Tag Archives: Life

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

“Thank you for your service, Sir!” – Living with an US-Army family for a year.

“Thank you for your service, Sir!” – That’s a sentence I’ve heard probably about almost 100 times, when I was out with my host dad and him wearing his US Army uniform. What seemed incredibly weird for me at first, was very normal for people living in the Unites States of America. Being in the Army or any other military unit in the USA is something highly respected among its citizens, which I started to realize quickly after moving in as the au pair of an Army family.

Advantages

Before I started my year as an au pair in 2016, I of course knew that most of US citizens are pretty patriotic and that they love their country and everything what it stands for. But when I actually started living there, I realized that there is much more to it than loving your country. It’s a way of living, which especially shows in how they treat people working in the military.

So, my host dad who has been working in the Army for about 30 years, brings my host family a lot of advantages. Especially when we were going out together for dinner or visiting an amusement park, they always got a huge military discount. When we did go on a trip, we always were able to board the plane priority, because of my host dad being in the military. I also found out that there actually are certain camping grounds and hotels, that you can only go to if you are in the Army. Besides all this, I also noticed the second they realized my host dad is part of the US military, we always got special treatment and regardless their age people showed so much respect towards him. That’s something that I got fascinated about, since I’ve never experienced such behavior towards people in the German Bundeswehr.

Disadvantages

Of course, besides the discounts and all the respect, there are some things that are far away from being perfect, when you are a military family. The hardest thing my host family probably has to face are the ongoing goodbyes.  I don’t even know how many times my host dad had to say goodbye to his loved ones to go on another military mission. He was not able to be there when my host mum gave birth to their first child and he missed a lot of special occasions. And I guess it’s even harder, when you don’t know if you’re going to see each other again or not. When I first got there my host dad was only able to stay for two weeks until he had to go back to the Middle East.

Respect for the military

Regardless of all the advantages and disadvantages working in the US military, I found the lifestyle and how much respect the US military gets fascinating. It’s part of the country and history and people realize how hard it must be to have a job like that. Of course, you can discuss whether the military is really needed, but at the moment it exists, so why not treat the people working for it with the right amount of respect. Something we in Germany probably could learn from.

author: Janina Trinkl

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 relationships 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 Hil

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

 

 

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.

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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

Living with strangers

After finishing school, many people in their 20s look forward to starting their very own life in an unfamiliar town with new people. In order to find a room, you try to present yourself in the best possible way via, for example, the WG-Gesucht website and try to explain why, of all those millions of roommate candidates, you’re the one they’ve been looking for forever. And after surviving a marathon of housemate interviews, you just want to lie on the floor of what could be the one and wake up one morning only to realize that you’ve moved in with new potential friends… or not?!

Polaroid

Moving in

It’s happened. You’ve found a room which is perfect and you’re going to move in with complete strangers, because it’s always better to have somebody around you, even if it’s just anybody. To be honest, being huddled up with strangers, for example, three other girls you don’t know from Adam, can be tough – as the case when I was looking for a flat. So, what do you need to own to make living together manageable?

Tips from an old hand

After living in a shared flat for a few years now, being an old hand when it comes to living together with strangers, I’ve realized that you need six basic things to make cohabiting in the new environment more “enjoyable”, while at the very same time making sure that you send out positive vibes.

Tatort

The six necessities

  1. A mug: first of all, you need a mug to represent who you are. You like watching Tatort? Why not buy a Tatort mug, so everybody knows what you’ll be doing on Sunday evening?
  2. A perfumed candle: to make the new room more comfortable, and, like a dog, to mark your territory.
  3. Headphones: even if you love your roommates, you don’t want to hear everything they do. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!
  4. Tupperware: nothing makes you look more like an adult than owning various kinds of Tupperware.
  5. A dressing gown: Be proud of your nakedness. But please don’t overdo it. When leaving your room in the morning, don’t rub your nakedness in your roommates’ faces.
  6. Special underwear and socks: do yourself a favour and buy unusual underwear. Otherwise, you’ll be standing in front of a hundred black socks and panties after doing the laundry.

Your way to heaven

Seems simple, and it is! I can’t promise that by only purchasing these simple items you’ll be on your direct way to heaven – and by heaven, I mean the joys of respecting one another’s dirty habits and the inability to clean up the crumbs in the kitchen. But trust me – those tips will make it easier for all of you and you’ll be learning to love each other anyways, and maybe – if you’re really into it – even share the broccoli you bought at the market.

Author & Pictures: Chiara Leick

Sweaty Palms

Have you ever been in a situation that made you wish you could just vanish into thin air? I bet you have. I bet it was something really embarrassing, something that just went wrong in every conceivable way, with you at its centre. Well, I’m not in such a situation. But that feeling… Yeah, it’s there.

sweatpalmspic

Keeping your head down

I’m fidgeting. I guess it’s a physical response to me being tense and it’s probably supposed to help, but it’s most definitely not. What it is doing is make me stand out even more than I already am. I can feel people burning holes in my back, wondering what’s wrong with me. I can’t see them doing this, of course. I mean, half the people in here probably haven’t even noticed me coming in, but I can feel it. I need a different strategy. Run away… No! Don’t be stupid. Hide in the restroom... Dude! Look uninterested… That could be something.

Quick check of systems.
Face: let’s call it relaxed.
Body language: non-existent.
Inner-voice: screaming at the top of its lungs.
All ready.

The art of looking uninterested

I let my eyes wander across the room. Slowly, but not too slowly. Lingering is only permitted on objects, not on people. Lingering on people falls under the category of staring and staring is not only impolite – worse, it’s awkward. The established way to deal with such an emergency situation is to still linger, just not on the person, but something slightly off to the side and behind the person. That’s also awkward, probably just as much as staring at some random stranger as if you were trying to start something, but in my head – that’s the important part – it feels like it might be less awkward.

Mixed messages

I have the suspicion that fidgeting combined with looking uninterested – or however I’m looking at the moment – makes people think I need help. She certainly seems to have gotten this idea. A moment ago she was still standing on the other side of the room. Then we accidentally lock eyes for a second – yeah, I messed up there – she has a charming smile on her face and starts walking in my general direction. I mean, I sort of do want her to come here, but not right now! Doesn’t look like I have much of a choice, though. Oh yeah, that looks like determination. I’m looking uninterested. Not sure it works if you can’t even manage to convince yourself, but I sure as hell am trying. And she sure as hell ain’t changing direction. Doesn’t she see that I’m uninterested?

Just kill me!

She doesn’t. Or at least she doesn’t care, as is evident by her standing next to me, ready to take my order.

“Hello! What can I get you?”
“Uh… Number seventeen please.” What’s with the pause? Forgot how to speak?
“Sure. And to drink?”
“A… glass of water?” She does the asking, you the answering, dummy! And what’s with the pause?
“OK. Anything else?”
“I’m fine.” What’s that even supposed to mean?
“Great! I’ll be right back with you with your order.”

I didn’t say thank you… God damn it!

Text & Pictures:  Andreas Böhm | Video: exurb1a