A lesson in enjoying the moment

My workcamp group In Sega, Kenya, presented a German gospel during mass. Athough we had practiced our performance before, we were quite nervous about it. In order to proove our courage to our friends back home, we asked someone to tape us singing and dancing. Unfortunately, she failed to do so. Although we did a great job on stage and our spectators seemed to like our performace, I was crushed about not having a taped memory of it.

Luckily, I noticed how stupid this thought was quite quickly. Here’s why:

We did a great job. We had fun. We made more than a thousand of other people happy. Last but not least: We made a memory. So what’s there to be sad about? Nothing!
Picture Moment Laura Konieczny

Taking a picture or enjoying the moment?

Although I love taking pictures while traveling, I’ve recently tried to cut it down to a minimum. Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice to have photos and videos as memories of great experiences made, beautiful places visited and wonderful people met. I also love sharing my (traveling) pictures with family and friends as much as I enjoy looking at their pictures. However, as times passes, I sometimes wonder what I’m actually remembering: the “true memory” or a static picture of it, FESTGEHALTEN with a camera.

Does it really matter?, you might wonder. To me, it does. I don’t want to have a nice view through the occular of my camera only. I’d rather like to feel the sun, rain or wind on my skin, inhale a place’s unique smell and try to take a vivid picture with my inner eye. I want to enjoy the moment while I’m living it, not only afterwards when looking at pictures.

Looking at photos and videos is a great way to remember memories made in past days. However, they shouldn’t stay onedimensional but remind us of those unique experiences we made, beautiful places we visited and the wonderful people we met. So next time you’re taking pictures and looking at them a while later, try to ask yourself: How did the place smell? What did it feel like? What did YOU feel like? Trust me, you’ll SCHWELGEN IN ERINNERUNGEN even longer than you normally do.

What’s your favorite memory?

What’s your favorite picture taken while traveling?

Check out those inspirational articles by my blogging colleagues:

Matador Network: “Don’t see traveling as a checklist”

Journey of Wonders: Photography tips

IYW (#6): Love, faith and hope

Throughout the past week, we have shared a great number of personal thoughts about spirituality, religion and many other very personal topics with each other.

After attending the service at a local church on Sunday, we talked about our personal values and religious beliefs. Chaplain Heinrich from Kronberg joined us for part of the discussion. One of the statements he made inspired me a lot:

It all comes down to love, faith and hope. The hope in the endless power of love is what we believe and trust in.

Kolping IYW International Youth Weeks Jugendwochen Chaplain Heinrich

Chaplain Heinrich talking to the group about love, faith and hope.

IYW (#4): The more you give the more you get?

An important part of the International Youth Weeks (IYW) is to talk about the worldwide distribution of different resources such as money.

When discussing that topic, we also came across the topic of not only sharing monetary resources but also those within us.

This is my small group’s finding on that:

Udaipur India Quote Life Good

Sign in Udaipur, India

When thinking about monetary resources, I notice that I don’t find it fair if one person has everything and another has nothing. We need to split up the resources so that everybody gets his or her fair share. Although the shares will not always be equal, I have to be somewhat satisfied with what we got at one point because goods will probably never be shared completely equally in our society.

The emotional resources we carry within us such as love and compassion whatsoever are endless. The more I give, the more I get. The more of myself I am giving to others, the more about myself I share with them, the more I receive in return. However, there is no need to estimate how much love and stories I am going to receive in return for sharing mine. Whatever I do for others will cause I feeling of joy within me and whatever I receive I will be grateful for.”

Cry because it’s over

“Shouldn’t you be used to saying goodbye by now?”, a friend recently asked me. “There’s no need to cry”, another one tried to comfort me. In my mind, I added that good old saying “Don’t cry because it’s over but smile because it happened” to the latter statement. I giggled. Next, I let my tears flow. 

I don’t mind crying. Not all the time, of course, but it’s a great relief once in a while. I can hardly think of a way to display my emotions more sincerely than by crying. What’s more beautiful than crying tears of joy in a moment of perfect happiness? What’s more relieving than crying when you’re feeling blue? Last but not least: What lets a bond of affection grow stronger than crying together and comforting each other?

Crying goodbye Debrecen Friends

“No tears, only smiles we will remember! See you soon. Like. Tomorrow. And then some other ‘tomorrow'” Gunda Z.

I just cried past night when I had to say goodbye to my Erasmus friends. “I’m not going to cry at my farewell”, I had told myself before. In the end I will make an effort to meet those who matter to me again very soon. Ergo: No need to cry. Those I will not keep in touch with have probably only been companions for that short period of my life. I’m thakful for the memories we share.

However, I didn’t manage not to cry. We had some drinks. The karaoke machine played a song after the next. Aidana fullfilled Iiris’ wish and performed “All of me”. My friends and me stood in a circle around her, arm in arm. Iiris and I would be leaving tomorrow, most other people within only a few weeks time. Aidana’s song got to me. I started to cry. My friends and me comforted each other.

Cause all of me loves all of you.
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections.
Give your all to me, I’ll give my all to you.
You’re my end and my beginning.
Even when I lose, I’m winning
Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you.”

Living and studying in Debrecen has been a very intense experience for me. My friends both in Germany and in Hungary have been by my side at all times. Sharing experiences and memories draws you closer together. I am very greateful for every single one of them. That’s why I can doubtlessly say: I will miss my Debrecen friends. A lot!

Although I have been abroad several times before – even to more distant places and for much longer periods of time – I don’t think I’ll ever get used to saying goodbye. And that’s a good thing! “You only realize what you had once you’ve lost it”, is a much quoted saying – because it’s true. I don’t lose my companions only because life parts us as long as we make an effort to keep in touch. New media makes it easier than ever. But still: each farewell feels like a little loss.

Treasuring memories and making new ones

You say goodbye to your dear ones and a soon to be past part of you life. At the same time, you looking forward to a new, exciting though maybe somewhat frightening future part of your life. You’re leaving behind a certain routine and dear people. You’re going to encounter either old friends or make new ones very soon. Saying goodbye is an incredibly ambivalent feeling.

That’s why I cried about it. I cried tears of thankful joy for countless moments of perfect happiness throughout the past 100 days. I cried tears of sadness for leaving my friends in Debrecen. I cried because it’s over and I cried because it happened. The tears washed away whatever pain was left and engraved marks of memorable moments in my heart. They make room for new emotional memories to make in the future – together with my dear friends all over the world.

Quote of the day (#8): Lasting a lifetime

Today, I am going to quote myself. I wrote those words only a couple of days ago while evaluating and reflecting upon my Erasmus semester in Debrecen, Hungary. I am writing this post while I should actually be packing suitcase. I didn’t think this was ever going to happen when I first arrived here, but I am super melancholy right now. Great memories made lay behind and great adventures and challenges lay ahead of me. I am incredibly excited to be surrounded by my family and friends back home in Germany again.

However, wherever you go, you leave part of your heart. I will most certainly miss living right next to a beautiful park, studying in a pretty university building, having brunch, lunch and dinner with my friends, going to Erasmus events, traveling a lot (at least I’ll stick with that one) and spending precious moments discussing our lives. Thank you for everything, my dear friends in Debrecen. Sziasztok!

View from a mountain top in Pécs, Hungary

Enjoying the view and treasuring the moment in Pécs, Hungary.

Studying abroad is an experience producing relationships and memories that can last a lifetime.You might struggle to keep in touch with your friends back home. You re-evaluate your interpersonal relationships on numerous levels. You build new friendships. Some of those might last a lifetime. You learn a new language. You learn to find your way around a formerly unknown surrounding. You get a chance to grow academically. More importantly, you grow personally. You might face some obstacles – and will most certainly overcome them. And most of all, you learn to enjoy every moment of your life, remember the importance of appreciation and to treasure the memories and friendships you make for they might last a lifetime.” (Laura Konieczny)

Spread the love

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have been celebrated for decades. Rather recently, more holidays such as friendship day, teacher appreciation day and national siblings day came along. I personally don’t think to much of those holidays. You’re asking why? Well, simply because I think I shouldn’t need a set date to remind me of displaying gratitude, appreciation and love to those who matter to me – I want to do so every single day.

If you haven’t done so today: Say thank you to your best friend for always having an open ear. Smile at the bus driver. Tell your parents, grandparents, relatives and friends you care about that you do. You never know what life brings along next…

I spent a weekend in Budapest with my parents - I loved it just as much as I love them!

I spent a weekend in Budapest with my parents – I loved it just as much as I love them!

Hi to my family and friends in Hannibal. I miss you and can’t wait to be with you again next spring! Danke Mama und Papa dafür, dass es euch gibt und danke für das schöne Familienwochenende in Budapest! Meine liebe Familie in Deutschland, ihr könnt euch gar nicht vorstellen, wie sehr ich mich darauf freue, bald wieder (zumindest für ein Weilchen) in eurer Nähe zu leben. Ciao Annagret, Gianni e Chiara: io ho amato voi. Danke Rike, Lisa, Jessi, Janni, Aileen, Lea und Kim und all ihr anderen lieben Freunde dafür, dass es euch gibt und ihr es mit mir aushaltet. Thank you to all the great people I met during my Erasmus semster in Debrecen for countless happy memories!

It’s your turn now: Spread the love!

Quote of the day (#7): We only have today

Wow, time flies (who would’ve guessed…). It seems like yesterday that I arrived in Debrecen. I’ve had a great time, traveled a lot, learned even more, and most importantly met many amazing people. However, it’s not time to say goodbye yet. Two more weeks remain for me to make more memories. Only fourteen more days remain before I will head back home to Germany with a summer full of new adventures ahead of me. Be that as it may, be departure is still a long way off. That is why for now I am enjoying my time in Debrecen, treasuring every moment.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa