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 ///

Sewing workshop at Nubee

In the beginning of this semester I decided that in order not to get crazy with my university, engineering, thesis and other studies-related issues, I should do something completely different just for myself at least once a month! In October I’ve been volunteering at Filmteractive festival and learning about work in social media. On Wednesday 8/11 I had a chance to attend a 5-hours sewing workshop organized by the Polish clothing company called Nubee completely for free!

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What a pity that no man is ever interested in broadening his manual skills!

I needed to take a day-off from lectures, because the workshop took me most of the day. After one hour of theoretical introduction, some practical exercises with a sewing machine there was quite little time left for the final project, especially that – apart from the backpack – I also wanted to make a MacBook case, since I needed it a lot (recently I carry my laptop with me almost every day!).

 

I have had so much fun there! Well, okay, at some moments I thought that sewing is just another activity I am not talented in… For example when I miscalculated the size of my MacBook and a case was far too big. When I sewed the pocket on the wrong side of the material. Or when I cut my finger very very deeply with very very sharp scissors and I was bleeding A LOT. But I had so much fun there! And I am so proud of myself, the backpack I designed and made is actually cool and not that bad-looking, so I am definitely gonna wear it. And it’s a great topic for small talk xD

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I always admire my Mom for how talented she is. Being a doctor, she has surprisingly many hobbyhorse not-at-all connected to what she does. She has great taste for the interior design (I think I’ve posted how her apartment looks like), she can embroider, knit and sew (she saved so many of my clothes!), draws pretty well and has many many creative ideas.

 

Anyway – I am not as talented as my Mom, but still – PROUD of myself. And really happy about how I have spent this day. I needed some fresh air.

 

CREDITS FOR ALL THE PICTURES: Nubee Polska

How to like yourself? vol.5

Remember my post about how much Sex and The City influenced my life? Well, it’s worth commenting on again.

No matter how cartoonish the creations of Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are (come on, there are no such clear-cut people in real life), they create, together with Carrie (who seems more real) a model group connected by the ever-lasting friendship between women. And although I do not wanna go deeper into the topic of female friendship, cause it is a sensitive and hurting recently, Carrie does something very healthy – divides and shares her problems between people.

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(c) Ana Estrada #AE

There is no person who can hadle ALL. Ok, maybe your mother, but this doesn’t count. While picking people and talking to them about something deeper than the weather, you should also be concern about their comfort. I wouldn’t ask relationship advices to someone who just broke up with their partner. I wouldn’t complain about life to someone in bereavement. But it’s not only about temporary states.

Maybe it’s a natural trait, but I somehow also share myself as a person into some smaller parts available to other people. It doesn’t mean I’m fake – they can access the whole set any time, but in the every day life it’s easier to be a person they like and need.

I cannot expect from just one person understanding and support in EVERY situation. Yes, I can tell everything to my best friend and I do. And I know she will understand and support me no matter what. She will say I am a great person even if I completely screw something up. But when I need someone to shake me, tell me I’m horrible and I should do something about it, I will go to other friends 🙂 I think it’s healthy both for me and for them – less pressure.

If you succeed to like yourself, everything gets easier. Not easy, clear and obvious, but easier.

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(c) Ana Estrada #AE

I do not always like myself, but since some time I like myself more than ever. Well, I still see my weaknesses, but I try to fight them and I do not let them determine me. And I see them better than before because liking myself I see it all as a one person I am.

When I realize that I am not exactly the person I would like to be, I take a deep breath. Before I would hate myself for making a mistake and treat myself as the worst person in the world. I do not do that anymore. I just let it go, learn the lesson and try to never repeat it again. That is healthy too. Do not let your mistakes stick in your head. Do not collect them like stamps, which can remind you of all the bad things about yourself. What is more, there is no one who can judge you more severly than you yourself.

To like the person you are is one of the most important tasks in your life. All the others – decisions you make, plans and goals you set, dreams you have and how you follow them – result from this one thing. This tiny thing which cannot even be seen or measured (well, it’s also about the gravity. F=mg, E=mgh and such stuff).

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(c) Ana Estrada #AE

If you succeed to like yourself, you will also like all the people around at least a bit more. You will be able to treat them better. You will welcome every new day with some portion of happiness.

Obviously it’s nicer to spend your life with a person you like, with who you can just be silent and enjoy moments, not fight and be criticized all the time (sh*t, that sounds like dual personality xD But you get what I mean). Give yourself a chance. Keep smiling. And loving.

 

 

Lanzarote – 5 días en el paraíso

I needed holidays. Not that I don’t need holidays any time you ask me J But now I needed them much more than usually, since Polish autumn is terribly gray, rainy, cold and does not influence my well-being positively. It was great to spend a couple of days in 25 degrees and the sunset coming around 7pm.

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I am very lucky that my Mom does not drive a car and she needed a driver to take her for a road trip around the island – I had a chance to visit Lanzarote!

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I don’t really understand why my Mother is so in love with the Canary Islands. It was great to be there for 5 days, enjoy the sun, lay down on the beach, drink sangria under palm trees and eat all the paella and tapas around, but I cannot imagine staying there for longer! It would be sooo boring! Unless you get an all-inclusive bracelet and have access to even more sangria…

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There is not much more to my holidays than pure laziness, sunbathing, short swims in the ocean, 2 days of driving to the south and north sides of the island. I was astonished by Teguise – the old capital of the island, by Mirador del Rio – the viewpoint located high on the volcanic mountains with a great landscape, I loved the little sailors’ villages with all the shrimps and octopus I could eat. And I was super happy to drive – it turned out that you really do not forget it, although I have sold my car over 1.5 years ago and drove maybe twice since then. I also really enjoyed speaking Spanish – another thing I surprisingly do not forget.

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There is not much to write about Lanzarote… Well, it’s not India 😀 Since I’ve already travelled and seen a bit of the world, my only comment is that it is funny to see a combination of the atmosphere of Maldives, architecture of Greece, society of southern Spain (fiesta siesta Spaniards & rich German tourists) with the Icelandic black deserts of volcanic ash and the horizon like on the moon.

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One more thing – we should all learn to think positive from the Canarians. Whoever I asked ‘how is it to live in paradise’ told me ‘well, Lanzarote is amazing, but there are so many beautiful places all around!’. I bet that the standard Polish person would start complaining that it never snows and there are too many tourists.

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I leave you with the gorgeous pictures – I am also lucky that my Mom is patient enough to contribute to the blog this way and take thousands of them (‘Mom! Help me do a head stand, that will look cool!’).

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How to like yourself? vol.4

Maybe it’s very subjective and for some people it is a complete opposite, but really feel happy and like myself when as much as possible is planned in my life!

Don’t get my wrong – I like being spontaneous too, but in some frames. When I know I have nothing to do on Saturday, I let myself be very spontaneous on Friday evening and night xD. But when I have a plan, there is not much to switch me to another direction that pursuing it.

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(c) Ana Estrada #AE

I love doing check-lists, they are my clue to success! I really recommend Wunderlist mobile app – I have many lists there (from Movies to watch, Groceries, To-do-on-weekend to my Dream travel destinations).

During the day there are many things coming to my mind, but I usually do not have time to deal with them, so I often postpone them until evening, when I peacefully sit down on my sofa under the blanket. But the more things I have, the easier I forget them (my memory is good but short, you know what I mean). So I tend to immediately write them down. The same with blog posts ideas. I have around 15 post drafts right now, and usually at least 5 posts scheduled up front (JUST IN CASE I don’t have time to write in the next few days).

Check-lists are the means for perfect time management. I know what should I do for school for the next week, when should I study for exams, that I should set up a meeting with the doctor, text some friends and meet for a coffee with some acquaitances. Without my mobile app and paper calendar (yes, I excessively use paper version, not a calendar in my iPhone!). And when I sit down at the end of the day and see that I can tick all the squares, I really feel a lot of fulfillment and satisfaction. Well, it’s all about small things.

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(c) Ana Estrada #AE

Another thing which makes me feel a better person is having some personal achievements. I graduated from the best high school in my city. I study at a prestigious faculty. I’ve traveled 35 countries, I’ve been living in 5. And the most important: I speak fluently 2 languages (Polish and English), 1 pretty well (Spanish), I understand 1 decently (French), learn another 1 (German), had an episode with 1 more (Swedish). It gives me so many ways for communication! So many people to talk to!

Fun fact – it is proven that your personality changes depending on which language you speak. I notice it on myself: I like myself the most when speaking English – I feel natural, I am smart, social and interesting. In Polish I’m natural too, but much more harsh and sarcastic. If someone dislikes me at first sight, it must have been in Polish. The level of my Spanish is close to a 8-10 year old kid, so I sound quite cute, but also socially open, cheerful and like a party maker.

I definitely recommend considering that on yourself! Self-consciousness is also very up-building for character and positive, realistic thinking.

Movies I should have grown up to

I recently have heard (in pretty painful circumstances) that you shouldn’t say that you will grow out of something, because it seems as if you didn’t have influence on it. And I really introduced this point of view to my life. But the exception proves the rule.

There are two movies which I shouldn’t watch as early as I did. I should have grown up to them.

Requiem for a dream, 2000 by Darren Aronofsky
staring young and handome (he still is) Jared Leto
American psychological drama

The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep. The story of 4 people for whom the hard drugs are the escape from reality.

Why to early? It traumatized me. I was too young to approach this movie with cold emotions, distance and balance. I was really scared, I think even couldn’t sleep or had nightmares for some time.

Now I watch it without stress (I’ve tried recently a few months ago, in Sweden, with a guy at that time), with more understanding but still a lot of humbleness. It was and always will be a huge lesson.

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Amelie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain), 2001 by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
staring Audrey Tautou
French romantic comedie

The movie is a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre. It tells the story of a shy waitress who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation.

Why would I watch this innocent beautiful movie to early?

Because I did not understand it until I’ve watched it alone again a couple of days, maybe a week, ago. As a 7-8 years old child I was told that it is a favourite movie of my Aunt. Well, not a real aunt. My Mom’s best friend, someone like Z. for me. She died for leukemia in 2011 (terrible year – my Aunt, beloved cat Józia and my Grandfather couple of months later), aged 53. Far too early, far too painful for everyone around – my Mom, me, her Partner, friends, coworkers.

I wanted to like Amelie but I just couldn’t. Until I watched it again, aged 22. I loved it! Every second. I’ve seen myself like in All these sleepless nights. And never wanna forget this movie again!

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Moral? Give second chances, but do it wisely.

And now a trailer straight from my head.

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How to like yourself? vol.3

A huge factor influencing your self-esteem is the contact with people around you.

Extreme example I came across during Bio-ethics lecture (actually Ethics and Law in Biomedical Engineering. Really cool course, lots of discussions!):
In Japan, hikikomori (Japanese: ひきこもり or 引き籠り, lit. “pulling inward, being confined”, i.e., “acute social withdrawal”) are reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement.

In other words – people who just close themselves in their rooms, replacing social life with the virtual reality of games, making friends online, never going out of house. Harshly – extreme case of nerds, nolifes or gamers.

The discussion concerned – should we help them? Take them out and show what the real world is? I said YES, at least try. People of contrary opinion said that we cannot make anyone happy against their own will, and I also agree with that.

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(c) Ana Estrada #AE

What I am trying to say is that human being is by nature a social animal. To different degree we cannot survive without other people. For someone it’s just lady from the corner grocery shop selling them bread and their closest friends, for me this is also all the community I am currently functioning in: my group at university, people I practice yoga with, my German class colleagues, the friends of friends I sometimes meet accidentally on the street and small-talk with.

For me who defines us the most are the people closest to us: family, best friends, a partner.

There is a scene in Disney’s Frozen (not that I’ve seen the movie) when Elsa tells Anna that she cannot marry someone, who she has known for one day. I think that equally unreasonable is to marry someone you haven’t seen in any critical situation, who didn’t have a chance to support you in your breakdown, with who you didn’t go through any worse period in a relationship, and with who you haven’t slept and shared a flat.

Not that I have much to say about serious relationships right now, being just freshly and slightly commited to someone, but I know and experienced stuff. And no matter how tempting it seems to marry a rich guy just to able to travel 24/7, I don’t think I’m ever gonna do it.

But in contrary – IT IS YOU WHO DECIDE HOW MUCH SOMETHING DEFINES YOU. Will you let all the people percept you as a kid of rich parents? Or a white woman, striving for perfection, neurotic and weaker than men? Or an engineering student? You decide who you are and how you gonna live your life. For example: during therapy I decided and acknowledged that I will never repeat my parents’ model of a relationship, just because I don’t want to. No matter what my ‘kinda catholic’ father-side of family thinks, I will quit catholic church and maybe convert to hinduism. I will be with whoever I love – no matter of nationality, skin color, sex and ideological background. I’ve cheated once, but I decided that I will never cheat again and I know I won’t. I have lost some best friends (probably partially from my fault) and that is why I won’t let myself lose any more again. And so and so….

Someone important told me that she doesn’t like to say that she will grow out of something because it seems as if we didn’t have any influence on it. We can grow out of shoes as kids, but I realized that I don’t wanna say I will grow out of some problems, some things will not bother me anymore – it is my f**king job to deal with it right here, right now in the best possible way.

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(c) Ana Estrada @AE

And the last thing for this part – it is okay not to be sure, it is great to be able to say I don’t know! I always really admire it.

I don’t knowI don’t have an opinion on this topic – it sounds so beautiful, honest and natural!

The person with a ready statement on any topic (from politics and ecology, through music and psychological aspects, to Malaysian cuisine) automatically seems suspicious and unreliable to me. How can you be such an alpha and omega?!

It is impossible for a human unit to be able to think through all the world’s problems on a level they deserve it! Not to mention commenting them wisely and finding reasonable solutions.

So just let yourself not to be an ace in EVERYTHING. I am still working on it, but it definitely reduces pressure and makes you more satisfied with yourself!