Just around the corner! – Moving from small village life to Augsburg

It all begins with finally finishing school and being able to really start your own life. After you leave secondary school, your classmates scatter in the most diverse directions. Many are taking a gap year to discover at least a little more of that world that awaits us out there. Others start an apprenticeship and a considerable number enrolls in university. No matter what choice you make to hit off you’re your “new” life – it most certainly always involves changes. A major one that many students undergo is moving out.

How I ended up moving out

After starting university, I realised quickly that commuting to Augsburg every day wasn’t a permanent solution. That’s why, within the first week, I started searching for flats. However, I didn’t give the choice of moving a lot of thought. Neither did I know what it would be like as I grew up in a village. Not having my own car had made it quite difficult getting to the closest train station every day, since it was still 20 km away and the bus system in rural areas is exceptionally obsolete. I wasn’t able to properly get to know my fellow students or take part in any spontaneous hangouts, since mostly I had to catch the train and worry about how I would get home. I’m also fairly sure all of you who moved out are familiar with the process: it takes a little time to hunt down the right flat. However, before I knew it, I got accepted and packed up my stuff a week later.

“You don’t need to move out”

Family and friends didn’t like the thought of me “leaving again” after I had just returned from a year abroad. I got used to comments like “But it’s just around the corner, you can commute easily!” or “Why should you move, you just came back?”. Nevertheless, I started to gather my suitcases, books and an inflatable mattress. On the one hand, the journey to Augsburg takes only about one hour from my little village – depending on how often you get stuck behind tractors or crammed school buses. Not to mention the roadworks you’ll have to bypass on the way. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait to get to know my flatmates, have a new home and an incredibly short journey of 15 minutes to university!

All the things that are so much easier

Of course, I’d known Augsburg before becoming a university student. Over the years I had gone there for shopping trips with friends. I had even been to the university library the odd time for when I had to do research for my term paper back in school. As time passed and I got to spend more and more time exploring the old city’s charm, there were many things I wasn’t familiar with before. The following thought might sound funny to some of you: being able to take a bus or tram without having to wait for hours was merely fascinating to me! Or that I could simply go to the supermarket around the corner if I ran out of milk. I mean, how awesome is going to a bar on Friday night and not having to make it for the last night bus? Those are the things that weren’t imaginable for me to be real at all. You’re baking on a Saturday night and you run out of flour? Too bad, the little dairy is closed, and the next supermarket is 15 minutes away by car. Oh, you missed the school bus in the morning? Unlucky. Your last period on Wednesday afternoon is cancelled? You’ll just have to wait for the next school bus in an hour, no problem.

It’s not worse, just different

Some of those “experiences” might sound abnormal. I’ve even met a considerable number of people that were terrified of being “cut off”.  Humans have an astounding ability to adapt to circumstances, hence going grocery shopping once a week was totally normal for me. Even though I wouldn’t need to buy my food for an entire week all at once now, I still find myself in those habits I grew up with. I surely had to learn a lot about “city life”, even if it were just the simple things like being able to use public transport at any time or going grocery shopping by bike. Although I’m sure there’s many more students that have made similar positive experiences by moving to Augsburg, having grown up in a village was quite an adventure and I’m lucky to call that place my home.

author: Anna Schmitt

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

Greta, where art thou? The ongoing importance of climate action

When watching the news these days, it seems to be all about the newly spreading Covid-19 virus. While approximately a year ago, it was all about Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future, now the daily input we get just revolves around the newly taken measures or the increasing numbers of newly infected people. Even though the ongoing lockdown has had some positive side effects on our nature – like the improvement of global air quality due to the reduction of travel on the ground, just as in the air – protecting the climate remains very important and should not be neglected.

What happened to Greta

In view of the present situation, climate protection and Greta Thunberg seem to be rather overshadowed by the health crisis. And as if that weren’t enough, Fridays for Future demonstrations won’t be possible any time soon, considering the restraining orders in many countries. That means no more young people skipping school all over the world to strike against the lack of climate protection measures. But while our day-to-day lives have been involuntarily slowed down a bit, the world hasn’t stopped turning, and catastrophes still occur all around our environment. There are still fish, turtles, birds and other creatures that die every day in consequence of sea and air pollution. Australia is still struggling with the high (financial and environmental) cost of combating forest fires. Biodiversity is in danger because of species extinction and so forth. The list of natural catastrophes seems endless. Greenpeace Executive Director Jennifer Morgan states that climate change is still taking place. One crisis does not stop another.

New Stimulus Programme

Early successes concerning the decrease of CO2 emissions are of course highly gratifying, however the downward trend won’t be of a lasting nature. Finally, economic slumps never replace climate protection strategies. Instead, these two factors – protecting the climate and protecting prosperity – should be connected. In the end, the measures we take to overcome this financial crisis will decide about the future of our planet and show to what extent we’ve learned something from Covid-19. Experts from the environmental organisation Agora are currently working on a thesis paper that includes a climate and economic stimulus programme. This programme should boost the economy and simultaneously reduce emissions on a sustained basis: the reduction of electricity prices and financial support for the purchase of climate-neutral systems in the steel industry. The investment in climate-friendly technologies would be a chance, but success is not yet guaranteed. Even though environmental pollution is still going on, this crisis might be a chance to open the everyone’s eyes. We need to realize how positive everything could turn out, if we just were be a bit more careful. Maybe the returning dolphins, the crystal clear water in Venice’s harbours, the refreshing air or the deep blue sky will make us once more aware how beautiful our nature is and why it is so important to protect it.

author: Laura Henkes