After money, abortion, euthanasia, psychological or physical disabilities, sex and/or deviant sexual preferences and immigration issues, I think have come across another topic that qualifies as a taboo in big parts of Europe: doing nothing. The Greeks seem to be the only ones in the European Union to collectively accept and even praise the activity of being idle. Slovakians are located on the other end of the range. Along with most of their fellow Europeans, they prefer to fill up their spare time working on hobbies, meeting friends and visiting relatives.
Lenka (31) spends a lot of her free time attending cultural activities like film and music festivals. `I quite often feel happy about doing nothing for a while, although everything depends on the mood I`m in. I don`t mind when other people are bored either, as long as it doesn`t make them do stupid stuff in their pursuit for excitement. I can get upset if I think about people who could work but prefer to depend on others.`
`I study and teach mathematics, which leaves me little spare time`
Zuzana (21) is doing two studies at the same time: international relations and modern philosophy. `I also go to running every now and then, I am singing in a choir and I like to go to the gym. During my free afternoons, I am doing voluntary work. I help reconstruct old playgrounds in the city I`m originally from. With all those activities on the agenda, I don`t even have time to be bored or to do nothing. I am more concerned about not getting too stressed.`
Michaela (23, photo) is studying mathematics and descriptive geometry, which leaves her little time to get bored. `If I`m not studying, I am probably skating, hiking or skiing, or teaching mathematics to others. Whenever I get close to being bored, I will just call my friends or meet up with them and play cards. I read a book or watch a film. I only know one guy who is often bored, simply because he hates the job he`s doing. I guess there are many people in Slovakia who hate their jobs and just do them because they need to make a living. So far, I`m not one of them. I do what I enjoy, and I enjoy what I do`, Michaela says.
Marian (25) thinks that students find it hard to think of useful things to do once they make it through their hectic exam periods. `That`s when you need to come up with something new to do. I think I will be fine after this year`s exam round. I will go running a bit or read a couple of books.`
Natalia (21) is studying design but she prefers drawing and painting over the purely technical lectures. `I quite often get bored during technology classes. It`s just so difficult to stay awake.` Natalia`s hobbies are drawing, painting and traveling. `I like to draw artists that I admire for the art they make. My favourite subject is Axl Rose, whom I find a great musician and a great singer. I made many portraits of him, realistic ones as well as artistic ones. I keep most of them in shelves but also paste them onto my Myspace profile. Some of them end up on friends` walls. They make nice and inexpensive presents`, she says with a smile.
`I am not quite sure whether she will ever be able to turn her hobby in to a profession. It`s very difficult to do that in Slovakia. Only very few people manage. I will probably end up drawing design concepts, which is quite a different way of drawing. Working on my own project relaxes me, while I see design drawings as more of an obligation. The academy sort of imposes what we have to produce. It`s not possible to just come up with the wildest artistic ideas.`
Natalia continues: `I enjoy meeting up with people I met on the internet, especially the ones I get to know through forums about Guns and Roses. They come from many different countries and the next one I will be visiting lives in Groningen, The Netherlands. I would also like to go to Portugal, to pay a visit to somebody I met in this way. Next to my studies, I have a part time job in a cinema that helps me pay for at least one trip a year. I divide my remaining spare time over friends and family. Beside my parents and sister, I hardly ever see other relatives because they live in other parts of the country. I always enjoy the little time I spend with my cousins and grandmother.`
Martina (21) is dancing and learning Spanish. `I sometimes get bored, but I will then just call some friends to go out and have a drink.` Carlotte (20) also enjoys spending time at terraces, having drinks with friends. `I like spending time with my boyfriend or going to aerobics classes. I don`t often get bored except in cinemas. It`s not so much that I don`t like films, but I want to have a break whenever I get tired or want to discuss what is happening. I find cinemas uncomfortable and unpractical.`
Katarina (22) is doing cultural studies and does not have any difficulties keeping herself busy. `I guess that students have the most free time of all age groups so they`d better find out about what they want in life. Some students them get stuck in their boredom, which will be temporarily solves once they enter the phase of working life. Still, they`d better solve their problems before they have children. If, by then, they haven`t found things or activities to be passionate about, they will probably end up being just as bored for the rest of their lives.`
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