Olena Prokopovych
Olena Prokopovych

My story starts in January 2013, when 2-stop flight brought me to the liberal capital of the world – Amsterdam. It doesn’t mean that I can easily skip a chapter of my life in Ukraine, where I finished school, graduated university and worked at architectural studio.

No, I can’t forget it. But moving to Amsterdam became a break point in my life and I am enormously happy that it happened.

Newcomer in a new land. I would say that it was really a cultural shock to move from average city of the Eastern European developing country to the center of the world (actually, Amsterdam was really the center of the world during the Golden Age). First striking change that occurred was change of occupation. Instead of spending 40 hours a week in a small office in front of the desktop computer I spent my time doing plenty of new activities, travelling, learning about the world. Some people were stricken by the very idea to put aside my Master degree in City Planning and design and come to an unknown foreign family as an Au pair ( most people don’t even know what AU PAIR means or compare with a nanny job). Au pair – is an international program of cultural exchange. It is not a job. So, people who decide to do it open their life to new experiences, most of which is exploration. Exploration of a new country, its culture, food, entertainment and traditions. Exploration of countries nearby. Exploration of your inner self.

Month after month I fell more and more in love with this new life, with surroundings and people. This new world gave me a huge impact in a form of hilarious inspiration. I started riding by bicycle to Amsterdam (one hour one way) to see those beautiful landscapes and got a chance to put them on paper.

I started writing my blog about how nicely things were arranged, about what inspires me and why I wanted to share this information with others. ART and TRAVEL became my favorite activities. I visited 5 countries in the last year, met some incredibly interesting people, from various points of the globe. I discovered COUCHSURFING and NOMADing.

And this is an amazing feeling – feeling of the Open mind. Painting went so well that I did a specific collection of pastel paintings on black paper and people started asking about them (story about my first fan). I call it now Black Amsterdam. But it wasn't until December that a website was made. Now I had a brand – PROHELEN. Though, I didn't stop and continued to study painting, techniques and fields of art, and now I combine outside practicing with inside education.

At the end of winter, when I returned to Ukraine, as my visa in the Netherlands expired, my soul and mind were still living in Amsterdam and I worked on T-SHIRTS line. This is not the first case of dealing with souvenir production. Once I already made a set of cityscapes of a nice Ukrainian city, which has actually claimed the title of the cultural capital of Ukraine – Lviv.

Amsterdam will probably always remain in my heart as a city that opened my mind, that gave me lots of opportunities and experience. I try to research it, and after wondering in almost all museums and reading books on history, development and culture I ran FREE WALKING TOURS. This is nice thing to show people the place you are so excited about and inspire them. Tips about Amsterdam can be found in the blog posts. In my nearest plans is creation of multimedia MAP of my favorite route in city center.

So wait a bit, and soon it gonna be ready for usage. Now I can’t imagine my life without travelling and going to Copenhagen for a year, I think won’t be the end point.

Articles by Olena Prokopovych