A NEW YEAR WITHOUT RESOLUTIONS

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Image by Pocket mindfulness

I am frankly a planner. I am simply a time conscious person, always aiming for productivity, getting everything on the list done, making decisions about my life and future and so forth. Determined, aspiring and clear aims.

It is 4 months, 7 days today. I feel like I have been having more intra-personal conversations than interpersonal ones. Neither have I been writing. The new year I am declaring to be a beautiful one has started, but I soon realised how I have got into it without resolutions.

What does this mean?

Need I say, I am in a different context where I am constantly confronted by different things daily. It feels to me as a really eye opening phase in my life. Often also overwhelming.

I have set myself to no expectations. Like I have learnt in the last four months that in context much can be learned. I am learning about the kind of person I am, people around me and all linked to it. Without saying, it feels like I signed up to resolutions already. But frankly not.

Although saying I do not have resolutions, may sound as daunting as saying I have no plans thus far.

I am certainly still running my good cause. Simply volunteering, using my combination of love, kindness and happiness into it. But, I have concluded in the mist of everything that I just want to live. Perhaps I am determined to attaining certain things. Maybe using the word ´resolution´ is just not my intentions at all this year.

I just want to live. My intentions go beyond this “I am living life phrase”. Learning, loving, and being me.

My year is without resolutions. I am living life ❤

THINGS YOU SHOULD SEE IN AACHEN: MY TOP THREE

Aachen, also known as Spa of Kings, is a city in far middle east of Germany next to boarders of Belgium and Netherlands. Full of student energy. Perhaps, a great city to visit if you miss being on campus or a youth driven atmosphere.  Given the presence of Aachen University, at least 50 percent of people residing there are young and go to the university, while the other half accommodates other people outside this category.

Besides this, I am so trilled how Aachen has an amazing chieftaincy embedded history. This history about it leaves it’s visitors spell bound.

My impression of this city is that should one visit Aachen, these are a must do:

1 Three-Country Point 

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I suspect Aachen feels more or less like a three country boarder place than just typically a city as known. It feels like a city in three countries given its connection and link to Belgium and Netherlands. The Three Country Boarder, know as Drieländerpunkt (in German) is one of the worlds popular triple points. The Three-Country Point is located is located on Vaalserberg (“Mount Vaals”). Vaals is a city on southeastern part of the Netherlands and only 5 km (3.1 mi) west of the city centre of Aachen. There is convenient buses to this location but I think one of the interesting parts of this journey is when you walk through borders on foot. The position where these two countries are separated is interesting to see. Walking for a couple of minutes to the highest point of Vaalserberg can enable you to visit each of these countries from there. There is a tower offering a grand panorama of the surrounding landscape there. You can go to the roof of this tower, which is 300 higher, and have a great view of all these three country at a same time. In addition, there is a symbolic circle where three flags of these countries hanged and people do photography with them. That is a unique experience to be in three different countries and a specific point of time.

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2 Aachen Cathedral

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Talk about a sacred destination. And, this cathedral is an example of one of the most famous occidental architecture. Well according to Aachen´s tourism offices, this cathedral is “It is the coronation church of more than 30 German kings, burial site of Charlemagne, major pilgrimage church and cathedral church of the Aachen diocese since 1930”. And that, when the Emperor Charlemagne built his representative “Pfalz”, the Palace, before 800, he started to make his dream of Aachen as a “new Rome” come true.

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You need not be religious, this site is worth seeing.

Of course there is more than just these two favourite two things I saw in Aachen. The list is endless. For suggestions, I think seeing the The Elisa Fountain would be great. It was a mecca for the royalty of Europe keen to take the cure. Trying a bit of cultural food in Aachen is also ideal. I tried some Aachen Printen, which I bought home too to my host family. This is a kind of hard, spicy biscuit, made in a mould and bearing an imprint of a person or scene. Delicious! They bake it with a delicious mix of cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice and ginger (the proportions are secret). Although, I am no fan of cinnamon, I think this is a great flavour combination.

Ending this on a good note, I think I would like to term Aachen as not just a city but a city in three, literally cutting across three countries: Germany, Belgium and Netherlands.

 

 

 

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU………

…..Are you constructively and productively make use of your time. And yes, when you are having fun.

I am astonished about how today officially marks my first month in Berlin. It was only six weeks ago or so when I was told my departure is on the 14th of September. I had one week to set my things into order. You know, the packing and all. Before I knew it, my luggage was full and I was ready to leave home. It all happen so fast. Next think I knew, I was boarding for my first time flight to Berlin, inter-connecting flights at Zurich, Switzerland to my destination.

After some 13 hours or so, here I was…in Berlin meeting up with my host mother Julia who had been patiently waiting for approximately 20 minutes. What a good kicked started welcome and unpacking.

I have done so much for one month and I think included in this, is my many attempts to speak German. I have took in so much from everyone regarding the language. I have also seen much than I expected for one moth. A bit of moving around, trying new food, meeting new people, getting a hang of my new voluntary work and of course settling in.

Have I thought? I feel content. In my second week I felt like I had lived here before and like I knew my host family. It never so completely new. I am so free. I am home.

Given than its the end of my first month, I can say, I have settled. And here are typical things that are a proof of this:

  1. I rode the bike back home from work alone on my first day. I had only been shown by my host sisters my way there. Its relatively 20 minutes. I did it and I had no internet to navigate my way or even had a functional number to make calls. I probably took my own way back home somehow but I found it. This was epic.
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    Second Left: My bike is a new member in the Schad household

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    My friend helping me get from A to B, rain or not. 
  2. By end of my first week, I already had memorised and understood one prayer in German.
  3. I went to a store after about 2 days during my break to by a lip cream. Looking up things on my own and attempting to ask in stores can be a bit not easy and also funny but this is a good language practice.
  4. Like everyone else, rain does not stop one from using the bike. To be part of the community. I have also used the bike every single day to and back from work regardless. The more stronger I have felt.
  5. Travelling some 46 minutes by bus and then S-Bahn to central Berlin to meet a friend. It sounds complicated at some point but I have found this extremely easy. Thanks to my host mother who literally can explain to simplicity.
  6. Watching movies in German was always something I tried in South Africa but, I really did not enjoy it. This time my family invited me to join them watch a movie with their family friends. I mean…cinema right at home. The big screen, the sound, lights out and snacks. Without anticipation, I enjoyed this movie. I actually understood it more than I thought I would. Thanks too to my host father for giving my a brief heads up on its story line. I am sire the excitement also came about because there were scenes in South Africa, particularly in Cape Town. It was epic! It was comedy after all.
  7. It sounds like everything is nearly perfect and lit. But no, I nearly bumped into an old lady one morning on the bike to work. I was riding fast and trying so hard to be on time. She appeared from no where. I was wondering how possible this month could be so perfect without a mistake. Well, I did really did not bump her, I nearly did. I said I am sorry and found my focus again.

What a month! Bliss…lit and epic.

What is your view? Do you think I have settled in already?

 

TRY TOUCHING THE CLOUDS, ITS POSSIBLE: THE BROCKEN

Wandrers Nachtlied

Über allen Gipfeln

Ist Ruh,

In allen Wipfeln

Spürest du

Kaum einen Hauch;

Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.

Warte nur, balde

Ruhest du auch

-Johann Wolfgang Goethe

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Mountains. Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.

On Saturday morning, the 1st of October, we set ourselves for a long weekend excursion. This was my second weekend, with which the first I was having a Hamburg extravaganza. My host family took me along to a trip they were to meet four of their family friends. To put well in picture: a stop in forests, a 2 nights, 3 days stay in a forest/mountain hostel, with lots of food, wearing warm, eating together and endless chats.

I have learnt so much in that space, given that I now enjoy listening to how German speaking people. To some extent, I am picking up a lot of vocabulary and  a real sense of how sentences are constructed. I have found this really incredible.

So much eye opening things. I am happy to say, in South Africa I do not really have a life. By this, I mean that I have put my devotions on other things such as my first two degrees, journalism and getting my work out there, humanitarian work and activism. These are my interests and my life has evolved around them that going our looked impossible. I found these devotions my kind of fun. Although I still went out and did other things, I have found my chosen focuses really worth the time. But, perhaps with this kind of routines, one can miss out on a few other things. And, end up having so many I have never done this before lists. This is never a problem because there is every time for every purpose. I am happy to have been here in the time and the right place.

We were at a place called Harz National Park. The intention there was to go to the Brocken, which we did on Sunday. Broken, according to Wikipedia,  the Brocken is also referred to as the Blocksberg. This is the highest peak of the Harz mountain range and also the highest peak of Northern Germany; it is located near Schierke in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt between the rivers Wesser and Elbe. Although its elevation of 1,141 metres (3,743 ft) is below dimensions, its microclimate resembles that of mountains of about 2,000 m (6,600 ft). The peak above the tree line tends to have a snow cover from September to May, and mists and fogs shroud it up to 300 days of the year. The mean annual temperature is only 2.9 degrees Celsius. It is the easternmost mountain in northern Germany; travelling east in a straight line, the next prominent elevation would be in the Ural Mountains in Russia.

It is a lit place.

MY HIGHLIGHTS ABOUT THE BROCKEN:

  1. Lessons from my host father

Before we wont on this excursion, Friedemann schooled me about Harz, especially its mountain peak. He winded back history, telling me that the mountain we are going to is where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe climbed when he was in his early 20´s, visiting again at the age of 81. Herr Goethe was a German writer and statesman, and penned work including epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels. He penned a poem above titled Wandrers Nachtlied and also chanted it up on the same mountain. This time, Friedemann was the one chanting this very poem. I found the whole set up worth it.

This was a clear picture painted moment.

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2. The nature

There is nothing incredibly refreshing as the smell of the forest and seeing trees reacting to the changing weather, walking up and down all dressed up because its very cold up the mountain. This might be the case but a good long walk heats the body back to its normal state.

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3. Meeting new people and getting to know my host family

On this note, I really want to put a focus on my host family……..

I grew up in a family which literally accommodated different people. My grandmother for a long time was a foster parent, taking care of children from different circumstances. I know how it feels to be taken good care off and what it takes to make such efforts. Although I am not one of those kids and have never underwent any similar pathways, one similar thing I share with all those amazing kids is that I am welcome in a family I do not know nor related to. But the feeling is mutual. I feel like I have always known them. They have sought to make me part of the family and I embrace these new beginnings. I will be forever  be grateful.

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Special waves all the way from Harz from my host parents during our pause after some 2 hours or so of walking from top of Brocken back to Schierke Station were we took a steam train going up the mountain peak.

 I now know how it feels to be hosted, to be new in town, and exposed to some new things but most importantly, to be a part of another family. My life will never ever be the same.