It’s not about the money

We all know this problem: the desire to discover new places in the world, see as much as you can, but without much cash. So what do most backpackers do? They save their money on food: fast food, instant noodles or sandwiches. Anything that‘s easy to prepare and that fills your tummy.

But when I was in Sydney, I discovered a place where you can get really good restaurant food, even on a small travel budget. Lentil as Anything is a non-profit-making organisation which runs six pay-as-you-feel restaurants in Australia. Their philosophy is that everyone should have the opportunity to eat out and be social, regardless of their financial situation.

When you enter the restaurant, it’s a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The furniture is simple but modern, designed with much love and creativity. The walls are covered with paintings and other artwork. Every table has a menu that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on the time of the day. You might expect that the low costs mean it’s automatically self-service, but I was more than surprised that after a few minutes a friendly waitress came to our table to take our order.  We felt like guests at her house and she was inviting us for dinner.

The people working in Lentil as Anything are all volunteers or long-term unemployed. Or backpackers. For two weeks of helping out in the restaurant, backpackers can get free accommodation and, of course, a warm meal. And the meals are not only more nutritious and diversified, but also much healthier than a Big Mac Menu at McDonalds.

One aim of the restaurant is to promote multiculturalism, which is also reflected in the food. It’s basically a mix of everything. One customer is having Indian curry for breakfast, while at another table people are having scrambled eggs with bacon. And, of course, there are vegan meals too. And if you‘re still hungry, you can order the banana pancakes with syrup (which I can only recommend!). Before you leave, you can think about how much money you want to spend and put in in the box. And if you want or if you can’t spend anything at all, then you simply don’t put anything in the box.

Now you may be asking the same question that came to my mind after visiting this place: how can the place survive? Can, in today’s society, such a model make enough money to pay the rent, utilities and stock? Apparently it is. The philosophy has been working for over thirteen years now and in the last five years three new restaurants have been opened.

Surprisingly, people who visit the restaurant are not only homeless or backpackers, but also families with a normal income, who get the chance to take their children to a restaurant to enjoy good food more often. And that‘s how donations are collected.

So, for your next trip remember that a small travel budget does not necessarily have to mean that you can’t afford to eat out in a restaurant – the pay-as-you-feel philosophy is becoming more and more popular in all parts of the world, and who knows, maybe there‘s a similar place at your next destination 😉

Author & pictures: Carina Lamb

Resist procrastination today … or not

I almost just submitted this article as a blank page. That’s how bad my procrastination is, or maybe it was just my sense of irony.

Everyone seems to suffer the attack of the procrastination monster every once in a while, or rather every time a deadline is drawing closer. We students are especially susceptible to listening to this sweet, sweet siren’s song and put off all our work as long as possible. There’ no one to check up on our progress after all. Learning how to just get it together and get our stuff done is arguably the most important thing we learn at university. No one likes to admit that but it can just stay between us if you want, I won’t tell.

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So why do we do it and how can we stop it? Isn’t it our only goal to achieve perfection by tirelessly improving ourselves day after day after day? The truth is striving for perfection is hard. It involves struggling with our own worst enemy on a daily basis, to resist temptation and never fail or else fall into an endless pit of despair. Once you slip up and your plans go south you might as well give up forever, or at least that’s what it feels like. The pressure of routine just increases the longer it continues.

That’s why sometimes we just need to give in. Embrace your sloth (that sounds adorable actually). Maybe this monster inside us just needs love too. Giving it a cuddle, smothering it with kindness might help. After all it is part of us. We are this monster. We know that we should be better. We try and fail and sometimesprocrastination need someone to stroke our ego. We need to just forget about our problems for a little while. What better way than to treat yourself with something you know you don’t deserve. You know you want to. Just do it. Don’t be perfect for a little while. Let your monster out of its cage. Let it rage, roar, rampage and then let it go. Calm down and give it a cuddle. Put it back in its little corner. Continue on your crusade towards becoming a better version of yourself tomorrow.

Author & pictures: Lisa Bittner

Plastic? – No, thanks!

“We know that when we protect our oceans we’re protecting our future.”- Bill Clinton

Almost three months ago, on June 8, was World Oceans Day, dedicated to our oceans, which are polluted by mankind, and to ways how to protect them. But actually every day should be World Oceans Day, so let’s take a closer look at why the oceans are so important for our planet and how exactly plastic is harming them!

The ocean and its superpowers 1_neu

The impact of the oceans on the Earth is much bigger than most of us might be aware of. They’re a true marvel of nature: they absorb a high percentage of carbon dioxide emitted by mankind, are one of the main producers of the oxygen we breathe and provide rainwater, drinking water and much of our food. On top of that, the oceans are the habitat for millions of species.

Unfortunately, mankind doesn’t recognize the importance of the oceans for a balanced environment. Some, but by no means all of the negative impacts our society has on this eco system are: overfishing, the destruction of the habitat and pollution. So what can YOU do to protect the seas?

You are what you consume

Urgent action to protect the oceans is needed. Often, there’s a big gap between motivation and realization, but acting more consciously and in an environmentally friendly way in your everyday life already makes a difference.

Have you noticed t20160622_195544hat lots of German grocery, drug and even clothing stores don’t offer free plastic bags at the checkout anymore? That’s amazing because these bags end up as trash in our oceans, just like all plastic wrap. It is estimated that 50 to 80 percent of all debris in the ocean is plastic. Sea animals suffer from the trash as well, as they mistake the plastic for food or become entangled and die an excruciating death. So you can imagine that banning these bags from stores is a very important step! But why even buy plastic bags to carry home your groceries? Just take a reusable bag – you can actually get them in trendy designs!

The plastic or paper cups coffee to go comes in are just as bad. Don’t worry – you don’t have to give up on the habit entirely. Just bring your travel mug and have the barista pour your coffee into it. Some cafes even offer a discount if you bring your own cup.

Get Involved!
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If you feel like you need to get involved even more, check out some organizations that would be more than happy about your support, Project AWARE or Pacific Whale Foundation for example, and make a donation or help as a volunteer.

The list of how every single one of us can contribute to healthier oceans goes on and on, so get informed! And don’t forget to spread the word with your friends and family! Let’s start protecting our oceans, they’re way too important to treat them carelessly.

Author & pictures: Henrike Wilhelm

Airbnb – there’s no better place to stay

Low-budget traveling has been cool for a long time. The most popular way to go on holiday without much money Airbnb1is certainly staying at a hostel in a dormitory with four to fourteen people. But honestly – is this a “holiday“? If you want to hear your roommates snoring or you want to discover more of their bad habits, you should definitely spend your time there!

However, let me tell you about another, for me personally more comfortable, nicer way of going on a journey. In any case, a very well-organized, practical website to book your accommodation, in any case is Airbnb. You may have heard of it yet: it’s an online platform where people from all around the world offer you a place to stay. The community was founded in 2008 in California to give people who have a free bedsit the opportunity to subrent it, as well as providing an alternative to low-cost booking websites such as “couchsurfing“.

Users can either provide a private room or a whole apartment. Using the website is quite easy. Just choose the city you want to go to and the date, and thousands of hits will appear, from expensive to cheap. The offers are very diverse and, of course, reliable. Airbnb guarantees booking security so you can check in advance whether your host has a good rating or not. A further advantage is that you’re able to pay online, so there’s no need to carry lots of cash with you during the trip.

As a Airbnb2passionate traveler I have already visited eight different places with Airbnb, so I’d like to share one experience with you:

Probably the most adventurous, extraordinary place I’ve been to was a wooden bungalow in the middle of the jungle in the southern Thai province of Krabi: imagine…35 degrees and no air conditioning, sharing your daily shower with frogs, lizards and cockroaches, getting bitten by thousands of mosquitos. Even though this doesn’t sound like a relaxing holiday at all, if I look back now, it’s just a really funny, unforgettable memory which only cost €9 per night.

Anyway, Airbnb has simply everything. It‘s a precious opportunity to explore so many different places, and get to know interesting people from everywhere. Simply unmissable!

Author and Pictures: Isabelle Zint

Why fiction can change your life

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More than just some entertaining stories

Happy Book Lover’s Day! Talking about books: when was the last time you dived into a completely new world full of fascinating characters and unknown worlds? If your answer is “I ain’t got time for that”, ask yourself again whether you really can’t set apart a few minutes a day to read a few pages of an interesting novel. It’s not only entertaining; it’s also helpful for your self-development.

See the world through other eyes

As Jessica Wise stated in her Ted-talk “How fiction can change reality”, reading or watching fiction isn’t about following the footsteps of invented characters: “Instead, we walk a mile in their shoes.” That is why fiction helps you to develop empathy. This makes it much easier to understand other people’s decisions and ideas.

Question yourself

Empathy is also related to the next point: fiction makes us question ourselves, our world views and opinions continuously. Only reading facts about a topic is fine. But this will restrict you to your own thoughts and conclusions. Delving deeper into the issue might give you ideas you never thought of before – and you will be entertained at the same time.

See the future

Thanks to fiction and imagination, you don’t need to be extremely smart or a scientist to imagine the future. Science fiction or modern society novels, movies or series do this every day. According to Wise, “scholars are discovering evidence that story shaped culture”. So by reading and creating fiction, you can make an impact on what future modes of transportation or ways of living together will look like.

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Be expressive

Reading stories will help you to develop your own vocabulary. This is not only important if you‘re going to be a journalist or writer, but also in your everyday life. You are judged on how you talk or write to other people all the time – whether you are introducing yourself to a group of fellow students or writing a professional email to your boss: expressing yourself appropriately will help you achieve your goals faster.

Celebrate diversity

It’s OK to be different. That is what fiction teaches us every day. Movies and novels cover a variety of different characters and world views. In real life, someone is sometimes less popular because they‘re just different from the “norm”. The next time you meet such a person ask yourself: would I like this person as the main character in a story? If you approve: why not give this person a chance? It‘ll most likely be worth it.

If these aren’t reasons for you to start the book you have had on your nightstand for months, I don’t know what is. So I’ll finish this article with the same important question that Wise ended her talk: “What story will you try on next?”

Author and Pictures: Laura Annecca

Pokémon Go

Be honest, there is nobody on this planet who hasn’t heard of Niantic’s latest app: PokémonGo. There are millions of lovers, but probably just as many haters out there. But what is the hype really about?

Since the mid-90’s people all over the world have been fans of the Gameboy game seriepoks. Niantic and Nintendo have long refused to offer games for anything but their own gaming devices. At the beginning of July this year, a dream for many Pokémon fans worldwide came true: being able to actually integrate your game into your life. The very handy side effect of having to walk around your area or even explore new parts of your city (namely exercise), has been accepted widely.

It’s about catching them all – obviously. But there is more to it and it’s a tiny bit different than the original. There are no missions to go on and you can’t really train your Pokémon in the traditional way. You can battle gyms, though: in real time! (For non-Pokémon-traditionalisteamts: that means you have to actually hurry to do your move. Otherwise your opponent might just win without you even having used one single move.) No Pokécenters, marts (you get Pokéballs at Pokéstops, as well as other goodies) or hometowns of players exist in this game. There are teams to choose from: red, blue or yellow (probably because of the three original games/legendary Pokémon?). After choosing one, you will take over gyms with this team – but you also have to defend that said gym against opponents of the other teams.

To start the game, there will be a professor – just like in the originals – who will offer you one of the three starter Pokémon. This time, though, you can also catcScreenshot_2016-07-13-12-44-00h all of them, so you don’t have to miss out on one! (Yay!) Pokéstops: You want to visit as many of these as possible, as they’re your immediate supplier of Pokéballs, which you need to “be the very best.” The main point of Pokéstops and gyms, though, is to level up the player. This time, it doesn’t matter that much, what level your Pokémon are, but rather what level you are. The higher the level you are, the higher level Pokémon you’ll find. All of the creatures can be found in their “natural surrounding”, meaning you’ll find a Squirtle close to water and a Rattata or Pidgey basically everywhere. You just have to explore new areas to catch different types.

Sounds like fun? Try it! There’s even going to be a Pokémon tram in Augsburg which only allows players to get on. Go on, you “Gotta catch ‘em all!”

Author & pictures: Susann Tallmadge

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