Tag Archives: Life

KARA-UKE IS BACK!!!

Yes, you have read the headline correctly: The following isn´t about the classic karaoke, which in particular takes place in Irish Pubs after everyone had already had two Guinness. This event takes your bog-standard karaoke to the next level by adding Ukuleles into the mix and has already become the new secret tip in Augsburg: Kara-Uke.

What is Kara-Uke?

Replace the karaoke machine by motivated guests with their ukuleles, and you basically have the perfect setup for a fantastic Kara-Uke night. Join this with readable chords and lyrics projected to the wall with a projector as well as the the motivated and guitar-loving Benni, inventor and moderator of the whole, and I can promise you that you will have the perfect Kara-Uke night.

No ukulele? No problem! The more voices, the better.

The great Kara-Uke restart

At the beginning of this year, the crowd favorite Kara-Uke suffered from the Corona-lockdown just like all the other activities requiring the encounter of a group of people and had to take a compulsory break. But now that more people are finally allowed to meet again, it´s back – and it seems to not have lost its popularity at all. July is the month of the great Kara-Uke restart!

And let’s face it:  Now that you were sitting around all day, I´m sure that at least some of you have used their free time  to practice some of those instruments that have been long forgotten in the corners of your room. Put those skills to use in this event!

The number of people has to be kept limited, which is why the normally free-entry event had to “sell” tickets – and sold them out in less than 2 days. Fascinated by the success of this creative event, I got intrigued to know more about it and had to ask Benni about a few things that I was desperate to find out.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR KARAUKE?

Benni: Actually, KaraUke wasn’t my idea. It’s an event that takes place all over the world in different countries and cities. Michael Dannhauer, Jakob Mader and I are just the guys that brought KaraUke to Augsburg.

When Michael was in Australia 6 months ago, he took part in a similar event in Brisbane, where people met in a cafe with their ukuleles. The organizers had a projector and a linen cloth set up, so people could see the songs with all the lyrics and the chords. Then everybody started to play along and sing together. It sounded so easy to me that I thought: Okay, let’s try this in Augsburg. Maybe the people here will like it as well. And they did.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT KARAUKE IS SO SUCCESSFUL AND WHAT DO THE PEOPLE VALUE ABOUT IT?

Benni: Everything about KaraUke is simple. The instrument – the ukulele – is tiny and cute, and everybody can learn it really fast. You don’t have to practice it as much as other instruments and very quickly you get a feeling of success. With 3 or 4 chords you can play almost any song throughout pop history. When people visit a KaraUke event for the first time and can’t hold up with the chord changes for example, they can also just sing along. They are happy when the C-Chord is coming over and over again and in between they pause, and have a good time singing with all the others.

It’s really exciting to see, that this little instruments brings so many different people together. No matter where you come from, how old you are, or if you have ever played music before, it doesn’t matter. KaraUke is an event for literally EVERYONE. And because it is for everyone it’s always for free. We collect donations where everybody can give as much as they want, but don’t have to.

WHAT IS PLANNED FOR THE 25.07. AND WHY SHOULD WE ALL TRY TO GET A TICKET? Benni: The next KaraUke on July 25th is the first KaraUke after the Corona-Lockdown. And it’s our first Open Air Event ever, so we are really excited about that. It takes place at the 11er Rosenau Biergarten which has a capacity of 100 people. Everybody had to get a (free) ticket because of the capacity limit. After two days we were sold out. But we are planning a few more Open Air KaraUke events this summer and even in autumn. Nobody knows how indoor events in the colder time of the year will work out, so we’re trying to get outside as much as we can. So follow us on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/KaraUkeAugsburg) , Instagram (@karauke_augsburg) or meetup and you will be updated about our upcoming events.

author: Una Kiesel

How much do we matter? – A midwife’s Coronavirus experience

Over the course of the last three months, a lot has changed in our daily routines. The sudden lockdown and stay-at-home orders have affected everyone in Germany. While many students, myself included, were able to stay at home and rejoice in the comforts of “easier” exams and a two-minute commute from bed to desk, essential workers were not so lucky.

Essential Workers during a pandemic

Undoubtedly, every single essential worker deserves more than just applause and praise for keeping our country going. And surely a million articles could be written about the heroic people that braved the storm and still made sure everyone was safe, healthy and provided with everything they needed. However, I want to focus specifically on a group that has often fallen under the radar in the last months: midwives.
For clarification purposes, midwives are women and men (yes, they exist) that take care of expecting mothers before and after they give birth.

Tanja, a self-employed midwife from Bavaria, recalls the beginnings of what will eventually surely be the prologue of a Steven Spielberg movie. “We were suddenly the only port of call and source of comfort for new mothers, not just professionally but also on a personal level. Most times, their husbands could not be with them in the delivery rooms. On top of that, the entire family is often present in the time after a birth but could not help because of the social distancing rules set in place.” At the same time, they were ordered to only stay with the mothers and babies for as short as possible, which felt like a strange internal dilemma of wanting to be safe and also wanting to give the mothers all the support they were not currently receiving, she explains.

Midwives especially were in a difficult situation because they had to move from family to family despite the no-contact rules which technically forbade anyone from visiting another household. “And on top of that, of course the families had vulnerable newborns that could easily get sick. Plus, we had to be extra careful since they had just left the hospital and were at a higher risk of having contacted Covid-19 already.” Tanja recalls.

The technological side of things

Another area of trouble was the gymnastics courses they offered to mothers after birth. “Fortunately, we were able to do the courses online almost immediately, but that brought with it its own set of challenges. I’m not a very tech-savvy person and of course, when you’re in such a strange new situation, everything that can go wrong usually does.” Laughing, Tanja remembers: “In the first session, we started about 15 minutes later than we wanted to. My colleague’s camera didn’t work and I couldn’t access the video conference at all because my e-mail provider had spontaneously shut down their site. In the end, both our kids held our cellphones for an hour because that was the only way we were able to access the course.” Since then, not only has the technological aspect gotten much smoother, but Tanja also jokes that she’s now an expert at angling the laptop perfectly so that no one sees the chaos in her room.

“All in all, we’ve dealt with the situation as best we could,” is the conclusion Tanja offers. “In the beginning, we really wondered how much us midwives matter. It seemed like every new rule put in place somewhat ignored our existence and focused on everyone but us, but eventually we were able to piece together how we should conduct our work.” When asked what the hardest part was for her personally, the answer is “Probably the huge weight I felt with regard to the comfort I wanted to offer these women but couldn’t. Pregnancy is often already a very scary time for them, and then to suddenly feel like they had to figure everything out on their own with the occasional phone call and the significantly shorter visits we conducted was a source of frustration for all of us.”

The moral of our newfound appreciation

While this pandemic is certainly not an occasion to be thankful for, it’s safe to say that our attention has had to shift to aspects of our society that we didn’t focus on before. Not only are essential workers finally receiving the attention they deserve, but like midwives, many professions have finally started being viewed as irreplaceable. Something we can take away from these months – other than a 1,5 meter distance being ingrained in our heads – might be a newfound awareness for just how difficult and important the work done by nurses, retail workers, midwives (and many more) is in our society. In the months coming, perhaps we can all do our part to make sure that we show this appreciation not only in clapping at a certain time every day, but also make sure they are treated fairly and also finally paid as much as they deserve.

author: Sarah Fiebig

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.

     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