice. 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Warsaw from Łódź by train. 2 minutes to brush your teeth in the morning. At least 40 minutes to watch an episode of a series.

Why am I writing this? Because all those activities have strictly determined time which you need to succeed. If you cook rice for 1 hour and 40 minutes, you will rather burn it and if you leave the train to Warsaw after 20 minutes, you will end up in Koluszki. But there are different activities and different activities. And how much time do you need to talk?

(c) Bence Fejes

I rarely shut up. Yes, I talk a lot. Really A LOT. There are not many people I feel comfortable with in silence, so I also often keep speaking just to fill the gap in a conversation. There are a few people who talk much more than me, but in 90% of cases – I am the soul of the conversation.

Can I stay silent? Yes, also. When I don’t know what to say, I would rather say nothing than say anything stupid, inconsiderate or unreasonable. ‘If you don’t know how to act, act decent‘ (‘Jeśli nie wiesz jak się zachować, zachowaj się przyzwoicie‘) – that’s what I derived from home, and I stick to that.

There are no guidelines how much we should talk. Some people are happy with 1 hour a day, some get bored after 10 minutes, others will not have enough after 15 hours.

There are some norms. I’ve noticed that I do not discuss even the most serious topics with my male friends for longer than 20 minutes straight, while I can talk about it to girls for hours. Guys are handy when it comes to finding a quick, obvious and usually the best solution, while girls – when you just need to analyze every single small detail, deal with something in your head. Of course it is generalizing, another gender stereotype, but this comes from my experience.

(c) Bence Fejes

I don’t think we talk enough nowadays. There is too much of WhatsApp, Messenger, Viver, SMS and Snapchat every day. And yes, I excessively do it too.. Partially because I have friends in all the countries and all the time-zones now, but also because it’s just quick and comfortable… I hate it, but I will rather chat instead of going out on a rainy day, if the matter to be discussed is not very serious. But I try to limit the usage of my phone to absolutely neceserry, strategic and logistic conversations: where and when we meet, what is the homework for tomorrow, how much money do I owe you, when is the exam. I guess that my two longest relationships fall apart partially because of fixing too many things chatting instead of talking (but that’s just searching for the pattern) – my needs of human-human interaction were not satisfied.

Since some time I am learning how to listen. I can point out an exact moment when I realized that I suck at it. It was June this year, I just came back from Erasmus in Sweden, was super-charged (or overloaded) with positive energy, needed to constantly talk and shine with how great I feel. I went to Rome for holidays, and there – surrounded with charizmatic and energetic, but level-headed Italians I’ve heard things like ‘– For Christ sake, why are you planning so much? Every single minute in nearest week! Can you just calm down? Listen to the sea and wind? Let it go? Flow? Say just thing which can change the world? It’s all complicated enough, why to overanalyze it?‘. And then I realized that it’s true. I needed too much of control.

(c) Bence Fejes

Since June, while talking, I often keep the track of how much I’m speaking, if there are enough questions per statements in what I’m saying, if I let another person talk, if I allow breaks to catch the breath, if I don’t jump from topic to topic. I guess I increased my sensivitity, but hopefully – remained authentic.

There are no guide books ‘how to talk’ and maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I derived enough of it from home. Conversations are about empathy, respect, flexibility and sensivity. I guess I just learnt it in my adult life, when I grew up to some level of maturity and responsibility for myself and others. If you have guideliness how to raise my future-possibly-existing children in a way that they can start having levelled, healthy, productive conversations earlier than me, let me know.

From the top of my head

  • Great friendship is when you let your mate soak his biscuit in your tea. But the modern trust is when you share with each other the passocodes to your phones. Appreciation is expressed with ‘likes’ or even ‘reactions’ on Facebook. There are algorithms and TV shows to find you a perfect partner or even a father for your baby. Welcome to the 21st century.
  • Together with December many Xmass gifts ideas pop up on the internet. I am the faithfull fan of jumpers. Many of my uni mates wore Christmas sweaters on the 6th of December – lots of snowmans, raindeers and Santas around! My personal favorite is the jumper dedicated for two people – double space for the body, sleeves as usual (well, you lose the utility of one hand then, unless you want to scratch your friends back underneath). I also loved the one with a pocket dedicated for the bottle of wine. Really my type of thing. Or the wineglass you screw directly into the bottle? Not bad, not bad. I am easy to bestow this year.
  • I’m gonna spend this Christmas with Eiffel tower and I am really happy about it. I’ve never been to Paris, I need some time alone. I tend to overthink even when I am not alone, but I feel like some days just with myself will make some stuff more clear for me. Lots to think about. I’ve realized my life and mind are not as clear as I thought.
    I want croissants, fromage and crepes. I get pierogi and barszcz all year long (yes, it’s simplification of Christmas, but you know I am not a family person).
    Additionaly, I’m surprised myself how fast my life plan change. Two days of exchanging e-mails and I am not sure anymore where I will end up in two-three months. But the plan is great and I will publish it as soon as it is settled. It’s all about traveling, of course.
  • There are many weird things online. And when you are at the point when you think that not much can surprise you anymore, you come across a bomb. Just watch this video.

  • Sometimes you know people for years and you realize you haven’t really know them. This weekend I had a pleasure to say ‘– Wow! When the hell did you become so smart and mature?‘ and I really ment it. Great surprises which make me double think about people I have around. But the best thing you can here from me is ‘– You are a very interesting person‘. It happens sometimes. But well, I still claim that it is super easy to criticize and pour lots of sh*t on each other, while it’s rare to say or hear something really nice. That is why I break this convention.
  • On Monday 11th of December I’ve written the last exam at this university. I didn’t realized it is totally THE LAST ONE until someone made that point when we were waiting for the teacher in the hall. And this information really changed my mindset. Jesus, I am almost graduated! After all those years in school I will finally have a diploma, formal higher education and a professional title with my surname! I’m not sure yet how these three letters will change my life, but surely I will add them to the automatically added signature in my e-mails 😀
  • I encountered the theory that electronic devices work just because of the ghosts or elfs placed inside of them. If it wasn’t like that, they would not be that intelligent and would not hold magical powers, such as instant information exchange irrespectively of the distance between the aparatus. Interesting.
  • thoughts and prayers policy and change
(c) Bence Fejes

To live on your own terms vol.1

A friend of mine sent me recently an article which popped up somewhere on her Facebook wall and which corresponded to what we recently talked about – this is what we do: bombard each other with everything from anatomy handbooks to funny cats.

50 ways to live on your terms by a PhD candidate in Motivation Psychology. ‘Just 50?’ I thought. I guess I am doing pretty fine and since quite long time do not really let anyone rule me. Next I’ve seen the first point: ‘Stop depending on caffeine’ and I immediately thought that I will close the website soon and keep scrolling the pictures of my friends’ breakfasts. I CANNOT live without caffeine. And it is stated in my own terms :D. But I kept reading and it started making more and more sense.

(c) Bence Fejes

Read 1 book per week, write a journal for 5 minutes per day. As simple as that. Not that I do it – number of books I read depends on the time I spend commuting each week (and if there are places to sit in a tram and if my backpack is not too heavy to carry an additional book…), but I notice the difference. I like having some anecdotes in my sleeve! It’s always great to impress someone with your knowledge – like last week when I told my friend where the HeLa cell line with which she is working on her thesis experiment comes from.

When it comes to writing – I don’t do it every day either, but I think about it more than 5 minutes per day. Writing process means usually an hour with a keyboard once in a couple of days. But I have so many ideas every they that I often catch myself building sentences in my head.

Marry the person you love. I would rather say – marry someone who is not only love, but also the best friend for you. If you plan to spend the whole life with someone, you must be absolutely sure you will never stop to at least like each other. I wouldn’t marry a person I have been with for less than 5 years. I wouldn’t marry a person with totally different ideology, personality and views for life. A couch potato. Disco polo fan. Isn’t it at least a bit as important as love? But what do I know, my longest relationship lasted a year and I rather see myself getting a Noble prize than getting married…

Make a bucket list and actively knock items off. THIS IS SOMETHING I CAN TRULY RECOMMEND. I have a life-long bucket list, I had bucket-lists for my 3 months in India, for last 29 days in Sweden, for the next week (well, that’s more of to-do list). And maybe I am just a psycho obsessed with good organization (alles musst in Ordnung sein!), but it really keeps me motivated and fulfilled.

(c) Bence Fejes

Fast from the internet 24 hours once per week. That seems like a challenge for me, maybe I am gonna try it in some time – for now I’m far too addicted. It is really much harder to withdraw today, since we all have internet at home, school, office, tram, smart phone. But I know the feeling of relief! I still cannot make my mobile data work in roaming (any Play or iPhone users with the same problem?) so when I go abroad, connect to Wi-Fi just once or twice a day and I am SO HAPPY and free. We are seriously making ourselves crazy with the amount of information we process every day. And yes, world breaking news, uni group chat, new music releases and a professional e-mail are important to follow, but we REALLY can live without the cute pandas, videos of a pizza with a burger inside, your far friend’s grandma’s sister birthday party and next collection of galaxy yoga pants. Ok, withdraw. Give me my pandas back.

Say ‘No’ to people, obligations, requests and opportunities you’re not interested in from now on. I am so proud of myself that I’ve learnt it! I do not talk with people who make my upset, discouraged or anxious anymore. Being a poor student just about to graduate, I have recently rejected a good job offer just because it is not consistent with my life plans (I am not staying in Poland no matter what). I don’t force myself to go to the catholic church just because it befits according to family obligations (do you know how many kilometers I’ve done pushing the strollers with my little cousins around the church during all the first communions happening in my family? :D). I am not nice to anyone who treats me bad, even if I shouldn’t. If I have a choice to sleep properly or prepare something for school last-minute, I will take care of myself and go to sleep. School can wait and the world will not end. As it goes for many other things.

More is yet to come.

And what do you find crucial to your well-being?

Destination (un)known

I’ve just came back from the greatest weekend I could have at the moment. Using the power of Ryanair (20 euros round trip!) I’ve ran away from every-day life and jumped for 48 hours to my beloved Karlsruhe, where I’ve done an internship last summer and where my heart stayed.
Ever since I made the plan for my ‘adult life’ after graduation, I connect everything to Germany. I can’t imagine living anywhere else and if everything goes as planned – I will be FINALLY moving there in September 2018. My former coworker asked me, when I’ve visited the old office: You’ve seen half of the world and out of all the amazing places you are so much in love with Germany to live here?! Why?!. There are a couple of reasons.
Germany is like Poland but much better. Well, maybe it’s offensive to Germany to even try to compare it to Poland but that’s a different topic (not a patriot at all!). What I mean is that there are no significant major culture differences – we share history, people are kinda similar, the food is familiar (still traumatized after India). I’m aware that getting deeper into the society will cost me some effort – the Germans already have their roots there: family, childhood friends etc., and I will be this new one, but with my social skills it does not worry me. I will probably end up with other expats anyway.
The quality of life. Maybe I can earn good money in Poland as an engineer… good money to go for holidays to Spain. And there is nothing wrong with Spain, but I want to be able to go to Thailand! And generally keep traveling like crazy. That’s what I want to have money for, not a fancy car or clothes.
I know they pay huge taxes in Germany, but I don’t mind it since I can drive perfect highways, have cycling paths everywhere, and go to the doctor with no problem. Being legally insured via public fund in Poland, I still often need to pay for private appointments not to wait two years to see a specialist.
What is more, in Germany you choose if you want to pay taxes for church or not, depending if you use its ‘services’. In Polandia they will rather make you pay even more if you dare not to show up in a church on Sunday.
Germany is the world center for Biomedical Engineering – the domain I chose to develop in. I know how fast paced it is, I know that sooner or later it will be vast everywhere too… but I don’t wanna wait for it, I want to build my career somewhere where I already have possibilities, not where I will have to build it up from scratch. For this purpose I could go to the US, too, but it doesn’t seem favorable right now with Mr Donald. I also cannot imagine being that far from where my parents are. Being in Germany I can be back in Lodz in a couple of hours if they need me. It wouldn’t be that fast and cheap from America.
I haven’t been as sad as I am today since a long time. It felt great to see my people, my places there, eat beloved Kasespatzle, watch a friend playing basketball match, spend hours at Christmas Market with never-ending mulled wine in my hand and just lay down on a couch and talk talk talk to people who mean so much to me. Not much changed there and at the same time a lot did change, for me and for everyone.
When I arrived to Karlsruhe on Friday morning I had tears in my eyes – it was so good to be back! It never happened to me while coming back to Lodz.
This night I cried again, when I understood that it was just a sneak-peak and I still have to wait a couple of months for my dream life. I was so jealous about all the friends there who have already graduated and could have directly stay there, earn money, develop hobbies, rent a nice apartment, keep learning German. I want it too! And at the same time I am so afraid that my move will not be as easy as I imagine. I really want to find job, but my German will not be even B1 yet by then. My plan B is applying for Masters programme directly, which also not a bad option… I want it so much that it must happen! That’s karma.


My approach to art

I tend to say that art is one of my hobbies, but what does it really mean? I don’t know much about it. I don’t know what is the historical background, symbolics, stream or general idea. Sometimes I can meddle with something, but most of the times I am pretty laical.

(c) Bence Fejes – real artist!

I just know if I like something or not and usually can give a valid reason for my opinion, however sometimes it’s just a feeling. I can tell you that I loved the exhibition I’ve been to last weekend (COMING OUT of the best graduates of Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, I truly recommend!) – it was fresh, innovative, I’ve seen many things I’d never seen before. The approach was young and untouched, dealing with what surrounds us: the aspect of refugees was mentioned so many times, I understood the perspective of all the authors cause I can put myself in their eyes and imagine what kind of people they are. Trivial thing, but I also loved being surprised so many times – something can be a simple idea, but I was so astonished and wondered so deeply HOW someone even came up with the idea to present the idea in this particular way.

One of my best friends (and the harshest critic of the blog ^^) is already the Bachelor of Arts in field of History of Art. Going with her to the museum or traveling is a pleasure – it’s like having a guide who will tell you only the most interesting things which you will surely memorize! And I am always so impressed how broadely she percepts art – I just usually see a pure pleasure, decoration, enterteinment in it!

(c) Bence Fejes

I can believe that many artists work the best while stoned, drunk or after an orgasm. I’ve even heard that huge Polish writers – Juliusz Słowacki or Stanisław Lem – took drugs while working on their masterpiece… I am really not surprised. Personally maybe I do not do better while drunk, but for sure I am more creative and with more vision and mission to put my ideas into words.

I could not be a fulltime arist. I just tried to plan my week 3 or 4 times and that is a huge step… I usually do it much more often, obsessively stick to my calendar and to-do lists and have panick attacks if I forget about something. I am really bad at working from home, lack of ideas frustrates me to the highest extend and the perspective of being dependent on someone’s opinion makes me feel sick.

I can’t say I am not creative. I keep writing since months and I love it. I am good at photography. I pay a lot of attention to the appearance and thoughtful design and content of my Instagram and Facebook accounts. Creativity helps me a lot in the field of engineering, since I like simple solutions. And I can not imagine pondering about ‘What did the author mean? What is the inner sense?’ all the time. No, it is simple. No, I could not be an artist. Could you? Are you?

What people said

I went through the different phases in my life – from caring about other people’s opinion a lot (you know those school dramas) to not giving a sh*t about it at all. I guess now I am somewhere in the middle: I do care about constructive criticism, honest advice and comments given me out of the goodness of someone’s heart. But I still turn a deaf ear to any gossips or vicious judgments – there is too much of it around to let it work on you.

That’s one of the main rule I try to apply – I often tell people very nice things. Surprisingly nice. Some of them get suspicious – why am I so pleasant? I just always say that there is too much drama happening around and we can hear so much hate and criticism from everyone around… So why wouldn’t we just be lovely to each other, just sometimes, just for change? It’s so precious to see the smile of a colleague when you compliment her dress. And imagine telling your best friend how important he/she is to you… Maybe it is partially selfish, but I love that feeling.

Still India! (c) Bence Fejes

A situation from my life: in Sweden, on Erasmus, my good friend from the same Polish university told me ‘– Did you know what X and Y told me last time about you? I think you should be more careful with what you tell other people. Not everyone is that open, not everyone is your friend, not everyone understands you.‘. Well, you don’t wanna know and I don’t wanna share what they were talking about, but I had one comment to that: people will TALK one way or another. If I hide some things, they will most likely get to know about it anyway and turn it into the gossip, which without my influence will grow in an unpredictable direction. In opposite – if I show how open I am about things, that I am not ashamed of anything, open and distanced to many things, people will not find it that mysterious and special to talk about. And I will most likely have control over what they know…

At the age of around 14, I would do anything to stick out of the crowd. I didn’t have much self-confidence so I wanted to build my image on being a super-special-snowflake, original and independent, different from anyone. I dressed differently, I listened to different music, I often made a showman out of myself, often spoke up for a group (well, that stayed with me. People or love me or hate me for saying all what comes to my mind. I am still learning to apply a filter, though…). All that to pay back for how weak and unattractive I felt. Well, that’s the darkness of life of a teenage girl… I wouldn’t go back.

Now I am not there anymore. I am myself. Well, I was myself those years ago too, but the ‘self’ was just developing and I didn’t really know who should I be. Now I still don’t know, but I know what feels good for me and I know that I don’t need to impress anyone, cause I have a huge value being exactly who I am, even if some people have some problem with bearing me. That’s life – I am not a tomato soup to be liked by everyone.

(c) Bence Fejes

28/11/2017 – a birthday of someone who influenced my self-esteem a lot, and paradoxically made me much stronger. Today I am tired as hell: had blood tests which made me weaker, had a chance to talk to a huge group of 17yo high school kids about how to pick a university and how to make the most of your studies (I was cool! They liked me! They listened! They even put away their phones for some time and laughed when I planned it!), had a meeting, helped writing a paper, worked on my thesis, now at 9pm I am still far from going to bed. I am veeery tired. But happy with all about myself. So why would I care what other people think about me?

8 reasons to love Łódź

Every time a foreigner asks me about my city, I am like ‘meh, forget! If you are in Poland, go to Krakow, Gdansk or Wroclaw’. Although I am born and raised in Lodz (Łódź), and really enjoy my life here, I still claim – there is not much of touristic value to it. I think that if you come here as a tourist, you could visit all the must-see points in one or maximum two days.

I guess that this post is a form of auto-therapy for me – I just needed to write it to convince myself that there is really SOMETHING worth recommending in my city!

  1. OFF Piotrkowska

In 2014, OFF Piotrkowska center was announced as a winner of 7 Miracles of Poland plebiscite by National Geographic and THAT MEANS something.

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Old textile factory (my city was famous for textile industry in XIX-XX century) was converted into a trendy complex of more than 20 restaurants, bars, pubs, design shops and workshops, in the very center of the city. NG compared it to New York or Berlin, I just love its climate – postindustrial architecture, hipster style, unique atmosphere. It all makes it attractive to people of all ages. I go there to study, eat lunch or dinner, drink a beer, watch a movie in the open-air cinema in the summer, just seat on the bench, anything, anytime. Just love it.

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  1. Student life

I study at International Faculty of Engineering, Lodz University of Technology. At some point of life, I considered moving to Warsaw to study at the best technical university in Poland, but doing my Bachelor totally in English and not paying for it seemed more convincing, so I stayed in my hometown. And I don’t regret.

Lodz has great conditions for students! Five public universities (technical, humanistic, medical, art, film, music) bring many young people to the city (no matter that they leave it just after graduation and Lodz’s population is aging since years). Many courses available in English, low (for European standards) costs of living, good and constantly improving opinion and the oldest School of Polish Language for Foreigners bring us many internationals too. For me it is the best what can happen to this grey society! If they are not brave enough (or can’t afford) to travel abroad and see that people are people everywhere, independently on their religion, language, culture and skin color, it’s great that this opportunity comes to them by itself! Maybe some percentage of the population will broaden their horizons, get rid of xenophobia and open their minds

    3. Kamp!

That’s out of the way, but we have great music too! From Artur Rubinstein (my Father’s option), through Coma (band of my rebellious teenage years!) with a great vocalist Piotr Rogucki and even greater drummer Adam Marszałkowski, to Kamp! – young blood of Polish electronics. Not much to add, just listen to them by yourself. I bet that if they were recording abroad, they would already be famous worldwide.


4. Pasaż Róży

Pasaż Róży is the decoration created in one of the yards of the main street by a great Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska (other famous piece of ‘art’ is the palmtree in Warsaw city center). It’s a tribute to the artist’s daughter, suffering from eyes cancer and her way from being blind to seeing. The installation was mainly created by the group of students and was a part of Dialogue of Four Cultures Festival. There is not much to comment on – just take a look at the pictures. It looks gorgeous, reflects sunshine, makes a great impression at any time of the day and in any weather. End every time I show it to someone, they are in love, as I was for the first time.

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    5. Murals

We have quite many of them. I am a total fan! The city does not have that much money to renovate ALL of the grey buildings which are falling apart (Łódź is said to be in very bad state, lacking innovations, however it’s changing from my point of view), so it is great that at least they allow for the cheaper option – decorating them with the murals, inviting the artists from all over the world. It’s a way to make the city cosmetically more vivid and energetic! Here – my favorite ones, but you can spot so many more of them!

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  1. Pronunciation

That is actually funny part. Łódź is the third biggest city in Poland (after Warsaw and Cracow), but hardly anyone from abroad knows about it. Why? Cause no one knows how the hell to pronounce its name. J

When I try to explain it to foreigners, I go for something between wood and image, to form anything close to woodge, but that is a very rough estimation.

  1. Miś Uszatek

Wrocław has its dwarfs (I think I’m gonna show them to you at some point, I’m going to visit friends there soon), Warsaw has the palm tree, Cracow has the dragon… And we have Miś Uszatek! Although it’s not the famous super production, it is a part of my childhood – animation made with little toys which you could watch every day at 7pm in public television. After that kids where supposed to go to sleep.

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Since Łódź has a top-level Film School with the long tradition, many Polish movies (also animated) were directed and filmed here. And although today most of the TV are some crazy cartoons, we still have a couple of monuments reminding us of the series of our childhood.

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  1. Piotrkowska street

Basing on The Independent’s description: At 4.2km, Piotrkowska is the longest commercial street in the country – and probably the most eclectic. From its northern tip at Plac Wolnosci (Liberty Square) to the junction with Pilsudskiego, you’ll find a hotchpotch of architectural styles from the neo-baroque House of Schiebler to Wilhelm Landau’s Bank House, adding some art nouveau into the mix. Then there’s “Holly-Lodz”, the city’s take on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame (it makes more sense if you remember how to correctly pronounce Lodz). Pavement stars honour Roman Polanski, a graduate of the city’s film school, and pianist Arthur Rubinstein.

For me it’s the center of the universe. This is where I go for my yoga classes and German course. This where I meet my friends. Eat lunches and dinners. Drink coffee and alcohol.  Visit doctors and tattoo artists. Party. Do lots of shopping.

When it comes to nightlife, Łódź is the most convenient place ever! Most of the important nightclubs and bars are located there, on Piotrkowska. You don’t need to travel far away to change the party if you dislike the music or want to join your friends in a different venue!

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And what do you like most about your city?

/// All the pictures come from Pinterest ///