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“Twist, lick, dunk” – Small, but oh my!

OreoBannerOreo is the most popular cookie in the US and it’s no wonder there’s even a National Oreo Day, March 6th! The variety of Oreo products is huge and Google hits are overflowing with an infinite number of recipe ideas. Whilst the US is totally oreonized, the supply in German shelves is a complete joke. But hey, we do have at least four to five choices at our shops and we live in the era of online shopping, anyway, don’t we? But what makes this little cookie so special?

Cookie of a respectable age

Without any doubt, you can take your hat off to the cookie’s proud age of 104 years. Launched by Nabisco company in 1912, Oreo is ten years older than Germany’s famous Haribo gummi bear. The idea of two chocolate-flavoured wafers filled with a vanilla-flavoured cream wasn’t that new, though, at the time. Oreo’s manufacturers were probably a little too inspired by the Hydrox cookie, that had been produced since 1908 by Sunshine company. Well, Oreo’s sales were better, and thus they outdid Hydrox.

OreoTwistLickDunk resizedTwist or dunk?

Tell me how you eat your Oreo and I’ll tell you who you are. No, just kidding. But still, you can’t just scoff the whole cookie. I mean, this would almost be an offence. Come on, Oreo’s catchy ad already tells you how to eat it. First, twist off one side, then lick the creamy middle and finally dunk the wafers into milk. Let’s do it! Of course, you’ll find fine print somewhere on the package that says: twist the wafers with sensitivity, best of all over a huge dish, unless you enjoy hoovering, and don’t drown the wafers in your milk, unless you want to lose half of your cookie in it. Ugh!

OreoSignsOreo emblem

Very well then, let’s pretend we’ve followed these unwritten eating instructions. But have you ever noticed the cookie’s design before, or have you simply lived from package to milk to mouth so far? Never mind. Oreo owes its current design, which dates back to 1952, to William A. Turnier. It looks a bit like a mystical emblem, followed by several intriguing speculations: is there a connection with the Knights Templar? Some people recognise a number of cross pattees around the word Oreo and a two-bar cross that might symbolise the Cross of Lorraine. Others say the word Oreo is surrounded by four-leaf clovers, and the two-bar cross represents the former European symbol for quality. Well, in my opinion the two-bar cross simply looks like an arrow going through the word Oreo. Only humbug?

Vegan gold bar

Delicious and always a joy to eat, and, needless to say, a big earner. Hence O-r-e-o? “Or” – the French word for gold. In the end, though, it’s simply cream between two chocolate wafers. And, last not least, a big hooray for all vegans and lactose intolerant people: Oreo is vegan!OreoGoldBar resized

Author & pictures: Melanie Schuster

Star Wars Identities – The Exhibition

Flashback: People in long-term relationships will know the problem: your partner in crime’s birthday is just around the corner and you’ve already given him the most creative presents about a hundred times. And since I’m a huge fan of personal presents, I can’t just buy some random perfume or (God, please save me from this shame) a carelessly purchased gift card. No, I’m a good girlfriend, so I’ve bought tickets for the Star Wars Identities Exhibition in Munich (until Oct 17, 2016; Munich, Olympiapark), because my boyfriend adores Star Wars like Anakin loves Padme. But to be honest, I thought that he would be incredibly grateful and take one of his best friends with him. But what a surprise; he asked me, the most disinterested person when it comes to Star Wars.

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A trip to a completely unknown galaxy

Present: So here I am, entering the audio-guided Star Wars Exhibition. The first room shows some strange figures, creepy masks and weird costumes. I’m a bit confused, so I turn around to ask my boyfriend – who are these figures? And where is the little green goblin who always talks as if he’d never heard anything about grammar and word order? But he’s gone. Apparently, I’m joining a trip to a completely unknown galaxy, but my boyfriend feels absolutely at home.

So from this point on please join my very lonely trip into the Star Wars world. As the name already suggests, this exhibition is a journey into the world of Star Wars, but also into your very own identity. So if you go, you’ll learn a lot about how your identity is formed. In order to make the exhibition more interactive you wear black bracelets, which will help to create your own Star Wars character. These bracelets store every answer to different quizzes that you have to answer during your journey. As you can imagine, I’m not very good at ansstars2wering the questions since I’ve no idea whether I was born in Tatooine or Bespin. But I join the game and follow the path to my Star Wars character. On my way to my new identity I pass 200 requisites, costumes and drawings. The little voice in my ears explains every little detail and I learn that the early versions of the little green goblin, called Yoda, looked like a cross between Santa Claus and a garden gnome at first. And while I’m still wondering if Jabba the Hood, who looks like a gigantic slug, is the most powerful criminal, I’m suddenly facing him. Even I know his name and his breathing problems: Darth Vader himself is standing right in front of me. And now every visitor has to answer the most difficult question: should you join the dark side?

Seriously? I’m working for a slug?

After everybody has decided which side they would like to join, the trip ends and you finally experience which Star Wars character you are. And while everyone around me is pressing their bracelets against a huge monitor and waiting enthusiastically for their identity, I’m also experiencing the thrill of anticipation, waiting for my character to pop up on the black monitor. But my initial excitement about my really cool-looking Star Wars character soon fades, as my boyfriend, who has finally found his way back to me, is dying of laughter behind my back. “You belong to Jabba’s gang,” he screams. Seriously? I’m working for a slug?

After I’ve overcome the disappointment, I ask my boyfriend if he enjoyed the exhibition. But he says nothing, because he isn’t listening to me; he’s still staring at his Star Wars character: a Jedi Knight trained by Qui-Gon Jinn. But it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t answer, because I see the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eyes – oh yes, the force is definitely with him.

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Author & Pictures: Julia Huss

It’s not about the money

We all know this problem: the desire to discover new places in the world, see as much as you can, but without much cash. So what do most backpackers do? They save their money on food: fast food, instant noodles or sandwiches. Anything that‘s easy to prepare and that fills your tummy.

But when I was in Sydney, I discovered a place where you can get really good restaurant food, even on a small travel budget. Lentil as Anything is a non-profit-making organisation which runs six pay-as-you-feel restaurants in Australia. Their philosophy is that everyone should have the opportunity to eat out and be social, regardless of their financial situation.

When you enter the restaurant, it’s a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The furniture is simple but modern, designed with much love and creativity. The walls are covered with paintings and other artwork. Every table has a menu that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on the time of the day. You might expect that the low costs mean it’s automatically self-service, but I was more than surprised that after a few minutes a friendly waitress came to our table to take our order.  We felt like guests at her house and she was inviting us for dinner.

The people working in Lentil as Anything are all volunteers or long-term unemployed. Or backpackers. For two weeks of helping out in the restaurant, backpackers can get free accommodation and, of course, a warm meal. And the meals are not only more nutritious and diversified, but also much healthier than a Big Mac Menu at McDonalds.

One aim of the restaurant is to promote multiculturalism, which is also reflected in the food. It’s basically a mix of everything. One customer is having Indian curry for breakfast, while at another table people are having scrambled eggs with bacon. And, of course, there are vegan meals too. And if you‘re still hungry, you can order the banana pancakes with syrup (which I can only recommend!). Before you leave, you can think about how much money you want to spend and put in in the box. And if you want or if you can’t spend anything at all, then you simply don’t put anything in the box.

Now you may be asking the same question that came to my mind after visiting this place: how can the place survive? Can, in today’s society, such a model make enough money to pay the rent, utilities and stock? Apparently it is. The philosophy has been working for over thirteen years now and in the last five years three new restaurants have been opened.

Surprisingly, people who visit the restaurant are not only homeless or backpackers, but also families with a normal income, who get the chance to take their children to a restaurant to enjoy good food more often. And that‘s how donations are collected.

So, for your next trip remember that a small travel budget does not necessarily have to mean that you can’t afford to eat out in a restaurant – the pay-as-you-feel philosophy is becoming more and more popular in all parts of the world, and who knows, maybe there‘s a similar place at your next destination 😉

Author & pictures: Carina Lamb

Resist procrastination today … or not

I almost just submitted this article as a blank page. That’s how bad my procrastination is, or maybe it was just my sense of irony.

Everyone seems to suffer the attack of the procrastination monster every once in a while, or rather every time a deadline is drawing closer. We students are especially susceptible to listening to this sweet, sweet siren’s song and put off all our work as long as possible. There’ no one to check up on our progress after all. Learning how to just get it together and get our stuff done is arguably the most important thing we learn at university. No one likes to admit that but it can just stay between us if you want, I won’t tell.

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So why do we do it and how can we stop it? Isn’t it our only goal to achieve perfection by tirelessly improving ourselves day after day after day? The truth is striving for perfection is hard. It involves struggling with our own worst enemy on a daily basis, to resist temptation and never fail or else fall into an endless pit of despair. Once you slip up and your plans go south you might as well give up forever, or at least that’s what it feels like. The pressure of routine just increases the longer it continues.

That’s why sometimes we just need to give in. Embrace your sloth (that sounds adorable actually). Maybe this monster inside us just needs love too. Giving it a cuddle, smothering it with kindness might help. After all it is part of us. We are this monster. We know that we should be better. We try and fail and sometimesprocrastination need someone to stroke our ego. We need to just forget about our problems for a little while. What better way than to treat yourself with something you know you don’t deserve. You know you want to. Just do it. Don’t be perfect for a little while. Let your monster out of its cage. Let it rage, roar, rampage and then let it go. Calm down and give it a cuddle. Put it back in its little corner. Continue on your crusade towards becoming a better version of yourself tomorrow.

Author & pictures: Lisa Bittner

Plastic? – No, thanks!

“We know that when we protect our oceans we’re protecting our future.”- Bill Clinton

Almost three months ago, on June 8, was World Oceans Day, dedicated to our oceans, which are polluted by mankind, and to ways how to protect them. But actually every day should be World Oceans Day, so let’s take a closer look at why the oceans are so important for our planet and how exactly plastic is harming them!

The ocean and its superpowers 1_neu

The impact of the oceans on the Earth is much bigger than most of us might be aware of. They’re a true marvel of nature: they absorb a high percentage of carbon dioxide emitted by mankind, are one of the main producers of the oxygen we breathe and provide rainwater, drinking water and much of our food. On top of that, the oceans are the habitat for millions of species.

Unfortunately, mankind doesn’t recognize the importance of the oceans for a balanced environment. Some, but by no means all of the negative impacts our society has on this eco system are: overfishing, the destruction of the habitat and pollution. So what can YOU do to protect the seas?

You are what you consume

Urgent action to protect the oceans is needed. Often, there’s a big gap between motivation and realization, but acting more consciously and in an environmentally friendly way in your everyday life already makes a difference.

Have you noticed t20160622_195544hat lots of German grocery, drug and even clothing stores don’t offer free plastic bags at the checkout anymore? That’s amazing because these bags end up as trash in our oceans, just like all plastic wrap. It is estimated that 50 to 80 percent of all debris in the ocean is plastic. Sea animals suffer from the trash as well, as they mistake the plastic for food or become entangled and die an excruciating death. So you can imagine that banning these bags from stores is a very important step! But why even buy plastic bags to carry home your groceries? Just take a reusable bag – you can actually get them in trendy designs!

The plastic or paper cups coffee to go comes in are just as bad. Don’t worry – you don’t have to give up on the habit entirely. Just bring your travel mug and have the barista pour your coffee into it. Some cafes even offer a discount if you bring your own cup.

Get Involved!
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If you feel like you need to get involved even more, check out some organizations that would be more than happy about your support, Project AWARE or Pacific Whale Foundation for example, and make a donation or help as a volunteer.

The list of how every single one of us can contribute to healthier oceans goes on and on, so get informed! And don’t forget to spread the word with your friends and family! Let’s start protecting our oceans, they’re way too important to treat them carelessly.

Author & pictures: Henrike Wilhelm

Airbnb – there’s no better place to stay

Low-budget traveling has been cool for a long time. The most popular way to go on holiday without much money Airbnb1is certainly staying at a hostel in a dormitory with four to fourteen people. But honestly – is this a “holiday“? If you want to hear your roommates snoring or you want to discover more of their bad habits, you should definitely spend your time there!

However, let me tell you about another, for me personally more comfortable, nicer way of going on a journey. In any case, a very well-organized, practical website to book your accommodation, in any case is Airbnb. You may have heard of it yet: it’s an online platform where people from all around the world offer you a place to stay. The community was founded in 2008 in California to give people who have a free bedsit the opportunity to subrent it, as well as providing an alternative to low-cost booking websites such as “couchsurfing“.

Users can either provide a private room or a whole apartment. Using the website is quite easy. Just choose the city you want to go to and the date, and thousands of hits will appear, from expensive to cheap. The offers are very diverse and, of course, reliable. Airbnb guarantees booking security so you can check in advance whether your host has a good rating or not. A further advantage is that you’re able to pay online, so there’s no need to carry lots of cash with you during the trip.

As a Airbnb2passionate traveler I have already visited eight different places with Airbnb, so I’d like to share one experience with you:

Probably the most adventurous, extraordinary place I’ve been to was a wooden bungalow in the middle of the jungle in the southern Thai province of Krabi: imagine…35 degrees and no air conditioning, sharing your daily shower with frogs, lizards and cockroaches, getting bitten by thousands of mosquitos. Even though this doesn’t sound like a relaxing holiday at all, if I look back now, it’s just a really funny, unforgettable memory which only cost €9 per night.

Anyway, Airbnb has simply everything. It‘s a precious opportunity to explore so many different places, and get to know interesting people from everywhere. Simply unmissable!

Author and Pictures: Isabelle Zint

Why fiction can change your life

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More than just some entertaining stories

Happy Book Lover’s Day! Talking about books: when was the last time you dived into a completely new world full of fascinating characters and unknown worlds? If your answer is “I ain’t got time for that”, ask yourself again whether you really can’t set apart a few minutes a day to read a few pages of an interesting novel. It’s not only entertaining; it’s also helpful for your self-development.

See the world through other eyes

As Jessica Wise stated in her Ted-talk “How fiction can change reality”, reading or watching fiction isn’t about following the footsteps of invented characters: “Instead, we walk a mile in their shoes.” That is why fiction helps you to develop empathy. This makes it much easier to understand other people’s decisions and ideas.

Question yourself

Empathy is also related to the next point: fiction makes us question ourselves, our world views and opinions continuously. Only reading facts about a topic is fine. But this will restrict you to your own thoughts and conclusions. Delving deeper into the issue might give you ideas you never thought of before – and you will be entertained at the same time.

See the future

Thanks to fiction and imagination, you don’t need to be extremely smart or a scientist to imagine the future. Science fiction or modern society novels, movies or series do this every day. According to Wise, “scholars are discovering evidence that story shaped culture”. So by reading and creating fiction, you can make an impact on what future modes of transportation or ways of living together will look like.

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Be expressive

Reading stories will help you to develop your own vocabulary. This is not only important if you‘re going to be a journalist or writer, but also in your everyday life. You are judged on how you talk or write to other people all the time – whether you are introducing yourself to a group of fellow students or writing a professional email to your boss: expressing yourself appropriately will help you achieve your goals faster.

Celebrate diversity

It’s OK to be different. That is what fiction teaches us every day. Movies and novels cover a variety of different characters and world views. In real life, someone is sometimes less popular because they‘re just different from the “norm”. The next time you meet such a person ask yourself: would I like this person as the main character in a story? If you approve: why not give this person a chance? It‘ll most likely be worth it.

If these aren’t reasons for you to start the book you have had on your nightstand for months, I don’t know what is. So I’ll finish this article with the same important question that Wise ended her talk: “What story will you try on next?”

Author and Pictures: Laura Annecca