Category Archives: University

{health update} Yup, still not doing great.

I’m in the midst of realising that social media and mental health are so, so hard to balance, especially if you’re trying to grow a following (yeah, I know, numbers don’t matter, bla bla). You don’t wanna wallow in self-pity and exhibit defeatist ‘debby downer’ attitudes, but you also don’t want to be dishonest. Or silent. Because, growth. Consistency. Showing up.
I’m not good at any of those things.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve lost my job. Well, I shouldn’t say lost my job, my contract just wasn’t extended, which is a thing that happens sometimes. But I also wasn’t told in the nicest way (or time frame).
Which is bad, because my (former) boss is (was?) my favourite professor, that I’m meant to have classes with this semester (starting next week). And my ex-colleagues are lecturers – that I’m also meant to have classes with this semester. Cue me being paralysed at the thought of facing them. I’m embarrassed and ashamed. Add to that the fact that I’m 25, already in my sixth semester and wahahaaay behind in my studies (which there are plenty of reasons for, as I try to remind myself, but it’s no use), and I am seriously considering dropping my degree. Which would make it the next item in a long list of things I’ve wasted my time on and ended up dropping (a gap year. My first uni. My year abroad. This uni.)

I also don’t know how to get help (I’m currently barred from getting a therapist financed through health care for another year because I’ve “finished” therapy a year ago and am thus officially declared “healthy”) or who to talk to (my friends are aware and somewhat sympathetic, but they also have their own lives to worry about and check in less and less, can’t blame ’em, and I’m also absolutely brilliant in alienating them or involuntarily switching to a happy(-er) mask as soon as someone else is present). I have a lot of options rattling down in my head, but all of them get stuck in some sort of vicious circle where I can’t get help without money, but also can’t get money (i.e. a job) without having help.

There’s no uplifting or educational moral to this story. I’ve had bad experience with sharing my mental health struggles openly online in the past, but I’ve obviously not learnt my lesson, eh! I’d love to say that things may be shit right now, but I’m confident they’ll get better, if I only work hard and keep at it. But I can’t, because that’d be a lie.

A Literature Student Who Doesn’t Read

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I grew up around books. I read all about the little girl who prayed to a swine deity in order to save a stray cat. About Ben, who died, but couldn’t quite let go of his family and stuck around, or of the teacher who turned into a frog. I was the bookworm, who could never get enough, who read and finished Harry Potter books on release day.

And then I stopped. As my peers moved on to more advanced literature and actually enjoyed reading classics – that is, the ones that actually admitted they liked reading books at all – I felt left stranded with too complex words and stories that were too boring to function. On the other hand, most young adult literature was too simplistic for me. I looked down on their ideas of a fantasy novel, their ideas of a love story, pretentiously thinking I was too “good” for them. I was trapped in this grey zone of not understanding more complex literature, but not being satisfied with children’s books. And so I stopped. I moved away from books and more into the other area of texts. The internet. Blog posts and livejournal entries and message boards, stimulating my desire for international exchange, improving my English on both colloquial and professional level, and yet, leaving me unable to read. I’m not going to say that the internet ruined my attention span and my ability to read long texts. My ceasing to read did that. The nature of the internet, with its short block texts and simplified speech only supported what I was doing anyway.

And now here I am. I feel this sort of disconnect between fiction and myself. Yet again I see my peers interested in the great classics, reading Shakespeare and other texts if not with ease, then still with more understanding of the text than I could maybe muster with readings of three secondary texts explaining what the eff is actually happening here. I see people getting lost in stories and characters, and revelling in that fact, while I don’t feel anything. It was very long ago indeed that I really wept over a character’s death in a novel, because I feel too distanced, too disconnected. I can’t make the stories, or characters, or events tangible for me. They’re fiction, they’re created, they’re not real, and there was a time when I would forget that, but it’s not now anymore.

My studies force me to look at texts closely. Not just at the characters’ motivation, but how these were constructed. Find and identify the framework, lay bare the skeleton of the text, dismantle it, look at every part from each angle, and then reassemble it. Stand back and look at it as a whole. Then look at the details. Back to the large scale again. I enjoy it, but it frustrates me. I feel like I am trying to touch the texts through a grey cotton haze, instead of being able to dig in and get my hands dirty. And I wonder, forever wonder, if anyone else shares that disconnect and is just better at pretending they’re “getting it”.

A literature student who doesn’t read. But I refuse to give up.

The Past Few Months

Long time no see, etc, etc. I should refrain from starting the posts the same way all the time and just accept that I will always and forever blog very sporadically. Well. Have a little update on what I’ve been up to since the last post.

Travelling.

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I really do miss travelling. I have been doing a lot of the same short term trips to get stuff sorted out lately, but nothing really interesting. So it was incredibly lovely to pack my bags (or my mum’s small suitcase, rather) and leave to visit the wonderful city of Berlin once again. Of course, as I like to combine pleasure with, well, more pleasure, I’d planned to visit friends and see my favourite band playing live.

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Cherilyn and her band Dear Reader were amazing as always. This time around, they played at the Arena, a multi-venue concert/bar/beach thingsy right by the Spree. It was intended to take place outside (on a sun deck, no less!), but because of a somewhat chilly evening, they decided to relocate it to another venue on the premises, the Glashaus – an old factory building. Thanks to some happy accidents, I made a few new contacts. That’s what happens when you go to a concert all by yourself. First you feel like an idiot, because everybody else seems to have somebody to talk to and you just stand there awwkwwaarrrddllyyy, and you might not say another word to another person for the whole night – or you might have some interesting conversations with strangers!

Baking.

Photo 01-09-2013 22 31 21 (1)

This was my first attempt at a sweet pie. I really, really, really have to work on the lattice, I should have made the strips a bit wider, but they were mini pies and it was all very fiddly – and my first time, after all! Weaving the lattice was definitely fun, though. Incredibly confusing as well, though. I love autumn so much. Apple pies, jams, the colours, sweaters and scarves and chilly weather, curling up with a cup of tea … I will hopefully spend this season with lots more baking.

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I also tried my hand at making jam for the first time. So we got 1 kilo of fresh and local plums from the market and made a little army of jars. 🙂 It turned out a bit too runny and sauce-like to my taste, but hey, again, that’s what first attempts are for, right? Just this week I also picked up nice labels for them, so now they’re ready to be given away. That’s usually the problem I have with baking things – I love baking so much, but I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth anymore. I need more friends to bake for!!

Recovering.

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Those of you who know me a little bit, know that I’ve been struggling with a nasty chronic stomach thing for quite a while now and have always avoided getting it sorted out. A few weeks back, I got a really nagging headache that left me pretty much entirely invalid and didn’t go away for over a week, so I had myself admitted to the hospital. After some tests (and some really nasty liquids to go with it … I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget that), the diagnosis is a chronic bowel inflammation. Sigh. I still have to discuss treatment options with my doctor, but I really hope this stuff won’t follow me around for the rest of my life. What you see in the picture is an iron infusion I got to help with my anaemia. Which is caused by the stomach thing. Which still means daily headaches for me. Painkillers are my best friend.

Moving.

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I’ve moved a few times in the past, and it wasn’t always (read: never) a very pleasant experience. In theory, I like it, because I like new things, packing things, unpacking things, decorating … but it’s also very stressful and riddled with scary goodbyes.

This time, fortunately, it was surprisingly stressfree. It did take a while to organise things, so I ended up moving in a month late (the hospital visit messed up my plans a bit as well), but it was still in time to get things going without difficulties. We had the actual moving part done in a day, and although I’m currently still bedless and only sleeping on a mattress, and there are a couple of boxes around because of lack of cupboards, I’m pretty much settled down. I blame that on good planning. 🙂

My digital camera is currently not working, so excuse the crappy iPhone photos. That’s one thing that kept me from blogging, that I can’t accompany the posts with good (well, better) quality pictures. But I’ll have to make do. I missed this.

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That was 2012!

Yay, a review of the year! 2012 was … interesting. It started great, went on to be good, then it became exhausting and nerve-wracking, then I fulfilled a dream of mine, then obstacles were put in my way, and somehow it’s ending with a whole lot of bad luck. Oh well. 🙂

January

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(f.l.t.r.: Just after New Year’s / Best book ever /
Drinks to celebrate our play’s premiere / just before that: building the stage!)

I spent New Year’s Eve, just as I’m doing it this time, alone at home and in peace with my mum. It was a nice start into to the new year, with raclette and bubbly. I read John Green’s latest book and cried like a baby. If you enjoy reading and haven’t had a look at The Fault in Our Stars yet, it is definitely recommendable!

Also, the English Drama Group at Paderborn University premiered our play, I Hate Hamlet. Well, “premiered”. We only had three performances total. In any case, we certainly celebrated well afterwards with pretty strong cocktails. How I regretted it. 😀

February

Photo 27-12-2012 05 02 40
(A Scottish cow in Olderdissen! / Me on stage /
My darling niece / BIRTHDAY TIME!)

I went to Olderdissen, a small native animal park in Bielefeld, with a few friends from Twitter. I hadn’t been there since my early childhood, so it was immensely exciting. Though I used to only go there during summertime, never in snowy winter! But it was pretty awesome and great fun, despite it being really cold. We also had the two other performances of our play, as you can see in the second photo. It was really nice being on stage again, although I didn’t think too highly of my acting qualities in this one.

Around mid-February was the baptism of my sister’s daughter, for which we flew to Ireland (where my sister lives with her boyfriend). They own a really nice little terraced house and a big, cuddly dog (now they even have two of the sort!) And my niece is just absolutely adorable. She’s about two months old in the picture. 🙂
On top of that, February is my birthday month … and this year it had a great surprise in stock for me: three of my dearest friends (Stüffs, Sophie, Vero, see photo from left to right) drove four hours from Berlin to Paderborn JUST FOR ME, to see me for a few hours and then drive all the way back again. Crikey! I literally screamed out lout when I saw them in the staircase. They didn’t tell me a word beforehand! Best surprise ever.

March

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(Jennifer Lawrence at the Hunger Games premiere / TV Tower in Berlin /
Yarn Bombing in Wuppertal / Carry and I in Osnabrück)

In March I made full use of my semester break and went travelling in North-Rhine Westphalia. Well, not just there. First I went to Berlin, where for the first time this year I had my wallet stolen. While I was there, the Hunger Games premiere was taking place at the Sony Center, which I found out purely by accident, so I made a spontaneous trip to go see it. When you have nothing else to do. 🙂 I was lucky enough to stand right in the first row behind the barricades, right where the limousines were stopping. Didn’t get any autographs though; I didn’t have anything to sign with me, anyways, and was also squeezed half to death by overzealous fanboys behind me. But hey, Jennifer Lawrence!

For the first time in over a decade I’ve also been to Wuppertal, where I visited my friend Jule. It was great to see her uni – where I discovered that great yarn bombing you see in the photo. First one I saw “live”. 😉 And oh, the Wuppertal sky train! I had very vague memories of this from back when I was a kid. It was fun.
I also visited Carry. She and I have known each other for ages, from the first forum I ever joined on the internet. Although we lived quite close to each other, we rarely met up though. This time I used my student ticket and took the train to Osnabrück. I know the city a little bit, because my dad lives there, but nevertheless Carry could show me a few new and interesting places.

April

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(Easter! / Mini fun fair at Maspernplatz /
Haircut / Sugar cookies experience)

For Easter we’ve had my family visiting again. Family, that’s my brother, his wife and their two sons. By now it’s getting really crowded with them in our flat though, especially because the boys are now used to a relatively big house at home. I still love to have the four of them here though. Just like last year, my eldest nephew and my brother took part in Paderborn’s “Osterlauf” (translates to Easter run, an annual sports event). Originally I’d planned to take part in one of next year’s runs, but now it’s looking like I won’t even be in Germany for Easter. We’ll see.

I’ve also had my hair cut again. Just the usual: get the fringe back, some layers, trim the ends. 😉
For Earth Day I’ve also attempted to make sugar cookies. And noticed yet again that I just lack the patience that’s needed for baking. Despite enough flour the dough was really stick, but brittle at the same time! In the end, I exasperatedly threw away half of it and only made one tray of cookies, which I decorated with coloured royal icing in world map design. At least they looked kinda cool in the end.

May

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(All dolled up in Berlin / Hüttenpalast /
My brother’s cat / Beautiful view)

In May I went to Berlin once again, this time with my mum for the annual networking event. They always have a great buffet in the evening, so I had an excuse to throw on a pretty dress, hehe. Afterwards we stayed in Berlin for a few more days, at the Hüttenpalast. It’s a really cool hostel: instead of rooms you get a few caravans and log cabins in an old, small factory hall. Those who like a bit more privacy won’t get very happy here, because the caravans and cabins really only fit the beds and you hear everything the other guests do. My mum and I liked it very much though. The staff of the hostel was very nice as well!

I’ve also visited my brother’s new home for the first time. Very pretty. I’d seen the house once before in the middle of their renovating craze, and although I liked it very much, I couldn’t really imagine that it would ever feel as much like “home” as their old flat did. I was wrong. Barely arrived, I already felt at home. I feel really comfortable there. Well, I would anyway: they have a tomcat. Wherever there are cats, I could move in right away. But they also have a stunning view of the countryside!

June

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(Oxford / Donkey hat /
Burger at an American Diner / new shoes)

In June I finally saw Oxford again. To see my ex. God, I love this city! It’s so beautiful, has so many nice places, kind people, good shops, it’s close to London, but not quite as expensive. Want. To Move. There. As a souvenir I brought a little donkey hat back for myself. Hehe.

A new branch of the Road House opened in Paderborn. An American Diner. I thought it was … well. Average. The food was okay, but overpriced, and the ambience was more “standard German restaurant with one or two retro decorations hanging on the wall.” Nothing “authentic” about it. Ugh.
Oh, and I’ve got new shoes! I’ve been looking for something like these for ages, until I found them online at a reasonable price.

July

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(Nighttime Moleskine beautification / Polka dot knife! /
German? No, thank you! / Passport)

July was pretty uneventful. I was busy writing term papers, the semester break began, I lazed around at home most of the time … so one sleepless night I decided to draw in all the countries’ flags in my Moleskine’s world map. Does look pretty, doesn’t it? I’ll do this again in next year’s planner. (Oh dear!)
The nice knife I got from Paderborn’s annual big fun fair, Libori. The other day I also discovered it in a shop in Oxford. Made me laugh. 🙂
And hey: I was accepted at a UK uni for my year abroad! Woop woop!

I also ordered a passport for the first time in my life. And I’m very happy about it. At the back of my mind I thought it’d be good to carry around my normal ID in my wallet to be able to prove my identity, and should I lose that in London, I’d still have another form of ID to leave the country (or prove who I am). Wise. Very wise.

August

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(Ballon animal swords / Laptop bag /
Gift from Juliane / Family photo)

I had a visit from my friend whom I’ve tried to show Libori, Paderborn’s fun fair, for ages. Finally he decided to come, et voilà! We asked one of the clowns who were running around making balloon animals, to make us a pair of swords. Because we’re cool like that. Ferris wheel rides and chocolate covered fruits and roasted almonds were also parts of our fair adventure.
In preparation for London I also bought a laptop bag. First I feared that this one wouldn’t fit, because it looked absolutely huge, but it ended up just right. And such a cute design!

From Juliane I got a cross-stitched frame as a goodbye present. A line from my favourite poem!
Towards the end of August, mum and I visited my paternal grandma for her birthday. I love that side of the family. And it was great to meet (almost) all my cousins again in one place! You can see all of them in the picture, with my grandma and I. Only two cousins were missing, who couldn’t attend the party.

September

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(Elizabeth Tower / View from the Docklands /
Jessica and I / Tomb of Elizabeth I.)

Time for change! September was my first month in London. Living alone, new uni, new people, new country. Oh boy! I have to say, if I could decide again, I wouldn’t go to this uni. I’m not very happy here. Although the lectures themselves are good fun – something is missing. I also found out lately that this uni is ranking on the second to last place on the UK’s university ranking. Oops!

At least the view from campus is pretty cool. You’re looking out on the Docklands and part of the Thames, and in the distance you can see Canary Wharf. Especially sunsets can look really pretty (see the picture).
One of my first experiences in London was to visit Westminster Abbey, where I saw the tomb of Elizabeth I. And almost cried. Shhh.

October

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(London Comic Con / Darwin and I /
Guy and a sabre-tooth tiger / Cute shop in Oxford)

October is to blame that I fell a little bit more in love with England. Free admittance to museums, Comic Con right next door and cute little craft shops. I’ve written more detailed about the Natural History Museum in this this entry.

The craft shop in Oxford (Darn it & Stitch) was pretty cool, though I found it a bit disappointing that they had next to no embroidery thread. Or at least nothing by Anchor or DMC, which are the two most common brands, but just very small coils and little colour choice, which were also really overpriced. But should I pick up knitting or sewing, I’ll definitely go back there again.

November

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(Vanillekipferl / Little Christmas tree /
Peppermint hot chocolate / Oh God, a hipster!)

In November I was infected with Christmas fever. Already. I baked my favourite Christmas cookies – Vanillekipferl – which turned out really great (self-praise, self-praise!), bought a small Christmas tree and decorated it, and went on a crazy Christmas shopping spree for gifts, or made plans on what to buy whom.

Apart from that Starbucks sucked up to me big time, by putting peppermint syrup back on their menu. Two years ago I’d ordered a peppermint mocha at Starbucks in England and fell in love. Peppermint and chocolate is the best combination in the whole wide world! Since I can’t have caffeine anymore, I opted for hot chocolate this time around. Ordered one at least once a week and was in heaven every single time. I’d marry peppermint chocolate, if it were possible.

In the last picture I stole my friend’s glasses. I think they suit me better than him. 😛

December

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(New haircut! / Kangaroo burger /
Hobbit premiere / Bryan Lee O’Malley)

Oh God, it was so difficult to pick only four pictures for December! So much as happened! This is why you won’t get any Christmassy pictures here and I’ll just talk about the other things. 😉

First off, I went to a new hairdresser and got myself an entirely new haircut. Short! A bob! Ahh! And I love it! I don’t think I’ve ever liked a haircut as much as this one. I was really shocked at first though. Although I said I wanted it quite a bit shorter, I was used to my hairdresser at home who generally leaves your hair 2 inches longer than you wanted to, and now they were actually short. And so pretty! I’ll definitely go back to this hairdresser. She was so lovely! And so good at what she does!

At the Southbank Christmas market (right by the London Eye) I tried kangaroo meat for the first time. Somehow England is making me adventurous, foodwise. While I was there I tried prawns for the first time, as well as that kangaroo burger, and I’d love to try more. There’s one restaurant that serves things like zebra meat or crocodile, but it’s unfortunately pretty pricey.

The highlight of the month was definitely the Hobbit premiere, though! We paid more for the tickets than I dare to say out loud, but it was so worth it. I’d love to go again next year, but I could basically start saving for that now. 😉
And as I talked about in my last entry, we also got to meet the author of Scott Pilgrim and talked him into taking a picture with us. Yay!
Not such a great experience was that my wallet was stolen for the second time this year. It’s not that I don’t watch my stuff at all! Ugh.

 

So that was my 2012 in pictures. I wish you all a good and happy new year!


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Gratitude (and: the Hobbit!)

I haven’t really felt like writing much lately. Primarly because I’m still struggling to fit in at uni, both academically and socially. Nevertheless, the last two months were amazing.

London does bring a few difficulties with it. Public transport and groceries are incredibly expensive, and if you still want to do something touristy despite living there, you really have to dig deep into your wallet. At the “German Christmas Market” at the Southbank Centre – right by the London Eye, so the place for tourists, adding to that the “German ambience” – you pay around £5 (= about 6,20€) for a mini portion of Currywurst (without chips or any other extras).

The experiences you can have are absolutely worth it though, in the end. On December 7th I went to Soho, because the author of the only comic book series I’ve ever read completely, aka Bryan Lee O’Malley, author of Scott Pilgrim was visiting London with his wife, and both showed up at Gosh Comics to sign some books. Since I wasn’t clever enough to buy any (cheaper) edition of Scott Pilgrim before hand to get it signed, I bought the coloured version of Scott Pilgrim vs the World (volume 2) right on scene. Yikes, comic books are expensive!

028(Scott Pilgrim vs the World, signed juuuust for me)

We didn’t have to queue for that long, although it was pretty busy. Maybe for half an hour. Since it was so busy, we didn’t really get the chance to actually talk to Bryan, so we got our books signed, went to The Bratwurst for dinner and then headed off towards Piccadilly Circus, to go to Whole Foods. On our way there we passed Gosh Comics again, and lo and behold: the signing was over, the shop was still open and who was standing there, not looking very busy? Bryan Lee O’Malley. So we snuck back in again and chatted with him for a few minutes. Though we couldn’t really get beyond the whole “We love your comics!! AND THE FILM!”. But: we got a photo!

019(f.l.t.r.: World’s biggest Scott Pilgrim fan, Bryan Lee O’Malley, world’s second biggest Scott Pilgrim fan (aka: me))

The next week I got a text saying that there was a Meet the Cast at the Apple Store in Regent Street the same day, with Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage und Sir Ian McKellen. Oh. My. God! I hadn’t slept well that day and had quite a bit on my list (my wallet had just been stolen in Covent Garden the day before), so I raced there as soon as I could and got there at around 5 PM, without a penny in my bag, half an hour before it started. There were no seats left (seating was only available for around 30 people anyway – it was incredibly small and, er, intimate!), but I could get a place to stand right in the first row behind the seats. My favourite stars were sitting less than 10 feet in front of me! It was amazing.

(f.l.t.r.: Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Sir Ian McKellen. And a radio person.)

And, of course, as probably most of you won’t have missed, I attended the Hobbit Premiere just two days after that. With black tie dresscode and all. I hardly took any pictures of the premiere itself at all, because I was simply too excited. I’m a bit annoyed with me about that, because it really was pretty great. Since we missed the most exciting thing anyway (the stars entering the red, pardon me, green carpet) – apart from Richard Armitage, who was walking a few feet away from us as we were guided across the carpet to the entrance – not much else was worth a picture, anyway.

(He is even better looking in real life! Sexy Dwarf.)

And today it was announced that my favourite young adult author, John Green, is doing an event in London (amonst other UK cities) in early February. Since the tickets for London itself are already completely sold out and I don’t have a card for online payment (as mentioned … stolen wallet), I’ll have to see what’s left over for me once I can pay and if I can afford the train tickets to that place. Crossing fingers!

Overall I think it’s absolutely fantastic to have the chance to experience so many great things and meet so many people who mean a lot to me – or have created something that means a lot to me Happythankyoumoreplease!


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