I painted old, elegant buildings (pictured right) and chatted to other art students from around the globe. I sat on the floor, not caring if it was clean or dirty - I just wanted to paint. A lot of locals and tourists came to see what I was doing. Some told me the history of the buildings I was painting. One was an 800-year-old church.
It was a great atmosphere. I could hear people humming, playing the flute - I even saw an elderly man selling old art books on the street. As I sketched an old clock tower on the main street, the book seller came up to me and erased part of my sketch. He was right - it actually looked better the second time I did it.
I was amazed by the student painters' high standards. Seeing their work made me work harder so that I could be closer to their level. After talking to them, I stayed up all night to finish painting a building, then submitted a collection of nine landscapes. It took me four hours to finish one of the paintings. Without the others for motivation, I wouldn't have improved this much.
Back in Hong Kong, I can still remember every day in Bitola. Without this competition, and the chance to meet other young artists and paint in a different place, I might never have realised how much art has taught me to express myself.
Back home, I shared these Macedonian memories with my friends. Now, some of them plan to take visual arts next year, too.