Comic Con – Be who you want to be

Recently a friend of mine and I went to Vienna to attend the first ever VIECC, the Vienna Comic Con. Months before we were already super hyped from all the amazing constumes and cosplay that we had seen online… hoping that people in Europe would be as impressive as the American cosplayers and comic fans.

Sooner (my friend) or later (me) we had decided on our costumes: She would dress up as elf and as Lady Stoneheart of Game of Thrones, and I would try to portrait the tenth Doctor on Doctor Who (my and everyone elses favourite ūüėõ ) Since I couldn’t find a suit that suited me I decided to go as a female version of the Doctor and wear a skirt and no wig. I also bought a beige coat on something like ebay, which, just like any suit I tried, didn’t fit, but as I wasn’t going to button it up, it didn’t really matter.

VIECC took place over a weekend and although it was their first go at organising such an event, they did pretty well. Apart from the  host of certain panels and competitions (seriously, how did he get that job? Even I could have done it better without preparation. Not even lying. It was cringeworthy.) I enjoyed every panel I went to and they had even invited some people that are known to the puplic!

I thought I would give you guys an impression of our weekend with lots of pictures and small anecdotes:

DSCN2802Preparation: to be the Doctor you need: your best friend, aka a Sonic Screwdriver, a phone with signal everywhere/when in the universe (with roaming fees though), a second heart (for my money) and a psychic paper (in this case showing an entrance ticket to the Comic Con)

Stalls with fluffy, bright, dark, naked things to sell

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Deadpool was quite popular this year

 

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An impressive Tinkerbell/Heisenberg costume

 

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My friend the elf and the Queen from Snow White and the Huntsman

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Who knows who he is? Hint here

Sisters Thor and Loki (top left), Gadget from Chip ‘n Dale:Rescue Rangers (top right; dt: Trixi von Chip und Chap: Ritter des Rechts), Padme and a Jawa (mid left), Sims (bottom left) and Astrid Hofferson from How to Train Your Dragon (bottom right)

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Our most favourite (more like: scaring for life) crotch area (Labyrinth)

Elf with scary Orc, Elf with Dean Winchester (Supernatural), Elf with Bane (Batman)

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So this is how the series is going to end: Lady Stoneheart on the Iron Throne

Max & Caroline  from 2 Broke Girls (top left), Batman and Robin (top mid), Mad Hatter and the Joker (top right), Transformers (bottom left) and Mario and Luigi (bottom right)

Little R2D2 (Star Wars), Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland), elf with probalby someone from Got (but I honestly have no clue) and the most evil Disney characters (left to right)

And now: Ladies and Gentlemen! I present the results of my mission¬†to get a picture with all Doctor Who characters I could find. I couldn’t take a picture with all of them, but there are a few with multiple TARDIS, two other tenth Doctors,¬†lots of¬†eleventh Doctors, one twelfth Doctor, Rose, and Madame Vastra and Jenny:

Last but not least: my friend and me on the second day (sorry for potato quality):

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To see some other pictures check out See for yourselves…

I hope you enjoyed our little trip down nerd lane! ūüėÄ

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More things you learn on Interrail

I had 7 years of French at school. The only four phrases I remember are:

  • Je ne parle pas fran√ßais (I don’t speak French)
  • Je ne sais pas (I don’t know)
  • Je ne comprend pas (I don’t understand)
  • √áa depend (It depends)

As you can imagine, these four sentences are completely useless to know in a foreign language. I have learnt that the hard way during our stay in Marseille. When people come up to me and ask me something and I tell them that I don’t speak French, they usually don’t believe me or just keep on talking. Je ne sais pas implies that I have somehow understood the question and am able to even answer which makes people also think that I am a good partner to converse with. And why would someone say they don’t understand if they are clearly able to answer in French? Doesn’t that mean they can speak French? And the last sentence I also found to be quite impractical, especially as I am unable to further elaborate on what something depends. Maybe I should just shut up when I am in France and pretend I don’t know what’s going on most of the time. I guess that will keep people from wanting to talk to me ūüėČ

Marseille was a city full of impossibilities. First of all, I have learnt that through evolution only the best survives. If something is not useful, it will be replaced by something better. So how on earth was the baguette as a form of bread able to survive? It is so difficult to cut, it is crumbling when it is fresh, and the piece itself is super small. No space at all to add butter or honey. But I guess there are a few other¬†areas of application that are not so straight-forward….Baguette application

Another thing that I thought was impossible walked right past me on the streets of Marseille: A father and his son, both with a mullet. It looked genetically inherited. Some people’s lives are more difficult than others by far… especially if everyday is a bad hair day. ūüėČ

mullet

Another thing that happened and made me wiser was the following: We were in Barcelona and I needed money desperately. So what is the smart thing to do? Withdraw money from an ATM. For some unknown reason my debit card went on a personal¬†vendetta against Barcelona’s ATMs. Whenever I put my card in the slit, the ATM went blank. 3 bloody times!! Catalonia, if you are trying to be independent a first good step would be to have your cash machines accept international cards. No money… no tourism.

But even if the cash machines don’t seem to accept international cards, Catalans sure do now about international music! Taylor Swift is everywhere!

Sometimes it gets too much

Some other observations I have made:

  • Selfie sticks are actually a thing!
  • People of Spain like trainers in¬†flashy colours!
  • If it wasn’t for Gaudi, Barcelona would have nothing to show us tourists!
  • Gru and his Minions are planning to steal… no not the moon… the Sagrada¬†Fam√≠lia! I caught their spy on camera!Minion spy in Barcelona
  • Pedestrian traffic lights in Madrid sound like alien lasers!
  • People no hablan Ingl√©s. It is almost impossible to purchase train tickets or literally anything without speaking Spanish.Our conversations went very much like this: Do you speak English?- No. ¬†Or: Do you speak English? – Yes. Little, little. OK, can I buy two train tickets to Madrid?- Madrid?Bl√° bl√° bl√° Espaniol!
  • And since I am already on the subject of language barriers: Here are four¬†pictures. Spot the difference!EspaniolEnglishDeutschFrancais
  • (Oh, and just in case you haven’t found any: this is the ticket machine at the train station. If you don’t speak Spanish you are lost.)
  • Apparently, the majority of flats have a minimum of two big bathrooms, but usually 3-4. Even if the flat was just designed for a family of 4 people. Those people are lucky. No one blocking the bathroom. ūüôā
  • Metro stations in Madrid are named after countries and holiday destinations… so that whenever you are on your way to work and have to get off at Ibiza or America, you don’t feel as frustrated.

What are things that you have learnt on Interrail? Have you experienced something weird while being abroad?

Donating to Refugees in Traiskirchen

Recently, some friends and I decided it was time to not only read about the refugees in Austria and how terrible the conditions in Traiskirchen are, but to actively improve their situation. So over the course of two weeks, we collected donations: money, but also clothes, toys, food, sanitary products, and much more.

Our car

Last Saturday, we drove to Traiskirchen with our fully packed¬†car. Once we got there, we could already see how unorganised the whole refugee camp and helping organisations are. Even though we had been told before, it was honestly a bit shocking to see clothes and other products lying on the ground…not being used, cleaned or anything of that sort. The “official” helpers wouldn’t even accept our donations, because they didn’t know where to put them anymore.

Caritas' donation containers

After discussing what to do next, we saw a bus with new refugees arriving. We parked our cars right next to the group and started to unpack our boots… when suddenly 10 people where standing around us trying to grab bags from our cars. Apparently, they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new clothes (and bags!) and we had to ask them not to take a whole bag, but to look inside first to see if the shirts and jeans were their size. Unfortunately, we weren’t as successful distributing things as evenly as we had planned, but overall it was a great and fulfilling experience.

First run

The people were very nice and helpful, some of them offered to help us re-organise our clothes after the first wave of refugees was gone. There were also many men and women who came up to us and specifically asked for nappies, baby food, or jackets, then carefully inspecting the clothes, trying if they were their size and even asking for advice on whether this or that t-shirt fit them better. So overall, apart from some exceptions, the refugees were very friendly, eager to communicate, practising their German phrases or telling us about how they experienced their journey. One man told us that it took him about two weeks to arrive here, and that it was a frightening experience to cross the atlantic ocean at night. If I understood him right, he even had to swim for about 2 hours, because their boat sank. So not a life to be envious about, people!

Especially incredible are the mothers with their babies and small children. All of them were well-behaved and looked to happy when we gave them some soft toys to play with.

Generally, I was a bit disappointed in the Austrian community. Dirt and trash everywhere. And no, I cannot blame the refugees alone. Why? Well, there are tiny, tiny trash cans with tiny, narrow openings so there is absolutely no way to put the rubbish¬†in there. Also, other helpers, who went there, just left their stuff that no one wanted on the side of the streets so there are piles of clothes lying around that no one removes. It’s a shame.

There are some very official “waste watchers” (that’s what they call themselves, it’s written on the backs of their shirts) who do their jobs reeeaally well: they walk around and look at the trash on the ground. They do nothing else except walking and watching waste. So finally someone who does their job!! :/

Shortly before we left the scene, we caught a glimpse of the real campsite that has been set up for the refugees. The camp site is strategically situated behind a high brick wall shielding the place from the public eye and unless you are registered you are not allowed to enter. We talked to a family, sitting next to the road, which told us that it was unbearably hot in their tent and that there was not really another place to go to. That left me with a bunch of questions e. g. Where do they dry their washed clothes? Do they get privacy? How crowded must it be in there that people voluntarily spend their days next to a road in the shade of a bush?

Well, the whole experience was eye-opening for me and my friends. The conditions are worse than we had anticipated and the organisations in charge are helpless and overwhelmed by their work.

But I guess if your other options are being send back to Syria or being imprisoned, which could  easily happen in neighbouring countries, people will gladly accept sleeping in a tent and living in chaos for a short while. 

Things you learn on Interrail

I have been on a Interrail trip recently and it taught me a lot of things about what (not) to do on a train, especially when you are doing Interrail,  cultures, people, and in general a lot about how the world works. I would like to share some of my newfound wisdom with you guys!

On our first day, we went to Italy, Milano:

  • People don’t understand you better in a foreign language if you talk more loudly!¬†Some Italians talk loudly on the train (still in Austria). When the ticket inspector comes around he tells the guys in German to get off the train at the next station. They obviously¬†don’t understand and don’t react. The inspector speaks even louder and kind of shouts at them: Get off the train at the next station! ¬†OKAY!? When he passes them again (they are still incredibly loud), he mumbles to himself: You specialists…. (Original: Ihr¬†Spezialisten, ihr!)
  • Bologna doesn’t sound any different in Italian and English!¬†We were on the train already when a women came up to us and asked us something like: xxx Bologna questo? We¬†nodded¬†and said: Si! She then replied something funny (probably) and we looked confused. When she realised that we didn’t speak Italian she got scared because she thought we didn’t understand her. In her best Italian English she asked us again: Erm… Bologna? We nodded again: Si.
  • People can be¬†very inconsiderate¬†in youth¬†hostels.¬†We stayed in a room for six people in Milano and apart from us there were two more people staying there. Both tried to be¬†very quiet in the night, which was impossible because¬†of the hostels infrastructure. But at least they tried. In the middle of the night (around 2 am) we had a new arrival… a guy in his 30s, who clearly didn’t give a f*ck, about our sleep, continued to zip and unzip¬†his rucksack and rustling with his plastic bags. He even turned on the main lights in the room without even thinking of the rest of us. I observed what he was doing and most of the time he was just sitting/standing and looking around with the occasional rustling and zipping. I was sooooo close to losing it and telling him to go to bed already. After about an hour of him being inconsiderate he finally went to bed. Thank god!
  • A simple pasta for 17‚ā¨ is too expensive!

    The price for pasta is too damn high!

  • To¬†reduce the unemployment rate Italians, French, and Spanish have three people work as ticket inspectors in each train carriage. Or are they just scared someone will¬†pose a problem and they can’t handle it on their own? Also, they all looked like they had worked as bouncers before (except one in France. Seriously! No kidding.)
  • It seems that southern countries take safety to a new level: the military was at the train stations and platforms at almost everywhere we went to. I will be honest here: These guns freaked me out! There were children there too! How can this be normal?
  • But to end this first post of wisdom on a lighter note: We were in a French supermarket and they were playing songs from The Aristocats!!! How awesome is that? I wouldn’t leave the store¬†until the song was over.¬†+1 for Marseille! ūüėÄ

The Aristocats?

Stay tuned for a part two. There are so many awesome (and less awesome)¬†things I experienced and I will try to keep it shorter next time… for your sake as well as for mine. ūüėČ

My ideal university

I have studied in two completely different university systems: UK and Austria. In Austria, you pay close to nothing (like 18‚ā¨ a semester), everyone with A-levels can attend university, students have to organise their studies all by themselves and fight for a place in the  courses they need to take (because there are just so many people). In Cambridge, or the UK really, universities take only a limited number of students, who pay a fortune to study their subject. They don’t have to fight for any courses, because the university is build up like the school system and attendance in certain courses at certain times is obligatory. There are a lot of differences and  there are obviously things that I find great in the one system which the other one lacks completely.

Below I have listed a few things that my ideal university has or provides to give students a fulfilling experience and make studying worthwhile:

  • University Building that can be entered 24/7 (with ID card)
  • Computer rooms are available 24/7 (with ID card)
  • Libraries are open between 9:00-17:00
  • Professors that care about you as a student and person
  • Feedbacks for professors that are actually taken into account
  • Engaging discussions with colleagues and professors
  • Courses  that require you to read an article a week
  • Students need to organize their studies themselves (improves independence)
  • Provide capacities (room, courses…) for the numbers of students in the department
  • Creative ways to get students to deal with the material
  • One compulsory extra class of another field of study per term to broaden horizon (as part of curriculum)
  • Affordable and healthy choice of food/meals in caf√© or canteen near university
  • Practical application of knowledge

These things would probably make me as happy as this dog ūüôā

What does your university do or what should your university do to make you as happy?

How to be a student like me‚Ķprobably about average

Average just means you are not the best but not the worst either. I think in this particular case it stands for: lazy as fuck (excuse my French). I know that I have posted tips on how to be a great student… and these tips are definitely helpful and worth a try. Yet, although I know these work very well for me and would improve my work, I find them hard to follow. I am now going to introduce you to how my everyday student life actually looks like and trust me… it doesn’t look pretty.

  • Take on too many courses for each term because all of them are extremely interesting.
  • Prepare yourself with highlighter, new note pads, sharpen your pencils‚Ķ this term you are writing down every single detail.
  • Attend your classes the first week.
  • Be disappointed because you didn‚Äôt get into the classes you actually needed.
  • Attend all the courses where attendance is obligatory, occasionally miss one or two or even more of the lectures without compulsory attendance.
  • Decide that you are not interested in one subject and drop it.
  • Plan when to write your essays.
  • Don‚Äôt do it, because something more important happened.
  • Postpone your writing week to next week.
  • Worry about a midterm that you will have in a week.
  • Look at the things you are supposed to study.
  • Get a little panic attack.
  • Start studying too late‚Ķso one or two days before.
  • Get distracted by Facebook and friends.
  • Make it to a total of 4 hours of studying.
  • Be really nervous and think you are going to fail.
  • Don‚Äôt fail and get a surprisingly good grade.
  • Be relieved but also be annoyed because this didn‚Äôt give you a reason to prepare better next time.
  • Hold a group presentation that you prepared ahead of time because you don‚Äôt want to seem like a lazy, unreliable slob to your colleagues.
  • Plan next term paper.
  • Miss the deadline you set yourself.
  • Tell yourself that you still have time to write it over the holidays.
  • Christmas happens or you plan a trip to some place.
  • Wonder when you are going to do all your work.
  • Get really stressed out because you don‚Äôt know how to cope with your self-induced problems.
  • Mum calls and asks how you are doing.
  • Tell her fine. It‚Äôs just stressful being at university.
  • Don‚Äôt tell her that your inability to manage your time is the reason for it.
  • End of term comes around.
  • Panic at the thought of all your exams and deadlines.
  • Get books from your library for this one very important final.
  • Increase your stress level by repeatedly looking at their covers from time to time throughout the week.
  • Have the feeling you can‚Äôt do anything fun, because you ought to be studying.
  • Turn on your laptop to work.
  • Facebook.
  • Lost 3 hours‚Ķ damn.
  • Think about not doing the exam.
  • There is always a second date.
  • Start studying the day before.
  • Be angry at yourself because you wasted the whole week not doing anything, because you weren‚Äôt studying but didn‚Äôt allow yourself to have fun either.
  • Sit exam.
  • Repeat for next few finals.
  • Because you didn‚Äôt do it earlier, you write your term papers within two days (each of course).
  • Don‚Äôt sleep and try to stay awake for as long as possible to finfish at least this one chapter tonight.
  • Your eyes burn.
  • Decide that you call it a night‚Ķ at 4 am.
  • Look in the mirror and see that you have bloodshot eyes.
  • Repeat same next day.
  • Deadline is the 30th.
  • Finish paper on the 31st at 5 am.
  • Hate it, but send it.
  • No one cares if you send it 5 hours late, right?
  • Go to bed.
  • Finish most of your work during your break. Always last-minute.
  • Next term starts.
  • Take on too many courses for each term because all of them are extremely interesting.
  • Prepare yourself with highlighter, new note pads, sharpen your pencils‚Ķ this term you are writing down every single detail.
  • ‚Ķ

 

 

 

 

 

How to be a great student! My top 5 tips!

Do you feel like you are just one of 30,000 and nothing special? Your professors keep forgetting your name and your grades are average at best? ¬†Are your parents a pain in the neck, because they are convinced that instead of working, you are wasting your time at university drinking?¬†You don’t know how you can unfold your full potential?

If you have answered yes to at least 2 out of the 4 questions above, keep reading. Read carefully and pay attention, because I will present to you my top 5 tips for becoming a great student.

  1. Attend lectures and seminars! This is an essential point. Studying in a country where attendance is not obligatory for all kinds of classes makes it very tempting to stay at home in your warm and comfy bed (especially when class starts at 8 am). But going to class will benefit you greatly: you get the information first hand from the person that knows best – your professor. If you are an auditory learner… this is your chance! Also, which is maybe most important: you get to know your colleagues, who, in the worst case, will hand you their notes without further ado.
  2. Team up! I always find it helpful to get together in studying groups to cover the material. It’s up to you how often or where you want to meet: It could be once a week in a quiet caf√©, or just before exams in your college or the university building. That way, you have a pressure to show up to your studying sessions (you don’t want to let your friends down, do you?). What’s also good about this is that you can ask your peers for help whenever you encounter a problem and you can discuss it together. Who doesn’t benefit from that? One extra tip I find helpful is to set yourself limits: 50 minutes of work, 10 minutes of break. THEN is the right time to check your Facebook and Twitter, chat, or in my case: sneak to the vending machine¬†at 2 am to get a chocolate bar ūüėČlate-night study session
  3. Don’t start too late with your work! I am in danger of sounding like a hypocrite now, but please do not procrastinate. Particularly, if you cannot handle stress well. Try your best to not tell yourself the “I’ll do it tomorrow”- lie. Write yourself a to-do list and try to stick to it. Please, don’t write your papers within 2 days like I did recently. It will screw up your sleeping cycle, your research will be faulty, and ¬†you will have probably missed the most recent discussions about your topic. Also your reference list will have mistakes and under stress you tend to take plagiarism less seriously (because all you care about at 4 am in the morning is to go to bed asap). Don’t do that. You can also use study groups to get your shit done in time ūüėõ
  4. Get the professor to notice you! Easier said than done, you say? Absolutely^^ But remember: Professors remember people who stick out. Sitting in the back of the class and taking notes will not shift their attention to you. Ask questions in class, even if you think they are stupid. There are no stupid questions (except for those that have been answered 2 minutes before, because someone else already asked about that. Don’t be that guy.) If you are too shy, don’t like confrontation, need time to think for a great comeback, etc. write an email to the professor.student lifeLemme tell you a story: I did so once to elaborate on the way our professor tried to use statistics to assess something. Neither he nor I are statisticians. So when I pointed out ¬†that something appeared wrong to me in the lecture, although I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly, he shut me down and told me that everything makes sense. (BTW: he is the type of professor who wants you to criticise him and argue with him; however, when you do, he can’t deal with it well and tells you in front of the class that you have been wrong because you haven’t considered X,Y. He loves being right.) I went back home, did research and with the help of the internet and my PR, I sent a long email explaining my thoughts and problems with his approach. He loved to have someone who took his subject this serious and even though he tried to prove me wrong in his next few mails, I persisted that I was right (risky, I know). It turned out that in fact, I was telling the truth, but even if I had been wrong it wouldn’t have mattered: I showed interest. This professor has called me his favourite student since then. He enjoyed having a critical discussion with me and now he calls me all those wonderful adjectives praising my intelligence, intellect, wit and whatnot. It is a bit embarrassing to be honest as he does so in front of the entire class, but I can’t deny that it has been so great for me since then. He knows my name, knows what I am capable of, is willing to bend the rules for me a bit further than usual… and you can have that too! ūüôā
  5. Know where to get your references! This is the easiest to follow: make sure that the books and articles you use are not from the 1970s. And even if, like it is for me, 1998 feels just like yesterday to you, it’s almost 20 years in the past. This is not recent research. Also, I used to only use my university’s library. Make sure to check your university library and if they don’t have the book you need, ask a friend at another university if they could get it for you. ¬†Sometimes, your library offers research workshop where you learn how to use the search system correctly for the best results. I know that you don’t think you need it. But there are sites and corners on your UL website that you have never laid your eyes on and they might hold the ingredients to a great paper. Try¬†google scholar¬†, sign up to some free journals (which obviously are difficult to find in some areas), or get free ebooks. There are many¬†ways to get literature.

These are just my personal favourites which have helped me a lot in my 5 years of studying. I hope a person who stumbles across this site finds them helpful. If there are any other tips, suggestions, questions, or experiences you would like to share, please do so in the comments. I believe that sharing our knowledge makes this world a better place so I am looking forward to your ideas!