Category Archives: World & Travel

eMAG’s Facebook dilemma

So, turns out Facebook might be a shady company. I know. Who’da thunk? While private users have begun to jump ship or at the very least to post memes about Mark Zuckerberg’s peculiar way to drink water, public pages – like eMAG – are having to make a pretty tough decision.

Yet another Facebook scandal

Alright, let’s start with a very brief, by no means, complete summary. Facebook is collecting user data, and this goes quite a bit deeper than what some people like to admit. Call logs, contact lists, even where people live. Pretty useful stuff, one might say. Would come in handy if you were to – oh, I don’t know – create ads to sway people’s opinion on stuff like the 2016 Brexit vote or certain presidential candidates in the US. Well, Cambridge Analytica found a way to collect this data and sold it to customers who in turn used it for… You can do the math. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself from these practices in the senate hearing last month, but whether his company will change its data-guzzling ways is more than doubtful.

The convenience of networks

And this is where we all come in, actively this time. The development of Facebook’s user base hasn’t really changed all that much following the latest scandal, but a number of influential personalities have openly encouraged people to delete their account, for example Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and Space X. So there is at least a chance that the already sub-optimal public opinion about Facebook could lead to people leaving. The problem is, where to?

You see, people have been concerned about Facebook for a long time, but we’re all so invested in its ecosystem that moving on from it seems like a huge step. You’d have to find services that can do everything you’ve found in Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. And ideally, they should have a user base as all-encompassing as these apps, too. Facebook is all about being convenient. Looking for capable alternatives and convincing your family, friends and colleagues to actually use them is anything but that.

Ties that bind

For eMAG the issue is similar, but with a slight twist. For us Facebook’s massive reach means that we can use those existing networks to get word going when we have a promotion event, a new article ready, or our latest issue around the corner. People who are interested share it and all of a sudden 200 people most of our team members have never seen know our release date. That’s just neat! But doesn’t that also mean that we encourage people to stick around on a platform that has done enough shady stuff to deserve being shunned indefinitely?

We’re not pretending that we’re as big as Kanye, but this definitely is a problem that every influencer and page administrator on Facebook needs to be aware of. If you use Facebook for promotion, you bind people to that system and it’s gotten really tough to justify that now.

To leave or not to leave…

So, this is where we’re at. If we quit Facebook, we take the moral high ground. We also throw away most of the promotion work we’ve done since the magazine’s inception. If we stay, we are able to reach a modest, but ever-growing number of readers and can hope to reach people outside the campus on a regular basis.

If you know of any alternatives, please drop us a line, through Facebook, if need be. Every social network has to start with just a handful of users. Maybe you are one of them. We’re definitely open for a service that respects its users.

Text & Picture: Andreas Böhm

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

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

België is meertalig, maar de Belg nog niet!

Laat me toe mezelf even voor te stellen. Ik ben in België in een Franstalig gezin geboren, maar in een tweetalige omgeving. Meertalig zijn komt niet zo vaak voor in België, hoewel het een drietalig land is. Dat is jammer omdat die talen een groot potentieel betekenen op cultureel vlak en ze slechts in kleine mate worden benut. Dit is niet voor iedereen het geval. Zelf heb ik mijn hele jeugd met twee talen gejongleerd en dit heeft de persoon die ik vandaag ben, gevormd. België bezit volgens mij een grote troef waaruit we meer zouden moeten halen.

Het Atomium in Brussel
Het Atomium in Brussel

Een klein en toch ingewikkeld land

België telt drie officiële talen. Uiteraard is er het Frans en het Nederlands, maar daar hoort ook nog het Duits bij! Hoe leuk en simpel dit ook lijkt, België is een heel ingewikkeld land. Laten we het dus enkel over Brussel hebben, daar is alles officieel tweetalig. Maar in de feiten zal je heel weinig Nederlands horen als je in Brussel rondloopt. In de Belgische hoofdstad wonen vooral Franstaligen, die er met tien keer zo veel zijn dan de Nederlandstaligen. Dit verschilt sterk met de rest van België waar de Nederlandstaligen de meerderheid vormen. Je snapt het, Brussel is een héél moeilijke stad.

Moeilijk gaat ook!

Deze situatie is nooit een probleem geweest voor mij. Mijn ouders hebben mij van jongs af aan in het Nederlands willen onderdompelen, door me naar en Nederlandstalige school te sturen. Het leren ging voor mij gelukkig moeiteloos, ook omdat mijn familie tweetalig is. Mijn grootvader was namelijk Nederlandstalig. En daar zit je dan: een 12-jarige tweetalige die naar het secundair trekt. Ik besloot dit in beide talen te doen. Enkele scholen bieden de fantastische kans om in het Frans én in het Nederlands te leren! In feite had ik ongeveer een derde van de lesuren in het Nederlands.

Een ideale wereld bestaat niet… Of toch?

Stadhuis op de Grote Markt in Brussel
Stadhuis op de Grote Markt in Brussel

Hoewel dit systeem niet perfect en zeker niet gemakkelijk te implementeren is, is het zeker en vast een boeiend concept. Bovendien levert het positieve resultaten op. Daardoor heb ik na de lagere school nog verder in het Nederlands kunnen studeren terwijl ik ook mijn moedertaal, het Frans, kon verbeteren. Volgens mij zou de volgende stap moeten leiden naar enkel maar tweetalige scholen vanaf de kleuterklas. Door deze specificiteit van ons land in de praktijk toe te passen, zouden kinderen van jongs af aan tweetalig kunnen zijn zonder enige inspanning te leveren! Als het kind later dan een derde taal wil leren, wordt dat een simpele klus, omdat het brein al lang getraind zijn op het leren van talen. Volgens mij valt er enkel winst te rapen!

Ik ben me er natuurlijk van bewust dat dit makkelijker gezegd is dan gedaan. Het kan ook heel naïef lijken om op 21-jarige leeftijd te beweren dat tweetalig worden eenvoudig is. Niettemin heeft men nu alvast kleine stapjes in de goede richting genomen. De volgende stap is er misschien eentje van een reus!

Het Atomium, zicht van onderaan
Het Atomium, zicht van onderaan

Author & Pictures: Aurélie Gillain

It’s all the same, isn’t it?

That’s at least what I thought. But it turned out that there are quite a lot of differences even in the most basic Christmas traditions. I was lucky to be able to spend last year’s Christmas with my friends and their families in California and I was really surprised about my American Christmas experience.

Christmas season begins…

My_American_Christmas__Elisa_Kirchmeier._4To begin with, Christmas doesn’t start with an advent season. Good luck finding an advent wreath or even an advent calendar. Christmas time begins when Thanksgiving is over and after you’ve survived Black Friday horror. It seems like everything has switched to an “all Christmas format”. Radio and TV channels, shops which turn into little Christmas heavens overnight, simply everything. It’s impossible to pass a house which isn’t fully illuminated by lights, hundreds of reindeer figures, snowmen or Santa Clauses. Everything stands under the motto: the more the better, the brighter the better. It even becomes a thing or a nightly leisure activity to drive around, to go Christmas light sightseeing and to admire all the decorated houses. In the middle of December I got invited to an “ugly Christmas sweater” party. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party? Imagine a bad taste party, but you must wear the ugliest Christmas sweater you can possibly find. And by ugly I mean really ugly, like an illuminated, talking Santa on your boobs.

The tree

My_American_Christmas__Elisa_Kirchmeier.__3As Christmas came closer, we wanted to put up the Christmas tree. We turned on some Christmas music and lit the fire. But when I asked my friends when we would finally drive to buy a Christmas tree, they just answered: “yeah, we already have one in our garage.” I don’t know what I found more shocking. The fact that it was plastic or that it was white.

Christmas day itself

The 24th is generally a normal day. Like everywhere else in the world, everybody is trying desperately to find presents last minute. But instead of exchanging presents and having a three-course menu for dinner on Christmas Eve, I was proven wrong. You only get one present, which is usually a stocking (filled with little knick-knacks) handed out every year to hang under the chimney and a light meal.

25th: Since I missed the German Christmas dinner (back home) on December 24th – I was expecting a huge Christmas brunch the next day. But I was wrong – again. The whole house wakes up early in the morning only to rush into the living room to see what Santa Claus has left underneath the “Christmas tree”. And – since it’s America – he has left a lot. I´d never seen so many presents – even the dogs got wrapped presents. I guess the hanging sock was just an ambitious understatement because they couldn’t have possibly fit one single present in that sock. My_American_Christmas__Elisa_KirchmeierBy one o’clock they were still unwrapping their presents and the only food we’d so far was one cinnamon roll two to five egg nogs, the delicious American version of egg liquor. My hopes for the big brunch were shrinking more and more. After the present handover, the cooking started. I was already starved by now and the egg nog wasn’t helping either. And then, finally the best part about Christmas started. The food. I was certain that after the amount of stuffed turkey, mashed potato and gravy and afterwards plum pudding, ginger bread and pumpkin pie I ate, I would never eat again.

Because like everything in the US, Christmas dinners are massive.

Text & Picture: Elisa Kirchmeier

Sätt ljuset in i världen

Idag är det den 13 December, det är Luciadagen. På Luciadagen firar man en av de största religösa högtiderna i Sverige, även om firandet i modern tid inte är så starkt förknippat med religion längre. Då firar man att de kortaste dagarna på året är över, man hälsar de längre och ljusare dagarna välkomna. Man kan säga att Luciadagen är vinters motsvarighet till den bättre kände midsommaren. I det följande ska vi förklara festens historia och traditioner.

Luciadagens historia

Kanske undrar du varför man firar det kortaste dagen just den 13 December, eftersom du förmodligen vet att årets kortaste dag egentligen är den 21 December. Men det är lätt att förklara, om vi påminner oss om vilken kalenderräkning man hade när Luciafiradet började: Europa hade den julianska kalenderräkningen, och enligt den så inföll Luciadagen samma dag som vintersolståndet.

Sankta Lucia, alltså den heliga Lucia, är ett helgon i den romersk-katolska kyrkan och har sitt ursprung i Sicilien. Lucia dog på 300-talet och är skyddshelgonet till Syrakusa. Namnet Lucia kommer från latin (lux) och betyder ljus. Idag vet man inte precis hur luciafirandet utvecklades, men de första historiska bevisen på luciafester går tillbaka till medeltiden. Folk firade fester för att ringa i jultiden. På 1700-talet fanns det första rapporter om vita kläder som människaor hade på sig i samband med luciafirandet. Lite senare, på 1800-talet, spred sig denna sed från Västsverige, Dalsland, Bohuslän, Västergötland och Värmland, över hela landet.

Luciafirandet idag

Kerze1_Idag är Lucia inte någon särskilt religös högtid längre, utan snarare en fest för familjer och barn. De viktigaste symbolerna är vita kläder som barnen har på sig, samt ljus som bär i sina händer och på huvudet. Vanligtvis börjar Luciadagen tidigt på morgonen, hemma hos familjer, och forstätter i skolor, på dagis, universitetet och arbetsplatser. Hemma är det den äldsta dottern i familjen som är Lucia. Hon är klädd i en vit klänning med rött sidenband runt midjan och bär en krona med levande ljus på huvudet. Alla andra tjeierna följer henne som ”tärnor”. Tärnorna bär också vita kläder, men de har glitter i håret och runt midjan. I sina händer håller de var sitt levande ljus. Poijkerna får naturligtvis också delta i Luciatåget: De föreställer så kallade ”stjärngossa”, ”pepparkaksgubbar” eller ”tomtar”.

Men varför bär alla människor ljus på denna dag, kan man undra. Nu behöver vi komma ihåg att solen i stora delar av Sverige aldrig går upp mitt i vintern, så folk vill lysa upp mörkret och bringa ljus till hela landet och till världen.

Svenskarna är söta

Firar man någon högtid i Sverige, så får man inte glömma sötsaker, så klart: Som överallt i hela världen finns det speciella maträtter till speciella fester och högtider. På Luciadagen brukar man baka ”lussekatter”, en vetebulle med jäst som är gulfärgad av saffran. Med lite fantasi kan man se att den klassiska lussebullen ser ut som en katt.

lussekatter_ Kopie2Namnet ”lussekatt” består av två delar: Lusse är en alternativ benämning på Lucia. Andra delen, „katt”, hänvisar till katten, alltså djuret. Tidigare kallade man bullarna för djävulskatter, darför att i Tyskland var det djävulen som serverade dem. Och, som ni alla förmodligen vet, var katter förr i tiden djävulens hjälpare.

Nu ska vi avsluta vår lilla berättelse om en av Sveriges stora fester och, i typiskt svensk tradition, fika med våra lussekatter.

Ha det så bra! Vi önskar er alla God Jul och Gott Nytt År!

Text: Angie Czygann & Tobias Lorenz
Proofreading: Sarah Weitkamp
Pictures: M & A Czygann

Remember, remember, the fifth of November

If you’ve been to Great Britain during the first few days of November, you might have noticed fireworks going off and maybe even come across a few bonfires in the evening hours.  Like me, you might have had trouble finding out what it’s all about. People don’t always know why or what they’re celebrating. They just go and join the fun. But I usually like to know the reason for these kinds of festivities.

Westminster Bon fire2

A guy named Fawkes

It all started with a guy. To be precise: with Guy Fawkes. This fellow was “caught in the act” when guarding barrels of powder that had been placed in a cellar beneath the Parliament in order to blow up King James I of England and replace him with a Catholic King. But let’s see how the story began.

Guy Fawkes had presumably been very easily influenced by others all his life. In May 1604, he and other conspirators agreed to join in the now so-called “gunpowder conspiracy”. Fawkes then assumed the name John Johnson, as a servant of Thomas Percy, one of the conspirators. In early December 1604, he started to supervise work in a mine to prepare the gunpowder barrels. In 1605, they hired a cellar beneath Parliament. Fawkes helped to fill the room with barrels of powder and, because of his munitions experience, he was given the task of setting light to the powder. One day before his capture authorities discovered him, but let him leave because they hadn’t seen the barrels yet. But on Tuesday, 5 November, when he once again returned to the cellar, he was arrested. A Westminster magistrate had previously found the gunpowder during a meticulous search. Fawkes was tortured and finally gave away the plan as well as the names of the other conspirators. On Friday, 31 January 1606 he and three others were hanged.

Gunpowder Treason Day

firstRhymeThe very first celebration of the failed gunpowder treason took place right after Guy Fawkes was arrested. The King’s Council had allowed the public to celebrate the King’s survival with bonfires. The following year Parliament passed the Observance of 5th November Act (also known as “Thanksgiving Act”) in order to remember the failed attempt to murder King James I of England. What the celebrations were like during the first years can only be speculated, though we know that at least in some communities music and artillery salutes were part of the festivities. The events were mainly for local dignitaries to start with, but were extended steadily.

While at first the celebrations demonstrated an anti-Catholic sentiment – very early on, effigies of hate-figures, e.g. the pope or the devil, were burnt -, it gradually changed to large organised events, centred on bonfires and extravagant firework displays.

Guy Fawkes Day
NurseryRhyme_Today, every kid knows the name. “Remember, remember…” is a nursery rhyme every kid in Great Britain is bound to hear at some point. Still, when you ask people about the reason for bonfires and firework – more often than not the question results in puzzled looks. People do have a vague idea, of course, but nowadays people seem to be more interested in partying than knowing what makes this date special in the first place.
Partly this might be because society and circumstances change over time. There still might be the odd resentment between Catholics and Protestants, but they’re mostly well concealed in history. What’s more, the name of the day changed in the late eighteenth century, which might have helped to keep the true reason for the celebration in the dark. Even though the story is kind of known, people are lost regarding the specifics. 

Maybe we should not only celebrate festivities, but also try and remember the story behind the party. Otherwise we might lose part of our culture and customs that we wouldn’t want to. After all, even the nursery rhyme says “Remember, remember, the fifth of November…”.

Text: Angie Czygann | Pictures: Manfred Czygann