Category Archives: Health & Sports

International Workaholics Day

It couldn’t fit any better, could it?  Exams are coming up, so most of us only seem to turn into real workaholics when studying towards the end of the term. How fitting, then, that today, on 5th July, we can all celebrate International Workaholics Day! Personally, I‘m not sure whether we should celebrate or commiserate…

Worka…what?!

A workaholic is a “person to whom work is extremely or excessively important, esp. one who voluntarily works very long hours; a person addicted to working” (OED).

It can also imply that someone really enjoys the work itself or that they simply feel obliged to do it. That’s quite something, don’t you think? Certainly, we all sometimes somehow feel a certain ‘pressure’ when it comes to work. But a workaholic comes in early, stays in late and sacrifices health and their relationship with their loved ones. Not only once, but very often. I dare say – constantly. Relaxation simply isn’t part of their vocabulary, literally. This may work out for a certain time.

But let’s face it: a healthy work-life balance is vital!

Help! I know a workaholic!

While reading this, you might have a friend or relative in mind, or you might recognise your own workaholic behaviour? In that case, you’ve already made the first step towards a better work-life balance. Remember some of the following advice that may help to be a diligent, hard-working student who can combine work and time for revitalization

  • Give your body and mind enough time to relax. This sets free more energy than you might think at first glance.
  • Set yourself a certain time limit to finish your work effectively, instead of spending too much time working ineffectively.
  • Reward yourself by organising a meeting with a mate that always cheers you up.
  • In case you have got up the wrong side of the bed: stop working for a day. Don’t force it! Try to relax and start all over the next day.
  • Remind yourself of one very essential fact: nobody’s perfect! It’s human nature to set goals you can’t attain sometimes!

Remember, we get up and go to work every day to earn the money or to study for a job in the future in order to enjoy the rest of our lives. Why not start enjoying now? Being hard-working definitely earns respect, but you only live once, right?

Text & Picture: Maximiliane Hill

YES THEORY

Monday morning. 6:30 am. The alarm clock rings. You get up, make yourself a nice hot cup of coffee (because you can’t do anything before that caffeine kicks in), then read the paper, get yourself ready, go to work, come home, have some leftovers from the day before, watch your favorite TV show, check up on social media and go to sleep. Next day, it’s the same procedure. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Is this what your life might look like in five to ten years’ time? Or does it already look that way?

The great feeling of knowing what to expect

Routines. We love them. We humans are creatures of habit. Schedules, plans, simply knowing what to expect when we wake up in the morning – WE LOVE IT. And most of us seem to do really well with this kind of structure for their days, weeks or their lives.

Let’s take this scenario and alter it a bit

Monday morning. 6:30 am. The alarm clock rings. You get up, make yourself a nice hot cup of coffee. Then read the paper, get yourself ready, go to the airport, take the
first last-minute flight they offer you and spontaneously go on an adventure to the Bahamas.

YES THEORY

Sounds fun? Scary? Crazy?

We fear what we can’t predict. That’s why most of us so vigorously cling to our comfort zones. But you know what? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. This is the philosophy four Canadian guys in their mid-twenties live by. They seem to have found the key to living a good and happy life: seeking discomfort. Together they came up with the concept of ’Yes Theory’ in 2015.

Things have changed quiet a lot for these guys, who used to live a rather ordinary life. They decided to step out of their comfort zones whenever they can – causing them to have unbelievable experiences. They moved to LA, went skinny dipping with strangers, sneaked into a Hollywood premiere and hitchhiked to Mexico. And that’s only listing a few of their countless adventures. And their intentions pay off: they’re all living and enjoying life more consciously and transform their anxiety into happiness and excitement. Getting curious? Go check them out at ‘Yes Theory’ on YouTube or on their blog and follow their miraculous journey.

Saying ‘yes’

Are you living a calm life right there at this warm and cozy spot in the middle of your comfort zone? And most importantly: do you feel the need to change something about it? To feel more alive, maybe? Do you miss the feeling of your blood rushing through your veins? Yes? Well, then be inspired by the ‘Yes Theory’ and try to say yes more often (starting with that very first ‘yes’ you maybe just said).

‘What makes you uncomfortable? What are you gonna do about it?’  (quote by one of the members of ‘Yes Theory’)

So after reading this, do you want to change your life for the better? Well, you don’t have to hop on a plane to another continent right away. Let’s start with baby steps out of your comfort zone, but most importantly: start.

Go to the movie you want to see so badly – by yourself, because no one wants to join.

Go jump off that cliff that seems to be way too high for you.

Go ask that boy or girl you’ve had a crush on for so long for a date.

Do what the dark, mean anxiety in your head tells you not to.

Enjoy life more consciously.

Be crazy, loud and spontaneous.

Seek discomfort.

Be happy.

 

Text: Lena Zimmermann
Picture: Fabian Prinz

 

 

Turkish food made easy

Have you ever eaten Turkish food and wondered how you can make those dishes with little effort and no time? You have? Well, worry less and read on, because I’m here to tell you how to prepare the most common Turkish-inspired dish with easy-to-find ingredients for, namely, börek. The main ingredients are feta cheese, dry parsley, puff pastry, eggs and sesame seeds, and that’s about it!

As you can see, I haven’t given you any information about how much you need of each ingredient. That’s because my mother used to say “watch and learn – I don’t do measurements! You need to learn that for yourself!” Harsh, right? But it actually helps, because once you figure out just the right amount or what you like best after some maybe disastrous first attempts, it’ll taste just perfect!

Let the cooking adventures begin!

Now, let’s start! This most classic Turkish dish, which is basically a type of dumpling, comes in all kinds of variations. Normally, you need to get up early in the morning to prepare the dough and leave it to rise for several hours until it’s ready to use. But we’re lazy students with no time and energy to do that, so we’re just going to take simple puff pastry, also known as Blätterteig.

Secondly, take your cheese and knead it in your palms to make it all mushy and mix it in with some dry parsley. This mixture is probably the most common one to fill your dumplings with, but you can also take mashed potatoes, minced and seasoned meat or even spinach, but that would take far too long to prepare and no student has time for that!

It’s coming together…

Now it’s time to cut your puff pastry into square shapes. Then, you take your cheese and parsley mixture and put about one spoonful on each square. Fold the square in half, covering the cheese and squeeze the edges together, so that it looks like a small cheese-filled dough bag. Now, maybe heat up your oven to about 200°, or maybe don’t, to each his own. I don’t think that’s necessary unless you’re baking cookies or something. Anyway, now you beat some eggs, put sesame seeds in it and mix it all together. This is what you coat your dumplings with, so that they don’t end up too dry on the top. And that’s about it! Just shove your tray in the oven and bake everything for a good 10 to 20 minutes, and keep on checking on them. As soon as they turn golden brown, they’re done! It takes absolutely no time to prepare once you get the hang of it, and it’s a nice alternative to eating noodles with pesto every day!

Bon appétit and good luck! Just don’t burn your kitchen down, maybe…

Text & Pictures: Filiz Özer

Push yourself …

What promises a healthier body, a sunnier outlook, and the perfect opportunity to catch up? Running! And it’s one of the best butt-kicking, calorie-blasting workouts around. Still not convinced? Then read on…

Laziness

One of the most interesting races of 2017 was the Berlin marathon. Motivation, strength of mind and exhaustion were only a few comments I picked up at the start line. Thousands of runners were trying to make it through the cold weather to the finish line.

Exhausted, with my feet burning, I got up from my couch after watching TV for 3 hours. I picked up popcorn from my sweater and switched off the documentary about the marathon on TV. I really needed to do something about my laziness.

Do your homework

Running a half marathon not only takes a lot of physical preparation but also mental endurance and if you’ve never taken on the challenge before, not knowing exactly what to expect can be rather depressing. The first weeks were sheer torment. I gasped for air after ten minutes of running and felt just awful. Overchallenged and glum, I was ready to give up. A few days later, while I was walking through my hometown, I found a note on the ground that read “Do your homework“. I guess a student had dropped it. That day, I literally found my motivation on the ground. I started to run almost every single day and the running improved incredibly fast. Even cold weather didn’t stop me. In some kind of way I got addicted to running, more than to watching TV. Who would have thought?

The grand finale

The final race day was incredibly nerve-wracking. I hadn’t slept a lot the night before and was up way too early. At the location, I picked up my race materials, including start number and t-shirt and went towards the start area. Lined up there, looking around at all these athletic, good-looking runners, I thought I would never be able to make it. I heard the gun and started to run. I can’t really say anything about the race itself because it felt like I was in my own world. People were supporting us, yelling and waving on the side of the road. The feeling was just amazing. The finish line came faster than I thought and it was okay. Actually, it was more than okay because I had sprinted the last two kilometers.

IMG_0708

The whys and wherefores

Answering the question of ”Why so much pain?”: it’s the feeling of running that sets our souls on fire. If we push on, running harder, further away from the world and the structures of our lives, we begin to feel connected to ourselves. We begin to get a tingling sense of who, or what, we really are. Besides the mental health issue, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a thoroughly trained, muscular body?!

Text & Picture: Linda Decker

The goblin in my head

goblinHave you ever noticed someone who moves abruptly, as if they couldn’t control their own body? I bet you have! But usually you’d either look away or you’d try to give the person a furtive look because you’re wondering what they’re doing. Well, I’m one of those people fidgeting around in public owing to a disease called Tourette’s syndrome. As most of you’d probably try to avoid interrogating me in order not to make me feel uncomfortable, I’m going to answer the Top 10 questions I’ve been asked because I want to give you an insight into my life with Tourette’s.

     adf

1. What is Tourette’s?

This is, of course, one of the most frequent questions. Science defines Tourette’s syndrome as a neuro-psychological disease which appears in the form of so-called tics, which are involuntary, quick and suddenly occurring movements or sounds. Motor tics are usually way more frequent than vocal tics, but they can also happen in combination. In my opinion, this definition is very abstract, which is why I prefer to explain it differently. Children can understand the illness best with the image of a goblin playing tricks on my brain. However, my favorite explanation is the filter in my brain; our brain sends thousands of commands to the nerves every day. But not all of them are useful or necessary and the filter sorts these out. In my case, the filter leaks, so that my brain instructs me to laugh and at the same time I shake my head – quite confusing, right?

2. What kind of tics do you have?

All kinds! From shaking my head or rolling my eyes to clearing my throat or hiccupping or twisting my legs. Sometimes a certain tic doesn’t occur for a year and then – all of a sudden – it reappears, but even worse than before. Or it disappears forever. In principle, my tics always vary and from time to time I ask myself how my body is actually able to carry out such movements or sounds. And although it might look funny, my tics can be very painful; there was a time when I used to dislocate my thumb so I had to wear a splint for weeks.

3. When do your tics occur?

Whenever they want. Usually, they get worse when I feel stressed in a certain situation or place or when I’m surrounded by strangers. But very often they occur when I’m totally relaxed, as if my brain was getting rid of all the tension, and my tics unload. In periods like this, I need to do less in general because the tics occur in concentration, which completely exhausts me. The funny thing is that sometimes, I’m tic-free for several days and during the night, I’m totally calm as well. So, as you can see, Tourette’s has a mind of its own.

 4. Can’t you control your tics?

I’ve already partially answered this question. So, I can hold my tics back for a short time in order not to attract too much attention. The only problem is: whenever I suppress a tic, it’s really tiring, and comes back much worse. That’s why I usually let my tics come as they do because suppressing them has always had the opposite effect to what I wanted to achieve with it.

5. How does having a tic feel?

That’s hard to answer since I don’t know a constant state without Tourette’s. But you could probably compare it to the feeling before you hiccup, when the pressure slowly rises from the throat before it happens. And this light pressure persists the whole day. However, if small tics like rolling my eyes occur, I usually don’t even notice them anymore.

6. Why don’t you swear?

Yeah, Tourette’s is mostly associated with vocal tics, especially swearing. And in some rare moments, I think that it would be so great to hurl an insult at a grumpy waiter and to even have a ready-made excuse for it. But actually, only about 20 % of those affected suffer from this severe form of Tourette’s. And I’m very happy to be one of the other 80 % because so-called ‘coprolalia’ is emotionally trying and very restricting.

7. What do you think about Tourette’s jokes?

I have a sense of irony. So, if the jokes are funny, I can laugh at them. However, if the jokes are meant to hurt someone’s feelings, I confront the person, which usually helps!

 8. Are you disabled?

That’s quite a question! I think nobody wants to be asked whether they’re disabled. You can probably imagine how shocked I was when I heard this question for the first time. This was actually the moment I realised how conspicuous my tics really are. Of course, I tried to stay calm on the outside and keep my poker face. But on the inside, a part of me, the part that believed that I’m as normal as everybody else, just broke. Naturally, I tried to convince myself that these people simply don’t think about how their words can hurt people. But after this event, I cut myself off from the outside world for a while and it took me a long time to get over it.

9. Does Tourette’s syndrome restrict your daily life?

That’s always kind of a tricky question. As I’ve already said, my tics vary in their manner and frequency. Minor tics like rolling my eyes occasionally don’t have a big impact on my daily life. However, if I’m stressed or nervous, I also combine tics. I start rolling my eyes and at the same time I shake my head vigorously and hiccup. Sometimes, my motor tics are so frequent and heavy that I can’t drive since I can’t have a constant eye on the traffic. At such times, my mom or friends drive to minimize the risk for others. And there are some things I can’t enjoy like others do:  a rush of adrenaline or alcohol aren’t good for me and my tics get unbelievably strong because my brain is overtaxed with so many stimuli at the same time.

10. Can Tourette’s be cured?

Unfortunately not. I’ve been suffering from Tourette’s since the age of four and believe me, I’ve visited a lot of doctors in my life so far. Of course, there are medicines to suppress the tics, but they usually have a strong sedative effect as well. From time to time, scientists conduct surveys about new ways of healing, like a medicinal cannabis spray that helps sufferers to relax. However, all these drugs have very strong side effects so that I’ve never tried any. I think as long as I’m not suffering from one of the severe forms of Tourette’s, I’ll just try to get along and find other, more natural ways to relax.

These were my Top-10-questions about Tourette’s, answered by someone affected and not by scientists just giving theoretical explanations. I really hope that my article has uncovered the mystery of this disease so that the next time you see someone making weird movements or sounds, you won’t freeze in total shock or pure fascination but remain relaxed and open-minded. Because as you know now, people like me only have a goblin in their head fooling around.

Author: Theresa Hartl
Picture: Konstantin Hartl

German grimness

Sometimes it’s a good idea not to worry so much. But even when we really shouldn’t, we kind of always do. You see we Germans are pretty good at a lot of things, or at least we hope we are. We build some rather nice cars. We play soccer as an actual team sometimes. We have the best beer. We have a really good rail network. Wait what?

Yeah, you got that. Someone actually saying the Deutsche Bahn is doing at least a more or less decent job. Half of you will probably stop reading now – but not so fast, please. The last time I took a train outside of Germany thirty-five kilometres took seven hours on a Chinese train with British train tracks. I say that, because the Chinese didn’t quite get their measurements right and the ride was incredibly bumpy. There was also a mouse (or quite possibly mice) hiding somewhere under the floor and occasionally a branch hit someone through the windowless carriages. But guess what? Everybody on that train was really happy. For a country where the GDP per capita is a good three percent that of Germany, I find that quite fantastic. On the last train I took in Germany, half the people looked unhappy – me included. After all, that 5-minute delay really was heart breaking.

So lean back, relax and maybe try not to worry for the next one and a half minutes it will take you to read this.

First, there’s our school system. Every three years, the “Programme for International Student Assessment” (PISA) does just that and assesses our school system somewhere, somehow. In the end, everyone is disappointed and nothing changes. I’m sure there’s a PISA inspector somewhere that hopes that Chinese students acing all their exams are incredibly happy and that all those poor lost souls playing football and having fun are really unhappy that they didn’t come top of the world in the test.

Besides, there’s the weather. It’s either too hot or too cold and when it’s just right, you’re far away on holiday and its either too damp, humid or sunny there.

Apart from that, those of you who are not privately insured will surely have sat in a waiting room before. And yes, our system is quite silly. But no, don’t tell that to anyone in the United States who just got a medical bill for fifty thousand dollars. He’ll probably wish the snake had been more poisonous.

Another thing is statistics like the unemployment rate, which is a mere 3.8% and yet if you ask any German for their first impression, they’d likely say it’s way too high. Tell that to the Kenyans, where not even half the people are employed. And yes, that might be a rather lousy comparison, but our next-door neighbour France’s rate is closer to ten percent. Ask them, and they’ll say it’s not too bad. And they’re not wrong. Compared to Kenya’s, it really isn’t.

Looking at someone’s face in a posh restaurant in Germany when they have to wait longer than the five and a half minutes, they expect their apéritif to take makes you think people in Africa die of anger – and not starvation.

So yeah, maybe next time think about how happy others would be if their situation was only as bad as yours. And then just relax – it really can’t be that bad.

Russian food will make you go mmmmm…

Russian food doesn’t exactly top the popularity charts in Germany, which is a shame, really, because this huge country has a lot more to offer besides vodka and caviar.

Russian cuisine

Russian food is thought to be crazy, very varied and rich in calories. But is that true? It certainly is. Russians love food and are not afraid of trying new crazy things, which gives you more reason to discover Russian culture on your own while you’re traveling. You may have heard something about Russian traditional foods like ‘borsch’ but have had little opportunity to try them. People who visit Russia are often surprised at the flavors of Russian cuisine. They will make you search for the recipes when you return home!

Typical dinner food

russianfood

For Russian people dinner tends to be a big, social thing for the whole family. Indeed, it may be the only time of the day that the entire family gathers together and so people wait for everyone in the household to get home before eating. A traditional meal in Russia is made up of three dishes. The first is a meat soup with vegetables and grains, called ‘solyanka’ or ‘schi’; second is fish or meat with a garnish like rice, potatoes, pasta, buckwheat or stewed cabbage, and the third is a beverage like compot, ‘kissel’ or juice. Sometimes, instead of a meat dish, a heavy red-colored soup like “borsch” is eaten. This kind of soup is usually served with sour cream and is made with beetroot. Another option for the meat course is ‘pelmeni’ or ‘wareniki’ – something like dumplings made of ground beef or mashed potato inside a dough parcel. Bread is a staple and for example my grandma will not sit down at the dinner table if a pile of sliced bread isn’t present. Tea, mostly black tea, is served for dessert and vodka usually accompanies the meal.

Three foods every Russian grew up with

  1. Blini” with caviar and sour cream:

My mom ate a lot of things like frogs’ legs, snails or innards that horrified me as a child, but I took to caviar right away. “Blini” are thin, crepe-like pancakes made out of unleavened dough usually topped with savory toppings such as caviar and sour cream. Yum!

  1. Herring in a fur coat (“Pod schuboj”):

Imagine a cake layered with salted herring, cooked vegetables, potatoes, pickles and a coat of grated beets and mayo. It sounds gross but it looks like a little pink masterpiece and tastes fantastic!

  1. Olivye salad:

It’ll probably freak non-Russians out a little, but really, it’s just potato salad with veggies like carrots and peas, mayo, and bologna. Looks foul – tastes incredible.

Give it a try!

Author & Picture: Nicole Valuev