How I spent my summer
Here in Finland summer season ends in August. Offices are back to business, schools and kindergartens open their doors for a new scholastic year. Do you remember, how your school year usually started? In Ukraine school always starts on September 1st. For me this time of the year still means more new resolutions and ideas then in December. I really liked going to school and was waiting for it nearly the whole summer. It meant new subjects, experiences, happenings. Maybe even new classmates. Often many classes started with writing a composition on "How I spent my summer".
This summer we didn't travel anywhere far for safety reasons. So I decided to travel back in time through my childhood memories. I enjoy talking about them with my husband, who grew up in Finland, and whose childhood was quite different from mine. So here's my composition about summer 2000, written summer 2020.
Summer in Ukraine starts in June. Even northern Ukraine gets quite hot at that time. So when school is about to end, everything is blooming and the air is so sweet. Days are long, evenings are warm. Love stories start, some may even last through the summer.
I grew up in a suburb, where we had our own garden right next to our house. Now half of it is an actual garden with apple, plum, peach and cherry trees. Back then it was filled with potato, onion, garlic, cucumber, tomato and many other plants. At that time not many vegetables were available throughout the year in the markets, so parents were very enthusiastic to add those important vitamins to our diet. And also they genuinely love working on the land. They call it their own personal gym. So after an exhausting day at work they run to their garden and work there in peace and quite. They say, earth takes all negative energy away and boost with positive power.
My day during holidays usually started with reading my mom's note with a "To-Do list". It included taking care of plants in the garden during early hours, while it's not too hot. After lunch I was reading books assigned at school for summer. Frankly, I remember those lists of books being quite long. Somehow I always got into them after a while, and would eventually read through by the end of the summer. There was always a lot of classics on the list. And I appreciate our educational system for that. I had to force myself to read those sometimes, but damn, it was totally worth it! Books open worlds in our imagination, that movies never would. I wish my daughter also learns that one day.
The longest homework list though was always given at my art school - 90 works per summer. So basically one drawing per day. It had to be a range of different works: 30 sketches of people, 30 sketches of plants and other objects and the rest was paintings in watercolors, gouache and other preferred techniques. Sounds crazy, right? Well, we had an overly ambitious Head of Art School, whose teaching methods deserve a whole separate post. This was an extra curricular education, where after normal school hours kids aged 7 to 15 could study art. And, oh my, the program was just over the top! We had subjects like: Graphic Drawing, Painting, Composition, Sculpture, History of Art and Religion. The idea was to shape kids into culturally educated beings, to become part of an elite art society. That included evening classes three times per week, loads of homework and final shows every quarter. Also History of Art included learning 200 famous classic paintings by heart every quarter. So we spent lots of hours at the library memorizing those titles and artists' names. And there were so many sleepless nights painting. The overall discipline at that school was so strict. It was in no way some hippie environment you might picture.
Why would a parent put their child to such an institution, you ask? Why does any parent ever take their kid to any extra curricular activity? To keep them busy! To fill in that free time with new experiences and opportunities to learn something new. I had gymnastics, music and art school after school every day of the week. I still had plenty of good friends. Many of them were from my art school. Not everyone became an artist of course. Some of them did. And they are amazing! Honestly, so much better then most of what I see on contemporary art exhibits nowadays.
Now I understand the purpose of all that homework and To-Do lists I got as a child. They were tough, but I powered through though. And I'm so proud that I did. It actually gave me a great set of self organization tools for future university studies and even for adult life. I learnt not to be afraid of any kind of work. You just go on and do it! I also learnt, that no free time feels so fun and precious, as the one after a day of hard work.
Set your ambitious goals, write your To-Do lists, learn new things, keep yourself busy! Fill that emptiness with positive experiences may it be gardening, reading, painting, or making ice-cream. And of course, enjoy your deserved rest after that. Don't waste your precious time on being depressed and other crap! I hope this post is more of a motivational one, rather then educational. Moreover, it is a positive reminder to myself during those long dark Finnish winters!