Hometown student life

I live in a small town. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve always dreamt of running away. When I got into university I had to choose between staying in my home-town or going away to study. Guess what I wanted! I desired to run away as far as possible but if I wanted to have enough money to make my dream come true and do my MA course abroad… I had to stay here for another four years. So, the 18-year-old Elena made an important decision: to stay and study in the same town she’d grown up in, dreaming about the day she’d had the chance to fly away.

Four years later, the news is good! I worked hard to make sure my dream would come true and I am happy to announce I am leaving this place – hopefully for good! – in September. (Many posts will follow about life abroad, so let’s leave that for now). I wanted to go through the pros and the cons of studying in one’s hometown and hopefully help people who are struggling with making a decision, as I was four years ago.

To begin with, I encourage everyone who is financially able to support studying away from home to do so, because it is a huge chance to grow and gain your independence as an individual and find out a great deal about yourself. Don’t let your fear hold you back. But for those who cannot do that for financial or other reasons, here are the Upsides of studying in your home-town…

books better

Upsides: 

  1. money Saving: Probably this is the biggest one. We all know it costs a huge amount of money to study away from home whether that’s in your country or abroad. You would have to rent a house and pay for all the utilities as well as the expenses for coming and going. For some people, it is inevitable in that situation to get a job, which means they might wait precious time they would spend studying or enjoying their student life. If that is something you want to avoid, maybe you should consider staying.
  2.  friends and family: If you chose to stay in your hometown, you wouldn’t have to go through separating with your friends and family. You would also always have someone to support you and someone to open the door for you those nights you return only to find out you forgot your keys – if you’re like me, this is the most serious reason to consider staying! It happens A LOT!
  3.  familiarity: Knowing a place well can have a lot of advantages. You know where you like to go an have fun, you know the lame places and that makes you the leader of the group once you make friends at university, who are coming from different places. You’re the one who gets to introduce them to the secret beautiful spots of your place, which only a local could be familiar with.

Downsides:

  1. no chance for self-exploration: Wait here! I am not claiming you will not explore yourself and grow in your hometown. All I’m saying is, you’ll have a much bigger chance to do it away. Different places usually tend to bring out different sides of ourselves, so do different people. As a matter of fact, if you distance yourself from your family and everything you know, it’s so much easier to explore parts of yourself you had no idea existed. That’s one of the best experiences!
  2. old same… everything!: Who doesn’t want to see new places? Who doesn’t want to explore new lanes in a city? Who doesn’t like to be where they’ve never been before? Every corner of the city will be a surprise and so will be every store you walk into, every cafe and every bar! Endless chances for new memories to be made in a new scenery! I know I’ve used the word “new” so many times in this paragraph but that’s the whole point!
  3. Independence: They say, after you’ve lived on your own for a while, you never want to go back to living with your parents, why do you think that is? I’ve lived alone for almost five years now and I can tell you there is nothing better than independence! It might scare you! Cooking for yourself, laundry, cleaning and what will happen if you need help but if you chose to stay with your parents you will miss out on that amazing feeling of I-Can-Make-It-On-My-Own! I think, the sooner someone gains their independence, the better it is for their lives in the future and university is meant to be that time.

Of, course, as you know, I believe that there shouldn’t be a certain moment for everyone to do something and all of us should be able to choose when we are ready to make the next step in our lives, whether society approves or not. So, read this article but keep in mind that’s only my opinion. You get to decide when you’re ready to move away because everyone is different.

I will only repeat one thing that I already said previously and I think it’s the one you should keep: If fear is what’s holding you back, don’t let it. Student life is not only about gaining a degree, it’s also about finding out a great deal more about yourself, human relationships and the world in general!

have a lovely day,

glance-at-the-sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

 

 

 

You are your passions

  • Tea time on a Wednesday, today! Who knew?

Every one of us is different, that’s what’s so brilliant about relationships, that’s what keeps them interesting. A lot of factors play a part in who we become: genetics, the place we grow up in, our friends, teachers and families, crucial life events, society and so much more. In my point of view, there is a way to understand a lot about a person from one particular preference: their interests.

Our interests define us in some way. They also shape us. Interests are what makes the basis of a friendship very often or what brings people together to take something to the next step. Usually, our interests play a big role in the outcomes of our lives, the people we chose to be in it, the career we want to pursue and also qualities of our personalities. When we make the right choices, interests balance the practical part of life and the fun one.

People who are passionate about their interests are usually considered more charming, especially if they have a way to communicate what fascinates them and make other people feel how they feel about a particular subject.

In our age more than any other one before, someone can enjoy what they are passionate about easily. The internet provides us with information, courses and chances to engage in conversations around pretty much anything. So, whether you are an Astronomy enthusiast who goes crazy over the study of the universe and its galaxies or you are a 50’s music fanatic and you like to research the story behind every album released at the time… you can do so from the comfort of your own sofa.

The downside of it all is that at the same time, since there is so much free information waiting for us to explore, sometimes, even our  own interests can seem a little bit chaotic, so instead of actually taking the time to get more into what we love, we chose to numb our minds from the pressures of everyday life while doing something that requires the least possible amount of energy – such as watching a show that even us ourselves consider stupid. That’s great… if it doesn’t take over someone’s life and make them forget what they were truly passionate about from the beginning.

People who have the opportunity to turn their interests into a job are lucky but they are also the people who usually succeed. That is because they are passionate about what they do and they also care enough to engage and try to take what they love a step further. For example, if you are very passionate about physics, you will probably try to contribute to what already exists. You want to experiment with new theories and test your instincts.

Even if you cannot turn your passion into an everyday job, you can always have it as a hobby, which sometimes can be even better because a job sometimes becomes an obligation but a hobby rarely does. It doesn’t mean that you cannot be as great at anything if you are not a pro.

Either way, make sure to have interests. They define you, they give your personality elements, they bring you closer to other people and they make your life more productive and fun. Try not to seat in front of a screen watching passively 100% of your free time. Do it – we all do! – but also… don’t forget your interests. Get up and devote some time to them, it will pay off, I promise.

 

have a magical day,

glance-at-the-sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

A little something you forgot to consider

When you look at the world you see a combination of brilliance and dirt altogether. It makes you want to get out and explore every single part of it, every possible human emotion and at the same time, it makes you want to run to bed and stay there forever. It’s like being in a huge library with a billion books. You wish you’ll choose the most fascinating ones, those that will teach you a lot and make you a wiser person but still… you cannot know the ending in advance. There’s always a risk.  It’s scary – terrifying actually – but I suppose life can give you a few things that are worth the “pain and the aches of the outcoming fortune” in the words of the Danish Prince.

It is incredible that you have all these choices concerning who you want to become and how you want to use your life in order to contribute to society. But what most people forget to mention when they talk about the endless possibilities is risk and fear. The smallest choice you make has outcomes. There’s never a win-win situation. You always have to face consequences, responsibilities and stand up for the path you took and for the person you are today.

We chose friends, behaviors, careers, lovers, places to live in and even ways to approach situations. Every little thing is crucial but there are some choices bigger than others. These are the choices that will change your life. When you stand in front of a choice this big, I tell you, it’s scary. Nobody mentions that. Everyone goes on and on about doing the right thing but… when you’re actually standing a step away from opening one door or another, you can’t see “right” or “wrong”. You can only see the regret at the end of each way and you’re afraid of it. There are paths that guarantee security and others that involve greater risk.

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Making the step is hard. But no matter what you have been thinking so far, no matter what all the voices around you have been going on and on about, you have to take a step back and put yourself in the microscope. I don’t mean endless hours of worrying and re-thinking – which is something I am guilty of, to be honest – but to really stand across your deepest desire and ask yourself “Where do you want to go?”.

This process is usually so hard because we forget to keep in mind the fear that goes with it. It’s what we forget to consider when we make plans. Fear is usually a huge part of our choices but it shouldn’t be. Go with your gut. There is an instinct inside every one of us, we’ve just learned to ignore it over the years while trying to rationalize everything.

Remember back when you were a kid? You took one look at a person and you knew if you liked them or not. You went to ballet lessons for a week to find out you want to quit and then you tried piano and Italian and none of those were right for you. You knew and you were not afraid to admit you changed your mind. Nobody would call you a loser. Then, you finally tried tennis or playing the tuba and it was fun. You couldn’t see the time to go to practice. That’s what we suppress over the years, our pure instincts. We learn to like what we should like but, how will we ever be happy if we don’t risk walking the road our heart tells us it leads to happiness?

Charles Bukowski said “Go all the way” and he was right. If you don’t go all the way, you’ll never know. It takes a huge amount of courage to stop thinking of every little thing that can go wrong and focus on your pure desire. Don’t be afraid of it. Take a step on the path your heart points at. There must be some reason. Show it some trust and you’ll eventually find out why it took you there.

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Never ending dream chase

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for the future. I would ask my mom how many days are left until I’m a grown-up – free to do what I want any time I want to. Little did I know… I had no idea that Peter Pan was right when he chose to stay in Neverland and I secretly wish I’d followed him when I still had the chance. But we grow… we become adults and take life in our own hands and those things that once seemed like a faraway dream, are now everyday worries, all written down in To-Do Lists on the refrigerator looking judgmentally at you day and night. What happened?

When you’re little, you dream, you idealize the future and somewhere inside you, you know that you will do everything right. You won’t make the stupid mistakes all the other grown-ups make. You’re so much wiser. You’ll succeed and thrive. It can’t be that hard when you’re free to do your own thing. Soon, life will prove you wrong and you’ll you might forget your great dreams somewhere along the way.

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Dreams are not only the most important thing of our childhood, dreams must remain a great part of our adulthood as well. The fast rhythm of life makes us lose our way and forget where we are going. We settle. We settle for safety, for comfort or because we are secretly afraid to find out what would actually happen if we had the courage to pursue that dream. We make up excuses that convince the rest but they’re never enough to convince ourselves. Deep down we all know they’re carefully made-up and brilliantly convincing lies. Not for our family or our friends who wonder why we changed our minds but for the kid in us asking why we ended up betraying that once-so-clear vision.

Taking risks in a world that never helps the ones who dream of something greater is hard. It takes everything you’ve got and yes… you might lose everything you gained with so much hard work but… there’s one slight chance if you trust that little dreamer you left behind somewhere on the way here, you’ll find the life you once thought you would have. Don’t you know that this is the one you deserve?

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Dreams must play the role of a map or a compass in life. We must always look at them to tell us where to go. The journey is what will make us happy and complete but looking at that destination will keep us on the right path. It’s ok to change your mind and let your dream change as you evolve as a person but never settle for less and never give up. There is incredible strength in each of us. You’ll be surprised to find out how much of it is hidden in you. If you have dreamt it, even as a child, you do have what it takes to do it.

It might mean you’ll have to sacrifice comforts and time and even people in your life. But would you rather wonder forever?

have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

September blues

7:40 pm and the sun’s already disappeared.

Autumn is lovely. The warmer clothes, the blankets on the bed, green tea, the smell of rain, the ankle boots… and mostly the anticipation of winter. If you’re a Cold Weather Lover like me, you know what I’m talking about. But even for us, the people who are cheered up by bowls of soup and big scarfs, there’s something sad about the begging of September.

Saying goodbye to the holidays and a great amount of free time isn’t easy. But… here are a few reasons why Autumn is a brilliant season, to help you make it through the harsh times of those so well known September Blues.

Firstly, stationary! I know we all love this time of year when all the stores are full of notebooks, pens, coloring pencils and planners. This is the time to buy your now journal and organize the upcoming moths. I know that January is the most popular month for setting Year – Goals but I’ve always felt like September is the month of the actual start of the year. You’ve had the time ti relax and rest during the holiday’s and now it’s the time to think about what you want to achieve until next summer. It’s always fun to sit down at a cafe with a nice-smelling new planner and a few pens and create your new schedule. It always makes me extremely excited.

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The fact that it’s time to organize your life also means that it’s a great opportunity for new beginnings. You probably want to get rid of some bad habits – I know! You eat too much chocolate too, huh? I feel you! – this is the time to do it. Set a goal and give yourself a few months. I usually say that New Year’s eve is the end  point. That way I always enter the new year as an improved version of myself.

You cannot ignore the fact that autumn – winter clothes are so much better. It’s cold but you get to wear nice coats, boots and scarfs that feel like blankets. It’s like you’re in your bed all day. It’s so cozy and comfortable. Plus, if you put on a few extra pounds  from that chocolate we already talked about  you can easily cover them up using an over-sized jumper that is super flattering.

Is there anything more joyful than looking out the window at night during a storm. Music playing in the background, and hearing the thunders and the drops tapping on the window. If you live in a place where it rains a lot during the summer, you probably don’t miss it as much but I haven’t heard the sound of rain for months and  I cannot wait to see a few big grey clouds in the sky.

Weather you are an Autumn person or not, it’s up to you to find the little joyful things  during this brilliant time of year. And please don’t ignore the fact that we are only 101 days away from Christmas…

have a wonderful September morning,

 

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Moody evening: survival Guide

Let me guess! It’s around 8:00 pm and something is wrong. There’s no good enough reason to be sad, you’re just a little moody. The sun has set, the day has passed and something is missing. But what? You walk a little around your apartment looking for some brilliant idea of what’s going to pull you out of your misery. You open the refrigerator once, twice… three times! No, there’s no answer in there.

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You start thinking about your life, your choices, people who you don’t see anymore. What happened to them? Were you the one who drove them away? That’s it!  Now, you’re sad and you can find o billion reasons to be.

Stop! Don’t sink any deeper. I know how to pull you out.

Firstly, think about how it happens to everyone. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have evenings like this. Even the people you admire the most, sometimes fall into this trap. So, don’t blame yourself for feeling sad for no reason. The greater artists of all time made masterpieces out of evenings like this.

That’s my first advice! Get creative! Grab your stationary and start making a collage of your favorite images, or draw – even if you’re bad at it. If you play a musical instrument, turn to that for comfort and if you are more into performing arts, like myself, start a wild karaoke night with famous musical songs across the mirror. When you set your mind on making something, you usually end up feeling better because you prevent yourself from negative thoughts since you’re too busy with your hands. That’s why baking is an other great alternative.

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In case you’re not the artsy type, do not worry! Books are a great way to cheer yourself up. I am sure that if you look up the shelf of your bookcase, you’ll find books you haven’t yet given a chance to. This is the time to do it. Personally, I prefer poetry for moody evenings. It instantly makes me feel better even if it is on a sad topic but you should stick to what you like.

If you’ve read everything on your bookshelf (good for you!), why not have your personal movie marathon. Have you watched every single Woody Allen film yet? No? Then you must! Make your favorite dinner or order a delicious pizza and grab any film you like – I suggest anything by Allen because they always make me laugh – sit comfortably and enjoy your evening.

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If you don’t want to stay home, there is always the option of a long walk near your favorite area of the place you live. For me, that’s  near the sea. Don’t forget your headphones. If you try classical music while you walk, you will instantly feel better. I always thought that classical music sounds better outside.

Whatever you decide to do, have a magical day. Let me know what you do to cheer yourself up in case of a moody evening.

 

.glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou