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“Thank you for your service, Sir!” – Living with an US-Army family for a year.

“Thank you for your service, Sir!” – That’s a sentence I’ve heard probably about almost 100 times, when I was out with my host dad and him wearing his US Army uniform. What seemed incredibly weird for me at first, was very normal for people living in the Unites States of America. Being in the Army or any other military unit in the USA is something highly respected among its citizens, which I started to realize quickly after moving in as the au pair of an Army family.

Advantages

Before I started my year as an au pair in 2016, I of course knew that most of US citizens are pretty patriotic and that they love their country and everything what it stands for. But when I actually started living there, I realized that there is much more to it than loving your country. It’s a way of living, which especially shows in how they treat people working in the military.

So, my host dad who has been working in the Army for about 30 years, brings my host family a lot of advantages. Especially when we were going out together for dinner or visiting an amusement park, they always got a huge military discount. When we did go on a trip, we always were able to board the plane priority, because of my host dad being in the military. I also found out that there actually are certain camping grounds and hotels, that you can only go to if you are in the Army. Besides all this, I also noticed the second they realized my host dad is part of the US military, we always got special treatment and regardless their age people showed so much respect towards him. That’s something that I got fascinated about, since I’ve never experienced such behavior towards people in the German Bundeswehr.

Disadvantages

Of course, besides the discounts and all the respect, there are some things that are far away from being perfect, when you are a military family. The hardest thing my host family probably has to face are the ongoing goodbyes.  I don’t even know how many times my host dad had to say goodbye to his loved ones to go on another military mission. He was not able to be there when my host mum gave birth to their first child and he missed a lot of special occasions. And I guess it’s even harder, when you don’t know if you’re going to see each other again or not. When I first got there my host dad was only able to stay for two weeks until he had to go back to the Middle East.

Respect for the military

Regardless of all the advantages and disadvantages working in the US military, I found the lifestyle and how much respect the US military gets fascinating. It’s part of the country and history and people realize how hard it must be to have a job like that. Of course, you can discuss whether the military is really needed, but at the moment it exists, so why not treat the people working for it with the right amount of respect. Something we in Germany probably could learn from.

author: Janina Trinkl

The Lighthouse – a unique masterpiece of modern cinema

Two lighthouse keepers are losing their sanity when being trapped on a faraway island. This is all I knew about the movie The Lighthouse before watching the actual trailer. Despite thinking I was all set up for watching the teaser, my mind still got blown as director Robert Egger really takes the cake here! First, all you hear is the sound of a foghorn blaring while you stare at a black screen and you get an instant claustrophobic feeling. Then, a black and white vintage shot of a lighthouse; Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, who look like weather-beaten 19th century sailors, are gazing into the camera. I don’t want to spoil too much but what follows is an uproarious roller coaster ride of images as you see an ax-wielding psychopath, tentacles, an eerie mermaid and much more horror madness.  It leaves you puzzled as to what you have just seen, and I can promise you one thing: you are hooked and intrigued right away!

They did it again: Psychological horror at its finest

If you decide to check out this flick, its imagery, setting and symbolism will be stamped in your mind long after you left your TV. Egger’s psychological horror movie isn’t just more than worth seeing, it also breathes new life into an industry which has left us progressively with trite and dull movies over the past years.

With the film’s release in October 2019, it’s no surprise that no less studio than A24 is behind that project; a company which is well-known for highly renowned and well lauded productions of independent movies such as Midsommar (2019), Hereditary (2018) and Moonlight (2016). Just looking at these films, it’s almost certainly that The Lighthouse  delivers what it promises.

“what’s a timber man want with being a wickie?”- Disorientation as the goal

Vaguely based on an unfinished short story of Edgar Allan Poe, the plot is set on a remote, storm-wrecked lighthouse in New England during the 19th century. Ephraim Winslow’s (Robert Pattinson’s)  adventure is to get underway as he decides to quit his job as a timberman and starts his first day working for a contentious, gross and elderly man named Thomas Wake (William Defoe) as he wants to learn the ropes of being a wickie (old term for lighthouse keeper). Wake orders Winslow around with daily annoying duties, while always making clear that he is at the helm. As he heads up to the lantern room, he forbids Winslow to ever go up there.  In the course of time, the audience can see how Winslow evolves, unveils his dark secrets and eventually dips into madness. He becomes obsessed with what happens at the top of the lighthouse and at some point, the viewer asks himself which one of the guys goes crazier and who’s still to trust.

It’s amazing how Robert Egger has managed to make the film look so authentic. From a technical point of view, it was a brilliant idea to shoot the film in a gray 1.19:1 aspect ratio in order to magnify the dark, gloomy and claustrophobic atmosphere. The old-time sailor’s dialect of the actors is flawless and their sledgehammer performance did leave me speechless, for example, when Thomas spells a biblically, dramatic and few minutes long curse upon Winslow only because he was not fond of his lobster. All this provides an experience unlike anything you have seen before and makes the movie so unique.

Complexity: What does the movie even mean?

The most enjoyable part for me personally is that there is no fixed interpretation or message behind the story. Intentionally, the gist of the movie remains blurry as there are many hints and signs unpretentiously hidden. One can surely find psychological, sexual and homoerotic themes; however, I was mostly amazed by the Greek mythical reference as Winslow could be portrayed as Prometheus, the titan who got punished for stealing the fire from Zeus in order for mankind’s benefit. The light is seen as a metaphor for enlightenment such as, on a more straightforward level, the light of the lighthouse illuminates the night and guides the ships through darkness. 

A timeless film but not for everyone

Even though the movie satisfies my cinematic needs in every way, I do have to admit that it isn’t a film for everyone since some people could perceive it as too brutal or blend in its story. If you’re someone who rather aims for movies which are easier to digest and jollier, The Lighthouse wouldn’t particularly be the right choice for you. However, if you like extraordinary and artistic movies which pluck up courage to try something new and even write a piece of film history with their exceptional style then go ahead with all sails set and watch the movie. You won’t regret it!

author: Mariana Silva Lindner

Popcorn flavors around the world – Thoughts of a popcorn addict who only goes to the movies to get fresh popcorn.

Who doesn´t love popcorn? It´s crunchy, chewy and puffy, it can be salty or sweet all in all, it´s just incredibly tasty. Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks and has been enjoyed across the globe for centuries. But have you ever wondered how popcorn became such a popular snack?

A historical recap

Popcorn actually is a truly ancient dish! The oldest popcorn known to date was found in South America approximately 5,000 years ago. Native Americans not only ate it but also used it do decorate ceremonial embellishments, clothes and necklaces. As colonists arrived in the New World, they became fond of Native American food. Not only was popcorn enjoyed as a snack, but it was also eaten with milk and sugar like a breakfast cereal. The story of popcorn´s rise to prominence continued with vendors selling the snack near crowds, especially outside theaters, circuses and fairs in the 18th century. This gave birth to popcorn being sold as a classic movie snack later. During the Great Depression, the corn kernels gained even more popularity since it was the only snack many people were still able to afford.

Salty or sweet? – it is not that easy

Enjoying a bag of popcorn isn´t limited to just a few countries anymore. I´m a popcorn addict who got the chance to travel the world during the past few years. On my journey I experienced that each country enjoys its popcorn in very different ways, which honestly surprised me.

Let´s have a look at three places that stand out when it comes to the enjoyment of my beloved snack.

USA

Apparently, the Americans have really weird popcorn-eating habits. They mainly like to eat it salty, which is fine by me. But why do they drizzle butter on top making it all soggy? It is also very common to add cheddar cheese which makes them even more greasy. Mostly Americans either enjoy their popcorn at the movies or as a late-night snack at home cooked in the microwave. However, popcorn has been reinvented over the past few years in the US. If it´s dry popped in hot air without oils, fats, salt or sugar it´s actually low in calories, high in fiber and contains many nutritious antioxidants.

Singapore

This country´s love for the fluffy snack is exceptional – you can get any type anywhere at any time. Popcorn usually is part of the standard Singaporean diet and a common snack at work or served before dinner. The Malaysian brand Eureka is the most popular popcorn brand in South East Asia and sells common flavors like sea salt and caramel as well as fancy flavors like seaweed, curry or white coffee.

Australia

Unlike in Germany where flavor options are usually limited to sweet or salty, Australia has a huge selection of popcorn in movie theatres. The abundant flavor choices include French Vanilla, salty caramel or white raspberry. I found my first and foremost, all-time favorite flavor called Rocky Road Popcorn in Melbourne. The Popped kernels were mixed with salted cashews and melted Hershey´s chocolate. In the end they put mini marshmallows on top, which made them the unhealthiest but best popcorn I have ever had in my life.

To all the popcorn addicts: Popcorn is a delicious snack that came from America but is enjoyed all over the world in different ways. Whichever way you like it most, if you´re a real popcorn lover, you should open your heart to new adventures and tastes and just keep popping along.

author: Hannah Reichle

“Don’t make me grow up before my time” – The Timelessness of Little Women

„I just feel like, women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!”, Saoirse Ronan says with tears in her eyes, “But I’m so lonely.” Now I’m also crying. In case you’re wondering where this quote is from – it’s Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. The film hit US cinemas on Christmas Day last year, was nominated for seven Oscars and finally came to Germany in late January. Since then I’ve actually watched it twice at the movies, that’s how good it is.

Originally, Little Women is a children’s book by Louisa May Alcott that first came out in 1868 and received a second volume a year later. The book is considered a classic and has been filmed and re-filmed several times. Even though it came out forever ago, I managed to get half the people I know hooked on it. Here’s why you should do the same.

“Just because my dreams are different than yours, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.”

Little Women tells the tale of the lower middle-class March family: the father is away fighting in the American Civil War, and mother Marmee takes care of their four daughters by herself. The Little Women couldn’t be any more different in personality and life goals. The second volume Good Wives portrays them as young women who are trying to accomplish said goals.

There is Jo, an aspiring writer who does not want to get married. Yet, she has to come to realize that everyone around her seems to be changing: her family and friends all grow up, think of marriage and children and she keeps clinging to the past.

Her youngest sister Amy was probably the least liked sister to most readers prior to the 2019 movie. She’s an artist-to-be, at times annoying and vain and has her mind set on marrying rich. The movie actually manages to turn her into a fan-favourite.

The oldest sister Meg is more of a romantic – she gets married at a very young age and faces the kind of problems you would expect: child keeping and making jam. The usual.

Last, we have Beth. She is a very shy character and is the kind soul of the family. Luckily for her, she is always supported by her sisters and they would all happily throw a punch for her.

The movie very beautifully combines the stories from their childhood and alternates them with the ones from their adulthood. The flashbacks are tinted in warm, rosy colours, whereas the present ones are rather blueish and cold. This alternation manages to bring together innocence and growth, as well as optimism and reality.

“Girls have to go into the world and make up their own minds about things.”

Little Women in itself is a timeless story, especially regarding its themes and topics. For one, you have a differentiated portrayal of feminism, which is even more amazing considering that the book was written in the 1860s. It will positively break your heart (to quote my brother at the movies, crying: “You should have told me it was going to be so sad! You can’t let me watch this without warning me first!”).

Another theme is the whole growing up business. You know … the one you’re probably also trying really hard to figure out. There’s this movie scene where Amy says “I’m a failure” and Laurie replies “That’s quite a statement to make at twenty.” The story reflects really well the struggles of becoming An AdultTM and figuring out who you are, while also dealing with a constant shortage of money, time and sleep (please tell me it’s not just me).

The film manages to literally convey all of this in two hours. Yet, if you are still doubtful about whether you really need to watch the movie, let me mention the cast – a movie that has Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet and Meryl Streep should be worth watching regardless of its content. And I stand by that.

author: Lea Metzner

Enchilada during the Corona Crisis – An Interview with an employee

Coronavirus has hit us all very hard. It started with a couple of cases in China and, suddenly, the whole world was on lockdown. Among other things, restaurants had to close their doors overnight. I wanted to know what has changed for the staff of restaurants and bars, so, I went downtown to talk to an employee of the Enchilada. Her name is Lisa and she has been working as a waitress there for one and a half years now. Due to the loosening of regulations for social distancing, we were able to have a face-to-face interview in the restaurant.

For those of you who don´t know the Enchilada, here’s a quick briefing: The Enchilada is a Mexican restaurant and bar in Augsburg’s city centre. It’s a member of the Enchilada Franchise Group, just like the Ratskeller, Dean & Davids, Aposto, and many more.

What did a usual day of work look like before Corona? How many people were here? How many employees? 

That depends on the day. On business days, there were only up to three waiters, one or two bartenders, and three people in the kitchen. The weekends were a whole different situation: we have seven different areas in the restaurant itself and ideally, there is a waiter for every area. On top of that, there were five or six bartenders. Even in the kitchen, we added an extra dishwasher. So, is a lot happening here on weekends.

Ok, thank you for that insight. Let´s talk about the present. A lot has changed, obviously. Which precautionary measures did you take, especially in the beginning?

Everything happened so fast. I was working on Saturday and by Tuesday we had to shut down completely. None of us could attend to work for four weeks. Our boss managed all the orders via Boxbote together with just one cook. After a while, he decided to join Lieferando, and customers could book their meals over the phone and fetch them later. From that moment forward we had one additional waiter in here – two on the weekends – and three people in the kitchen. We’ve also changed our business hours: normally, they would be from 6 pm until 1 am, but now we work in two shifts. One from 11 am until 2 pm and another one from 5 pm until 10 pm.

How was the mood among the employees, especially when you weren´t going to work? Did you know how it would all turn out?

Right at the beginning when we couldn´t do anything – not even leave the house – we met on Zoom. As nobody knew how the whole situation would develop, we were a bit worried. I can´t speak for my colleagues but I was really concerned after a while, especially after the situation got a little bit out of hand and the media reports went crazy. But now I work on a regular basis – although it´s not as frequent as it used to be – and I am grateful for that. Because we met on Zoom, nobody was really intimidated by the whole situation.

So, your boss didn´t have to fire anyone? They´re all still here?

Yes, he didn´t have to. We made it through fully staffed.

That´s very good. Well, Lisa, I heard that the Enchilada gives away vouchers for customers who fetch their food all by themselves. Is that correct?

Exactly.

Are there any other offers?

We’ve created some packages for Lieferando. Those are whole menus the costumers can order. On Boxbote we put up three different cocktail packages. On top of that, we started a prize game and put a ticket in every bag. Right at the beginning, we had some complimentary gifts, but they were gone pretty fast.

Regarding the cocktails: I can´t quite figure out how it works. Aren´t cocktails supposed to be iced? Doesn´t that ice melt until it reaches the customer?

That works well. Lieferando’s and Boxbote’s radius for delivery isn´t that big. Especially for longer distances, Lieferando goes by car. And we only finish creating the cocktails when the food is ready, and the delivery man is in the restaurant.

There were no complaints about melted Margaritas?

Not that I would know of. As I said, we finish them last and from there on everything should happen very fast.

Ok, we´re about to come towards the end of this interview. Slowly but steadily restaurants get to open again. What precautions are going to be made? Will there be a bouncer? Do you know anything about that?

I know a little bit. For a long time, our boss just wanted to wait because there were new restrictions every second day. But now we know more. We had a bouncer on the weekends even before Corona. On top of that, we have to check IDs because – from what it looks like – only two households are allowed to meet. But as the number of people at one table is limited to four, we need to check if they´re really just from two different households. As I said, there will be a bouncer on weekends. If there are people sitting at the tables outside, they don´t need to wear masks. But as soon as they get up, go to the toilet or even just go inside the restaurant, they have to put them on. Plus, there always has to be enough distance between costumers at different tables. All employees must slip on their masks just like in any other business right now.

Does the mask bother you?

It’s not the end of the world, but it is exhausting. The employees in the kitchen have a hard time understanding the point of it all. And I think even our costumers will have trouble picking up what we said. But, like I said, it isn’t tragic. As long as I can work, I am happy.

Ok. So, now to my last question: What did you learn for the future? Do you may keep any of your innovations for the long term?

We will definitely stay on Lieferando for a while. Plus, we will have different business hours. We used to open at 6 pm. Now we will be accessible for you at 11 am so people who work in the area can have their lunch break here. Until 8 pm we will grant access to the outdoor area. Afterward, we will stay in the restaurant for two more hours to take care of the orders from Lieferando and Boxbote.

Lovely. We’ve now reached the end of our interview. Thank you very much, Lisa. I wish you all the best.

Thank you.

I talked to Lisa off record for a while after the interview and she told me that she really looks forward to meeting some costumers again at the restaurant and interact with them. The outdoor area of the restaurant is very inviting and – although it is in the city centre – very quiet. So, you should definitely check it out. 

The interview took place at the end of May, so some of the information may be outdated by the time you’re reading this article.

author: Celine Bohner

I want to get clean… How Forest Bathing clears your Mind


Due to Corona, we aren’t able to visit our lovely university and complain about the whole bunch of work the professors gave us. Instead, this work awaits us at our desk at home now; practically every aspect of our studies is carried out there. It feels like tasks and information are overrunning us and time is, naturally, limited. That’s why it’s important to let off some steam and find calmness amidst all this chaos. Netflix doesn’t have to be the best solution, though. Ever thought about forests? Yeah sure, those wide, green spaces are nice for a short walk. But what about plunging into the forest and really focusing? So, why don’t we plunge into the benefits of Forest Bathing and how it helps us maintain our mental health.

What is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing is not at all new. It originated in Japan and is called Shinrin-Yoku. Basically, it means to experience the forest with all your senses and create a connection between you and the natural world around you. Smell the flowers, listen to the softly flowing water or just relax while watching the sunlight sprinkle through the leaves. If you want to hug a tree, feel free to do it! Sounds hippie-like? Maybe it is. But the results are amazing.


Get the facts
Various studies have proven the positive impacts of Forest Bathing. First of all, it slows you down. It reduces the stress which has gathered over the days and lets you focus in the here and now. I don’t think I have to tell you how stressful life can be and how stress negatively affects your health and well-being. It can even cause depression. Forest Bathing helps you stay mentally healthy. What’s more, your immune system benefits from it. A study by the Department of Hygiene and Public Health of the Nippon Medical School in Japan proves that a forest bathing trip can increase the activity of the NK-Cells (Natural Killer Cells), which are for example responsible for exterminating cancer cells. Without digging to deep into biology: your immune system gets a nice boost. Of course, one condition does exist: no mobile phone! Any technical device will only distract and, after all, the main goal is to focus and shortly distance oneself from the daily, rushing world. Additionally, the intention of the forest bather must be genuine. If they only think it’s humbug anyway, no gain can be achieved.

The point is: Our world isn’t becoming slower. Quite the contrary, with all the tasks awaiting us, it’s becoming faster, more exciting and more complicated. It doesn’t matter if you’re just strolling through a park or wander off the beaten path through the wood: Concentrating on your fantastic, natural environment for a while takes you through this rather unsure time a lot easier. So – why not pay the Siebentischwald a visit and try it out?

author: Sara Vidanovic

A look behind the curtain – The student union at the University of Augsburg

Student unions are as old as universities themselves. Even during a worldwide pandemic they are not keeping quiet. I had the honor to talk to Karolin Daiber, a member of the student union “Fachschaft Lehramt”, about planning parties, raising your voice and what’s so special about 6pm on a Friday night.

1. Why did you decide to become a part of the student union?

Even back in school I always liked to be part of a school group to help other students and to plan some events – just being part of a group where you have a team spirit. When I started to go to college, I wanted to do something similar, so I decided to become a part of the student union and I’ve really liked it so far.

2. What are your main tasks?

That’s actually quite difficult to answer because we actually don’t have main tasks for everyone. It’s more like, if you’re interested in joining some activities or want to help plan some events you can just join these smaller groups. That’s actually something I really like because you can do a lot of different things.

3. What are your favorite small group activities?

I really enjoy planning our regular semester opening party called “Lehramtsparty”, and also the orientation days for the freshmen because you have to work in a team and your plan has to be really good in order for it to work. You put a lot of effort in but you get a lot of fun back and also a lot of happy students.

4. Are you rather a pragmatic or an idealistic person when it comes to solving problems?

I’m definitely a pragmatic person, unlike some other people. That’s another thing I really like about the student union, though: you get to know so many different and interesting people. All of them have their own way of thinking and solving problems. You have to learn to be patient. I think that’s always a good thing to learn for life.

5. What is an event that will most likely always remain in your memory?

Definitely the semester opening party we host. It’s such a great experience. It’s so cool to come back from your semester holidays, back from working and doing all kinds of things to then see all of your friends again. You can all party together and everyone is excited. On the other hand, I will definitely remember the orientation days for the freshmen, that we offer before the winter semester. We go to a little house in a village close to Augsburg and try to help them get into all the college stuff you have to know, like how to create your timetable and where to go for specific questions. And to get to know each other, of course. We stay there for five days and have two different groups and afterwards, we are basically wrecked… But it’s always so much fun and the freshmen are always very grateful that they get some help, too. It’s really worth it.

6. Would you consider the student union that you are part of political?

I would definitely say so. I think we are political because we are role models, kind of. When we post something on social media, a lot of people will see it so we always check beforehand if it fits our political views or not. And sometimes we have a big discussion because we have different opinions. Also, when students come to us with their problems and we try to help them there’s always some interaction with our president and professors. We always have to think about how we’ll approach them, and we have to consider who to talk to first. In that sense, we’re definitely political.

7. Has the group ever voted for a decision that you couldn’t really support?

I don’t think that has happened so far, because I’m pretty sure it would have bothered me otherwise. It’s really an important question to keep in mind. You should always stand up if you feel like something’s not right. I think as long as there is the possibility to talk and discuss things in the group, it’s fine. It’s always good for yourself to get different views from other people to learn something and think again about your own opinion.

8. Last but not least, tell us a funny inside story on what goes on behind the scenes of our university.

I really had to think about this for a while. I feel like what’s maybe interesting is the following: We have our weekly meetings on Friday afternoon and often, we order some pizza or pasta afterwards and we always have to wait until 6pm because that’s when the happy hour starts in the Unikum. The meetings are always a lot of work because you have all kinds of things to do and it can be chaotic with that many people. After that you feel really good, though, because you have the weekend ahead of you and you’re waiting for pizza with some really cool people. I’m pretty sure we support the Unikum quite a bit with our money.

author: Tabea Becker