Nothing Is Stopping Me Anymore

Jázmin Juhász

It was the most devastating moment of my life hearing the bombs and realizing I don’t have a home anymore. Looking at the ruins of my neighborhood, breathing in the dust as the tears were streaming down my face, it felt like my life had ended. I lived with my parents, my older brother, and my younger sister. They were all at home that tragic evening; I was the only one who survived. 

The gap between the poor and the rich has been getting bigger with each year. While we are not sure if we are lucky enough to eat today, they live in enormous palaces and walk around in extravagant clothes that cost more than what we spend in a year. They could easily end our suffering, but they just don’t really want to. They have so much money that they run out of things to buy, but still, they want more. That’s why the war started decades ago: they needed more resources to maintain their glamorous life. The land was ours back in the “golden days,” so there’s nothing wrong with taking back what was ours, at least that’s what they say. But then it turned out that conquering these territories is not as easy as they expected it to be, so now our lives are centered around war. We are either soldiers fighting on the front lines or scientists inventing new weapons or working in factories. They live their lives as if nothing had changed, they don’t have real jobs, but they own everything in this country. No amount of hard work would be enough for someone like me to get to their level; you have to be born there, there’s no other way. All this injustice, but still we don’t rebel; everyone has accepted their faith. We work like robots with no hope or real purpose in life, not really understanding how bad our situation is. If it weren’t for getting lost that day, I would think just like everybody else.

I was only eight years old when I went shopping for groceries with my mom. The streets were particularly crowded that day, so I lost sight of her and started wandering by myself. I came across a large building, I went inside and realized I was in the library. I’ve been here a few times before with my brother when he needed to borrow some books. It looked exactly the same: tall shelves packed with thick books about war tactics and science, nothing too interesting. But I decided to look around anyway. As I was walking through the labyrinth of shelves, I noticed a door that was slightly open. I scanned the room to make sure nobody was watching, and I entered. It looked just like the other parts of the library except that these books were about fairy tales, adventures, love, and poetry, things I had never heard of. I sat down and opened a picture book, I was mesmerized by it. I didn’t know I could feel this much, that life could be more than just surviving. I don’t think anyone else had been here before, except the rich and privileged of course. From us regular people this world of emotions, complex thoughts, and art is hidden away. What we need to be focused on is working, and we shouldn’t waste our time on nonsense like entertainment. I was so invested in a story about princesses and magic that I didn’t even hear the footsteps of the guards approaching the room. When one of them found me, he immediately dragged me out, saying this is forbidden territory. My mother was waiting at the front door, relieved that I had been found. A few days later I returned, but the door was locked. Luckily for me, these guards aren’t famous for being attentive, as it’s just a library, nothing too dangerous here, so stealing the keys was a piece of cake. They really underestimated the power of words, since these books opened my eyes and fundamentally changed the way I think. I went back there very often. I was at the library the day of the bombing too. I read books about many different things, even war. In these stories the battles were glorious and good always defeated evil. In real life there’s nothing glorious about war; it’s cruel and brutal, and it consumes everyone and everything. The ones who are actually fighting are just pawns in the game. Losing your morality is inevitable, so the line between good and evil is blurred. There are no winners either; you either die on the battlefield or leave with mental scars that you can never recover from. And nobody is safe; hospitals, schools, and homes get destroyed with innocent families and children in them. They say there’s no victory without sacrifice, but hasn’t it been enough, is it really worth it?

After the bombing, I was moved into a large building with a bunch of other children who had suffered a similar fate. They gave me no time to mourn; today I have to go to school as if it were just a normal Thursday. But I have a plan, I’ve had it for a long time. I just didn’t have the courage to carry it out, because if I failed, I’d put my family in danger too. I have always been more aware than others, I hate this place with a burning passion, so I dreamed of escaping. I live very close to the Southern border; evidently that’s where I want to go. There’s not much there, only forests, meadows, lakes, and I also heard a few rumors about isolated little towns. It sounds perfect.

At school I’m studying to be a pilot just like my dad. He served in the army for many years before he crashed his plane and lost his right arm, from then he couldn’t work anymore. Today we are practicing shooting, so we cross the country’s border to train safely. It’s perfect timing for me to finally leave this place, and now I have nothing to lose. Training is the same as always, we shoot at the targets from the air, and after two hours we are commanded to land. Instead of landing, I switch to maximum speed trying to flee. I know it’s not the most well-thought-out plan, but even after years of weighing my options this still seems the best. From my radio I can hear my teacher ordering me to turn back immediately, but nothing is stopping me anymore, even death is better than this life. After a few minutes the radio becomes silent; it’s very unlikely that they let me go this easily, and I’m terrified of what’s coming next. Then suddenly I’m not the one controlling the plane: it’s turning back. There’s no chance I’m going back, so I have no choice but to jump. It’s mandatory to wear a parachute on our backs for safety reasons, but I’ve never thought that it would come in handy once. Falling from the sky is as terrifying as it sounds, and it feels like an eternity. Finally, my parachute opens, and I begin to float down slowly, I’ve never been more relieved. Unfortunately, they don’t give up, they start shooting at me and then I’m falling again, they hit the parachute. I can see my life flashing before my eyes, I guess this is how I die, falling till my bones crush. Suddenly I splash into cold water, I barely know what’s happening, but my survival instincts kick in and I start gasping for air. I try my best to swim to the shore, but every movement hurts, I don’t think I can swim for much longer. Just before I start sinking, my feet hit the ground and I walk out of the lake. I immediately lie down in the grass trying to catch my breath. It’s a miracle that I survived. After I rest a little, I can finally start my new life.

It Started with the Ants

Áron Kaposvári

Since childhood, I have been fascinated by the wonders of the natural world. Although I did not understand how the world works, I preferred to let myself be immersed into some “detailed” observations of living organisms and other wonders of the world. Without any exceptions I enjoyed all of them, from a butterfly’s wings to the behaviour of ant colonies or the nature of bees.

I think everything started with the ants. When I was five years old, I once decided to go out into our garden for some fresh air. I was playing when I suddenly discovered a huge colony of ants. At first sight at that age it was only a big black spot on the ground made up of small and tiny moving dots, not just some, but hundreds and thousands. I gave them a closer look. As I was watching them, they completely occupied my mind: how they collected the many kinds of food they found all around their anthill. The weather was getting worse and worse: the wind was blowing stronger, the sky was quickly filling up with dark clouds along with their terrible sounds, but I wasn’t scared at all, since I was immersed in this curious phenomenon which was new to me and my knowledge. The storm was getting more and more dangerous. My mother looked at me through the window, confused, thinking of what I was doing, and also worried because of the storm. So she took me into the house, despite the fact that I tried to resist, since I didn’t want to leave the new part of nature I had discovered and the opportunity of observations. This experience drove me to the desire to improve my passion towards science. I believe that it aroused my passion and curiosity for scientific exploration.

Now during my secondary school studies I can gain the knowledge needed for awakening my true desire regarding Biology. I have decided to pay attention to almost every detail that is mentioned during the many lessons of the natural sciences, which include the subjects of life: Biology; Chemistry, Physics, etc. My future plan is to go to university to improve my knowledge. We must save and protect our environment, as nowadays many dangers threaten our world. In conclusion, I hope that this college application essay shows my deep passion for scientific exploration and my desire to become part of a community that values innovation and intellectual curiosity.

Challenge Upon Challenge

Zsombor Górán

I have always loved to play games since the moment I saw them. They can allow you to do whatever you wish: fight Darth Vader, build the biggest castle you have imagined, be the best assassin in history, rob the bank and escape from the law, or just relax by farming potatoes. Games offer me freedom that is hard to feel in real life. The monotony of life can be so tiring, but in games you have no responsibilities and no rules to follow. They give me a choice to do things I would never do in real life. It is a world of imagination that I can control.

Life is similar sometimes; for me it feels like a path composed of small challenges or problems to face. Go to kindergarten, then to elementary school, then high school, and now college. This is the place where I stand at the moment. This is not the first challenge I have had to overcome, and it won’t be the last. If I fail, I will try another way until the challenge is complete. I have a lot of small challenges to complete on my own, from getting up in the morning to  getting into a college.

I usually play in teams with my friends or just random people. If I can, I take the role of the team leader and try to organize the team so we can work together efficiently. If the team has better leaders than I, I let them organize the team and follow their plans. I usually like to plan out everything and minimise the chance of failure; so far I have been mostly successful at this. I really like to learn everything a game can offer me if I find it interesting. I will try to do approach college in the same spirit. After college I plan to continue playing and might even create games of my own. If I get there, the possibilities will be endless. But in order to achieve this I need your help. If I could get accepted into this institution, it would mean the world to me, and everything leading up to this moment would be worth it.

Turning Things Around

Viktória Wilujeng Botka

It’s funny how I never seem to be able to talk about myself when people ask me to introduce myself, or explain why I am the way I am. It’s almost as if I was created yesterday, and hadn’t had enough time to learn about myself, or maybe it’s the way I drastically change, my personality, hobbies, resulting in me having too much to say about myself, and nothing.

I feel like so much has changed since when I was a little girl, innocent, always full of dreams to achieve, always excited to get up for the next day and never worrying about anyone or anything. I remember when my teachers always said that I was imaginative and creative,  and how they would get irritated every time I zoned out or daydreamed during lessons. My favorite subject used to be English Grammar, and my first dream job was to be a grammar teacher, mainly because I really liked my English teacher and she inspired me to be someone like her.

My dreams and goals change constantly, I was motivated and confident. Every time I got new ideas, they get harder and harder to achieve, especially because I lost interest in them quickly and found something new to focus on. I’ve dreamt of being a scuba diver, a vet, a marine biologist, a private math tutor, and the list goes on. I think that it all probably ended around sixth grade. I lost my confidence, my motivation, gave up on my dreams and really didn’t want to do anything anymore. And just as I lost my talents and A grades in subjects, I lost interest in life.

I’m never really sure why I stopped. All I knew was that the world was too cruel. People were selfish and unkind; to each other, to animals, to the environment, to mother nature. I hated the way everyone rarely cared about important things, the way they always prioritize themselves, the way they think the world revolves around them. People burn forests, throw plastics and chemicals into the ocean, causing global warming and climate change, testing makeup on animals, etc. I want to stop them; I can’t just sit and watch as people hurt the Earth with their selfish actions. I need to interfere, I never cared about the wrong things people do, as long as I don’t do the same things, but I’ve realized that doing nothing to stop these actions is just as bad as doing them. I’ve decided that I will try to make this world a better place, where animals aren’t harmed, making sure that every single animal species can live peacefully in their natural habitats.  To achieve that, I will need the help of the whole Earth’s population, and most importantly, a good college that will allow me to get a proper education, and that’s why I spent these three hours writing this essay; to get accepted to your college.

Building Blocks

Zalán Kaposvári

From a young age, I have been captivated by the power of engineering to shape the world around us. When I am surrounded by a nature-like, peaceful environment, with no one bothering me, I like to contemplate on things and thoughts I have collected during the day, but sometimes even some memories from my young ages. When I was young, I was always interested in a pretty large question: How do things work? So I was determined to find proper answers to this question. There were a lot of times I attempted especially to understand the way some ”mechanical wonders” worked. Honestly, I have to admit, it was not an easy ”job,” as none of them was as easy to understand as I thought. Due to my lack of knowledge, I have decided to follow the way which can help me immerse myself in the complicated world of engineering.

I would like to explain this valuable—and at the same time memorable—memory of mine. Its beginning can be traced back to the old times, when I was quite young and had plenty of time to spend. In those days I loved creating new things, especially buildings, instead of destroying them, as unfortunately I also experienced the pain of seeing a day’s work being destroyed (in my case by my brother). Thus I hopefully learned that nothing is as easy as it first seems or it is thought. So in the knowledge of these facts, I built and even rebuilt a construction. One day a small and simplified version of a space station could be seen in my room, and on the next day it was reborn as a school. Of course neither of them could be considered as an expert’s work. Nonetheless, I cared about them and respected them that way. For this reason everyone in my family knew that I was crazy about this kind of activity, so when we invited other members of our family for a special event regarding me, they all could surprise me with new sets of building blocks. It was the beginning of my passion that drove me onto this road.

Throughout high school, I eagerly pursued opportunities to explore various branches of engineering. I paid attention to every Maths lesson and also the ones related to nature and science, especially Physics. This aided me on my journey to discover and understand more complex forms of engineering. These experiences have also reinforced my passion for engineering and affirmed my desire to become a well-trained constructor. In conclusion, most of the time I wonder what breathtaking buildings people can ”give birth to.” Considering this, I am confident that an education at a technical college will provide the ideal platform to nurture my skills, expand my horizons, and empower me to engineer a better future.

My Work Should Be My Hobby

Márk Kovács

I sit at my desk in my room. I play one of my favorite games. This is EA FC24. I play with the idea that this is happening to me in the real football world and not in the virtual football world. For me, this game is a challenge and motivation. It encourages me to think that the dream is not virtual, but one that actually comes true.

So, when I turn on my computer, I enter a distant virtual world, far from my room, my country, Hungary. Immediately, I start work in career mode. I start negotiations with the club regarding the purchase of potential players. These are usually successful.

Then come the training sessions, the tactical discussions… Finally a match!!!! I make decisions thoughtfully and not hastily, we act and carry out our plans… GOAL!!!!!! My fingers sweat on the console from nervousness, the game time comes to an end. We pocketed this match too, we won. But it’s not over yet. My phone rings. One of my friends calls. We will continue the game together in the online space.

My favorite team is FC Bayern Munich, Germany’s most successful football team. The second largest sports association in the world. Their motto: ‘Mia san mia’ = Wir sind wir = We are who we are.The club’s home facility is the famous Allianz Arena.

I was lucky enough to visit a stadium at home in the Groupama Arena. It is currently one of the most modern sports facilities in Europe. It is the home of the Fradi football club. The club’s motto is: ‘Morality, Strength, Understanding’. I stood in the middle of the stadium and the empty stands looked at me. I believe that everyone should experience the special atmosphere of such a place. To develop what I am good at. To get the most out of myself. Speed, accuracy and precision are important. Study what I believe in, what I love. My work should be my hobby. Let this be the path to the goal, to success.

Am I Special?

Dominik Nemcsok

I am not special, or am I? According to my knowledge, in a college application essay, among several requirements, I should show what makes me “special” and what makes me stand out from the crowd of talented applicants all hoping to get into this university. Throughout my life, I have encountered numerous people who stated that no one is truly special. I admit that for a while I thought the same because their logical arguments convinced me as well. But one evening something changed.

It was a chilly winter evening; it was snowing outside, and I was having a battle in my mind over whether one could be special or not. I pictured a situation of two philosophers having a discussion on a stage. Argument came after argument and at first, I could not settle with either side.

I was sure about the fact that everybody is unique biologically, but then I thought that just about anyone could have done the things that I did if they had wanted to. I began looking over my life. I remembered how I read laws almost every time someone upsets me, trying to find a reason to sue them. Of course, I would never press charges or do anything serious in these cases, but regardless, it helps me calm down. I recalled the times when I reminded myself of an old person, going to the market, then cooking and sometimes even gossiping with my friends. I thought of the time when I was walking in a big city, listening to my favorite song, sipping my tea and feeling like I was the main character of a film.

It finally hit me: I figured out that it does not matter at all how special I am. Yes, the odds are negligibly low that there is anyone just like me, although there might be someone quite similar, but everyone is the star of their own “movie.” Every mistake, decision I make is part of my own “film,” and it is my responsibility to make it as good and impactful as possible. I decided a long time ago that I should be the best version of myself no matter what the circumstances. As I think about the journey of my life up to this point, I realize that I have always been curious and wanted to learn even more. The process of studying is joyful to me, since I know that after it, I will be somewhat more than I was before. So, to address my original question, I might not be particularly special, yet I know that I could achieve remarkable success in terms of my academic studies at this university.

One Step Closer

Attila Nagy

On the beginning of a great summer day, back in late July, when everything went perfectly right.

The day started with a breakfast with my nuclear family. Father and I made scrambled eggs, while mother was setting the table. The table got ready, the food was served. We started eating. This is a typical start of any day in summer break. The meal matters not only because of the food, but because of the well-spent time with my loved ones, even if it’s only a breakfast. Speaking about my feelings, sharing my experiences and just enjoying this period. They are the people I can fully rely on, never get disappointed by, and always listen to. In my opinion, you can learn something new every day. It may be a new person in your life, or just simple information about your favourite actor.

The day continued at the local swimming pool. We usually start the morning swim practice early, but in the summer break it starts at 10 o’clock. I have been swimming since first grade, when my mother enrolled me for practice. I immediately fell in love with swimming. Not only for its physical health benefits, but also for its advantages for mental health. While you are swimming, the only thing you can think of is how much practice time is left, which is funny. because those who attend training are     mostly obsessed with swimming. It can properly clear your mind. Back to the training, it went as usual. Coach told us the exercises, and we started doing them. I have two larger friend groups, one is from this sport. During practice, we all make sure to speak to each other, so we can maintain our relationships.

After training, I quickly went home to have lunch. I was riding my bicycle, when someone yelled after me. It turned out it was my friend. He just wanted to ask: ”Will you come play basketball with us?” I said of course, at least this way I have something to do in the afternoon, as my swimming training for this period was cancelled.

I had my regular nap after lunch, which plays a key role in my recreation. Resting enough makes me feel energized, so I don’t have to drink any coffee or energy drink.

The afternoon basketball is my favourite summer activity as it combines hanging out with sports. My second friend group is who I play basketball with. I really like playing team sports, as it improves my teamwork ability. Working with more people can broaden my mind and those of others as well. This activity took my energy levels down. So at the end of the day, I can say I accomplished my perfect daily routine and came one step closer to my dreams.

Reconsidering a Dream

Eszter Forvith

When you are in a hospital and you are well enough to observe others, you can notice a lot of things. I have been in hospital only once in my life, which was recently and I am glad it happened. It might sound weird at first, but let me explain.

About two weeks ago on a Sunday evening I became very ill and we had to rush to the hospital where I fortunately got better, but I had to stay in for a few days. Those few days gave me the most painful experience in my life. In the emergency section of the hospital there were all kinds of people, from a teenager who came in because he drank too much energy drink to a vomiting and crying baby with high fever and her worried mother. It was fascinating to watch how the doctors and the nurses handled all those patients, and it made me wonder what amount of patience and collectedness this job needs to be handled right. The admiration in me for people who work in healthcare rose even more and it also confirmed my decision to become a doctor.

My first day in the hospital flew by quickly but on the second one I really started missing human interactions. Even though the nurses visited me every two hours to check up on me, we did not talk much, and the visit from my parents was not that long either, so I spent most of my time alone in a quiet room where my companions were the noises of other children from the hallway. Luckily on the third day of my stay I got a roommate. It was a very sweet girl who was around the same age as I. When we talked about the reason why we were there it turned out she had anorexia. She told me she had been there for two weeks now and it made me wonder how alone she must have felt, when even two days were too much for me.

During my stay it felt like time had slowed down around me. I was alone with my right kidney in pain, far from my ordinary life. I watched how people around me fought for their lives while some others seemed to throw them away. I compared my everyday problems, like studying for a test, to those of people trying to recover from an injury that may leave a scar on them for life. Everyday problems just seemed so unimportant in those few days. Only when my final day at the hospital arrived did I realise how depressing that place really was; even the staff’s friendliness could not dissolve the anxiety I felt in those days. When I finally left and walked out of the hospital I felt the sun shining on my face and a cold breeze touching my hair. I was free at last and did not want to return to the hospital ever.

“That is normal,” my grandfather told me, when I spoke about these feelings. “That does not mean you have to give up being a doctor. You know I have been a doctor for more than forty years. Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and had to go to the hospital. Then I felt the same as you now. Doctors are the worst patients. You can think of it like this: being a doctor can be a good way to avoid being a patient.”

“How?” I asked.

“You will have the knowledge, most of the time you can diagnose and cure yourself, and when other people do not understand what is happening to them, you will, and you can make your own choice.”

“It sounds good,” I replied.

“Yes, it does. It is some kind of freedom; besides, you can help others too.”

I love freedom, I love knowledge and I want to help people. I still want to be a doctor, I thought to myself.

Accept the Reality or Distract Yourself, Escape It?

Viktória Wilujeng Botka

“She lives in a world of her own – a world of – little glass ornaments…” – Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie, first performed in 1944, has an interesting storyline, featuring the narrator as one of the main characters (Tom Wingfield), who has a mentally disturbed mother (Amanda Wingfield) and a timid and confidence-lacking older sister (Laura Wingfield). The Wingfields aren’t a rich family; Tom works to support his family in a shoe warehouse, which he doesn’t enjoy, because his real dream is to be a poet. He goes to the movies almost every night, so frequently that his mother becomes suspicious of him doing illegal things. The movies back then were cheap, as it was after World War 1 and during the Great Depression. As people had lost loved ones in the war and jobs at home, they went to the movies often to distract themselves. Tom went to distract himself, just as other people did.

TOM: I’m going to the movies!
AMANDA: I don’t believe that lie!
[Tom crouches toward her, overtowering her tiny figure. She backs away, gasping.]
TOM: I’m going to opium dens! Yes, opium dens, dens of vice and criminals’ hangouts, Mother. I’ve joined the Hogan Gang, I’m a hired assassin, I carry a tommy gun in a violin case! I run a string of cat houses in the Valley! They call me Killer, Killer Wingfield, I’m leading a double-life, a simple, honest warehouse worker by day, by night a dynamic czar of the underworld, Mother.
— Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Tom doesn’t like his mother very much (although at some level he loves her). Amanda grew up in Blue Mountain, Mississippi. Like Tom, she has her own way of distracting herself. She lives in the past, reliving her memories of when she was young, when gentlemen callers used to come to visit her. Her husband was—as Amanda says repeatedly—a charming man, who visited Amanda frequently in her youth, married her, and eventually abandoned her, which resulted in the Wingfields’ poverty.  Amanda always imagines that one day her daughter will marry a rich man, because it would help get rid of their financial problems. She keeps on retelling her story of the gentleman callers and their father, hoping that Laura will have the same experience, which is a bit too optimistic, as Laura is very shy and isolates herself from the outside world.

When she was still in high school, Laura  had an illness called pleurosis, which caused her to limp. This is one of the reasons why she is very insecure and spends most of her time alone or at home. In fact, she is so timid that she drops out of business school. She had a crush on Jim O’Connor when she was in high school. Jim had a nickname for Laura, “Blue Roses.” He called her that because he misheard Laura saying pleurosis when he asked why she had been absent. Laura has her own world of imagination. She has animal-shaped glass figures, which she spends most of her time cleaning and watching. The unicorn glass figure, which was the one that represented her, stands out with its horn among the horses, like Laura with her limp.  She also plays the Victrola obsessively, which is another way for her to distract herself, apart from watching her glass figures.

The different people are not like other people, but being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Because other people are not such wonderful people. They’re one hundred times one thousand. You’re one times one! They walk all over the earth. You just stay here.
— Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Jim O’Connor is a young man who works at the same warehouse as Tom. He is invited for dinner by Tom one day, at the request of Amanda, who hopes that he and Laura will be a perfect match and get married. It doesn’t work out in the end, because Jim iss already engaged to another girl, Betty. He is the most “normal” character in this play; he gives Laura some advice and helps her gain some confidence.

I think that we need to accept reality; sometimes it’s hard to do so, but trying to lie to yourself is just as bad as lying to others. If you can’t accept things that have happened, you will need to live your life inside your head, convincing yourself that your version of the story is the right one, and people will start thinking that you’ve lost your mind, which can actually become true if you continue lying to yourself.

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