Category Archives: Articles

An ode to ice cream

20160715_205335I like ice cream a whole lot.
It tastes good when days are hot.
On a cone or in a dish,
this would be my only wish,
vanilla, chocolate, or rocky road,
even with pie a la mode.

 

 

These are the wise words of budding poet Vada Sultenfuss, lead character of the coming-of-age classic My Girl. In this little poem, she sums up what practically the whole world thinks when it comes to ice cream. And her words couldn’t be more fitting than right now, since July is National Ice Cream Month in the USA. And even though it seems like there is no such thing in Germany, I still think we should celebrate it anyway. Probably every person on the planet loves ice cream to some extent, and so it’s great to see that there are still some things that unite everyone in times of division (of course, there is also enough to fight about when it comes to ice cream, but that’s a different story).

Let’s focus on the positive side of it all, for example, the fact that eating ice cream makes us happy. Or that it contains many nutrients like B vitamins and proteins. What’s more, ice cream lessens the negative effects of stress and also reduces the risk of suffering from cancer.

So everything would be absolutely perfect if the ice cream industry didn’t insist on driving a popsicle stick through an ice cream lover’s heart like mine every now and then by suspending the production of a favorite kind of ice cream, in my case Langnese Cremissimo’s Gone with the Wind Ice Cream. However, I quickly managed to mend my broken heart by binge eating the birthday cake ice cream made by Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. Believe
me – their ice cream is to die for and if you’re ever in Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston, or Nashville
you just have to check it out.

So no matter if you’re a popsicle addict or a gelato lover, in the end we should all just celebrate the divinity of ice cream. It’s (Inter)National Ice Cream Month after all.

Author & Pictures: Alisa Lechky

Drama, baby, drama!

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Why Augsburg needs a theatre

If you live or study in Augsburg, you’ve probably heard of the discussions about modernising Augsburg’s theatre, which is estimated to cost 186 Million Euros. 186 Million Euros is a lot of money, and, as always, when a city decides to spend its citizens’ tax money, especially so much of it, there are protests.

In the case of the Augsburg theatre they’re especially fierce because many of the opponents of the refurbishing of the theatre claim that it is only serving the interests of a fraction of the population. So do we really need a theatre in Augsburg?

There might be many arguments for or against the theatre’s restoration, but let me give you a few reasons why we might want a theatre in Augsburg, rather than fighting over whether we need one.

Have you been to the theatre, lately? No? Don’t worry, it’s never too late to start a good habit. No, you don’t have to turn into a hard-core theatre visitor just yet, but why not try out something new? The Augsburg theatre has many different things to offer. There are the plays, of course, and they alone come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are funny – others dramatic. Some are long, while others are short. If you are not a fan of plays, you can also go to an opera and listen to the opera singers fill the room with their powerful voices. In case emotional Italian arias is a bit heavy to start with, there are always the ballet performances, which are my personal favourites! If you’re thinking of pale girls in tutus, think again, because many of the performances are very modern and exciting and for the girls among you, let me assure you that the male dancers are very nice to look at. Augsburg’s ballet group has even been recognised as one of Germany’s best ballet groups and it really shows!

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But the Augsburg theatre not only offers a diverse range of performances; it also offers a pleasant relief from our media-flooded world. When was the last time you actually saw real people on a stage, instead of a TV? And when was the last time you listened to live music, instead of turning on Spotify? I admit that watching a play, an opera or a ballet performance requires a little more effort than a TV show, for example. This is because you actually have to imagine something to be able to engage with the story being told. But your brain will thank you if you just let it wander about freely for a change, and who knows – you might come across some interesting thoughts in your head!

Another reason why I love the theatre is the other people in the audience. If you thought people only go the theatre to look at the actors, dancers or singers on stage, you couldn’t be more wrong! There’s nothing more interesting and amusing than looking at everybody’s outfit while you enjoy a drink and a snack during the intermission. Bizarre people find their way into the theatre, from women in extravagant dresses to extremely bored teenagers on a school excursion.

So, if you’re a bit curious about the Augsburg theatre now, maybe it will be you that I’m staring at next time when I’m sipping my drink during the intermission!

Author and Pictures: Noemi Hehl

 

World Veggie Day: Five random facts about vegetarianism

October 1st is World Vegetarian Day. Time to brush up on your knowledge about vegetarianism! But why stick to the “boring” facts that everyone knows anyhow? Here are some pretty random but fun facts about vegetarians and vegetarianism. Enjoy!

Number of Vegetarians
Well, maybe not so random, but still a cool thing to know: According to the 2014 Meat Atlas, published by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung and Friends of the Earth Europe, there are currently more than 400 million vegetarians and vegans living worldwide. The largest number lives in India (roughly 375 million). But in the States and Europe, there are also more and more vegetarians. The German Vegetarian Organization Vegetarierbund Deutschland (VEBU) estimates that about 7.8 million Germans are vegetarians, and around 900,000 are vegans.

Vegetarianism in Religion
Believe it or not, there are actually religions that promote vegetarianism or even make it mandatory! Most of them originated in India — no wonder more than 30 percent of their population is vegetarian. The strictest is called Jainism. Jains aren’t allowed to eat anything that contains a dead animal body. So no meat AND no eggs. In Hinduism and Buddhism there are some schools that don’t allow the consumption of meat. And there are even some Christian groups that encourage their members to be vegetarian. Which brings us to the next point…

The First Vegetarian Society
Yes, there actually is a vegetarian society! It was founded as early as 1847 in England, and is thus the oldest vegetarian organization worldwide. Many of its early members were inspired by Reverend William Cowherd, who belonged to the Bible Christian Church and promoted vegetarianism. According to their homepage, the Vegetarian Society aims to inform people about the vegetarian diet and help them to maintain it. Oh, and they even have a cookery school!

Famous Vegetarians
What do Einstein, Aristotle, Kafka and Gustave Flaubert have in common? Yup, they all were vegetarians. But it’s not just these “old souls” that did without meat. Apparently, celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, Paul McCarthy and Kim Basinger have dedicated themselves to vegetarianism. If you wanna find out if your favorite celebrity is one of the many vegetarians and vegans in the world of glitz and glam, here’s a full list.

Why Do We Say “Vegetarian”?
The word “vegetarian” is said to have been in use since the early 19th century and was probably hugely promoted by the Vegetarian Society. Some say it is a compound of vegetable and the commonly used suffix -arian — which actually seems pretty logical. But then there are some people who say it derives from the Latin word “vegetus” which can be translated as invigorating, lively, active and energetic. Where it actually comes from – oh well – we’ll probably never know. Maybe someone just woke up one day and thought the term “vegetable diet” sounded boring and then came up with a new word!

Text & picture: Nadine Ellinger

Dance with me!

If you think Germans are cold, rational and impassionate, think twice about the people in Augsburg, because if you’re out and about on a Saturday night, you might come across a mass of passionate salsa dancers, moving their bodies to the rhythms of Cuban music, sensually drawing close together in a bachata or dancing wild and carefree in a reaggeton.

Augsburg may not look like it, but it is one of the world’s salsa strongholds. Internationally-renowned salsa teachers, dancers and DJ’s live and work here, the salsa dance schools are numerous and the parties more popular than ever.

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If you feel like including Cuban dance moves into your life, Augsburg is the perfect location to do so. You might want to start by checking out one of the salsa parties that take place on the weekends. For a first taste of salsa, I recommend the Latin Black party at the KKlub every first Saturday of the month. With a salsa and a hip hop dance floor on two different levels you can move around freely, so in case you’re a bit overwhelmed by the Cuban rhythms you can always find refuge in some good old hip hop songs.

For those of you who prefer a location in the city centre of Augsburg, there is a salsa party every second Saturday of the month at Henry’s at the Rathausplatz, where you normally drink your coffee during the day. Another favourite location is the Capitol restaurant near the Moritzplatz, which opens its doors to salsa dancers every first Friday of the month. If you still don’t have enough of salsa parties, there’s always the Spirit Divan in Königsbrunn, where you can go every third Saturday of the month to enjoy the best of salsa.

If you prefer to learn the basics of salsa dancing first, instead of jumping in at the deep end, let me tell you about the different dance schools you can check out. Emilito’s Cuban Salsa PFacebook-20160519-054009ower offers not only salsa classes, but also classes of other Latin American dances such as rumba, reaggeton, bachata, kizomba and rueda de casino, which is salsa danced in a circle by several couples. The dance school also regularly offers special workshops and free practice parties. Another option is the Salsa Elegante dance school, which hosts the parties at Henry’s and the Capitol. They also offer rueda classes in addition to their salsa dancing lessons. Two other dance schools you might want to have a look at in order to find the right one for you are the Los Banditos and the Move Arts.

If you’re worried that you might not fit into a group of salsa dancers, let me assure you that you’ll find people from all walks of life at the salsa schools and parties. Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you that salsa is something for everyone – no matter how old you are, which country you are from or whether you’ve danced before.
So, vamos a bailar, chicos!

Author: Noemi Hehl
Pictures: Noemi Hehl; Isabelle Zint

How to escape the stress of adulthood by building a blanket fort

Everyone feels stressed out sometimes. It might be because you’re getting nowhere with your Christmas preparations, exams are coming up way too fast or adulthood in general is just too much to handle right now. That’s why I decided to relax by trying something I never did while growing up: build a blanket fort. Here’s how it worked out …

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Step 1. Get a blanket fort buddy

A project like this is just plain depressing on your own, so get someone you would enjoy hanging out with for an afternoon. Someone who doesn’t annoy you endlessly while you’re building the fort. It might actually test your relationship if you’re not good at team work. I chose my brother because he is just childish enough to enjoy the project with me.

Step 2. Find a place to build the fort and make room

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I guess most of you live in a tiny flat or student hostel like me. So building it there wasn’t a real option because my roommate and I own a grand total of three blankets. That’s why I waited for a weekend at my parents’ house. Their couch area is perfect for a blanket fort because we could build around the actual couch as well as use a couple of hooks and beams that provided stability for our fort. We also had to wait for our parents to be gone for most of the day because seeing their couch like that might have irritated them just a little. Also the thought of their two grown children building a blanket fort seemed to bewilder them, for some reason.

Step 3. Get everything you might need and build away

We collected the pillows and blankets from the entire house, using the lightest ones for a kind of dome roof and the heaviest winter ones as fluffy padding at the bottom. But we still had to stop after constructing half the fort and ask our granny for more blankets. So we had about ten to fifteen blankets of different weights and varying degrees of fluffiness. To attach the blankets to each other, pegs and safety pins proved most effective. It was also important to strengthen some parts with lots of pins and the biggest clothes pegs because they carried more weight. Just get used to the idea that your fort is going to collapse at least once, it’s a process that requires trial and error. Also don’t try to improve something until you’re entirely sure what it’s attached to. You can imagine why.

Step 4. Make yourself comfortable

Put all the heaviest, fluffiest pillows and blankets in your blanket fort and add some fairy lights for atmosphere. Maybe bring a laptop and watch a movie, snuggled into all the fluffiness of your fort. Enjoy the company of your blanket fort buddy and admire your work for a bit. My brother and I spent the afternoon watching Adventure Time on my laptop, napping and jamming on his guitar … it was magical.

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Step 5. Finally take your blanket fort down

Life eventually has to continue. So after a while we had to take our fort down because our parents returned home and wanted to use the couch. My brother decided to throw himself into the fort to accelerate the demolition process (maybe only do that if you haven’t used safety pins).

Anyway, it was fantastic to be able to return to our childhoods for a few hours. Afterwards, we felt more able to face the world as adults, but most importantly – we had some fun.

Author & Pictures: Lisa Bittner

Ready to go crazy? The weirdest New Year’s Eve traditions

Germans like to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a sip of chilled sparkling wine, a rich fondue and the annual recurring appointment with the adorable Miss Sophie and her scatty butler James. However, apart from the widespread tradition of watching “Dinner for One”, we Germans don’t have any weird customs for the largest global celebration. But no worries – the rest of the world offers a wide range of strange traditions…

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First Stop: Ecuador

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It’s the end of December. The sparkling snow is falling and the air is cold but very refreshing. So it’s the perfect time to take your empty suitcase for a walk. No, I’m not crazy and I know that you can walk your dog, your cat and, okay, maybe your hamster, but your suitcase? Yes it’s true, at least in Ecuador. If the Ecuadorians are planning a trip sometime next year, they take their suitcases for a stroll. The tradition says that people who are dreaming of a holiday next year should take their empty suitcases for a little walk, so their dreams come true. But I’m not very convinced that this tradition could catch on in Germany. Nevertheless, please feel free to try it out: get your suitcase, go out, get some fresh air and try to ignore the gazing people.

Next Stop: Spain

You’re not a fan of fireworks at midnight and you really hate the emotion which comes with the New Year greetings? But what else could be done? Here’s the answer: just eat 12 grapes quickly, one with each chime of the bells at midnight. For the Spanish, each grape symbolises good luck for each month in the following year. And it wards off bad spirits! But be aware, it sounds easier than it actually is; some Spanish even practice beforehand. So let’s start practicing – New Year’s Eve is close. But don’t forget to chew – it might get a bit tight in your mouth.

Third Stop: Denmark

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If some of you would like to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Denmark, then please don’t call the police if your friends start throwing old dishes at your door. After all, they’ve been collecting Granny’s old china with difficulty all year. So please show a little respect and feel flattered! Why? Smashing old plates at your friend’s door is a special New Year’s Eve tradition in Denmark, and is a measure of your popularity. The more your door gets hit by a broken plate, the more likely friends enjoy being with you. There’s a heap of broken dishes at your doorsteps? Congrats, you’re a terrific friend!

Last Stop: Puerto Rico

A different kind of “bucket challenge” exists in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Ricans throw buckets of water out of their window. And they clean their homes before the New Year arrives. In this way, they clean out the old year and all the evil spirits and welcome the New Year.

The end of the journey has arrived and I have to leave now. I’m very busy because I still have to walk my suitcase, eat some grapes and… well no, actually I’m just going to watch “Dinner for One”, enjoy the fireworks and drink some sparkling wine. Maybe I’ll try out some of the proposals next year, or maybe not, we’ll see! Cheers, Happy New Year to all of you!

Author & Pictures: Julia Huss

How about a chat with Angie?

Our author Franziska spent three weeks as intern in the Bundestag. In her letter from Berlin she talks about her experiences so far.

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It’s Saturday and I’m reflecting on the past five days: Last weekend I arrived in Berlin with a three week practical in the Bundestag ahead of me. I am studying neither politics nor law, so I wasn’t prepared at all for what was coming and I have to admit I was a bit scared. I would work in the office of the Member of the Bundestag Waldemar Westermayer, he is on two comittees, the commitee for alimentation and agriculture and the commitee for economic cooperation with Latin America.

On my first day, I was very close to freaking out. I had a lot of silly concerns like: Were my clothes alright? Would my political knowledge be adequate enough to get along in there? Would they mind if I spoke dialect? So I arrived at the Paul-Loebe-Haus, which is the building on the left side of the Reichstag, and at the entrance I was checked by an airport-like security control. Then a really friendly secretary came to pick me up, and I took my first ride on a glass elevator. They are great! Really fast and well cleaned, and from in there you have a great view of the building’s seven floors. Funnily enough nobody else seems to share my enthusiasm, so if there’s stuff to get from an other floor, they let me get it. 😉

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But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. So I got a warm welcome and an introduction to the building (I’m still getting lost though). After a few phonecalls they even found me another trainee so I would have someone to have lunch with. All this effort that was put into making me feel comfortable blew away my concerns and I became more confident. The office I work in consists of Waldemar Westermayer and his three assistants. Westermayer himself wasn’t in Berlin for the whole week, but that gave me a chance to get used to everything.

I got to do and see a lot of things. Besides the usual office work like organising or copying papers or getting the mail and answering the phone I get to answer letters and e-mails, which means I have to read up on all the political topics that are talked about. This is really interesting as I have access to all of the protocols of the conferences and to other internal information. I also get to go to conferences, where I have to minute what is being said and decided. Moreover, there’s a special programme for trainees that allows us to visit different museums and take part in discussions with well known politicians like Wolfgang Schäuble or Volker Kauder. That’s for now, and I’m really excited about what is yet to come during the next two weeks.

Now a few things about everyday life in the Bundestag. As soon as you get your house ID you can go anywhere you like. I haven’t met even one unfriendly person, quite the opposite, the cantine staff seems to smile 24 hours a day and it’s actually kind of creepy how accurately they arrange the food on your plate. I’ve already told you about the elevators, and there’s really nice and comfy seating-arrangements all over the building. And you can actually wear casual clothes, but not many people do, so I’d feel kind of weird walking around wearing a hoodie, jeans and sneakers.

The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that politics isn’t as untransparent as I had thought, and politicians are humans like everyone else. If there’s anything you don’t understand, you just have to ask, and there’s so many possibilities of informing yourself, I think most people just can’t be bothered to do so. I have to admit I wasn’t really into politics before, but as soon as I got an idea of how it works I actually enjoyed it!

I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks, maybe I really get to have a chat with our chancellor, but if I don’t, never mind, there are so many other things to do and see!

Text & Pictures: Franziska Leichte