January 30, 2011

New friends

I have been in the US for 5 days and 4 times I have been out in the evening at parties and to eat. I discovered Atlanta for two days and was most impressed by the Martin Luther King Memorial Site. They have a really good mix of media to teach you about the civil rights movement and who MLK was. Although I have been fascinated by Ghandi and Desmond Tutu and have read about them quite a bit, King has so far been kind of a blank slate for me. I basically just knew about the "I have a dream" speech, but after visiting this memorial site I feel much more connected to him. He has become one of my heroes :)

On Friday I came to Knoxville on a Greyhound bus. All Americans I have met have been either generally opposed or very cautious about the idea of me taking the Greyhound. Somehow in their mind it is not quite safe. Well, if you take into consideration that most everybody has a car, this rather cheap way of public transportation is for those who cannot afford a car or got out of jail recently. But it's also for young travellers like me :) And so I soon made friends again. Oby from Asheville used to study creative writing at Columbia University, Michael is a 19-year-old Christian who was quite interested in whichever county I thought was better, Germany or the US. When the conversation became about religion, Oby, always the critic, founded a new religion on the spot and made us all his followers.

In Knoxville I am currently living with Leila, an old friend who used to study in Germany. She is an egyptologist so the revolutionary things going on in Egypt are a big topic. Save the mummies!! She shares a house with another friend and Jacob the cat. I even have my own bedroom. She is a swing dancer and so we went to a party of one swing dancer who is, lo and behold, off to study in Germany for a semester and was celebrating his farewell. I met an interesting American Sign Language teacher from Trinidad and learnt how to say "I am German" and "Cool".

Now I am off to another day of exploring with my Leila. Hope everything is alright wherever you are!

January 26, 2011


I have landed in Atlanta, both physically and mentally. The journey was ok, with only a slight delay due to de-icing at Munich airport. I watched the Last Airbender movie on the plane and had a good chat with a Turkish father on his way to a poultry trade fair, who was sitting next to me. We arrived well on time.

On the train across town I met two Southerners who had been hosting international students in the past and were very interested to learn about couchsurfing. Also, if I should ever hike the Appalachian trail, I will show up at their Inn in Damascus, Virginia.

Just so you get a feel of the surroundings I tell you about Tyrone, who was on the phone with several girls while I was on the bus. He was 'sweet-talkin'' them into letting him take them out, but unsuccessfully. He did not let it spoil his mood and even showed me a picture of one of his targets, a pretty lady. While talking to the bus driver about where to get off, a woman who had served in the miliary and had once been stationed in Germany joined the conversation and shared some of her German with us. So far, there wasn't a single place where I did not strike up some kind of interesting conversation. And this was only the journey to where I am sitting right now.

After a change of plans yesterday I was taken in by a nice couchsurfer who offered me not only a place for the night, but entertainment at a couchsurfer meeting to fight the jetlag, The motto was a "soup party", so everybody had brought different kinds of soup. "Broccoli, garlic, onion" was one of my favorites, as was "chipotle, quinoa". The crowd was international and interesting. This was much for a first half day, but I wanted to report before it faded in the background of all that is to come! The adventure has begun :)

January 16, 2011

My new action hero...

...His Holiness The Dalai Lama :) I really liked this TED talk by Jody Williams, the woman behind the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She received the Nobel Peace Prize for it and talks about some of the most inspiring people on the world stage right now. Their common theme is taking action. Don't just sit there! Get up and do something, however much time you have. It does not matter, just don't keep on sitting there just watching and moaning about all the suffering in the world (maybe including your own). I am trying to find the best way to make "taking good action" my livelyhood!

January 10, 2011

Home is wherever I'm with you

While leaving behind this city, slowly moving back in with my parents, and with my upcoming trip to the United States in mind, I have been thinking about what "home" means to me. For a long time now I have been using that word for both my childhood home and my flat in Augsburg. Of course I am gonna miss this place. It has been my very own shelter and a place of calm and warmth for five years now.
But the feeling it's not just about this place, more about the memories and people that are connected with the time I spent here. In the movie Garden State, Zach Braff talks about family as "a group of people who are missing the same imaginary place". Yes, in this sense, Augsburg has been my home, as there will always be people who will be missing this same imaginary place. The most important friends won't disappear from my life, while some others will go their own ways again, just like I am doing, maybe connecting from time to time somewhere out in the world. And there will always be some true friends, who I will share my life with, and who will find me wherever I go just as I will find them. I wish that all of you have such people that feel like home to you!

Enjoy a beautiful cover version below of this beautiful song called Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:

January 07, 2011

How to live an awesome life

Just watch this poetic, inspiring, funny, touching, and wise TED-talk: