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Happy Thanksgiving!

The origin of Thanksgiving

In the year 1620, a group of 102 men, women and children also known as the Pilgrims, wanted to find religious freedom and they sailed on the Mayflower to a shore in America called Plymouth, Massachusetts. They arrived in America on December 11, 1620. The first winter was very harsh and 55 of the 102 Pilgrims died of hunger or sickness. Thankfully, in the following year some friendly Indians called Wampanoag helped them by teaching them how to grow corn, how to harvest berries, and where and how to hunt and fish. Because of this the next harvest was good and the Pilgrims had enough food to store for the next winter. In October, 1621 they celebrated the first Thanksgiving to thank God for helping them. In 1863, US President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day to be a national holiday. He proclaimed the last Thursday of November an official day of celebration.

Why Thanksgiving Day is my favorite Holiday

hamThe spirit of Thanksgiving has endured throughout the years and has made it one of the most important holidays in the USA.

Born to an American mom and a German dad, my life has been shaped a lot around American holidays and traditions and my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. To me it’s special time of the year with memorable moments, as different things are shared on this special day: preparations, typical smells of homemade dinner rolls and sweet pies spiced with cinnamon and cloves. I love the warm comfortable atmosphere, good conversations, family quality time and friends coming to visit and not to forget all the delicious food like roast turkey, baked ham, cranberries and sweet potatoes.

What did the chicken say on Thanksgiving Day?
What did the chicken say on Thanksgiving Day?
The chicken said: “hey!”,
I’m glad I’m not a turkey
I’m glad I’m not a turkey on “Thanksgiving Day“

Same procedure as every year

The turkey and ham are ordered a week before. Even though Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the last Thursday in November, my family celebrates Thanksgiving on a Saturday. It would not be possible during the week here in Germany. We prepare pumpkin and pecan pies the day before. The first thing to be done on Saturday is to pick up the turkey at the local poultry farmer, as it’s too big to fit in the fridge! The bird weighs 8-9 kg, as we’re always a big group getting together in the evening. The bird is prepared and stuffed with old-fashioned bread stuffing and put into the oven. One hour for each kilogram – makes nine in total. Only then can we begin with the cranberry sauce, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and the vegetable sticks.

What did the rabbit say on Thanksgiving Day?
What did the rabbit say on Thanksgiving Day?
The rabbit said: “hey!”,
I ‘m glad I’m not a turkey
I ‘m glad I’m not a turkey on “Thanksgiving Day“

Getting ready for the feast

TurkeySlowly but surely the house fills; family first, to help with cleaning up and laying the table and then the friends arrive around five o’clock. Everybody mingles. The whole house smells amazing. We’re all starving since we haven’t eaten much during the day in order to have enough space in our stomachs for the feast. Finally we gather around the beautifully laid-out dinner table and say grace.

The tension increases when the star of the evening is taken out of the oven. How did it turn out? Is the meat juicy, tender and the skin crisp? This delicious smell of cooked turkey adds to the other aromas in the air: scents of stuffing with celery and sage, toasted marshmallows and candied sweet potatoes, roasted sizzling ham and red wine.  My brother-in-law cuts the turkey. When everybody has filled their plates we finally start.

Yummy!

What did the turkey say on Thanksgiving Day?
What did the turkey say on Thanksgiving Day?
The turkey said „hey!”,
It’s tough to be a turkey
It’s tough to be a turkey on “Thanksgiving Day.” (Carolyn Graham, Holiday Jazz Chants)

Time for dessert

cakeHaving eaten far too much, we start emptying the table, put the leftovers in containers to go, and pick off the last pieces of the turkey meat for turkey sandwiches the next day. Before we get ready for the sweet finale, we retell the story of the first Thanksgiving or we take a moment and write down what we are thankful for. Then it is time to enjoy the pies.

Author & Pictures: Elisabeth Stützel

London on a student budget

If there is any vacation destination that I could call my home away from home it’s London. The British capital captured my heart from the first time I visited and has me coming back as often as I can. But frequent trips to London have one major drawback: this city is bloody expensive! So when my best friend asked me to spontaneously accompany her for just three days, I hesitated for a while, wondering if the expense was worth it for the limited time we had. In the end, I went with her, of course, and spent under €200, thanks to a couple of things I learned during my previous visits.

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In 2001 all state-managed museums in London abolished admission charges, which means all of the major museums like the National Gallery or the Tate Modern are completely free. This allows you to basically museum-hop, which is what I like doing in the city more than anything else. If you want to visit the British Museum, just to look at the Rosetta Stone and admire the impressive architecture of its main hall – go for it! Tea at the Victoria & Albert and a quick detour through the dinosaur exhibit of the Natural History Museum? Lovely idea!

Churches

London makes up for the free museums with horrendous admission charges to its beautiful churches like Westminster Abbey or St.Paul’s. During a service, however, it’s completely free. I would especially recommend the choral evensong at Westminster Abbey; sit down to listen to the famous choir while taking in the gothic architecture and delicately carved décor.

West End showslondon3

No visit to London would be complete for me without seeing at least one West End show. Lots of theatres offer special daily tickets for a huge discount, but most of them are on a first-come-first- serve basis and require lots of queuing. So if you’re pressed for time or simply don’t want to research all the different deals, drop by the “tkts” booth in Leicester Square. They always have a lot of discounted tickets for evening performances on the same day, so you can go by and just pick what’s cheapest or sounds the most fun.

Food

You can find the best bang for your buck for a quick meal at “Wahaca”, a Mexican grill right beneath Waterloo Bridge. Their 6-pound pulled pork burritos are mouth-watering and satisfy even the biggest hunger. And if you want to make a little sightseeing trip out of it, cross Waterloo Bridge at night for a breathtaking view across the whole cityscape, get your burrito and wander along the Thames in the direction of the Tate Modern. Your path will take you through trees full of twinkling fairy lights and to Blackfriars Bridge, where you can check out “Doggets Coat & Badge” pub for a pint of cider or alelondon4.

Author & Pictures: Anna Reinbold

America, what have you done?

Trump won.

This sentence is as shocking as it is short. It only takes these two words to shatter what was left of the hopes of tolerant people. But it looks like we have to start getting used to being a minority. Tolerance seems to be out of fashion. The new season brings the colours of racism, hate and anger.

I can still remember the times when racist comments would be regarded with public indignation. But today, Trump’s triumph has proven what Brexit had already foreshadowed: racism, intolerance and sexism are socially acceptable again. A person who boasts having “grabbed women by the pussy” and plans to build a wall, in a time when history has long proven that walls must fall, has been elected the 45th President of the United States.

You can only imagine the dictators of this world, watching the presidential debates and the procedures of the election night and rejoicing over the fact that democracy is ruining itself. Look, they will say to their people, this is what happens if you give people a choice!

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The choice the American people made last night will not only affect their own country. The consequences are already visible. The stock markets are plunging and Canada’s immigration website collapsed under the rush of desperate Americans looking for a way out.

What will happen next? Frauke Petry as the next Bundespräsident? Kim Jong Un attacking South Korea? Everything is possible now in a world where the seemingly impossible becomes a hard fact.

In spite of the facts I received this morning via all news agencies, I have to admit I didn’t give up hope until it was already too late. Apparently, I’m a desperate optimist. Deep down I just couldn’t imagine that anyone with at least a brain and a heart would actually vote for Trump. I was terribly wrong.

In his election night message, Obama said: “No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning”. Famous last words, one could say, because the sun has risen, but what it has revealed is far from the sunny side of life.

Author: Noemi Hehl
Pictures: private

Typically “Gaijin”

I guess there aren’t many people who hjapaneseave never been to a sushi place or Japanese restaurant at least once in their lifetime. The colorful rice rolls have become more and more popular over the past years, as the vast offer of different restaurants in Augsburg alone suggests! Japanese food such as sushi, just to name one of the many different and delicious dishes Japanese cuisine has to offer, also represents a part of Japanese culture. If you not only want to show respect this, but also the effort the itamae (the sushi chef) is putting into your dish, it’s important to eat it the way it’s supposed to be eaten – otherwise you might come across as a rude gaijin (jap. 外人, lit. translates to “person from outside”, “outsider”). The word has a very strong negative connotation and has been used to describe non-Japanese people, especially western people. Today, though, it’s being replaced by the more formal gaikokujin (jap. 外国人, “person from a foreign country”).

So, to get the most out of your sushi-eating experience, whether in Germany, in one of our lovely Japanese restaurants, or in Japan itself, try to avoid the five following no-gos!

1. Don’t cut your sushi into smaller pieces with your chopsticks – If possible, try to eat the sushi in one bite, as the chef always creates a balanced piece of the delicious food. For example, eat a bit of pickled ginger before switching to another type of sushi in order to neutralize the taste and prepare your palate for the next sensation.

2. Speaking of chopsticks – Don’t pierce your sushi (or rice in a bowl) with them and leave them standing vertically – This is a sign of death and is considered very rude.

3. Don’t put wasabi into the soy sauce and blend them – Soy sauce and wasabi should never be mixed. Put a little wasabi on your sushi and then dip it into the soy sauce. And nigiri sushi usually doesn’t require any extra wasabi, as there is already a thin layer between the rice and the fish.

4. Don’t eat sashimi with your hands – Sashimi, raw pieces of fish without rice, are not supposed to be eaten with your fingers. Use your chopsticks! However, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat nigiri sushi with your hands, to avoid destroying its delicate structure.

5. Don’t dip nigiri into the soy sauce rice side first – The integrity of the rice will be destroyed if you do. Instead, dip it into the sauce upside-down, and eat it this way, too, so that the fish hits your taste buds first.

Paying attention to these few things will make your dinner more authentic and a blast, not only for you and your friends, but also for the restaurant staff! Appreciating another culture is not difficult, so why not start by doing so with appropriate eating etiquette?

And don’t forget: Have fun, and don’t be THAT person! 🙂

Author & Picture: Mélanie Fournier

Who would you rather have a beer with? Winnie-The-Pooh or her Majesty the Queen?

Why am I asking such stupid questions? Well, 2016 is not only the Queen’s 90th birthday, but also the 90th anniversary of the first publication starring Winnie-The-Pooh.

It turns out that the two of them have a lot in common. They are both 90, very British and say clever things every now and then. Probably the Queen is even fond of honey like our beloved little bear. The Queen is said to have loved the Winnie-The-Pooh stories when she was a child. No wonder: since the first publication in 1926, the stories about the thoughtful bear and his friends by author A.A.Milne have found their way into children’s hearts all over the world. They have even been translated into Latin, for some reason.

winnie

In their adventures, Pooh and his friends Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore discover the true values of friendship while roaming around the “Hundred Acre Wood”. Winnie-The-Pooh, who was named after the author’s son’s teddy bear, is often thought to be a bit slow-witted but appears to be a fairly good poet. Most of the stories include a poem or a ‘hum’ about friendship or about honey, which he is very fond of.

As 2016 is Pooh’s and her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday, circumstances seem perfect for the two of them to meet. That’s why in a recently published short story, Pooh and his friends travel to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen. An audio-visual version of the new adventure, written by Jane Riordan, is available on youtube, but it can also be downloaded for free at WinnieThePooh.Disney.com. By the way: we asked some of our readers at the International Day in June who they would like to have a beer with. The answer: Winnie-The-Pooh. I guess he’s just so cute!

Pictures & Author: Melanie Pfanzelt

Tips for a great Dublin experience

Spending a semester abroad has been on my to-do-list ever since I started studying, but you know how things can go sometimes. Plans change, things get in the way, and in the end you have to set your priorities. Last term I finally did get my chance to take an Erasmus semester in Dublin and I honestly have to say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. So here are some things you absolutely shouldn’t miss while you’re on the green island.

dublin4

Explore the country. Ireland is really not all that big. With the Bus Éireann lines you can get from Dublin to Belfast in a few hours relatively cheaply. Landmarks like Tara, the Giant’s Causeway or the Cliffs of Moher are just a wee bit away. If you’re taking a semester abroad, the international societies like the Erasmus Student Network organise trips regularly as well. Ireland is beautiful. Go see for yourself!

Grab a few friends and visit Temple Bar in Dublin. I don’t think I’ll have to say much about it, but one bit of advice: the famous pubs aredublin2 cool, but, well… famous. My favourite place was a small cafe a bit further down the road. You still had the whole setting, but you could actually talk without having to shout at each other or having to cope with getting elbowed in the back. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find a bunch of places that are not on tourists’ radar.

Check out Grafton Street. There’s always stuff going on in one of Dublin’s busiest shopping streets. Very close to Saint Stephen’s Green (a beautiful park), it leads you straight to Trinity College. On the way you will not only find the Gaiety Theatre, all sorts of shops and restaurant, but also street performers and buskers. You can find some real gems there and occasionally even catch some more famous bands. If you are there around Christmas, prepare yourself for an incredible experience. Choirs, Christmas music and the lights and decorations transform Grafton Street into an absolute winter wonderland. The snow generally gets substituted with cold rain, though.

dublin

One really important tip for all fellow students: you probably won’t be able to get a room at the on-campus residences, at least not until well into the semester. So arrive a week or two earlier, embrace the hostel lifestyle and then use Daft.ie, the local newspapers and the Facebook pages of the international societies (again, ESN helped me a lot here) to find a place to stay. You’ll probably be able to get something that’s significantly cheaper than on-campus accommodation, too.

Other than that, just be open-minded. The Irish are extremely welcoming (and chatty) people and if you approach them with a smile, they’ll pay it back with nothing but kindness. I’ll never forget my time in Dublin and I can’t wait to return to catch up with all the friends I have made there.

Author & Pictures: Andreas Böhm

Up and away

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” – Danny Kaye

I was bitten by the travel bug the second I first travelled around Europe in a trailer with my family as a small child. I’ve already seen a few corners of the world, but there are still lots of plane tickets for me to buy! Traveling has definitely made me a better person and I’ve heard lots of people say the same thing about themselves. But what exactly is it about traveling that seems to change people for the better? Let’s take a look at some of the positive aspects…

Traveling can make you become…
…more modest
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Going to other countries makes you realize how small we, as humans, are in such a big world and how grateful we should be for being able to experience its beauty – just think of all the breath-taking landscapes that can be found all over the world! Nature is so much more powerful than humanity and it is our duty to do everything we can to protect its beauty because, after all, we’re just temporary guests on this planet.

…more open-minded

You meet so many different people on a journey, with different backgrounds and beliefs that shape who they are and what they think the world should be like. All these people have their own story to tell and if you listen carefully you realize that, even though language, skin colour and religion might differ, in the end, we’re all the same and that all these stories have an impact on you. I’m much more open towards other cultures now – and isn’t open-mindedness and tolerance what our world, which is characterized by fear, prejudice and walls, really lacks these days?

…braver and more independent

20150823_193302I was very homesick when I first started traveling on my own, but I became more independent with every journey and now, I’m braver than ever before. This includes approaching strangers for advice, relying on my intuition in situations where I feel lost and as well taking risks sometimes! While I was freaking out about all the possible dangers awaiting me in an unknown country a few years ago, I realized that things always figure themselves out somehow and I’ve always returned home safely.

…more balanced

While I have some doubts about myself from time to time (like a lot of us, I guess), I’ve experienced plenty of situations abroad that made me realize that others’ perceptions of me totally differ from my own. Meeting new people abroad gives you a chance to break free from the role you’re stuck in at home and this, in return, helps you to grow and develop a better self-image. So, go out into the world, be yourself, touch some people’s lives, so the experiences you have change you forever!

What are you waiting for?
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It might sound like a cliché, but it’s actually true: traveling can help you find yourself and become a better person and, most importantly, world citizen! If you let cultures, places and people abroad affect you, I promise you won’t be the same on your return. So, if you’re lucky enough to get the chance to travel don’t hesitate – pack your bags and be prepared for a life-changing and eye-opening experience!

Author & pictures: Henrike Wilhelm