Last But Not Least: Day Twenty-One

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So here is where the fairytale happened. Once upon a time (but really, like, ten years ago) an ordinary London girl (or wherever she was from) met a young and handsome prince (handsome-ish, anyway). They went for long strolls along the beach, they had secret rendez-vous’ on the pier, they went book-shopping at the Waterstone’s store on the main road – and he made her laugh so that she would fall in love with him, but everytime she laughed it was him that fell in love.

I like to believe that’s how it went. That it wasn’t just a pretty girl in her underwear that caught his eye, and that it wasn’t just the prospect of a castle that made him attractive. I like to believe that it was this place that made them right for each other.

I like to believe that today we went somewhere where fairytales are still possible.

(Quote: Maggie Stiefvater)

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Top Tips for Exam Season

I. have. No. Time. To. Blog.
I don’t. The time is 00:20 hours, and I have just given up studying for tonight. Anyone else feeling those exams drawing closer and threatening to suffocate you? Can you already smell the failure? You have ended up on my blog, and if you’re still reading it probably means two things: 1.) you have exams coming up preeetty soon, and 2.) you haven’t really figured out how this studying thing works, or else you’d be off a blog that has a unicorn in the header image. Just saying.

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Everyone revises for exams differently, and I highly doubt that uniquely following my lead will help you pass your finals. But the way I see it, it really helps to try out new techniques every now and again. So I’ve provided a little list of things that help me revise and actually do get me through. Just pick what you find helpful and create your own study environment!

Get dressed!
I have the tendency to stay in my PJs for entire weekends. It’s comfy but I never get much done unless you count going through an entire series of Doctor Who on Netflix an achievement. So try not to feel like a slob and put something on that you haven’t slept in recently. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go for the most comfortable thing your wardrobe has to offer, like a fresh set of pajamas. You can even leave out the bra, but dress up a little.

Eat Eat Eat!
Last month I did a sugar detox and it made me realise how very often I just leave out a meal and have a chocolate bar instead. Don’t do that while preparing for exams. Even if you’re behind schedule, take your time to have a proper breakfast. You need energy to stay focused, and studying with an empty stomach sucks.

Clean your room!
Having dirty laundry lying around on the floor and empty yoghurt cups stacking on my desk destracts me very much from studying. It’s just not a comfortable environment to work in, so before you get started clean up your mess. It also gives you a feeling of having achieved something already and that’s a motivating starter!

Have no unfinished business
What I mean is, before you get started check your social media one last time. Text your crush, post an emoticon in that group chat, go through your Instagram feed… whatever it takes to be up to date. Then turn off your notifications! Nothing groundbreaking is going to happen in the next two hours, and Facebook and co will only distract you. I missed two calls from my boss yesterday, and I assume he called because he wanted me to take more shifts over the summer. This seems fairly important, but he will understand.

But social media aside, also remember to feed your pets, pay your bills and let the cleaning lady in before you start. It’s those small chores that will distract you later when you get stuck somewhere.

Don’t let the sun come in
It’s almost summer, and that means that it’s sunny outside and warm and if you’re living next to a camping place, like me, you might be hearing lots of cheerful voices and that annoyingly feel-good latino music. And it makes you want to be out there and live! Well, you can’t. Here’s what I do: I shut the blinds to get the sun out. I then turn on the soundtrack of the 5th series from Doctor Who and pretend I’m working on a master plan to save the world. Alternatively you can also use 007-background music or whatever else catches your fancy. Believe me, it feels so good!

Believe in the magic of colours
If stationary excites you like it excites me (a helluva lot!) then buy some new, shiny sharpies and use them! I waste a lot of time drawing graphs and highlighting words very carefully, and I realise that a lot of this time could be invested otherwise – but I need that. I like my notes to not only look tidy but also pretty. Colours supposedly help your memory, so go all the way!

Don’t force yourself
Last weekend was supposed to include hours and hours of revision; but fate had it that I should wake up with a headache and sore throat that saturday morning. I ended up spending three days pretty much asleep. My health is more important than any exam! That’s your mantra! Even if you’re not sick with the flu, remember that you are allowed to take breaks. If you’re really stuck, don’t go on Youtube or Tumblr, take a conscious break – go for a walk, take a nap, even watch an episode from The Big Bang Theory; anything to relax your brain!

 Plan ahead
To-Do lists really help keeping track of what you want to and can achieve in a day. Make sure you know what you need to be prepared for, then decide what you want to study for just today!

 Decide what to study for
Ah yes, if you are anything like me you are lagging behind. I have to say, though, that I have not been massively procrastinating fort he past 3 months; but having two jobs and planning to write a theatre play and having filled my curriculum to the brim with courses, I just never had the time to get anything done properly. There is no way I will score exceedingly high points in any of the exams to come, but hope is not lost. If you find yourself in a similar situation, pick a number of subjects to really focus on and leave out the rest. That way you’ll feel more confident during the actual exam as well; better to know a few things well than know a little bit about everything.

Summarise!
Don’t just read something and go, «Yup! Got it!» Chances are, you didn’t get it. Writing things down helps your memory and makes you sort out the important facts.

You will be fine, I’m sure! Because the primary thing to remember ist hat failing an exam is not failing life! Let me tell you a little story:

Fifteen-Year-Old Me was very worried about getting into a really good high school. But because Fifteen-Year-Old Me had been to three different secondary schools within the same year, there was no way she would achieve the grades to get in. So Fifteen-Year-Old Me did another year with the bullies and hateful teachers in that silly old secondary school and decided again to try for this high school she wanted to go to. Fifteen-Year-Old Me was pretty smart, I think in retrospect, because this time ’round she made it. But instead of starting that school right that summer, Fifteen-Year-Old Me went on exchange to New Zealand, something she would not have been able to do otherwise. The friends I found I am still in touch with today. I learned English which comes like a first language to me today and has opened so many doors for me; heck, it made that blog possible in the first place! I did eventually go to that high school I’d applied for, just when a new history teacher started, who made me want to study the subject. It was the same summer Anna started her career there, as did many other lovely faces that I might not have otherwise noticed.

I failed an exam, but I won at life!

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Good luck to anyone who has exams over the next couple of months! I hope this offers a bit of help and guidance.

Lots of love from the revision pit!
xxx

An Evening with Aleksandar Hemon

On wednesday I was lucky enough to attend a reading with Aleksandar Hemon. Literally, the only reason I went was because one of my professors at uni fangirled all over the place the other day, and naturally I had to see this phenomenon of a writer!

fangirlAleksandar Hemon is a Bosnian-born American fiction writer (as Wikipedia puts it). His stories are largely influenced by Slavic literature and treat the issue of Bosnian immigrants in the United States. He pretty much got stuck in ‘Murrica when he was there holidaying and suddenly a war burst out in his home country. But he‘s still there now, some twenty years later, publishing what sound like incredible stories.

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Despite his native language being Bosnian he writes in English, and he writes a lot! When a member of the audience asked him how he deals with writer‘s block, he replied, «I don‘t get writer‘s block. I have a condition that I call writer‘s diarrhea!» He is currently working on three books simultaneously, while it‘s been taking me six months so far to hand in a 10-page thesis paper! I mean, WHAT?! He‘s so cool that he didn‘t even tell his agent he was writing a book called The Making Of Zombie Wars. Have you ever seen that book in a store? Well, it‘s pretty friggin‘ huge! And he kept it secret until it was finished and he could ask his agent, «So, when would you like something new?» And apparently she went, «Umm… how ‘bout June?» And he said, «Well, how ‘bout right now?» And he presented to her a brandnew manuscript. Look, all I‘m saying is that if an agent asked me to write a book until bloody June, no matter where we stand in the year, I‘d probably go, «Yeah, but you do mean June 2047, right?!» Right. And this is why I‘m not a bestselling author.

e8e6a3b40fa04ee32c1bc0d100bc1995As you can probably guess from all this, and if you don‘t already know Aleksandar Hemon, he has published quite a number of books and short stories and essays, and what have you. On wednesday he read a bit from his latest book, the cheekily written The Making Of Zombie Wars which sounded okayish, and then went on to read from his memoire, The Book of my Lives. And boy, was that a hit. It was beautiful, it was funny, it was smart – and then my fangirling professor went on to say this really nice thing about opening up a new book from Aleksandar Hemon: «It‘s like doing the Ice Bucket Challenge!» And, you know, I believed him. This man can make you feel so much, simply by rearranging 26 letters over and over again. Plus, the other thing my professor said made the books even more intriguing: «You must not read Aleksandar‘s stories to feel better, that‘s not what they are for. But his stories, they do not accept the world we live in as the most acceptable one. They offer us an alternative. Not an escape, but an alternative. And in my opinion, in this world we‘re living in, this is the best literature has to offer us.»

I can‘t wait to get my hands on one of his books. As always I‘m going to let you in on my oh-so sophisticated thoughts on the matter, but for now I just want to leave you a quote from The Book of my Lives which I thought was absolutely beautiful and deserved a mention here:

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In Retrospect

A week ago the term has finished and I‘m looking back at an incredible year, so I thought I‘d reminisce for a bit!

Would you believe that one year ago I was still in this weird beautiful country called Honduras explaining farts to children? One of my friends has recently uploaded the video they made for me the day I left and I cried just a little (no really, it was a lot). I really can‘t believe I put up with Latin music and Salsa dancing for six months straight without going crazy, whereas now I want to punch my boss in the face for never changing the playlist at work!

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Less than a year ago I visited New Zealand again and realised that nobody had forgotten about me (which felt lovely); I saw the Hobbiton movie set for the third time and up to now I still totally want to live there!

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And now I‘m in Switzerland, stuffing my face with chocolate. I started university which was scary at first because as usual I was worried that everybody would see me as a complete dork and not want to hang out with me – but actually I immediately found a bunch of people who found me dorky yet endearing and are still willing to spend time with me. Maybe next semester I‘ll dive further into the student way of life; for now I was happy to just do my assignments, eat ice cream for lunch and go home to put on my onesie and read.
I really don‘t think that university is a necessity in life but it definitely works for me. Because, let‘s be honest, I love history. I get seriously excited when somebody mentions Martin Luther and if I could write more essays on power structures I would. And it‘s wonderful to meet others who are linked the same way!

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I‘ve started playing the ukulele, I took up a new job in february, I‘m learning Polish; all in all life has changed quite a bit.

My life is going to change even further as I‘m planning on moving out. I am so excited and looking at flats all over – actually, I‘m looking for a flat in one very specific part of town, so not that all over! I‘m sure I‘ll be completely lost for the first few weeks being on my own. I mean – how do you wash your clothes? I‘m probably going to be the crazy lady who hand washes her clothes down by the river! Also, how am I supposed to sleep without my cat? We‘re cushion buddies! He‘ll be crushed when I leave!

We have a tendency to think that we need to have figured everything out by a certain age but that‘s really just holding us back. Maybe sometimes it‘s enough to figure out just what the next step is. And maybe the rest will figure out itself.

So here‘s to a new year, new changes and sappy rainbows!

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Tea Time

Hello Reader!

The past few weeks I have been incredibly busy with uni assignments and my new job. It‘s all been going great, but as always there‘s just not enough time – this has absolutely nothing to do with my baking cakes instead of studying *cough* (butitwassodelicious!) and reading supernatural romance novels (I think the genre speaks for itself, really). *cough*

Today was the longest day of the week in every aspect. It started at 9 am and ended at 6 pm, I had to switch between universities at lunch time, eating my sandwich on the train from Fribourg to Bern, then spent my one hour break doing some homework. That, and my bycicle broke just when the rain and the sleet started pouring, so my lunch break was shortened by a visit to the mechanic‘s and the walk to uni. I came home wet all over and poured myself a cup of tea, and I realised that I would really like to write about tea tonight.

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Isn‘t it funny how something so small can make us see everything in perspective. How wrapping our hands around a hot mug can make us feel safe when just hours before we were feeling stressed and maybe a little bit lost, a little bit squished between the expectations of others. And isn‘t it strange that tea doesn‘t make things better at all but it makes it all bearable. And I see the little rings left on the cover of a favourite book, much like a long gone kiss, and I remember a thought, maybe that the clouds were moving very fast that day or maybe that my favourite hoodie was still in the wash, and that‘s a good thing to think about, because as long as I can worry about my hoodie and clouds, life can not weigh that heavily on my shoulders. And isn‘t it wonderful to think that it‘s something so ordinary that can make us feel settled and mend our broken heart strings?

On saturday I sat with Anna and Valentina in a darkend bedroom on the carpet, and we ate chocolate cake out of the tin. And I felt so whole. Eating cake out of a tin with a spoon is like drinking tea. It also feels a bit forbidden, it feels like the child in you is very very happy. I think that‘s what we call giddy.

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I don’t think he knows about second breakfast!

There‘s something about your old bedroom, the one you grew up in. The bedroom where you can hide under the covers to be safe from the monsters underneath your bed and where you can lie on the floor and listen to that old song over and over again, that little kingdom whose door you can slam when things don‘t go your way, where everything is yours and everything is you, the books and the CDs and the teddy bear that you hold tight at night when you‘re feeling sad or happy or both. That‘s what I feel sometimes when I change into that hoodie they only had in XXL, even though I‘m an S, with the bear ears and the bow, and when I hold that steaming mug and look down on an empty paper that is waiting to be filled with a brilliant essay on Renaissance Florence. I think we sometimes underestimate just how good it is to be warm. Nothing more.

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Lots of love!
xxx

P.S. Listen to La Pluie by ZAZ!