Contest - Page 3

Just a Normal Woman’s Life

Ezgi Yılmaztekin

She woke up. It was late. What would her boss think if she was late to work? Irresponsible, doesn’t care about her job. She rushed to the bathroom to do her makeup. Breakfast was unessential, she didn’t want to have an after-meal belly. But she couldn’t go to work without makeup. What would her colleagues think? Neglected, sloppy. She did her make-up and rapidly prepared sandwiches for her kids and her husband. She left home; as she was walking she realised that she forgot to spread cream cheese on one of the sandwiches. What would her family think? Inadequate, terrible mother. She arrived at the underground hiding her face in case she saw one of her friends; they thought that she drove to work and she couldn’t correct them. What would her friends think if they found out she didn’t have a driving license? Narrow minded, against women’s rights. She finally arrived at work. She had a lot to do. At the end of her shift she attended a meeting about the growth of the company. She had an amazing idea, but what would people think if someone who is not in a superior position made a comment about the company? Overspoken, indiscreet. Her boss stopped her on her way out, asked her what she thought about his course of action to enlarge the company. She thought it was terrible, he would be mad if she evinced, that but what would he think if she eulogized him? Calculated, adulatory. So she went on and said “The idea is open to improvement.” Her boss laughed, “What would you understand? The blame is on me for asking you.” As she walked away, her boss mumbled “Women, always measureless ”. She exited the company to pick up her kids from school. Her husband was with his friends. She stopped by her house to change from her skirt into trousers. Her boss didn’t like it when women wore trousers, he even fired a woman who wore a suit for violating the dress code. But what would the other parents think if she showed up in a skirt? Revealing, inappropriate. She took her kids home. Cooked, cleaned, did the ironing, played with the kids, went to the market. Her mother called and asked what she had cooked for her grandson. “Meatballs and spaghetti,” she replied. Her mother was so furious that she reprimanded her for not thinking about her kid’s health and asked how her husband could stand her. She was exhausted when she heard the doorbell. Her husband was home. He went to the bedroom and saw his blue shirt ironed and folded on the bed. He turned to her wife, who was about to cry. “You had one job,” he yelled. “I asked for my white shirt. I work all day and you don’t even care about me. Do you know how much pressure I am under? Am I supposed to work AND do my ironing? Can’t you at least try to be a proper wife?” She didn’t respond. She ironed his white shirt. “Finally, that is what you are supposed to do,” exclaimed her husband. She went to sleep; she had to wake up early to prepare breakfast the next morning.

Ohh her name, how could I forget. It doesn’t matter anyway; she is just a woman trying to live a normal life.

The Gray

Fatma Irmak Tuncel


6.00 am.
The alarms rang.
no time for breakfast, maybe later or… just never
Must leave the building, that’s for sure.


They were in the streets. Walking in a perfect harmony.
Or maybe,
it wasn’t harmonious. Maybe on the contrary, they were in chaos, but they couldn’t tell, even I can’t tell. Were they even there? I can’t distinguish anymore. There was nothing there as everything was there.
No sound of the steps, no sound of the cars getting unlocked. But they… they were walking, they were getting in the cars?
Yet no sound of the steps, no sound of the cars getting unlocked.
Maybe it was just because they don’t care if there was. If no one is listening, does the sound still exist? Or it’s just us who make it real…
But something is for sure,
there was no light, nor darkness.
There was only the clock.


Sun left us, it’s been… I don’t remember exactly when, but sure it was a long time ago.
No light, nor darkness.
Only the clock.


Destination is clear, all set in their cars. The rush of the time that they have set for themselves. Typical but essential.

8.00 am.
They finally converged on the massive artificial blocks filled with perfection. Those flawless, faultless blocks which were waiting for them to arrive. Now it was just them and their work. Only them and their work for the next 9 hours. The absolute happ… What was the word? I don’t remember. We don’t use it anymore. In fact, we don’t need it anymore. They will be out at 5 pm… or maybe 6 if it’s monday, or maybe 7 if it’s t… Well, does it really matter? Night or day how can you tell… since the moon left us just like the sun. Even the moon left us… Since then,
we have no light, nor darkness.
Only the clock.


Gray is no longer a color. Gray is what we have, all we have. It is the normal. Everything is the same while everything is turning into nothing. Gray is turning into nothing. And I hardly remember its name because it doesn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t even have its shades.

I stood there and tried to “see” them. I wanted to see them separately, individually. And for a short moment, I assumed that I had seen someone in the front seat of a car but no… the moment my eyes were locked on her, she wasn’t there anymore. She was a part of the car and the car was fading every passing minute. They were slowly becoming the street itself which was uniting with the long line of plazas overflowing from the city. They were becoming the sky, they were becoming everything.
And now that there was nothing left, it was swallowing itself and creating a tremendous emptiness just like a hungry newborn black hole. Only difference, the black hole was now a “gray hole”. In that fatal silence,
there was no light, nor darkness.
Only the clock.


It is no longer “us”. We are the part of the gray without shades, without shadows. We have lost our shadows when the sun  was gone and… the moon. My name is gray, and yours as well. We have disappeared in this agonizing soullessness, nevertheless we don’t even feel pain anymore… and now that it has us all, it is disappearing itself. There is no meaning for it to be a color if it is already the only color, the only shade. Now that it is everything, it can be finally nothing in peace. We’re all dead and this “ensemble vide” is our cemetery but our souls aren’t there.

It’s been a long time that God has left us and some even say that it was us who killed him.
There is no heaven, nor hell,
Only the clock.


and now, I completely forgot its name,

that color’s name,

that color which was all around… 

I forgot my name.

No light

No darkness


Only the clock

… tac.

Death on Two Legs: The Wave That Crushed and Rebuilt Visions

Selin Rana Özkarahan

Music is a form of art that has influenced people’s minds for generations. It has always been a way for people to express themselves and share their opinions through art. I would like to focus on a specific time in musical history and genre. The music of youth, the music our parents like to address as “loud noise,” a genre that has changed the fate of the world of art, believe it or not. Rock’n roll.

Rock music has often been branded as “the soundtrack to revolution.” Rock music has always influenced artists, whether they be painters, poets, authors or even film directors. It inspired a whole new style of clothing. A new style of painting. It encouraged people to speak out. It changed people’s minds, killed their old selves and made them anew. It is death on two legs.  It influenced everything that we call art today. Therefore I believe this music is the heart, the core of the change that has made the world we know.

In 1975 a certain album was released. This album holds a special place in my heart because it has made me who I am today. I heard it once in a movie I went to with my friends really late on a Saturday night. I went into that theatre as a thirteen-year-old child with unruly hair and no idea who I was and came out finally being myself. It was part of the soundtrack of an artistic film. As the colors on screen danced together, I heard the sound of rock and opera mixed together for the first time. It was angelic.

The album was A Night at the Opera by a group called Queen. An album that changed the fate of a band and with that inspired artists all over the world. What made this album so special is the way it took two sides of a spectrum and made them one. Lyrics that reach out to you, written like those of a prophet’s song. Two completely different genres concerning different generations, people with different backgrounds and completely different instruments blending into a perfect harmony. What is so special about music to other artists is that it has a different influence on everyone. I, a young aspiring artist, have never painted the same way after hearing this music. I’ve never written poetry the way I did before. The effects of the music I’ve consumed, the effects of this very album are visible in everything I create and always will be.

Artistic Travel

Eszter Aletta Hevesi

In the past few years traveling has been a tricky topic for everyone, considering the appearance of COVID-19. Everyone was ordered to be in lockdown, and the only place you could be was your own house and maybe some shops. For some people, the absence of traveling in their life was a huge pain, just as for me. So I asked myself: how can I still see other countries without leaving my house? At last I arrived at the solution of art.

If a person is taken away from their usual place to a dark room while they sleep, they will have no way of telling where they are. So I used this method to have a world tour in a week, without leaving our house. I slept through the night, and from the beginning of the day I listened to the music of that culture, ate traditional foods, and also played videos showing the landscape of the given country or region. Also, an important thing to mention was that I left my phone behind as much as I possibly could. It was the best decision of my life. I traveled a lot during my life but I think I succeeded the best in capturing the culture of countries when I was at home completely surrounded by them. You don’t need to travel away from your home to experience other cultures; you just need to step away from social media and dive into the different aspects of the country’s art.

An (Un)helpful Guide for Creating the Perfect K-pop Group

Adél Mihályi

Section 0: Introduction

The term k-pop means Korean pop music. It is influenced by many other genres, such as dance-pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B. Since the 2000s, it is getting more and more popular worldwide. Nowadays the k-pop fan community consists of about 100 million people and its culture influences even more. With this, the idols and groups have to reach more and more expectations; the purpose of this guide is to showcase and explain them.

Section 1: Members

When creating a new group, agencies want to find people who are spotless in every respect. They must have a past without any scandals or issues that could become a scandal in the future—so far, it is understandable. No workplace wants to hire someone who is or could be problematic, and with k-pop having an extremely critical audience, this becomes even more crucial.

Of course, applicants have to be talented in singing, rapping, dancing and even acting, and improve these skills during their training period. Out of multiple hundred trainees, only a few make it to debuting, and even fewer of them become successful.

Another important aspect is their age and visuals, but these will be mentioned in later sections.

Section 2: Concept and music

So, we have our members, now our task is to give them their concept and debut album. This usually makes it and breaks it at the same time. It is safe to go for the girl crush concept, since many groups have done it before, but many fans have already got bored of it. We can try experimental, futuristic concepts, maybe mixing multiple genres in one song, and some will like it, but some will despise it.

You could try any concept, and still not everyone would approve of it.

Section 3: Choreography

Many groups want to stand out with their dance skills, especially nowadays. K-pop songs usually come with a choreography to create an astonishing performance with complicated moves. So amazing, right? Well, people tend to say that many groups lack singing skills, so this is their way to make up for it…

On the other hand, mainly older groups tend to come with an easier dance every time, which can go viral by creating a TikTok dance challenge for the fans to join. This is a great tactic to make the music more popular and reach more social media users, even the ones who otherwise do not listen to k-pop. However, some fans complain about this, saying that idols are starting to become TikTokers instead of singers.

Section 4: Idol personas

When debuting a new group, most agencies give each member a role, a persona to which they have to adapt. This is how we get the parent figure, the funny middle child, the cute youngest, the boyfriend, the rebel, and so on—and this is how many fans get misled into thinking that their idols are also like this in real life, and that is when scandals start. To avoid such scandales, many idols are not allowed to drink, smoke, date or even drive.

Instead, they are often forced to do fanservice, either with other members (hugging them, giving them a kiss on camera, anything to demonstrate a picture perfect relationship with their coworkers) or with their fans. The latter contains smiling and nodding even when someone tells them not to date anyone because they belong to their community forever.

Many fans are lonely, and it is the idols’ task to fill that hole, even if it comes with sacrificing their own personal life; this is how being an idol becomes a lonely job.

Section 5: Comebacks and live performances

K-pop groups release new music averagely every 6-7 months, but this can be anytime between 1 month to several years. They usually come back with only 1-5 songs. Most groups do not produce or write their own songs; everything depends on the agency’s production team, from the concept to the final music video.

Labels have to be careful even with the time intervals between two comebacks, since fans complain about the lack of new content after a while, but if a group produces too much music, the agency gets the blame for overworking their idols.

After they release the album, they perform 1 or 2 tracks on music shows for around 4 weeks, which can be a very tiring period. This is why many groups only sing live for the first 1 or 2 times and use playback afterwards, creating another topic to argue about. Should they always sing live since it is their job, or only focus on dancing so they do not get exhausted, if they are not already?

Section 6: Visuals, culture, and other queasy topics

K-pop fans come for the visuals and stay for the music. This is why the general public, who is not interested in the latter, has put so much pressure on the idols in terms of looks. The basics of Korean beauty standards are slim body, pale skin, double eyelids, high nose bridge, small nose, heart-shaped lips, but the list goes on forever. Even if someone has the features mentioned above, it definitely does not mean that the audience would consider them pretty. No one is even close to perfection, but idols have to try hard to achieve it. The base of this is going on extreme diets to lose weight. Fans of course do not like that their idols are starving, but they dislike idols who gain weight even more.

This urge to have no visual holes in a group is why idols and even trainees are forced to have plastic surgery in order to increase their chances of success. Almost no idol looks like what they look like on camera. Some of them were even caught editing their photos, but honestly, can we blame them? The fans set high expectations, so idols reach even higher standards, urging their fans to follow. This is why many of them struggle with body image issues, which often get reflected back onto their idols.

Another issue about looks connects to the idols’ origin. Foreigners can also apply for auditions, they can even debut in k-pop, but of course they have to deal with a lot of discrimination, from both the agency and the audience. K-pop somehow became a privilege, and sometimes it is not even the Korean public who has a problem with foreign idols debuting. Fans tend to gatekeep the Korean language as if the groups didn’t have English lines in their songs, and the whole k-pop genre were not a mixture of many other music styles. Fans are oftentimes racist towards idols, but are offended when they do something racially ignorant.

Section 6+1: Final words

So, how to create the perfect k-pop group? Avoid all the mistakes mentioned above.

…If it seems impossible (because it is), just let the fans project their insecurities into the idols—or at least their personas.

Versatile Art

Petra Varga

I feel lucky because dance provides me the privilege to get an insight into several branches of art. It’s more complicated than it seems. I started to list for myself what forms of arts are included here. Some of my findings: first, we need music to dance. Hungarian folk music is rich in meanings and melody worlds, and there’s so much to understand. Some pieces can even be placed at a literary height.

Sometimes we have themed performances: for example. one of my favorites was the March 15 show the Felvirradt,  when we danced to Petőfi Sándor’s “Nemzeti dal” (set to a song). It was incredible how much power it held in itself. Another example is the following.

Búza közé szállt a dalos pacsirta,
hogy ha magát már odafenn kisírta.
Én is szállnék, száll a lelkem zokogva,
leszállni nem szállhatok sehova.
Nem fogad be, hova szállnom kellene,
búzavirágszemű babám kebele.

Fáj a szívem nekem belül,
Mert bú szorítja kétfelől,
Fáj a szívem bánatába,
Mert nem járhat szabadjára.

(These lyrics are from a song from Bonchida-Romanian Hungarian habitat village.)

After having music, and the steps and movements, we have to act. Every dance has its own moral, and if you want to be authentic, you have to perform it.

And finally during a performance, we wear these authentic clothes which are of inestimable value for me. I had the opportunity to meet old craftsmen who make the whole piece by themselves. The production of the material, the sewing, use of motifs, beading and any other work is made by these amazing masters’ hands. Some of the rich pieces are made over several years by several people.

Putting these pieces of arts together, we create a new form, dance, which teaches us to be sensitive to these wonders.

Being a Dancer

Helka Ondok

No one mentions how hard it is to be a dancer.

The pointe shoes break your feet, the tight bun messes up your hair. You are never slim enough, you are never good enough.

Your coach is never satisfied, even if every little part of your body hurts at the end of the day.

The constant need for approval, the stress for validation that will never come.

– Stand up straighter!

– Have you learned nothing?

– You are too slow.

– Do it again until you can do it right.

You are expected to leave your tears and your pain when you go up on the stage.

You sit in front of your mirror, crying because you don’t think you will ever be good enough.

But, when it is time to perform, and you can hear the click of the speaker, for a moment it is all worth it.

Because you move your body with the flow of the music, and your head clears.

When you hear the sweet melodies of a song you heard many times before, all your thoughts disappear.

And for a moment, I swear you get lost in the dance, the movements you’ve done plenty of times before, and you will do them again and again until they are perfect.

Being a dancer is hard. But it is all worth it, because when the music starts playing, none of your problems matter.

Can You Draw Faster, Picasso?

Lilla Kassai

“Good morning, class!”

“Good morning, Mrs. Calloway!”  The art students greeted the teacher with a tired and bored groan. It was their last lesson, and it was  Friday.

“So today, you are going to make sketches and studies of the music students. They will be posing as if they were playing their instruments.“

Most of the students rolled their eyes, but a few of them seemed to be interested. It was a rare opportunity to draw models in these special positions.

Mike really looked forward to this task. He was very passionate about drawing and fine arts, so he quickly became enthusiastic. He sat down in front of a girl who was gazing at the piano while gently moving her fingers on the keys.

“Hey!“ he greeted the girl awkwardly “So… Do you mind me drawing you? Especially your hands…” he added, staring at the girl’s snow-white hands and long, slim fingers.

“Ehm…Okay,“ she answered, a bit confused. “How should I pose, then?” she asked in a soft tone, blinking innocently at Mike with her big brown eyes behind her glasses.

The boy lost connection to reality for a few seconds. He peered at the girl’s face, carefully examining every curve.

“So… why don’t you place your hand like this?” he stuttered while trying to place the girl’s fingers on the piano keys.

 “Because if I hit the keys, it would sound awful,”  she giggled, then moved her hands into another position, then pressed the keys of the F major chord. Mike immediately felt a light pressure in his chest from this small scenario.

 “Young man, it would be a pleasure if you would start working instead of eyeballing with your model,” Mrs. Calloway snapped at Mike in a bored and sarcastic tone, then continued to walk in between the desks and give explanatory speeches on sketching human bodies. Meanwhile, Mike’s face started to turn bright red even from looking at the pianist girl, who seemed to be getting bored and started to play Für Elise quietly.

 “Ehm.. would you remain in this position?“ he murmured, looking like a mellow tomato.

“Okay,” she said and froze. “Am I sitting correctly?”

“Yeeess,” squeaked Mike, then he started to sketch. Even if his model was trying her best to remain motionless, he still had difficulties focusing on his task, so it happened quite frequently that he caught himself gazing at her. Therefore, he wasn’t really fast at completing his sketch, while the girl was trying her best to sit motionless. It might be thought that modelling for artists is easy, but that wasn’t the case. She could hardly resist the urge to run her fingers through the keys. Moreover, her back and her neck were getting sore from sitting in the same position for half an hour. Her fingers started to cramp from holding them tightly above the piano. After another thirty minutes, she tried to loosen up a bit and stretch her sore limbs.

“Don’t move!” Mike snapped.

“But my fingers are sore,” the girl groaned, trying to peer into Mike’s sketches. When she saw that there were barely any lines and only a few simple shapes on the paper, she was about to freak out.

“Man, what have you done in the past hour?” she burst out in anger, after throwing a glimpse at the other student’s studies of their models.

“I told you not to move.” Mike’s sky-blue eyes flashed in a mixture of panic and anger. When the girl yelled at him, he got scared and accidentally drew a thick black line across the paper that interfered with the sketch of the piano “Now you won’t sit in the same position again. How the hell will I be able to draw studies of you like this?” he shouted.

“I don’t know, you should have made up your mind an hour ago!”  the girl grumbled in displeasure. Then she sat back in the same position, after receiving a dirty look from Mrs. Calloway.

“Tilt your head a bit more downwards,” Mike pouted, and positioned the girl’s head and finger to the starting pose.

“Fine…” she murmured annoyedly and tried to remain in the position for another hour.

Eventually the girl lost control over her fingers and started to play Für Elise again.

“He isn’t even drawing. He is so slow, I don’t think he made any progress in the past hour either” she was saying to herself, when Mike yelled at her unexpectedly:


“First of all,” she snapped, “I played Beethoven. Secondly, my limbs are experiencing cramps and my fingers hurt. Can you draw faster, Picasso?”

 Mike was about to say something back, when he saw Mrs. Calloway staring at him, looking like she was about to throw both him and the girl out the window. He completed his task quietly, then secretly took a photo of the girl in the modelling position.

When the bell rang, the models could finally relax.

“So how did you manage, Picasso?” the pianist girl thrusted, walking up to Mike’s desk to check out what he had drawn. When she saw his picture, her jaw dropped.  The sketch looked very similar to reality: anyone could tell right away that she was the one Mike had drawn.

“Wow,” she gasped. “Perhaps, I underestimated you…Picasso,” she added with a soft, shy giggle.

“You sure did.” Mike grinned at her, his anger gone. “Mozart,” he added.

“I told you, I was playing Beethoven, silly!” The girl rolled her eyes, then started to pack her stuff.

“It’s all the same to me.” Mike shrugged his shoulders and gave his drawing to Mrs. Calloway. Then he looked back at the girl.

“You play beautifully, you know,” he complimented awkwardly, while his face slowly turned red.

“Thank you.” The girl smiled, blushing. “Anyway, I gotta go practice. Catch me later!” She waved goodbye, smiling.

Mike remained standing still, his face red. Even if he was annoyed by this girl while making a portrait of her, he couldn’t stay mad at her or get her out of his mind. On his way home, he plugged his headphones into his phone, let the music play into his ears, and murmured the lyrics, a soft smile slowly growing on his face:

“I’ll cross the world for green and gold
But it’s those Spanish eyes
That get me home… home again.”

(Quote: U2: Spanish Eyes)

The Peak of Intelligence

Zsófia Szabina Gávris

Poem by Zsófia Szabina Gávris. Credit to Eszter Klára Szabó for technical assistance.

The Extinct Fire

Sára Eszter Radó

8:50 p.m., Thursday, 24 May 2007. Chris Morrow, a student of USC, majored in biology. He is an atheist. He believes in facts and proven research. He was raised in a Mormon household but left his community at eighteen, when he decided to separate from the church. His family  disowned him for his decision. He doesn’t want to return. He is happy with his life now.

He is having a martini in his favourite bar in downtown LA, waiting for his mates to arrive to celedrate his twenty-third birthday, when Emily Akes, a twenty-two-year-old  student of UCLA majoring in theology, steps in. She was raised in a Christian household and still follows the teachings of the Holy Bible. She attends church twice a week, every Wednesday and Sunday. She is also happy with her life now.

She is there for a night out with her girlfriends, but she is the first to arrive. She takes an empty seat at the bar counter and orders a raspberry lemonade. To her left is Chris sipping his martini. He compliments her choice of lemonade, since that’s also his favorite, then asks if she is also waiting for someone. She politely answers, then looks up at Chris, thinking about how to get out of this conversation, but when their eyes meet, she doesn’t want to get out of it anymore; it’s more like she wants to continue. For Chris it’s love at first sight, not knowing what’s yet to come. They keep talking and talking until they are forced to separate by their friends, who arrived not long ago. It’s 12:51 a.m., the bar is closing, everyone has left.

Chris has just arrived home but his mind is pacing. Its pacing about Emily, the girl from the bar whose name or phone number he doesn’t know. He can’t stop his mind, she is all over. He tries to sleep, it’s 2 a.m. and it’s still going…

8:34, Thursday, 7 June 2007. Two weeks after their first meeting. Chris sees Emily at the bus stop in front of his local shop. He approaches her and introduces himself, Emily is surprised but also excited to see the handsome guy from the bar again. Chris gathers his courage and asks Emily out for a coffee that afternoon, and she gladly agrees.

4:45 p.m., Philz Cofee, Los Angeles. Chris and Emily are talking, enjoying themselves. They have been there for three hours. Talking about friends, hobbies, food, sports, then school comes up. Chris is a bit worried when she mentions that she is majoring in theology, but tries to push his worry aside. Then religion comes up and Chris doesn’t have a good feeling about it. Listening to Emily’s stories about her church community makes him feel suffocated, just as his family made him feel. He is reminded of the reason he left them and his old life behind. He doesn’t want to be trapped again.

8:02 p.m. Chris and Emily are about to go home, but they agree to call each other, and they exchange numbers. Chris no longer has the courage to tell her what he thought after the date, but by then Chris knows that the initial fire he felt in his heart that night came so fast and is now gone.

Epilogue: Emily called and texted. None of her calls or messages did Chris ever return, only because of the fear of being trapped again in something he didn’t want.