lessons learned

 

Aloha! It’s not like great and interesting things happened since my last blog post about Hawai’i, but I had a lot of personal thoughts about life and taking chances lately, and I feel like I want to tell you about it. That’s why I wrote this reflective, kind of poetic post. However, I added some photos to make it easier to read. If you expect to hear stories about adventures on the island, stop reading here.

I realized a lot of things. But let’s start somewhere. I realized, that one of the best things that happened to me, is that I took the classes I’m in right now. That I am actually going to University and doing something. As you can imagine, Hawai’i can be pretty distracting. Most of the time, almost every day, I’m upset about my homework because it’s simply too much work. But to be honest, I never expected to learn so much – especially, learn about things I did not look forward to learn and never event thought of. Coming to Hawai’i as an international student in summer is uncommon, most of the students go back to the mainland and take a break between spring and fall classes. The consequence I didn’t know about were reduced classes and I could barely choose graphic design related classes (that’s my major in Germany). In the first weeks I wasn’t sure if this semester abroad makes sense in the context of studying. If I’m not able to improve my skills in illustration, design, or whatever, then why would I do that? I organized this whole semester abroad on my own. All the other international students, I’m the only German by the way, are here with organizations, and their study program is completely coordinated with their studies back home… whereas I’m not even sure if I can use any credit for my studies in Germany.

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After 5 weeks of studying in Honolulu, I found that I have a widespread field of other interests, for example philosophy, different cultures and their behavior, and writing. I discovered that I actually really like to write – no matter if I’m good or bad at it. I also noticed, not being under permanent pressure of being creative, I finally would consider myself creative again. During my semester in Germany, I wasn’t able to produce any kind of satisfying artwork as I was way too busy catching up with all the university assignments. In about a week I already have final exams in all of my three current classes. I’m really looking forward to that. I have so many things on my mind that I absolutely want to do right now; Illustrate more, make prints and shirts out of the illustrations, try new things, use different material, take more photos, more portraits, and eventually start a photography project that floats around in my head for a while now. It feels as if spending a lot of time on my own made me even more creative, focusing on my strengths, but also my weaknesses, my inner voice telling me where to go. I’m so curious to explore all the endless possibilities that art and photography bring with them. Being surrounded by a different culture brings even more opportunities with it. So many things are still, and will remain, new to me. What am I to do than discover them?

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Another thing I realized, is how important it is to spend time with yourself. At home, I was constantly somewhere with friends. Out for dinner, at a friends house, somewhere in a bar or club, maybe in a park or on a rooftop. Some weeks the only reason I got home for a longer time was sleeping. Another point is consuming. In Germany I permanently got new clothes when I could afford it, I went out every weekend, had drinks during the week nearly every day, bought small imperceptible things, but still spent money on them…because I thought I needed them. Intoxicating. If I look at the past months from my perspective now, I’ve literally been rushing through my life. Always somewhere, trying to be everywhere, actually present – nowhere. I forgot about my laundry, about homework, about cooking and eating healthy, working out, and about finding some relaxing time on my own. Some time to breathe. Some time to think. When I was home in the evening, I always had a plan for the night, for the weekend anyway. I met so many different people every day, and I loved it, I still love it, but it’s just so contrary to my life in Hawai’i. I discovered how much I love it to be in the library on my own, in a cafe, sitting there for hours listening to music and sketching, at the beach or at home. Some of you might think I’m strange, but if you would have asked me a few months ago, I probably would have thought the same. I just learned how nice it is to be in the presence of only myself, and how you don’t always need someone to share your experiences with. On the other side, of course there are some days I miss my friends and think about how cool it would be to share an ice-cream with someone else or random things like that. But I stopped pressuring and forcing myself to find friends, like that it won’t work anyway. I just love what my life is like right now. Plus, not that you get that wrong, I indeed made some friends and I’m definitely not a total loner šŸ™‚

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You’ve probably heard of this a hundred times, or you’ve experienced it yourself. But let me tell you this: Go on a journey. Travel. If there is one thing that can broaden your horizon, it is traveling – It allows you to understand different cultures, and, through this, understand your own culture, understand where you’re coming from and where you’re going, understand others and yourself, find yourself, question yourself, doubt yourself. You’ll struggle, you’ll fall, you’ll learn, and you’ll grow. All the bad things like feeling completely lost, out of place, without anyone to talk to, not understanding why people act the way they act, people being mean and unfair to you, people letting you down, all this.. happens for one reason: you’ll be much smarter after experiencing it. And being smarter not only means gaining more knowledge or intelligence, for me it especially means to know who you are, and who you are not. You’ll see the world from another perspective. You’ll know how to deal with all kinds of situations, and you’ll learn to say no to things that aren’t worth your time.

I know all of this may sound random and pseudo-poetic. But I left my home almost two months ago and this whole experience really blew my mind at this point. I’ve been to Australia for half a year but under different circumstances and I was way younger. In my opinion, a lot of people let their lives be defined by fear. Sometimes we are to cautious, to scared, to take a risk. We fear things that are new, unexperienced, and seem to be tremendous. But overcoming fears gives us so many opportunities. Just use them! Don’t be afraid of stepping into a whole different world, just jump in at the deep end. Reading a quote of a children’s book writer made me think about that topic a lot. She says, without overcoming fears we will never change anything. It makes you happy and it is incredibly liberating to take a chance. It doesn’t really matter how it ends up… you’re always glad you took it.

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