WTF is wrong with our generation?

So I take the subway to work every morning. And each of these mornings I look around me and all I see are people staring at their phones as if the world inside of these small boxes is more real than what happens around them. Kids sitting next to each other on their way to school, not talking about their wishes and dreams, not about their friends or homework, not talking at all. Instead they dive into a digital world, a world designed to support people in their daily lives. Not meant to become their life.

Internet and smartphones – Blessing or curse?

Lately I’ve been thinking a little about what smartphones and social media does to us. When i was younger, I was really annoyed by my parents telling me to put away my phone. Them going on about how useless it all was and how we all became brainwashed. And how we should enjoy or own lifes instead of following the supposedly perfect lifes of strangers or people we pretend to know because we’re facebook friends. I would always defend my sweet little iPhone, explaining how it brings people together and helps to communicate with friends all over the world.

Today I still think it is a helpful tool when it comes to ones international network. But I also think that in general, the internet isn’t promoting communication. It is killing it. We and especially the younger ones, forget how to talk, how to walk up to someone and start a conversation. Because hidden behind the anonymity of a keyboard or a phone screen, it so much easier to communicate. But it is worth much less, at the same time.

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We must look like idiots

When I sit in the subway, between checking messages and scrolling through facebook, I sometimes look up and see an old lady or a man in his 70s, just sitting their, watching the people around them. They watch and think, because when not checking out a cute cat video or someones breakfast online, you’ve got time to do that, think.

And each time I wonder, what goes on in their minds. They must believe that our generation simply is stupid. Antisocial, weird and unfriendly. Because in their world, people just start a random conversation in the subway without being seen as creepy.

Once an old frienldy man started talking to me and the girl sitting next to me. The girl looked uncomfortable and didn’t know if she should say something. Admittedly, I myself was a bit surprised too, wondering why he suddenly talks to us. But then I remembered. That’s just what people do, in the real world. They talk to each other. So I smiled at him and chatted a little, hoping that maybe I made his morning a little more pleasant and his view on our generation a little better.

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Not that I was any better…

At this point I need to say that even though I think a lot is wrong with our smartphone usage, I’m just as bad as everyone else. Which makes the whole thing even worse . I know that things are wrong but I can’t help myself. I keep my phone close to me and take a look at it far too often, expecting that something exciting has happened. Most of the times, there’s nothing new. Especially nothing exciting. When its battery dies, I’m feeling a little lost and cut off from the rest of the world. But in fact, that might be the only time that I’m fully present in the world.

Sometimes I feel like I just want to throw my iPhone out of the window. So that I could be completely focused on what is going on around me. On what I am doing or who I’m talking to or maybe just on doing nothing. But in the next moment I think about how urgently I need my phone around and that my social life would die without it. Isn’t that a sad thought? Are we really the slaves of these stupid devices? It seems like it and the fact that we know it, doesn’t change a thing.

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Priorities: Online world > real life?

Ever catched yourself sitting together with a bunch of lovely, fun people, picking up you phone to see if someone has texted you? Someone who’s not here, because he would obviously be more interesting than your friends who are right next to you?

Or have you ever been standing in the middle of a crowded club, dancing like nobody was watching (even though everyone is watching, but who cares), suddenly feeling the urge to take out your phone to make a snapchat, or an Instagram story or whatever the fuck is “in” these days? Standing there like an idiot, filming yourself and your drunk friends, trying to show everyone who’s not in the club that you are having heaps of fun.

Because of course, it is important that each and every instagram friend out there knows that you and your gang is rocking it tonight. Because all the cool kids are out partying, right? And all the cool kids stop partying once in while, to take a video of how “freakin’ awesome” their night is. Because you only had a great night, if everyone knows about it. If it’s not on social media, it never happened.

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What about the future?

I wonder what life is going to be like in fifteen years. Will people even talk to each other? Will there anyone be sitting in the subway who takes a look at the people around him? Will people pay money to go on phone withdrawal treatments because they are to addicted to put down their phones for more than two minutes on their own? How will social life look like? Will there even be something like that? Or only a social media life?

 

I don’t know where all these thoughts came from. I know that they’re a little chaotic and also obvious but I just needed to get them out of my system, right into the system that’s responsible for them. Sharing them online with people I don’t even know. What a twisted world.

 

 

 

 

8 Tipps um das Beste aus deinem Auslandssemester rauszuholen

Nachdem ich mein letztes Semester in den USA verbracht habe, bin ich seit einigen Wochen wieder Zuhause im schönen Wien. Es fühlt sich gut an, wieder da zu sein, schließlich geht kaum etwas über die Heimat. Aber ich will euch auch nicht anlügen, mein Auslandssemester in Austin war wohl die beste Zeit meines Lebens. Da waren die Frat-Partys, das Uni-eigene Pool, die heiße texanische Sonne. Die andern Studenten aus allen Winkeln der Welt, Tag und Nacht bereit zum Feiern. Spring Break in Florida, ein Road Trip durch Kalifornien und ein Ausflug ins aufregende New York. Es gab Country Dancing in Cowboy Stiefeln, hübsche Cheerleader, die grölende Footballspieler anfeuern und vor allem gab es Menschen, die ich vermissen werde.

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Ich habe viel erlebt und gelernt aber ich wünschte, ich hätte einige Dinge im Vorhinein gewusst. Deshalb möchte ich meine Erfahrungen mit euch teilen und habe hier ein paar Tipps für euch, wie ihr das Beste aus eurem Auslandssemester rausholt:

 

  1. Sei mutig und komm aus deiner Comfort-Zone raus / Join a Club

 In eine neue Stadt zu kommen, in der man nicht seinen vertrauten Freundeskreis hat, ist nicht leicht, schon klar. Kennt man jemanden von der eigenen Uni oder aus der eigenen Stadt, dann macht man gerne alles mit jener Person, geht nur zu zweit auf Veranstaltungen und in der Bar steht ihr dann in einer Ecke steht und unterhalten euch auf Deutsch über die anderen Leute. FAIL! Das ist zwar der einfachste Weg aber so lernst du nur deine Begleitung SEHR gut kennen, aber sonst leider niemanden. Fremdsprache üben fällt dann auch aus aber jep, du musst immerhin nicht mit neuen Menschen reden…

Das ist schon richtig schade, denn dadurch entgehen dir unzählige neue Bekanntschaften, Freunde fürs Leben und auch das ein oder andere Gspusi. Es kostet Überwindung, alleine auf ein Event zu gehen. Doch gerade bei all den Uni Events für Internationals geht es allen gleich. Jeder steht peinlich in der Gegend rum und wartet verzweifelt, dass ihn jemand anspricht. Und stell dir vor, wenn du dich mal traust und einfach jemanden anredest, dann ist dein Gegenüber so erleichtert, dass er direkt dein Freund sein will.

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Boat Party Ausflug mit Club Planet Longhorn

Häng nicht nur mit den Leuten aus deinem Land und deiner Uni rum. Sprich Leute an. Trau dich mal was und setz dich neben den trainierten Basketballspieler oder die fesche Cheerleaderin im Kurs und sag einfach mal “Hey, how’s it going?”. Außerdem, schließ dich unbedingt einer Uni-Gruppe an! Amerikaner zum Beispiel schließen die meisten ihrer Freundschaften in diesen Clubs. Fußball, Rugby, Schach oder Quidditch (ja, es ist mein Ernst), irgendwas. Sei dabei und du hast sofort eine ganze Gruppe an neuen Leuten um dich, die dich bewundern weil du ja ach so exotisch bist und beim Englisch Sprechen so lieb klingst.

 

  1. Schone dein Geldbörserl und deine Nerven und plane voraus

 Für jene von uns, die ihr Studium nicht nur hauptsächlich aus dem Bankomaten finanzieren sondern auch wissen, wo das Geld herkommt und sich dafür in einschläfernden Praktika oder stressigen Bar-Jobs abgerackert haben, ist es wichtig, vorauszuplanen um einiges an Kohle zu sparen.

Einige von uns finanzieren ihr Studium ja nicht nur hauptsächlich aus dem Bankomaten, sondern wissen auch wo das Geld herkommt. Sie haben sich dafür im ein oder anderen einschläfernden Praktikum zu Tode gelangweilt (“Fräulein, holen’s ma noch einen Kaffee? Und die Druckerpatronen gehören auch getauscht!”) oder sich bei stressigen Bar-Jobs abgerackert (“Geh Puppal, no a Bier, bitte! Und wie schau ma aus, wann host’n du aus heit?”). Und wenn man sein sauer verdientes Geld nicht zum Fenster rauswerfen will, sollte man unbedingt vorauszuplanen.

Folgendes sind zwar mehr oder weniger die Basics aber es sei trotzdem erwähnt:

Flüge rechtzeitig buchen! Wenn man nach Amerika fliegt, Roundtrip buchen und Rückflugdatum planen. Wer nach dem Semester noch reisen will und deshalb nicht dort ist, wo er ankam: Es ist immer billiger, innerhalb der USA rum zu fliegen und vom Ankomm-Flughafen heim zu jeten, als zwei separate Flüge zu buchen.

Vor Abflug, klär in deiner Bank ab, wie teuer es ist Geld im Ausland abzuheben, besorg dir unbedingt eine Kreditkarte, besonders in Amerika. Mit Number26zahlt man kaum drauf, eine normale Mastercard oder Visa braucht man aber trotzdem, da erstere nicht überall funktioniert. Und nimm ausreichend Cash in der passenden Währung mit. Es dort abzuheben ist schließlich teurer als es Zuhause nur wechseln zu lassen.

Such dir rechtzeitig ein Apartement, eventuell auch ein untergemietetes, da diese nicht nur billiger sondern auch möbliert und ausgestattet sind. Und jep, das ist wichtig, du hast keinen Platz im Koffer für deinen Lieblingskopfpolster und den Pfannenwender.

HousingAnywhere ist eine gute Möglichkeit (auch zum Vermieten in Wien) aber vor allem auch die Facebook Seiten der einzelnen Unis bieten eine gute Anlaufstelle.

 

  1. Werde zum JA-Sager und nutze alle (Uni-) Angebote

In jenen Ländern in denen Studenten viel Geld für ihre Bildung bezahlen, sieht das Angebot an den Unis ganz anders aus als bei uns. Wenn du die Gelegenheit hast durch ein Austauschprogramm gratis an so eine Uni zu kommen (und wenn du dafür zahlst, sowieso), dann solltest du das auch voll ausnutzen. An der University of Texas gab es unter anderem mehrere Gyms am Campus, Fußball-, Squash- und Volleyballplätze und ein Pool. Außerdem Tanzkurse (2ECTS, übrigens), Tennisstunden und allerhand Business-und Networking Events, alles ganz umsonst. Steh auf, geh raus und nutze all die Chancen, die deine Uni und die Leute rundherum dir bieten!

Werde zum JA-Sager. Auch wenn dir etwas seltsam vorkommt, du müde bist oder Lernen musst, sag einfach ja, wenn dich jemand zu etwas einlädt oder fragt, ob du wohin mitkommen willst. Ich hab’s ausprobiert und es zahlt sich definitiv aus, auch wenn man im Vorhinein nicht 100% davon überzeugt ist…

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Erstes Footballspiel – Go Longhorns!

  • “Wanna come Country Dancing?” “Well, I can’t dance, but sure!”
  • “You down for going to the shooting ranch on the weekend?” “Well, I’m not sure I won’t kill anyone, but why not!”
  • “Boat party tomorrow?” “Salsa lessons?” “Boring Basketball game?” “Alriiight!”
  • * Sunday 11:30 am, still hungover from last night, phone rings, super drunk voice screams into the phone* “Mel! Come on, get up and put on a bikini, we’re having a Frat party, hurryyyy!” “WTF, are you kidding me? I haven’t even had breakfast yet! I’m still asleep… Okay, I’m on my way!”
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Gun ranch? Okay

 

  1. Verbring mehr Zeit in der Bar als in der Bib

 Ich möchte hier niemandem dazu überreden, die Uni komplett schleifen zu lassen. Ich würde dir aber schon raten, dich im Vorhinein gut über deine Kurse und den Aufwand an deiner Uni zu informieren und dir nicht allzu viel vorzunehmen. In Amerika, und auch in anderen Ländern, läuft die Uni oft anders als bei uns und obwohl es vielleicht nichtschwerer ist, ist es zum Teil schon aufwendiger.

In vielen Kursen wirst du bis zum geht nicht mehr in Hausaufgaben, Gruppenprojekt12800343_10206865250884032_4907143494135731658_nen und Quizzes eingedeckt und du willst nicht derjenige sein, der den Wochenend-Trip nach Chicago (oder sonst wohin) verpasst weil er mit seinem Projektteam arbeiten und Finance lernen muss (so wie ich einmal).

 

Wenn du Wahlfächer zu erledigen hast, such dir ein paar lustige Kurse an der Gastuni (Social Dancing oder Creative Writing oder so) und mach dir selbst das Leben ein bisschen leichter. Ein paar ernst zu nehmende Kurse sollten natürlich auch dabei sein und es ist alles auch im Ausland durchaus schaffbar aber gönn dir ruhig ein bisschen mehr Exchange-Experience und ein bisschen weniger Bib-Quälerei.

 

5. Tu es! 

Nicht zu vergessen, der wichtigste Tipp von allen: Wenn du dir nicht sicher bist, ob ein Semester abroad das Richtige für dich ist, wenn du Angst hast, wenn du Zweifel hast, dann tu es und geh trotzdem! Ich kenne niemanden, der es bereut hat wegzugehen und ich verspreche, selbst wenn du traurig bist deinZuhause hinter dir zu lassen, du wirst es nicht bereuen!

 

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Immer schön an die Kultur anpassen!

 

Extra Pro-Tipps für die USA:

  •  Geh nicht in die Staaten auf Auslandssemester, wenn du unter 21 bist! Tu dir das nicht an, es grenzt an Masochismus. Amerikaner haben einen ganz seltsamen Bezug zu Alkohol und es macht wirklich keinen Spaß, dort under age zu sein. Eines schönen Abends habe ich, 21 Jahre alt und seit einigen Jahren mit dem guten alten Alkohol vertraut, meinen Ausweis tatsächlich vergessen und in einem Country Club (!) ein Bier (!) von einem Tisch angehoben. Daraufhin wurde ich samt Begleitung aus dem Lokal gezerrt, allen Erklärungen zum Trotz. Eine Freundin hatte mit ihren 20 Jahren einen Schluck (!) vom Drink eines Freundes am privaten Poolgelände (!) eines Hotels genommen. Bekam ein Ticket von über $100.

 

  • Benutz Uber und Lyft! Die Taxi-Ersatz-Apps sind nicht nur super praktisch sondern auch die billigste Variante um sich in den Städten zu bewegen. Funktionierende öffentliche Verkehrsnetze sind, abgesehen von New York, in den USA so häufig zu finden wie Einhörner, daher sind Uber und Lyft teilweise echte Lebensretter. Benutz die shared Variante, wenn du allein bist und zahl nochmal weniger.

 

  • Glaub nicht, jemand will wirklich wissen wie es dir geht, wenn er mit „Hi, how are you?!“ grüßt. Ich war anfangs sehr verwirrt als mich sowohl das Mädl bei Starbucks als auch der Busfahrer mit jenen Worten empfangen haben. Damals hab ich noch peinlich berührt mit „Uuuhm, thanks, I’m good, how are you?“ geantwortet und mir einen genervten Blick eingefangen. Wichtig ist nämlich zu wissen: Es interessiert wirklich keinen, wie es dir geht und es rechnet auch keiner mit einer Antwort. Einfach „How‘re you?“ zurück zu murmeln und weiterzugehen/reden ist völlig akzeptabel und erwartet.

 

Ich hoffe, ich konnte ein wenig weiterhelfen. Viel Spaß auf deinem Auslandssemester! 🙂

Baba & Howdy (3) – Spring Break in Florida

Have you ever spent 15 hours in a small car with four guys and 30°C outside? No? Well, I have. Was it fun? No. Was it worth it? YAASSS!
What on earth can make such a horror drive (twice obviously, back and forth) worth it, you might think. Well, that’s easy: SPRING BREAK IN FLORIDA!

It was a nice day when my friends and I started our trip to Panama City Beach which lies in the north western part of Florida. We decided to drive because prices for flights had reached crazy levels. Flight
companies know exactly that at this special time of the year all the students want to escape from their home university and get loose and drunk somewhere where no one knows them. You know, what happens at Spring Break, stays at Spring Break.
A hundred hours (at least that’s what it felt like), some quarrels about who is the better DJ and the most amazing unhealthy road trip breakfast at iHop, later, we arrived at our destination.
Everything you could wish for was there: a huge pool, sea view from our balcony, a beautiful beach and a nice, warm Jacuzzi. The only thing missing was… the sun. No one of us had thought about the fact that in the north of Florida the hot summer weather isn’t guaranteed… in March. We didn’t let the weather ruin our mood though and so we went to beach on our first day. 
The truth is, that was a little disappointing. Although there were a lot of people on the beach, it wasn’t as crazy as we expected it to be. Why? Because there was no alcohol ON THE WHOLE BEACH! We found out that last year a lot of bad stuff had happened here in PCB. During Spring Break there had been shootings, gang rapes and people even died. So they prohibited alcohol on the beach, which obviously meant a little less fun – but hey, no rapes and shootings are pretty good as well!
So there was no insane party out on the beach BUT there was a lot of stuff going on inside the beach clubs. The first thing we got to experience was an, of course very classy, Bikini Contest at a day party at La Vela, the largest night club in the USA and the trendiest one in PCB. So we started into the vacation with some half naked girls (some really pretty, some less, some really drunk, some nearly fainting) performing their Bootie shake. The guys were in a state of happiness, I was somewhere between disgusted, amused and fascinated.
At night we went to La Vela again and I was even more fascinated. Going out there was very different from home. The club was big and filled with (drunk) people, mostly guys, and it might sound weird but being a girl in there, especially a blonde one (naw, no one cares if they’re fake or not), was like being a freakin’ unicorn. I can definitely recommend going to La Vela around Spring Break to every girl who feels insecure or has a lack of self-confidence. You don’t just get an ego boost in there, you feel like Miss America when you leave the club. The price you pay for that are some really weird pick-up lines though, and some gross people who think that touching a strange girl when she walks by is a right that every man has. IT’S NOT!

One day later, something great happened. I met a bunch of really awesome people! It was a rather chilly day, so we were hanging out at the Jacuzzi when two guys joined us and we all started talking. It was a huge coincidence that I got to meet them again at the club later. I was thanking fate for it because it turned out that they and their group of friends were not only a lot of fun but extremely lovely as well. It was a crazy night, involving playing UNO for the first time since I was seven, earning $20 in ten seconds and learning a magic trick at 4 in the morning (Doesn’t sound so crazy? If only you knew!)
The next day, the weather gods finally had mercy with us and exchanged the grey clouds for the warm sun. When I was lying there at the beach, getting tanned (sunburned), digging my toes in the sand, listening to the sounds of the sea, I couldn’t have been much happier.
 
 
Later at the pool, something awkward happened which reminded me of how weird the U.S. and its laws sometimes are. I’m still not used to the whole drinking thing here in the States and, being allowed to drink since I’ve been 16, it always surprises me when someone asks me for my ID when I’m buying a beer (especially as there’s practically no alcohol in American beer anyway).
Therefore, I was really surprised when several Cops showed up at the pool of our hotel, in the middle of our day. I was hanging out in my Bikini with my new crazy but awesome friends, all of us relaxed, drinking a drink a sweet drink with like 3% alcohol in it. Suddenly the policeman asked us for our IDs and but my friend was only 20 and had therefore only taken one sip of the lemonadish drink. But exactly that sip they’ve seen and so she had to go with them and there was talking about going to jail (she only got a ticket in the end, though) and I was totally paralyzed, thinking that this must be a joke. To all my European friends: How crazy is that? Getting punished by the police because you were taking one sip of a sugary drink at a private pool with TWENTY! Isn’t that totally surreal?!
But alright, that’s just the way things are handled here. It’s normal in the States but it’s still awkward for someone who’s not used to it but has been able to drink alcohol whenever she wants, wherever she wants (yess, also on the street, crazy, right?) for five years already when people here who are nearly the same age have to use a fake ID (we all know it, it’s no secret) to get a watery beer.



The rest of the vacation was awesome. Playing Volleyball at the beach, swimming in the cooling water of the beautiful see, partying all night long at one of the clubs. One day we went to see Steve Aoki at the beach and there weren’t only good tunes, sweating bodies and a boiling atmosphere but there also was cake. On peoples bodies. What else do you need for a nice beach party?!

 

The days flew by and while I had a lot of fun, there was a sad part as well. The group of friends I’ve met had to leave and go back to Alabama. The chances that I would get there any time soon to party with them again were low and therefore, saying goodbye was hard. But you never know, maybe one day, I’ll see all of them again.

 

My time in PCB was over before I could realise it and sooner that I would have wanted I was stuck in the middle of the backseat of our rented car, heading back to the good old lone star state. It’s hard to describe the feeling when I got out of it again. It was a mixture of pure happiness because I was out of that damned vehicle. And soft melancholy for being back in my temporary home, left with only the vivid memories of my first and only Spring Break in Florida, it’s bright colours and great people. 

Baba & Howdy (2) – Falling In Love… With Austin

In my last post I told y’all (yes, that’s what we say here in Texas) that leaving home made me really sad. As soon as I arrived in Austin though, I was happy.
After I had picked up my heavy luggage (when you try to fit your whole life into one suitcase, it weighs quite a bit) at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, I just stood there for a second and tried to realise that I just arrived in Texas, my new home. I took a deep breath and looked around. The warm air smelled like summer and was filled with the sound of cheerful country music. The shop next to me sold cowboy boots and Texas Longhorn T-Shirts. People were passing by and when they saw my puzzled look, they would smile at me, friendly and encouraging. That was the moment when I fell in love with Austin.
And this love should grow stronger and stronger in the next weeks, for several reasons.
 
First of all, the campus life here is amazing. You can’t compare it to the university life in good old Austria. As I walked around my new neighbourhood, West Campus, in my first days, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t one single actual grown up on the street (Yeah, I know, theoretically I’m a grown up too. And all the frat guys dragging themselves to class with eyes only half open, after a rough night playing beer pong, too. But you know what I mean, I mean the real ones.) At home there are a lot of older people and students don’t live in one place but are spread out over the whole city. I was not used to seeing only people around my age, all just wanting to have a good college time, meet other students and have fun.
And the great thing is, you can see friends and have fun within walking distance! All the people you want to meet up with live like 10 minutes away from you. You need a midnight snack, a beer or a late night conversation? Just step out of your apartment, go any direction and you sure will find something! If a friend here calls me at 11 pm and asks if I’m down for a drink, I usually am. That’s because I just have to walk across the street and there is my favourite bar, sweet Cain&Abels, where I traditionally spend every Tuesday with a $1 beer in my hand. Admittedly, American beer tastes a little like water and sometimes I really doubt that there even is alcohol in it, but hanging out at Cains still is great!  
What really amazed me was the way students looked and how they go to school. When I went to university on my first day there, felt like I fell into one of these American college movies I saw. All the girls hanging around on Campus with their sorority sisters, a Starbucks cup in their hands, wearing Yoga Pants and Sweaters twice as big as themselves. Or shirts that are so long that you can’t see the running shorts they’re wearing and think that they’re not wearing any. And the frat boys with their caps and these washed out T-Shirts that look like their grandfathers had already worn them and the Greek letters everywhere which all look the same to me.
 
I was really happy to see that people go to school in what you should be supposed to go to school: comfortable clothes. University is rough enough and not always exactly fun to be at. So why do people at my business school in Vienna feel like they have to make a day of studying even worse by going there all dressed up, with a ton of make-up and a catwalk ready outfit?! I love the way people here go to school. Come to class with your workout clothes – no one cares! Don’t wear Make-Up and messy bun – perfectly fine! Wear a not exactly sexy but really handy bag back – everyone does it! Do that stuff in Vienna and everyone will look at you like you’re a homeless person who got lost and for some reason ended up at a University campus. I’m definitely gonna take this whole chilled attitude back home to Vienna, even if it means that people will look weirdly. If you get used to getting up 20 minutes before class starts in the morning, you don’t want to get back to the one hour “Oh god, I gotta look good at school or people will think I’m not a good student AND a lazy person” routine. Because, actually I am a lazy person. At least at 7:30 in the morning. It’s just too early.
 

 

Oh, and don’t let me forget the most important thing about Austin: The nightlife! You can go out pretty much every day. There’s always some stuff going on. In my first weeks here I went out around five times a week. The famous 6th street, is completely crazy. It’s called “Dirty Sixth” and they call it that for a reason. A street full of escalating party people, cheap drinks and loud, fun bars. (And freaking expensive pizza, by the way. Why do americans do that? Five dollar for a tiny slice of pizza, in the middle of the night, when I could actually eat a whole cow? Whyyy would you do this to me?!) A lot of live music is going and a LOT of dancing.

dirrrrrty 6th
I’ve never danced as much in my whole live as did here in the last weeks. And no, I don’t mean the usual hopping from one feet to another dancing or the twerking stuff. I mean REAL dancing, with holding hands and steps you have to do and spinning around. Since I came here I’ve “learned” not only a few Latin dances but also how to Swing and Country dance. Well, at least the basic steps. And how to act as if you’d knew what you’re doing. And you know what? It’s amazing! I’m so thankful for the lovely people I’ve met here that are not only great dancers but are also ready to share their knowledge. They taught me and the other dancing newbies what to do and didn’t mind us moving like robots while staring at our feet instead of elegantly swirling over the dancefloor, like they do. It was a whole new experience. Especially the one time they took us to a Latin dance club where all the people were moving their hips like Shakira and looking like Jennifer Lopez while I was highly focused on starring at my feet, trying to not break my partners’ toes.  

 

So, I’ve already made a lot of great experiences here in Austin. Last night I came back from Spring Break in Florida which also was pretty amazing. There’s definitely gonna be a post about that later! And I still have to tell you about me at the shooting ranch, me at the country club and me in New Orleans. Soo, stay posted! J

Baba & Howdy (1) – Leaving Home for the Unknown

It’s hard to leave behind what you love for something you don’t even know.
Honestly, I was scared as f*ck to leave home. I knew, I was only for five months but that’s quite a long time for someone who has been in one place forever. Vienna is the city I grew up in, I’d never been somewhere else for a longer span of time. I didn’t need to move to another city for studying, I’d never had to leave my comfort zone before. Never had I been away from my family more than a few weeks and I’d admit it at every time: I’m a family person and I couldn’t imagine to not see my parents and my younger bro for a whole semester. Also, I couldn’t think of not having my great friends around, friends I’ve known for more than ten years. People, who take me as I am. People, who still love me, even though they know even my darkest sides and worst habits. People, who I can be myself around, knowing, they don’t judge me, knowing, they’re on the same page as I am.  How am I supposed to enjoy parties and have fun when my favourite persons to celebrate with are on another continent?! I didn’t get it. During the weeks before my departure I doubted my decision (which was made long before, when everything seemed too surreal to worry about it) to study abroad on a regular basis. I wasn’t sure why I was even going…
Just because random people told me that their exchange semester had been the best time of their life? Because it would look good on my resume? Because I need to improve my English? Of course, that where some of the reasons. But there was something else. Deep down inside me, there was a secret wish. The wish, to prove myself, and everyone else, that I can do it. That I can be on my own. That I can survive in a new environment, without all my loved ones. If so many people could do it, why shouldn’t I be able to finally leave my comfort zone and experience another kind of life?! So, I did it. Because I’m not a coward, not a little girl but an independent grown-up. Actually, I didn’t even believe it myself. But I jumped into the cold water and just hoped, I wouldn’t drown.
 
 
The worst part was the night before my flight to the U.S. I didn’t sleep a single minute. Thoughts kept running through my head. Tears came and went. Tragic Good-bye-scenes filled my mind and the fear of leaving my beloved home was killing me. (I am an emotional person, yes. It sounds like dramatizing things but I actually felt this way.)  BUT that was the hardest part, as I should learn later (at least up to now).
The day I left, my lovely best friends surprisingly showed up at the airport to say good bye, together with my family. I was in such a hurry to catch the flight, I didn’t even have time to be sad. (That still kind of bothers me by the way, I wanted a handkerchief-waving-movie-scene.) At the plane I realised that I was really doing this and kind of wanted to jump out of the airplane, go home, crawl into my cosy bed and act as if nothing had happened. The friendly Stewardess wouldn’t let me do it though. So I flew to America, for the first time ever and spent a few days in cold, grey New York together with my Viennese colleagues. The impressive/depressing city didn’t exactly have a positive influence on my unsteady mood but then, it all got a lot better when…
 
 
I arrived in Austin, Texas. I was really looking forward to getting there. I couldn’t wait to see the city I would live at for the next months. The flight was short and even though I doubted that the tiny plane could actually fly us through whole North America, we landed there safely sometime in the afternoon. It was an exceptional beautiful January day. The doors opened and when I set my foot on Texan earth for the first time, it was an extraordinary moment. The sun stroke my skin which got used to freezing temperatures. For a moment, all my concerns and doubts got melted away by the sun’s rays. The warm air smelled like summer and I felt like arriving at some tropical holiday destination. I took a deep breath, inhaling this soothing smell of vacation and realised that everything will be fine. Texas had me now and I was finally ready to embrace this experience. I was ready to enjoy my exchange semester. I was ready to rock Austin!
 To be continued…

 

New York City – Was passiert, wenn wolkenkratzerhohe Erwartungen auf den harten Boden der Realität treffen

Die alles überragenden Wolkenkratzer glänzen herrschaftlich in der Sonne und tauchen die Stadt unter sich in ein Meer aus dunkeln Schatten.

 


New York City ist eine ausgesprochen seltsame Stadt. Während uns in Filmen oft nur die Glanzseite der Metropole offenbart wird, ist sie in Wirklichkeit alles andere als eine reine Hochburg von Macht und Glamour. Auf seine ganz besondere Art vereint NYC verschiedene Welten und Lebensweisen, die in einem starken Kontrast zueinander stehen. Alles trifft hier aufeinander, Licht und Dunkelheit, schwarz und weiß, intensiv und blass. Und alles verschmilzt zu dem einzigartigen New Yorker grau.

Diese Stadt, sie ist voller Lebensfreude, hell und strahlend, aufgewirbelt von aufgeregten Touristen, die ein paar Tage im Big Apple verbringen um die nächsten drei Jahre davon erzählen zu können. Sie bietet so viel Schönes, Ermutigendes und Beeindruckendes.
 
Doch gleichzeitig gibt es so viel Leid, so viel Armut, so viele Menschen, die hier um’s Überleben kämpfen.  Menschen, die in keinem der vielen Hollywood Filme vorkommen. Armut, die niemand wahr haben will. Leid, das nicht ausgestrahlt wird, denn wer sieht sowas schon gerne.

New York ist reich und arm,

Glanzvoll und verdreckt.
Mächtig und ambitionslos.
Es ist alles. Alles und nichts.
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Die Erwartungen sind hoch, wenn man am JFK Airport aus dem Flugzeug steigt. Ganz besonders, wenn man, so wie ich, überhaupt zum ersten Mal in Amerika ist. Alles ist anders und neu und das meiste Wissen über den Big Apple hat man sich per Fernseher angeeignet. Immerhin spielen (gefühlt) die Hälfte aller Filme und Serien dort. Unsere Vorstellungen sind geprägt von Ihnen. Wir wollen Kaffee trinken, wo Carrie es in Sex and The City tut und nebenbei auch gleich so ein fancy Leben führen wie sie. Wir wollen die Upper East Side entlang schlendern, so wie die Elite-Prinzessinnen aus Gossip Girl und ihre goldene Kreditkarte hätten wir auch gerne. Wir wollen die Aussicht von dem Hochhaus genießen, in dem Harvey Specter aus Suits seine Fälle „closed“ und ein Bier auf der Couch im McLarens trinken, wo Barney und Co. legendär wurden.
ABER… Das Leben ist kein Film. Und wir keine stinkreichen, modelähnlichen, hochintelligenten Filmfiguren. Leider. Oder zum Glück. Wer weiß.
Die Magnolia Bakery, der Laden in dem die SatC Ladies ihren fettarmen Latte Macchiato schlürfen ist in Wirklichkeit nicht nur überteuert (wie eigentlich alles in New York) sondern auch überfüllt. Der Sex-Appeal hält sich in Grenzen, wenn man sich in eine Schlange aus touristischen Tussis quetschen muss um einen Muffin kaufen zu dürfen.

Die Upper East Side ist, wie erwartet, sehr nobel und schick. Die vorbei stolzierenden Damen tragen ihre Nasen ganz hoch oben (vielleicht damit sie stets das Empire State Building sehen können?!) und die Pinguine, die in den Eingängen von Prada, Tiffany und D&G stehen sehen aus wie die Türsteher eines teuren Nachtclubs. Aber anstatt einer ID wollen die hier mindestens einen Pelzmantel und einen Brilli sehen, sonst kannst du eigentlich gleich draußen bleiben. Und die harten Fakten sind, ich kann hier noch so viel auf und ab laufen, mit der goldenen Kreditkarte wird das trotzdem nichts und daher kann ich mir hier höchstens ein Unterhöschen leisten.

Das Gebäude aus Suits war unglücklicherweise verschollen aber weiter als in die Eingangshalle hätte ich es ohnehin nicht geschafft.

 

Und was das McLarens angeht, musste ich eine herbe Enttäuschung einstecken. Die Bar, die angeblich die Vorlage für das HYMYM Pub darstellen soll, hat zwar Drinks wie den „Naked Man“ oder den „Robin“ auf der Karte aber das ist auch schon das einzige, das an die Serie erinnert. Es ist zwar auch ein Pub, jedoch ist die einzige Gemeinsamkeit, dass es sowohl eine Theke als auch Sitzecken gibt. Wie in den meisten New Yorker Bars. Schade Schokolade, also.

Ach und übrigens, der Bull of Wallstreet, der ist gar nicht auf der Wallstreet. Und hinter seiner goldenen Rückseite stellen sich erstaunlich viele Menschen an um ein Foto davon zu machen, wie sie die bulligen Kronjuwelen in der Hand halten. Faszinierend. 






Doch trotz allem, New York City ist eine eindrucksvolle Metropole. Diese bezaubernde Skyline, die wunderschönen Aussichten, die vielen hellen Lichter, die die Stadt und die Gesichter der Menschen zum leuchten bringen und gleißend helle Erinnerungen in uns hinterlassen. Es ist etwas Besonderes. Es ist nur nicht wie im Film. Aber was ist schon wie im Film.




"The Magic of Books" or "Why You Should Turn Off Netflix Right Now and Start Reading Instead"

I was able to read before I was six. It wasn’t exactly that I was a super highly intelligent kid, I just hated it to not know what all these weird symbols everywhere meant. The summer before I came to school I read out loud the menu at a restaurant to my parents and was proud as hell. I felt like the world has just opened up to me and all the secrets would be ready to be revealed now. Not long and I started reading books, those with a lot of pictures in them and letters as big as my fingers, of course. Some time passed and then, when I was about 7, I fell in love with books. The reason for that was an inconspicuous paperback I got as a present. It was about a boy a little older than me, who used to live in a cupboard under the stairs before he found out that he’s the most famous wizard in a world full of magic. The day I started reading the first Harry Potter book was the day I became not only a Potterhead but a crazy bookworm as well. I was a real nerd and I am kind of proud of it. It made me to who I am know. Since then I have read all the Harry Potter books several times and I loved every single one of them.

 

After I started reading, I found that pretty much everything else is quite boring. My life, school, it all seemed so normal, so grey, so uninteresting. When I walked from the bus to school, I was holding my book in front of my face to stay in this adventurous world just for five more minutes. It is actually surprising that I never got hit by a car, the way I walked around staring into the pages. Sometimes I even sat in class and followed Harry to Hogwarts with the book on my knees under the table. I went to the library every second week and, no kidding, I took home about ten books each time. When I piled them up, they were higher than me. Every time I laid them out on the floor when I got home and tried to decide in which fascinating life I wanted to dive in first and it always was a hard decision to make.
The Harry Potter books made me fall in love with reading. Later I got to read the Inkheart books and with them I fell in love with words. They taught me about the importance of written thoughts, of the power a sentence can have and of the magic of books. If you don’t know them, I can only recommend you to change that. They are some of the most beautiful written books I’ve ever held in my hands. The first time I read them, I was a child, about ten years old. The last time was half a year ago when I was twenty and it still was amazing, it reminded me of all the things I had been so aware of when I was younger and forgot when I got older. It reminded me of how reading is healing and of the fact that I have neglected my beloved second world, the world of books, since I have been a grown up. There’s just so little time when you have to study, work, see your friends and take care of other things. Over all these problems I faced since I wasn’t a kid anymore, I totally forgot that the easiest way to leave them behind for a while, is opening up a book. Diving into another reality. Being someone else. At least for a while. When you read a book, you can be everything. You can do everything. How on earth could I forget that? It is so much more fun to watch an awesome fictive character deal with his problems than dealing with your own. Sure, we can’t do that all the time as we have to tackle them eventually. But why worry about things you can’t change anyway and why wrap your mind around the same boring problem again and again, when you instead can pick up a book and laugh and cry and fantasize?

 

When you read, your mind starts doing funny things. It gets creative. It starts to imagine things. As you don’t have pictures of all these pretty persons and great places, you have to make them up in your head, just using the describing words written in the book. That shows how strong words are. They can paint pictures in our heads, so bright and colourful and detailed no brush could ever create. That is, by the way, why I never want to watch a movie based on a book before I’ve read the book. Because when you read it afterwards, you always have those film pictures in your mind. The face of that random actor that happens to play the main character. You don’t have the chance to make up your own persons, your own pictures.
Reading a good book is like dreaming. You aren’t in your own reality but far away at different, unknown places (at least when you start, after seven Potter books I know Hogwarts better than Ron does). When you have to put away your book, it feels like you’re just wrong here, like you don’t belong here. I remember the days when I just wouldn’t stop reading a good book and 200 pages a day were normal. I just sat on the couch for really long without moving much and then, when I got up and out, I felt a bit dizzy and my mind still was in that other reality I got to know so well in the last few hours.

 

I know, this is a lot of talking about paper and ink. But I’ve been in love with books since forever and I just had the feeling, I’d need to share my nerdy thoughts on that topic. I wish, everyone would do more reading. People would think and understand more. The world would probably be a better place (and not just because grammar mistakes would be much rarer) if everyone would turn off Netflix from time to time and read some literature instead. So, next time you stare at the TV, thinking about how the actor just has far too much makeup in his face, just turn it off and pick up a good book. Sounds weird, I know. We always have the feeling that reading requires us to do something while watching TV is just so easy and relaxing. But instead, reading does something to us. It makes us smarter and more thoughtful. More emphatic and creative. It makes us use our rarely used and needed fantasy and makes us think about things, we have never thought about before. Reading is everything. It is the best medicine.It is always the right thing to do, no matter if you’re sad or happy or lonely. It is magical. Let yourself be enchanted!