# 102 - Safe Inside

Sonntag, 07.10.2018

Safe Inside

I spend my life inside a sphere made of glass.
No one can enter, no one can touch or hurt me. At least that's what I tried to believe.
I am safe inside, the world can't harm me as long as I don't try to leave the sphere.
Call it my safe-place, a cocoon to protect me from harm.

My cocoon keeps me safe, but it also keeps me innocent.
I don't understand the outside, can barely keep up with the people, living their hasty little lives.
I don't understand what they are saying, don't understand the way they live, I try to make sense of their behaviour but fail.
Every day.

And what about the people I care about, the ones I have sworn to protect, the ones I have learned to love.
What about those I want by my side?
What if one day I meet someone I want to keep close, maybe forever?

I need to break the sphere, I have to break it and rise from the ashes.
Have you ever tried punching through glass though?
It bleeds.
It hurts.
You shrink back, your knuckles bleed and now your underarms bleed as well, deep cuts, broken glass in your flesh. One by one you pull the fragments out and watch and cry because it hurts and there is no one there to help you.
You are still inside the sphere.
Your safe-place, your cocoon.
Your gilded cage.
You tried. But it wasn't enough.
Nothing will ever be enough.

I don't understand, you say to someone outside. I don't understand what you are saying to me.
I don't understand the words you say, why can't you explain it to me.
Help me.

And sometimes, someone tries.
They sit down on the floor while the world passes by in blurred colours and changing skies.
You are still inside and they are outside but they try, they lean in and press one hand against the glass while you do the same, and you can almost feel their touch.
And almost is enough.
They explain the outside to you, and sometimes you understand some of the words they say.
Not always, many things you can't understand but they tried.
And maybe that's all that matters.

(07.10.2018)

 

 

 

 

 

# 101 - The Shepherd's Boy

Donnerstag, 20.09.2018

For the first time in a long while, I sit in the atrium again.
It's loud and there are people and all I want them to do is fuck off.
They never do.
They are here and so am I, I can't blame them for trying to attend lectures and seminars. Not that anyone will keep it up for more than two weeks, but hey!

Same applies to the gym, there are people. Around lunchtime. Why?
I think it has something to do with people trying to get a grip, with good intentions and a fresh mindset. Like every year, students (and staff) come back from their summer break (or Christmas holiday) and they talk about how this year will be 'different' and 'better', they talk about how they will study and maybe stop smoking, they will attend lectures and prepare for the seminars.
They will be healthy and mature and change their lives for the better.
It's a new start, a new year's resolution if you wish.

Only that the good intentions never keep up.
During the first history lecture, my lecturer did a headcount; 100 students were present. Sounds good, doesn't it?
One hundred people?
Compared to twelve (the number of people that attended the final lecture in my first semester, out of approximately 250), one hundred sounds good. But I am talking about 100 out of 196. If I was to estimate the number of students that attended Monday's lecture, I'd say 80. By the end of the semester, we will be back to twelve people who still sit in the lecture theatre, take notes and actually appreciate the lecturer's efforts.

Please excuse this rather cynical view of university life and students in general, I can't help it. My experience so far has shown that 95% of the student community are lazy and will only ever do the bare minimum.

So why try? Why try if we all know that they won't keep it up?
They will fall back into the old pattern of not-caring, of not-preparing, of not-attending.
Why bother to do it in the first two weeks if after that they won't come back anyway.

I want them to leave because they make me feel anxious.
There are people everywhere, so many people
We have a library with roughly five hundred study spaces for approximately ten thousand undergraduates.
We have a gym that is crowded even during lunch time and not enough lecture theatres for all the classes and modules. A friend of mine tried to book a seminar room and the department that manages the facilities, Stirling Venues, told him that everything was booked and over-booked, that he could have a room at 6pm on a Friday, but nothing else.
There is no space, there are not enough rooms and busses.

And don't even get me started on the damn busses.
Have you ever seen three hundred students waiting at one bus stop for over an hour? In the rain? When the busses are supposed to run every ten minutes? It's fun.
What are we supposed to do?
We can't get into town for work and appointments on time because we never know if and when the next bus will show up.
We come in late for lectures and seminars because busses fail to show up repeatedly, they just don't run. Where the busses go and what the drivers do is a mystery that keeps me up at night, but it is a mystery I will never solve.
Also, the university has reduced parking space on campus. One lecturer of a different module came in half an hour late for his first lecture because he couldn't find a parking space for his car. He ended up parking in the neighbouring village and walking in, but that takes a good twenty, thirty minutes.
With the bus company running the busses in between town and campus abolishing staff discount, members of staff have to either pay a fortune on a bus ticket (with the risk of the busses not running) or they drive in, but aren't able to park the car.
No matter what time my first lecture is scheduled for, I take the bus at 8am to get into university on time.
You never know when the next bus shows up after all.

Get a grip everyone.

 

The Shepherd's Boy (Breaking The Wall) - Murray Gold

 

# 100 - Sie tanzt Allein

Mittwoch, 05.09.2018

Für die #100 wollte ich etwas Besonderes haben.
Keine Study Tips, keine historischen Fakten, die sowieso nur mich amüsieren.
Etwas über mich.

Vor ein paar Tagen habe ich dann einen Writing Prompt gefunden, und ich habe lange darüber nachgedacht, wie ich auf eine solche Frage antworten könnte:
What good thing happened this summer?
Hier also meine Antwort.

Für mich ist in diesem Sommer sehr viel passiert, manches gut, manches schlecht. Aber ich würde (fast) nichts ändern wollen, wirklich.

Ich habe einen sicheren Stand in Schottland.
Das ist mir nicht nur mehr denn je klar geworden, ich habe auch hart daran gearbeitet.
Ich kenne Menschen im International Department, in der Bibliothek, im IT Department. Und wenn ich sage 'ich kenne Menschen', dann meine ich, dass sie auch mich kennen. 14.000 Studenten an der University of Stirling und sie kennen mich mit Namen. Ich gebe es zu, ich bin stolz darauf.
Darauf, dass das International Department mich schon fürs nächste Jahr angefragt hat.
Darauf, dass ich mich jeden Morgen mit den Librarians unterhalte.
Darauf, dass Menschen mir zuwinken und rufen 'Hey Kat, how's it going?'
Darauf, dass wenn ich erst um halb zehn morgens ankomme, Leute fragen 'Are you okay? You're later than usual'
Verdammt, ich bin stolz darauf.

Nächsten Montag geht das neue Semester los und ich bin organisiert.
Ich bin vorbereitet, eingeschrieben, habe mir die passenden Seminare rausgesucht und mir Ziele fürs neue Jahr gesetzt. Und ich habe einen neuen Job im IT Department.
Auch darauf bin ich stolz.
Als ich im Interview gefragt wurde, ob ich Erfahrung im Customer Service habe und ich von der International Summer School und English Learning Programmes erzählen konnte, da war ich stolz. Vor allem, weil die beiden Hauptverantwortlichen ziemlich überrascht aussahen und dann meinten 'Wow, okay. Sounds good!'
Ich bin stolz, weil als ich gefragt wurde, ob ich mir zutrauen würde, vor zweihundert Menschen in ein Vorlesungetheater zu gehen und dort das neue Recording System zu starten, ich ja sagen konnte. Ja, das traue ich mir zu. Das kann ich.

Ich bin jemand.
Das habe ich in diesem Sommer gelernt, das habe ich in diesem Sommer geschafft.
Ich bin jemand geworden.

Ich habe verstanden, wer meine Freunde sind.
Und ich habe jemanden aus meiner Familie gehen lassen. Vielleicht kommt er zurück, vielleicht gehe ich alleine weiter. Ich werde es herausfinden, früher oder später.

Was ist noch passiert?
Ich habe die Highlands gesehen.
Ich war Urban Exploring.
Ich habe viel gelesen.
Ich war in Aberdeen und Inverness.
Ich habe angefangen mit Gewichten zu trainieren.
Und seit vorgestern habe ich eine Staff ID, einen Staff Login und eine Staff e-mail-Adresse.

Ich bin angekommen.
Nächste Woche fange ich mein zweites Jahr als Undergraduate an und ich arbeite bereits fest an der Universität, studiere und habe Freunde, auf die ich mich verlassen kann.

Für die meisten Menschen mag das nach nicht viel klingen, aber für mich sind all diese Dinge unglaublich wichtig und groß.
Ich habe Freunde, die sich Zeit nehmen, wenn ich Hilfe brauche, auch wenn sie eigentlich keine Zeit haben.
Ich habe einen neuen Job, obwohl ich nicht Muttersprachlerin bin.
Ich habe gelernt, manche Menschen gehen zu lassen und mir lieber für die Zeit zu nehmen, die mich auch wollen.

 

Sie tanzt allein
Die Musik in ihrem Ohr
Sie tanzt allein
Wie tausendmal zuvor
Sie war nie wie die andern
Und will es auch nicht sein
Sie lebt ihr eignes Leben
Sie ist Frei, und tanzt allein

Sie Tanzt Allein - Saltatio Mortis

# 099 - Sing of the Moon

Mittwoch, 15.08.2018

As I was talking to my dad yesterday, I again realised that my family has a tendency to not care about what I study. I don't mean to sound cruel or ungrateful, it is what it is.
But once upon a time, he introduced me to history; to dead people and the battles they died fighting in, to fallen empires and wars that lasted for decades. And now I can tell by the look on his face that he doesn't care.
Why doesn't he care?
I don't understand.
What I find beautiful in people is passion, is enthusiasm. I don't care what it is you love, tell me all about it!
Tell me about that reward point system your company implemented and you feel passionate about, talk to me about protein structure and why you find them so incredibly interesting. You researched different types of cameras and lenses for four hours? Amazing, what did you find out?
Talk to me about what you love.
I wish I could tell you how beautiful you look when you talk about something with passion, with raw emotion, with eyes shining and a face that lights up.

Why doesn't he care?
I don't expect my family to be enthusiastic about history. But this is my life, this is what moves me to tears, what I get emotional over and what I want to do for the next years and decades. And still I can tell that they don't care for what I tell them.

 

Start early.
I know this one is obvious, but at the same time I know many people who say they can't be bothered and submit their papers four days late every fucking time. It's ridiculous.
And contrary to accepted opinion, procrastinating is not cool and not funny.
People have a tendency to brag with bad grades nowadays, I have no idea why.
‘I scored 20% last time, ahahaha, can’t be bothered’
… why is that funny?
Making an early start means that you have all the good books to yourself, it means that you have enough time to email your tutor and ask questions. Don't wait, don't procrastinate. Start early and submit early. There is no shame in the tutors seeing that you handed in that paper three days before the deadline.

 

What northern wind blew us into the street
And what fatal one will we all someday meet?
Swept into a palace with no sign of a king
No court for us jesters, but we like to

Sing of the moon as it sometimes get shy
Running from lovers through starry-eyed skies
Morning comes quick bringing tragic goodbyes
Nothing ever really dies, right?

Sing of the Moon - The Collection

# 098 - The Sea

Dienstag, 14.08.2018

I'm back from Perth, back to the library although I don't get anything done.
For the past week I've felt like I might get ill, my shoulder hurts and keeps me from continuing shorthand practice. Also, I can't go to the gym and work out.
It sucks.
I need to get the flat-thing sorted, otherwise my shoulders will keep aching, my body's classic reaction to stress. But there is nothing I can do to speed up the process, I either find a flat or I don't.

Next week, I'll be off to Aberdeen for a few days, lets see how that goes.

 

Make friends.
Life is not all about good grades and studying, and you can't go through university without making a friends.
Take time off, go out for a drink, ask people if they want to hang out with you after the lecture.
Make friends and keep them around.
I don't care whether your friend studies law while you’re struggling with marine biology or sociology, I don’t care if they are two years above you or drop out of higher education at some point.
Make friends.
And when I say friends, I mean fucking friends! People you can count on, people who stick around no matter what. Not drinking buddies you meet every once in a while, not the guy who sells weed behind the bookstore and gives you a discount because he likes your ass.
Friends.
Look after them, make sure they're okay, check up on them if you haven't seen them in a while and feel like they're struggling.
Make friends to spend your free time with.
Make friends to sit in the library with and study.
University can be a lot, but you're not alone.
Your family in blood may be far away, in another city or another country, so make sure you have your university clan around. They will have your back when you need them to.

 

And all our lives we're told
The stream will take us home

The Sea - HAEVN

 

# 097 - Cold Coffee

Montag, 13.08.2018

My friend Ruby is very interested in linguistics. I have a moderate interest as well, mostly, because I try to get rid of my German accent and instead adopt a Scottish one.
Still, sometimes linguistics can be very depressing.
While on the ride to Falkland Palace my Scottish family explained to me that only people from London (and those coming from the white ghetto in Dunfermline) pronounce it Sco-ish, Scottish people actually say Scott-ish. Shame. I just got into the habit of calling it Sa-ur-day.
Now this morning, I was told that the surrounding areas of towns in England and in Scotland, the so-called shires, are pronounced differently. In York one would say Yorksha, in Stirling it is pronounced Stirling-shire.
Whoever claimed that learning English is easy clearly never had the experience of being taught 'proper' English by ten people at the same time. One from Dunfermline, one from around Glasgow, one from the borders, one from Norway, one from London, one from Kent, one from Portsmouth ... you see where I'm going with this.
But I am extremely grateful for the effort all these people make on my behalf, I ask for help and they actually help me.
Still, potatoes - tomatoes?
Why would you do that to as non-native speaker? It's just cruel.

 

Treat the people working at university with respect.
Wave hi to the library staff when you're coming in, smile at the cleaning ladies and wish them a good night when you're leaving. Everybody around you has a life outside these walls, everybody has problems they're struggling with. So please: be kind, be respectful.
Being friends with the librarians might save your life one day when you're stressed and can't find that one damn book you need for your assignment, you never know.
And why not smile at the people emptying the bins and cleaning the bathrooms? They can see you, they know you saw them too, don't just pretend that they're not there. They are human beings and they are the reason for why the university buildings are not a shithole no one ever wants to set foot in. So thank them for their work.
Imagine the library team going on strike, shutting down the systems, closing the library right before exam period, not letting anyone in.
Imagine IT assistants and supervisors going on strike, leaving you alone when your notebook crashes, causing you to lose six hours of research on that paper that's due in 24 hours.
Imagine the cleaning staff going on strike, not mopping the floors anymore, not emptying the bins for two weeks straight.
Mayhem.
Tell people that you appreciate their hard work, say thank you and please, treat them with respect.
We’re all playing the same game after all.
And just like any other secluded place (e.g. prison) university is a microcosm, a tiny model of the real world: without connections you’re getting nowhere.

 

Outside the day is up and calling
But I don't have to be so, please go back to sleep
Stay with me forever
Or you could stay with me for now

Cold Coffee - Ed Sheeran

# 096 - The Work Song

Sonntag, 12.08.2018

Today, I got to visit Falkland Palace.
Unfortunately, taking photographs inside was strictly forbidden, but the palace is definitely worth a visit!
One might have heard of it as the place where James V passed away in 1542 or where David Duke of Rothesay died under mysterious circumstances in 1402. It is believed that he was starved to death by his uncle, the Duke of Albany.
Who needs enemies with an uncle like that?

Falkland Palace   Falkland in fog

   

Anyway, study tips!

The next point is a very practical one: Get yourself a flask or a reusable mug.
Students sure love their coffee!
Ever seen Voldemort sucking the blood out of that slaughtered unicorn in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'?
That's the average student in a 9am lecture with a cup of coffee.
Don't waste your money on buying coffee at Costa or on campus, it adds up faster than you know. And I know that getting a disposable cup from Starbucks (with your name on it) feels fancy and good, but can you really afford spending 3 bucks on a damn cup of coffee every fucking day? I doubt it.
Get yourself a decent thermos or a mug you like carrying around because it has cute little skulls on it (or kittens or stripes or whatever) and save the money for something else.
If you're stuck in the library during exam period and one thermos is just not enough, consider bringing a kettle.
It's unusual, it's weird, but it helps.
Check with the library staff though, you might not be allowed to use a kettle inside. I solved the problem by taking the kettle out to the atrium, using it there, and returning to the library afterwards.

 

When my time comes around
Lay me gently in the cold dark earth
No grave can hold my body down
I'll crawl home to her

The Work Song - Hozier

# 095 - Tell Me It's Real

Samstag, 11.08.2018

Ich habe ein schlechtes Gewissen wegen der Nachbarn.
Es ist halb zehn abends, vor drei Stunden habe ich die Waschmaschine gestartet, Dauer: 1 Stunde und 58 Minuten.
Das war vor drei Stunden.
What the fuck?!

Egal.
Unsere Nachbarn von unten hämmern zu den unmöglichsten Zeiten, und zwar seit drei Monaten. Mittlerweile glaube ich, dass sie entweder einen Tunnel zum Gefängnis graben oder an einem Bunker bauen. Vielleicht beides.

Hah, die Waschmaschine ist fertig! Dafür wurde unten eben kurz gehämmert. Traumhaft.

 

Back to study tips.

Study something you love!
What is the point in obtaining a degree in a subject you don't even like, what it the point in studying for years and years if you have to force yourself to picking up those books every damn time, if every hour in the library feels like slave labour and all you want to do is smash your fist against the wall.
Don't do it.
Instead, study something you love, something that makes you feel alive and enthusiastic!
Don't study medicine or law just because you can and you have the grades, study something that makes your eyes shine and that makes you laugh out loud because it's so beautiful.
Yes, lawyers and doctors make a lot of money, probably more than a teacher in elementary school does. But if teaching kids is what makes you want to jump up and down with excitement, then go for it! You will make a difference in the kids' lives, and you will be happy. Isn’t that worth something?
What is the point in being a doctor if you're miserable and hate your job?

 

And I never really thought about it, no I never really thought about it
It's because of you that I believe in me for first time
I know, love's always been sink or swim so I won't
Say it's over just as it begins,
So tell me it's real, just tell me it's real

Tell Me It's Real - Seafret

# 094 - Can't Look Away

Freitag, 10.08.2018

You wouldn't believe how often I've started writing # 094, only to delete every word a few minutes later, erase them from existence.
(Which makes me wonder, does anything I'm writing on the computer really exist? Or is it only a metaphor? After all, whenever I submit a paper like this, I don't actually hand over a piece of paper, I only send over lines and lines of computer code. Nothing I can touch, nothing I can really comprehend. Just shower thoughts, I guess)

Anyway.
The new semester is about to begin.
And as I am bored, I decided to write down my personal study tips.
Not even for anyone in particular, not for any new first-year students who might read these 'metaphors', just for myself. But feel free to read them and shake your head, feel free to think, 'Oh no, not another set of study tips and hacks. Who the fuck would need them?'

So here we go.
This is number one in a series, lets see how many we end up collecting!

First of all, please, whatever you do, Don't skip class. You may say that the tutor is crap, that you don't learn anything, that you know all this already, that your classmates are stupid as fuck, so why the hell would you spend an hour of your life in that seminar room?!
Go anyway.
Go because this may be the one time your tutor says something helpful and important about upcoming assignments or next year's modules.
Go because this is your opportunity to leave a good impression. If you know your shit and participate in class, you will stick out, and this will help you later on, I promise.
Go because the person teaching the seminar or holding the lecture will know something you don't, so use this! Ask questions, speak up, learn!
Go because you love your subject.

Extra point: don't miss out on the semester's final seminar. I know you're tired, I know you have shit to do, but whatever you do, go!
People generally consider the last seminar especially useless and a waste of time while really it may be the most important one! This is your chance to ask questions and get some words of advice, also, your tutor might give you more details on the upcoming exam. The people showing up to the final seminar are usually the ones who care, so make sure to be there, raise your hand and ask questions.

 

All the love you gave me
You know it made me strong
Feeling alive, now back to life
I know where I belong
I'll never let them break me
I'll never do no wrong
We're on fire, we're on fire
And we're burning up

Can't Look Away - Seafret

# 093 - Where Does The Time Go?

Freitag, 03.08.2018

Tomorrow, the International Summer School 2018 will end.
I have moved back to Cornton for the most part although I am not looking forward to living there. The past weeks in student accommodation have once more established that I actually really like living on my own, I don't need flatmates or even a pet.
Spending my days on campus, surrounded by people (some of whom I like, some of whom I very much dislike), and then returning to a flat on my own in the evening works just fine with me. I have enough time to recharge and enjoy my own company, everything happens the way I want and need it to.

When I left student accommodation in the morning, I knew that everything would stay exactly the same until I came back in the evening. The fridge more empty than full, the clean dishes by the sink, my university material where I left it, untouched by anyone but me.
Knowing that nothing changed in my flat unless I changed it calmed me down for some reason.
That doesn't mean that I am unable to share a flat with another person, but as I currently live for my studies and sometimes work, returning to a well-maintained flat took a weight of my shoulders. I can get up whenever I want, I don't have to argue over who gets to clean the bathroom next or who's turn it is to buy washing-up liquid.
The tiniest details.
The whole principle of 'nothing is done until I am the one doing it' - I like it.

Living with Cassia was therefore not the best idea.
I remember a friend of mine looking at me for a few seconds after I had told him that Cassia wasn't exactly my dream-flatmate, then asking, 'But why are you moving in with her then, Kat?'
And I remember saying that I didn't really know, that it was the best choice I had, even though it wasn't a great one.

But now I think: why didn't I look for a place on my own?
I can afford a nice studio flat or even a one bedroom flat, especially if I keep working for the department and safe up over the summer.

So I decided to start looking again.
This time on my own, without any flatmates.
Well.

But back to nostalgia; my students are leaving.
I will miss them. Like, seriously, some of them are just lovely!
And I will miss walking around on campus and people waving at me, shouting, 'Hi Kat!'. Scottish people rarely do that.
Although, some of the librarians are actually close, they also wave and get excited, and so do I.
It's great.

As mentioned before, I will keep working for the International Department for a bit longer.
Tomorrow morning, I will leave my flat at Juniper Court for the last time and take a bus to Glasgow Airport to meet a group of students from Japan, they will be here for about four weeks to learn English.
Obviously, the new project will be quite different from what I have done over the last weeks as most of the students don't speak English and come from a different culture. But I am looking forward to it, I'm sure it will be an exciting experience.

Still, I wish the ISS programme would continue for a bit longer.
But, and this is amazing, some of my students will come back to Stirling or at least Scotland next year.
Three people have actually told me that they will either transfer from their respective universities in the States or come to Scotland for a master's degree. Apparently, studying in Scotland is way less expensive for them than doing a degree in the United States.
And I can only encourage whoever considers studying here, Scotland, and especially this university's campus, is beautiful!

Where does the time go?
I don't want this to end
Where does the time go?
Let's hang on to the moment we're in

Where Does The Time Go - A Great Big World

 

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