Tag Archives: international

El fin de la guerra

finguerraUna mujer camina por la ciudad destruida. Los tacones de sus zapatos resuenan en la acera polvorienta. La mujer pasa por ruinas, ladrillos abandonados y pilas de ceniza. Todo es gris o negro. Pero no la mujer. Su vestido delicado emite un aura festiva, los cabellos rubios están bien arreglados y sus ojos resplandecen de alegría. Ella sabe que la guerra ha terminado.

La mujer cruza una calle llena de agujeros, sus pasos se aceleran. El rápido eco de los tacones. Allí está lo que queda de la estación. Los niños vuelven del campo, los hombres del frente. Él regresará también. Ella lo sabe. La estación está llena, otras mujeres, niños y niñas, gritando, riendo y llorando. Hablando y esperando a sus padres, hermanos, hijos, maridos, prometidos y novios. Llega un tren dañado, resollando y echando vapor. De repente, el vestíbulo se vuelve aún más caótico y ruidoso, en el aire se mezclan la felicidad, el luto, la esperanza y la certeza.

¿Dónde está? Ella sabe que él está allí, detrás de alguna espalda, detrás de alguna cara desconocida, ella lo sabe.

La mujer se da la vuelta, demasiadas personas la rodean, no puede ver.

– ¡Allí!

Ha retornado. Ella lo sabía. La guerra ha terminado. Los dos huyen de la estación abarrotada de gente. La mujer baila en la calle perforada, con su mano se ha colgado del brazo del hombre. La mujer salta y salta de felicidad. Una bomba, dormida bajo el adoquinado, se despierta con el ruido de los tacones que golpetean el pavimiento destruido. La bomba no sabe que la guerra ha terminado. Para ella, la guerra no tiene fin. De pronto, una explosión violenta destroza a la calle. Sin piedad un mar de llamas devora las ruinas, los tacones y a un hombre y a una mujer.

Text: Viktoria Rossi

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

Fan fiction

Have you ever read a book that became much more than just a book? That smells like home every time you open it and immediately transports you back into a familiar world where everything is as it should be? This article is about what happens after “happy ever after”.

Fanfiction

A reader’s problems

I close the book and my eyes, and try to let the last sentence linger a little longer. Just like the sweet taste of chocolate long after you’ve swallowed it, the last sentence of a book stays with you for some time. But even while you enjoy this perfect conclusion of your adventures, a sweet, stinging melancholy fills your heart because now you have to say goodbye to the characters you’ve got to know so well. You’ve become comrades-in-arms now, best friends, or even a family. It’s not surprising that many avid readers refuse to let go of this world – this home away from home.

From reader to writer

So what can you do if the story is over and your favourite author just decides: that’s it? No more books, no more adventures, no more pointed jokes and delicate romances between your favourite characters. Just an excruciating “The end” that leaves a gaping wound in your story-filled heart. Well, if you don’t want the story to be over, then you have to make it continue, right? This is where you enter the wondrous world of fan fiction! Let the journey begin…

Fan fiction

Every big story, no matter if it’s a book or a movie has its own fandom, and therefore its own fan fiction. The internet’s full of blogs that only serve this purpose and many of these amateur writers have created their own small communities. What they do is create alternate endings, sequels or simply continue a story, but the important thing is that they provide their readers with more stories about their heroes and heroines. A little more time in a magical world – an attempt to avoid the imminent, final goodbye.

‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

The author, Rainbow Rowell, has even written a book about fan fiction. ‘Fangirl’ is about a girl who writes continuations of her favourite fantasy novel on her own blog. She’s gained a huge number of fans, but no one knows who she really is, since she publishes her stories using a pen name. As you read the book, you understand just how much effort these amateur writers put into their worlds, although most of them don’t even make any money out of it. They only write for their own pleasure, but once they acquire an extensive community of readers, the pressure grows. They receive the first negative criticism, and readers expect plots to match their own expectations. Continuing a story can get really hard at times, but the massive response proves that it’s worth their while. And, in the end, they remember why they started to write in the first place: to be able to lose themselves in a magical world for just a little longer.

 

Text: Vanessa Hoffmann
Picture: Vanessa Hoffmann

Embracing Unity (and Justice and Freedom)

Defining unity has become hard in a world that seems to be falling apart. Catalans have tried to vote in an independence referendum merely days after the Kurds, Québec’s autonomy is back on the table and Brexit is causing uproar, not only in the EU, but even more in the UK itself. And what if the Scots decide they’ve had it and become independent after all?

Unity out of divisionFahne_Riss

Germans, of all people, know about the inconveniences, and even dangers, of separation and partition. A mere one thousand five hundred years of regional reclusiveness were followed by only about seventy years of unity (and two World Wars) before the country was broken apart again. Of course, there’s a difference between forced partition and chosen self-government. But historically speaking, abandoning all the advantages of a unified state because of ethnic pride and regional patriotism has rarely stood the test of time.

When, in 1841, von Fallersleben wrote the text to the German national anthem, he addressed unity alongside justice and freedom in a democratic state. Now, however, elections as the very basis of democracy have come to show the fault lines that still exist throughout Germany. In the recent parliamentary election, thirteen percent voted for a party whose program exploits this lack of unity – a division based on current political matters both in Germany and the EU. The foundation of democracy is in imminent danger. As with the British people, it is our freedom that allows us to question the point of our unity.

Peace out of unity

In these disturbing times, it’s vital that Germans celebrate and embrace their unity, particularly on our twenty-seventh Tag der deutschen Einheit. This unity lies in diversity within the framework of a unified Europe, our key guarantee for peace, which in turn secures our territorial integrity. Germany, of course, was divided by brute force, which is a whole different story than Brexit or the movement for Catalonian independence. Unity just for the sake of it only leads to stagnation, if not regress.

Still, those who long for independence should challenge their motives. There are three questions to be answered: first of all, how bad is my current situation? Maybe, I’m just suffering from First World Problems. Second, is partition the solution to my problems? Or will they just continue on a regional level? And, finally, will I gain more than I lose? Sometimes, winning independence from a greater power threatens unity within.

Text: Angie Czygann & Niklas Schmidt
Picture: Angie Czygann

Wroclaw

It’s summertime! Courses are slowly coming to an end, leaving us tortured by exams, term papers and other deadlines. With such a perspective, it can be difficult to make time for a long vacation and get away from it all, not to mention that the budget could also be a bit of a problem here. So I would like to present to you a time- and budget-friendly option to escape from uni madness and free your mind, if only for a while.

Wroclaw_kleinYou might be asking yourself why, of all great cities in Europe, I chose to write about Wroclaw. Although I was born in Warsaw and grew up in Germany, I’ve spent all my summers in Wroclaw with my grandparents. The city has always meant a lot to me and I feel like it’s not getting enough recognition, especially among younger people. If you’re planning to visit Poland some time, and have Warsaw or Gdansk in mind, let me tell you that Wroclaw is a much better alternative and has a lot more to offer, especially for university students.

Mind the dwarfs

Dwarf724 kms north-east of our beloved Augsburg lies a city packed with culture, delicious food, craft beer and dwarfs. Dwarfs? Why yes one of Wroclaw’s trademarks is little dwarf statues, which are spread all around the city. They can serve as a guideline to explore the city or just be stumbled upon while walking around freely. Just make sure to keep an eye out for them.

Another thing about Wroclaw is that people tend to call it the Amsterdam of Poland, and as soon as you arrive in the city you will immediately know why. The Odra and its canals beautifully wind through the city, making it explorable from the water and giving the city an amazing Venice-like flair.


Ice-cold refreshments

IcecreamSummer is one of the best times to travel and explore new cities, but what if it gets too hot? Well worry not, there are a lot of different ice-cream shops around the city, among them Ice Rolls Wroclaw. Made right before your eyes, the fresh, creamy deliciousness will not only cool you down but make you enjoy ice cream in an entirely new way.

After you’ve stopped for your ice cream and continue your city stroll, you’re but a few steps away from the marketplace, Wroclaw’s most magical spot (in my opinion, one of the most beautiful city squares in Europe). If you’re lucky, you might be just in time for one of the fairs that take place there and which can last up to a week.

Students’ (night) life

All this might sound really touristy and mainstream, so why write about it in a student magazine and make it sound so special? Well, one thing I noticed is that Wroclaw lives for and because of its many local and foreign students. There are a lot of great things to do during the day, but at night an entirely new side of the city comes to life. So grab a fancy cocktail, sitting on the market square with a view of the illuminated town hall or enjoy locally-brewed craft beer in one of the many different types of pubs. With a little luck, you might be able to land a pint for 2,50 zl, which is roughly 70 cents. Or if you’re not the beer type, you might want to stop by Czupito, a shot bar with an astonishing variety of mind-blowing shots. Of course, you can combine all this and go on a crazy pub crawl and even end up in one of the university’s dorms at a house party with people from all around the world drinking polish wodka and eating dill pickles.

So if you’re still struggling to decide where to go on a short trip, take Wroclaw into consideration. I promise it is worth the trip!

Wroclaw_2

Author & Pictures: Aleksandra Goralska

Na Ceiltigh in Éire

Fáilte. This was the first thing I read after my plane had landed at Dublin Airport. In Irish this means ‘Welcome’. I’d always known that the Irish had a language of their own, but I figured that they’d completely adopted English. But, of course, there’s still a lot that remains of the Gaelic language.

The origin of the Gaelic language

It’s assumed that around 600 B.C. the Celts, from Northern France, made their way to Ireland. Shortly after their arrival, the Celts mixed with the original inhabitants of the island and formed about 150 small kingdoms, in which the Druids, as mediators between the gods and the people, wielded power.

As the Celts didn’t have a writing system, all we know of them derives from archaeological findings. We also know that the Druids generally passed on their knowledge to the next generation orally. In this way, their secrets were kept. Later, the Celts invented an early medieval alphabet called Ogham – a simple form of writing only used by Druids. The inscriptions on tombs, for example, were the first records in the Irish language.

The Gaelic language today

Although the Celtic culture ceased to exist centuries ago, the Irish preserve their Celtic heritage by keeping their Gaelic language alive. Even though English is the dominant language, Irish is still an official language; in 2007 it became one of the twenty-four official languages in the European Union. Although only 1% of the Irish population actually speak the Celtic language at home, at least 30% say that they can or could speak it, but don’t. There are a few parts of the country called Gealtacht in which Irish is still the predominant language, most of which are located on the west coast. For example, the Aran Islands in County Galway, so tourists wouldn’t be able to communicate in English here.

Wegweiser_Gälisch
Irish in public and media

The Irish language is very present in today’s Ireland. Official signposting is not only in English but in Irish as well; legal texts have to be published in both languages and some official institutions only have Irish names, for example, the parliament is called An tOireachtas which basically just means ‘assembly’. And there are many radio stations and TV channels broadcasting only in Irish, but compared to the small number of speakers, there’s a huge variety of Irish literature in Irish.

Irish in the educational system

In schools, Irish is compulsory. As one of the official languages, everyone has to learn it, but most lessons are usually in English. There are a few schools called Gaelscoileanna in which Irish is the language of instruction. Thus, all subjects are taught in Irish.

Celtic heritage: the importance of the Gaelic language

The Gaelic language is of utmost importance for Ireland. The Irish identify with it; it’s part of their identity. For example, the Gaelic language distinguishes them from Northern Ireland and it increases their sense of solidarity.

Text and pictures: Aileen Reifenrath