Same words, different meaning:

25. Januar 2015 | von

A few days ago I had a visit: a former student of mine came over and stayed five days. He is also a Guatemalan, but is currently studying in Spain and found some free time and a cheap flight, so I was happy to welcome him after many years of sporadic contact. He is the third person whom we receive here from Guatemala and seeing how the three times we have observed the same train of behavior, I think it is kind of safe to say that the following list of conclusions are based on more than just supositions. Of course, for the purposes of these text I will exaggerate a bit, although… I am not sure how much. I am not trying to make us look bad, since there are wonderful things we have and are, but it is no secret that being punctual and working efficiently arent two of the most developed habits in Latin America. hese are some of the things that stand out when comparing what German say and mean to what my people (including me when I had just arrived) understand:


Germans say: We´ll leave in ten minutes.

Germans mean: In ten minutes we will be on the way already.

Some of us understand: We will leave in more or less ten minutes, so make sure you continue doing whatever you need to do that might take around fifteen minutes to get done, we will wait. Also, one minute before we leave we will remind that you have sixty seconds, just in case.


Germans say: Be ready at ten o´clock.

Germans mean: Be ready at ten o´clock.

Some of us understand: Around nine fifty-nine start getting ready. If you need to look for a jacket and put it on, dont worry, that does not count as not being ready. Also, if you are upstairs, take your time to come down after ten o´clock while we wait at the door for you… and the same applies to finding your keys, wallet and similar items, brushing your teeth and washing your hands are also part of the things we will totally accept.


Germans say: We need one hour to get there.

Germans mean: We should have around 20% extra time to make sure we arrive on time.

Some of us understand: Since we need one hour to get there, the best thing to do is leave the house when we have sixty minutes left before the time we should arrive. Rushing at the last moment and running or driving faster than necessary in order to compensate are perfect ideas.


Germans say: Breakfast is ready!

Germans mean: Sit down and eat.

Some of us understand: All these cold cuts are still to be fried, the warm food is coming. No, of course we have more than only bread and toppings, who would eat cold stuff in this weather?!


Germans say: Please, dont drive too fast.

Germans mean: Please, dont drive above 150 km/h.

Some of us understand: Please, dont exceed 100 km/h.


Germans say: Remember, you have to know the different types of trash.

Germans mean: Separate glass, plastic, rest, green, paper…

Some of us understand: You should take a course and buy some books in order to memorize and understand the different rules and combinations regarding trash. Whatever you think you know, know that you are wrong.


SOME Germans say: America…

THOSE Germans mean: The United States

MOST of us understand: America, we hope you dont mean The United States.


Germans say: Des Teufels liebstes Möbelstück ist die lange Bank.

Germans mean: “The devil’s favorite piece of furniture is the long bench.” (Do not procrastinate!)

Some of us understand: Digstgb safjkhaskf tkjkadfys klsja kjd is the kljskj bank.

And so, my friend is gone and I guess he will treasure the memories of the beautiful cities he saw and experiences he lived and will not remember much of the contrasts between our cultures. A few days dont provide with a clear picture of all the things one has to learn and relearn… it took me a while, even though I read and tried to come as prepared as possible. It is really interesting that after these years living here I get the chance to how my habits have changed. In any event, with all the differences and ups and downs, I can say at the end that Germany is the country I admire, but my land is the place I love.

I do not have time!

11. Januar 2015 | von

The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: ‘I did not have time.’

Franklin Field

This quote opened an article I read a few years ago and I have tried to keep in mind the value of what I read, which comes in handy when everyone is talking about new resolutions, plans and projects. The text was, as one might guess, about the importance of time… and of course, tired and sick of hearing it over and over, I took for granted that I knew exactly what I was doing with my time, however I found interesting information about what one can achieve in sixty minutes.

Many years ago I met an artist and photographer who was trying to open a school in my town, he only had one student and once I visited his studio I noticed that the whole project was a mere dream he was following and not something he expected to get a lot of money from. I was looking for some pictures he had taken for an exhibition, I wanted to learn to draw and paint and I thought I could very well start with some images of people and places I knew. I let him know what my plans were and that I had no experience whatsoever, but that that was something I wanted to learn. He asked me if I wanted to join them, I could learn there… then, almost automatically, the words came out of my mouth: “I don’t have time“. As I was saying them I felt a both embarrassed and guilty, I knew it was not exactly true, but he just nodded and went on with something else. Later, before I left, he told me: “Look, if you feel like, come by… as soon as you said that you didn’t have time I realized it made no sense to insist, but you are young and I think it is important to tell you that those words are barely ever true, it is not that you don’t have time… it is that you have other priorities.“ I never came back and to this day I regret it.


Crawford Greenewalt, an engineer from USA who was the president of one of the biggest companies in the country, he certainly was not someone who could waste much time, however, he was interested in something that seemed a bit odd: he loved hummingbirds. He devoted one hour every day to study them and tried to develop special equipment to photograph them, his work became eventually a very valuable tool for those interested in the field.

Wilfred Cohen, who was one of the world´s leading clothing manufacturers, worked many years to reach the top of the business… but he wanted to paint, and that he did too. He took one hour off every day and paint, even though he had no reason to believe that that could take him anywhere. At 5 am he would take the brushes and do what brought him joy. Some years later he was selling his paintings and they were being exposed in different galleries. According to his words, nothing he had done in business had brought more joy than being able to see his dreams of painting become reality.

Even Franklin Delano Roosevelt found an hour a day to spend doing something as particular as lock himself away with his stamp collection. If we consider that he was in charge of a nation during some of its darkerst years, knowing that he found time to do that thing that brought spiritual peace seems to indicate that having no time is a matter of perspective.

Many more examples can be found. Writers, astronomers, readers, singers, cooks, athletes… the list is as long as types of activities there are. One hour a day, depending on the way we see it and what we do with those sixty minutes, the amount of time might seem shorter or longer. Watching a chapter of your favorite series consumes, usually one hour, a soccer game means around 120 minutes, but there is no way we can compare that to waiting 20 minutes until the bus arrives or 30 until our order at the restaurant is ready… or waiting for the dentist to come and invite us to sit on the chair of pain.


What matters at the end is that you do more than just what this big machine we are part of expects you to do. This world turns with or without us, which can be seen as something sad or actually freeing, because that means we can go to our dear places and do what we want, what makes us complete. One hour a day, 365 times a year means 45 whole eight-hour working days we will have to follow that dream, that illusion or hobby… a month and a half extra time we will have. It may require some sacrifices, getting up earlier or going to bed later, but if it is really what we want, it will certainly pay off. A step at a time… until you have reached the top of your hill.

Guatemala, the land of the eternal spring:

05. Januar 2015 | von

A new winter is here (or is it the same as last year?) and more than ever I remember my land… where trees always bloom and rain and sun travel together to make rainbows appear very often. Guatemala is not a country many people have heard a lot about, and sadly, the few things some people hear are rather negative, since we do have problems with corruption and violence; however, those who make a trip and discover the way honest Guatemalans live, find in the warmth and friendliness of people a valuable treasure that fits perfectly with the natural beauty that frame the land of the Mayas. Of course, pretty much everyone will say wonderful things about their land, it should be so, therefore I will try to write less and just show some pictures that might do the talking. Some photos courtesy of Miguel Medina, my dear friend and talented photographer who has visited most of the amazing places Guatemala has to offer.

Antigua Guatemala:

this city, whose name literally means old Guatemala due to the fact that it used to be the capital of my country, is famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque influenced architecture as well as many ruins of churches and houses. The predominant colonial style – streets paved with stones, balconies and doors, colors around the city – allows travellers to make a trip back in time and forget about the rushing days we live today. Tourism is the main driver of the economy and more or less a third of the population comes from different parts of the world, since people who visit Antigua tend to try to stay and live there. There are many schools where one can learn Spanish and also many other languages.


Street in Antigua and Volcán de Agua


Catedral de Antigua


Parque central


Calle del Arco


this town located in the department called Sololá, offers another beautiful side of Guatemala: nature. The beautiful lake, the volcanoes and the vegetation give this place a relaxing and inviting set up for people who want to stay away from noisy streets and big cities in general. There are other towns around the lake, one can travel by boat or by car, each of them offers a variety of products elaborated locally.

Sunset in Panajachel.
View of the lake from one restaurant.
One of the many small docks.


even though trees and moss grow all around, the ruins have survived to tell part of the secrets of the Mayas. Miles and miles of forest, rivers and lakes serve as home to thousands of types of plants and animals. It is common to run into spider monkeys, toucans, parrots and with some luch even a jaguar (this last one unfortunately endangered). The pyramids are a reminder of the greatness of Maya society, their most representative buildings: El Gran Jaguar and La Danta are impressive constructions that even to this day marvel visitors.


El Gran Jaguar.
Mayan ruins and temples.
Temples overview

Semuc Champey:

Only recently were these stunning turquoise pools of Semuc Champey discovered in an isolated jungle in Guatemala.  The pools of Semuc Champey are a must see for anyone traveling to my country. Hidden in the jungle near Parque Nacional Grutas de Lanquín is the natural wonder Semuc Champey, a collection of pools that form a staircase situated on top of a limestone bridge with the Cahabón River flowing beneath them. The brilliant turquoise waters and lush jungle surroundings are the perfect spot to sunbath, swim and relax the day away.




There are still some places I could show you here, but in order to keep it rather short, I will stop. I hope you like what you see and if it touched at least a bit of your curiosity bone… take a look online and who knows? Maybe soon we can greet you in Guate 😉


Juanjo´s story

09. Dezember 2014 | von


I have no picture to show you who Juanjo is… or is it more appropriate to say „who he was“? I don´t know… I remember him so innocent, so full of life, that I cannot come to good terms with words like life and death. This is not a story full of colors, it might actually seem pretty sad… in a certain way it is, but it is also a story of happiness, a story that taught me a valuable lesson.

Juanjo – Juan José is the real name – was a little boy who went to school with me, I think we were in first grade, or was it sencond grade? Im not sure, you know how our mind plays stricks on us. Was he my friend? I guess so… when we are kids, anyone who talks to us for five minutes becomes our friend and anyone who lets us use a toy becomes our best friend, right? I wonder why we stop acting that way as we grow up, it is a pitty. Anyway, to be honest, I have to say that I didnt know much about him, I knew that he was poor, so poor that he never wore shoes and instead of a backpack he carried his notebooks in a little bag he hung around his neck. I knew that he was very shy, and you could tell by the way he walked and spoke that he was a peaceful kid. Sadly, those memories come from only a few days I can remember. The image I have carved on my mind is that one of a rainy morning, walking by some old houses in our little town on the way to school. As usual, he wasnt wearing shoes, his small straw hat and that hand-made bag gave him a look that didnt correspond to that one of a school boy. Not having pictures is something that both bothers and relieves me. It is relieving because that means that I get to remember him the way I think he looked like and I can put a smile on his face if that is what I want to do; it bothers me, because no matter how hard Id try to describe him, I would not succeed.

The other images I have come from a sunny afternoon, when I got to know where he lived, who was his mother and that it was his birthday. Here is where my mother comes into the story. You see, I dont want to tell you that my mother is the best, almost everyone thinks that about their own mother, I even thought of writing this lines without mentioning that it all happened because of her, but it just seemed fair to tell the most honest story I could write. That being told, I am writing about her as a woman and not as the person I call mom… after all, this is Juanjo´s story.

That day, after school, my mother told me to get ready to go to a party. It was a bit odd because I hadn´t seen any invitation, plus, I saw that the piñata, the cake, the candies and all the other things one expects to see at a party, were actually in our house. I asked whose birthday it was and she said: „Mrs. Arana´s kid´s.“ I didnt know his last name, so the answer didnt put much light on my mind, but a party is a party and I was more than glad to have the chance to go. I helped her, we packed the things and started to walk. There was not much of every thing, we werent rich and actually, I didnt remember the last time I had a party for my birthday; cake yes, gifts too… but no party. Somehow that bothered me, and as I started to understand that my mother had organized the whole thing for that kid I barely knew, I tried to hide my jealousy. We left the main streets and walked through a green field where some cows and sheep ate grass calmly. The houses we saw werent exactly suitable places to live, they were more like sets of materials piled up together, blocks, sticks, wood plates, pretty much anything would do. In front of one of those faulty constructions I saw Juanjo, sitting on the grass with his hands around his knees, wearing his straw hat. My mom greeted him and asked if he knew why we were there, he said he didnt know. I could see his eyes shine as he stared at the little piñata that my mother had brought and the plastic ball I had under my arm. My mother knocked on a set of pieces of wood that served as a door, a woman came out and they started to talk, it was Juanjo´s mother. While they spoke I asked Juanjo if he knew how old he was… he didnt even know it was his birthday.

A few minutes later, my mom started to knock on many other doors and after talking with some parents, children would come out and join us. The grass field worked as a celebration area where we all played football, ran and laughed for a good while. I didnt know any of those kids, I barely knew Juanjo, but that didnt matter, we had a good time, actually a great time… that was something I didnt expect. You see, our neighbors used to invite us to their kids´parties, they did have money, so there was a lot of food, balloons, at least two piñatas, sometimes even a clown… but there we were, with a different version of a party, one that was just a as fun as unexpected. After we played, it was time to break the piñata: Juanjo was called to try to break it, but shy as he was, it took quite a while for him to finally try. He hit it so softly that it barely moved, I dont know if it was because he was so embarrassed to be seen by everyone or because he didnt want to break it. I dont remember who broke it, it doesnt matter that much, but I do remember that after it was emptied we got paper bags with oranges, apples, candies and chewing gum, I think there was a little toy, something like a marble or a whistle, I am not sure about that either. Finally, it was time to eat the cake: we sang „Feliz cumpleaños“ (happy birthday) and clapped as Juanjo blew the candles out. I saw that my mom gave him some clothes, the plastic ball I had and something else in a package he should open later. Slowly, all the kids went back to their houses, they were thankful and seemed happy, I knew I was… and I could tell Juanjo was too, although his mother seemed to be happy and sad at the same time, that was something I couldnt really understand. As it started to get dark, my mom told me that it was time to go home, that I should hugh him and say bye. Being a child, that hugging-a-friend thing wasnt exactly an idea I loved, but something in the way my mom spoke moved me to do it. We took our things and left.

He didnt come to school the next day, actually I never saw him again. He died a few months later, he had leukemia. My mom told me to keep the secret of that visit, she didnt want it be mentioned at home and made sure nobody around would hear about it; I didnt get the idea of celebrating and then keeping it secret. I cannot say that my childhood changed too much after Juanjo´s death, I didnt think too much about it for a while, not until the image came back and I started to analyze the whole situation from a different perspective and tried to understand what my mother had done, even though she didnt even want to talk about it afterwards.

That was probably the only birthday party Juanjo ever had, it didnt matter how big or expensive it was, it didnt matter that instead of a lot of gifts he got only two or three… all that mattered is that it happened, even though it wasnt his birthday. I remember it and feel a bit embarrassed when I think about my jealousy, and then I try to explain to myself that I was just a kid. Now I understand the look in Juanjo´s mother´s eyes, now I understand why my mother didnt want to publish the whole story and tell everybody what a nice thing had happened. I have learned from that experience, I know that a small thing you do for others can make a huge difference, even if the whole world doesnt understand, even if nobody sees it or hears about it. I just hope I have learned well enough to do what I can whenever I can, I just hope my mother feels as satisfied as I feel proud of her, even though we are not to talk about it. I just hope that, wherever he is, Juanjo still wears his straw hat and his funny bag… and maybe that pair of shoes he got in a secret package on his not-birthday.


Fu**ing Mondays… fu**ing weather…

02. Dezember 2014 | von

REALLY? Monday again??? How can weekends be so short? Monday is coming and you know what a pain that is, those days are so freaking long. Plus, what´s with this awful weather in Aachen? It´s so annoying… this crappy rain and wind can really turn every day into a gray painting that nobody wants to look at.  You feel me? You know what I mean? Because if you do, boy… are we many! And, you see, that is kind of the problem: negative plus negative only equals positive in Math, but in real life, your gray mood and my gray mood make our day a burden.


Here´s the thing: what makes a day great or terrible? Well, sometimes things happen and you can´t do much about it; a relative gets sick, you lost your job, your dearest glass turns into pieces as it slips throw your hands… those things happen and they will always come and go, what makes an enormous difference is what you do about it, how you react. Awful Monday? How about you´d lose all Mondays from now on? How shorter would your life be? Do you know what is the one thing that most people say they would change money for? TIME!

I remember a period after an accident I had: I could not walk, I could barely move, pain was so terrible that over the worst five days and nights of pain I could sleep only a few hours… I was already hearing voices and losing it. It took around one year for me to be able to walk normally again, without feeling that my back was broken in two. Something interesting happened: I realized, while walking, how happy I was because I was doing it! That simple thing we do every day suddenly became a blessing and gave me back a feeling of freedom I didn´t know I had gotten used to, it all just because I didn´t need an arm holding me any more. Thousands of times we have heard the phrase: “you never know the value of what you have until you lose it“, we have heard it so much that it has lost its meaning and it isn´t until – guess what? – we lose something, that we remember and understand.



Hate that horrible weather? Well, some people fought against sickness for months or years just hoping they would live to see a new day, Monday, Thursday or Sunday, rainy or sunny… but some of them didn´t make it today. Those days we spend in a bad mood or simply with a “meh“ attitude are the ones others wished they had. It does not have to be so extreme, there´s really no need to talk about the value of time seen from a life-death point of view, just try to realize that it is, most of the time, a matter of perspective and willingness to enjoy and live the day.This does not imply that one can go the whole time with a smile that shines like one´s working for some tooth paste company; problems will come, difficult times will find us and hit us and it is unrealistic to think or say that we will always find a positive side, but facing those situations with a permanently negative mind will certanly not make them any better. Knowing that YOU control your emotions, that nothing and nobody can keep you from feeling good… not your boss, not the teacher, not that bus driver, not the family, not the rain, not the cold mornings, it is YOU who decides what to make out of the time you are given.



Try to stop complaining, blaming others, expecting something to happen, instead try to make things be different. Do you want to get more from life? How about giving more too? If you think life sucks, you are right; if you think it is amazing, you are right! Do you know what is great about having problems? You need to be alive to have them. Do you know what is great about bad weather? If fits inside a good cup of tea.

How many horrible gray Mondays will your life have?

Internet boredom?

27. November 2014 | von

This is just a „quick note“: even though we have the world wide web in front of us, it can happen that we feel bored or simply need a break. The following are some Youtube channels and a couple of sites you might like. Again, no long introduction… hopefully you´ll find something that fits your taste:

Youtube channels:

That guy with the glasses/league of supercritics:

Nostalgia Critic: Doug Walker aka The Nostalgia Critic is the head of the group. He reviews old movies and makes funny remarks about them. A bit too energetic sometimes and quite a friend of swearing, his style might not be something for every person, but if you enjoy so-bad-they-are-good movies, at least check his review of The Room, the world needs to know about this movie and review! Nostalgia Chick might be an alternative if you prefer a girl´s point of view. Here´s a short introduction:

Featured: Nostalgia Critic, The Room

Todd in the shadows: If you are into music and would like to enjoy some funny remarks and informative facts about new hits and classic songs, maybe Todd is the to-go guy. His series One Hit Wonderland is definitely intersting and full of unknown facts about songs like Take on me, Kung fu fighting, Come on Eileen, etc. From Lady Gaga to Karl Douglas, you will probably find at least one song you like.

Featured: All about that bass, a review

Top ten paradise: Watchmojo

Watchmojo is all about top ten lists. From NES and PS3 video games to Anime, from top ten series like The Walking Dead to top ten classic movies like Casablanca, they cover a huge amount of topics.

Featured: top ten motivational movies


The angry video game nerd, a character by James Rolfe, is a classic video game reviewer. If the names SNES, Game Cube, Jaguar, Vitual Boy and Genesis tell you something, you will find in this channel a place to enjoy. Game reviews about the worst of them all (and sometimes also great ones). His angry way and clever insults can offend some and seem dumb to others, but if you don´t mind taking a look:

Featured: AVGN reviews Castlevania 2


Huevo Cartoon

Huevo cartoon is a series of short videos created in Mexico, if you speak or are learning Spanish, this is a fun way to practice. Some videos require some knowledge of latin culture in order to be understood, but most of them work just fine for everyone.

Featured: huevo poetas


Some interesting sites:

Listverse.com: a site that offers list readers a great amount of material to spend hours and hours that you could be using to study! One lists takes to the next one and even though you swear that last one will be THE last one, some more will likely still follow.
Featured: Top 10 most popular lists on the site 😉

idealo.de/geizhals.de/preisvergleich.de: Germany offers some nice sites where you can compare prices of products you want to buy. Idealo has the best reviews and seems to show more options, but taking a look at the other options might also help you save some money.

Songfacts.com: exactly what the name suggests, interesting and little known facts about songs. You never know, there might be an amazing story behind your favorite song.


Feeling lonely? You are not alone!

22. November 2014 | von

Has the excitement that hit you at the beginning of the semester started to linger? After a year or so, do university, Aachen or Germany seem to be something different than those places you admired so much? Why do all people seem to be always in a rush? Does anybody notice you? Do they care? If you have felt that way, let me tell you: you are not alone.

My previous entries have been about lighter subjects, I´ve tried to keep it simple and maybe funny, but here I want to address a particular issue that many students face: loneliness.

Being alone and feeling lonely are different things and the difference between them may draw the line between being able to find yourself and totally losing your way. This is just a number of lines to tell you: you are not alone! No matter how dark it seems, no matter how far you think you have fallen, no matter how long ago you stopped walking… you will always find a friendly hand, a reason to move on, a place to feel safe and warm. I have no idea about psychology, I do not claim to know what is right or wrong, I just know I´ve been there and it was not easy.

In this world where we are expected to be productive, to excel and become the best versions of ourselves… we are usually not given a plan that shows how to get there. The problem is, being told that you need to be at the top is not enough! The top of what? The top where? I used to share with my students a story about a man who wanted to reach the top of the highest mountain, he wanted to do it all by himself and would climb as fast as he could because being higher than everyone was all that mattered. So he bought all the necessary equipment, he trained, then set up his mind and body and finally started to walk. He reached the mountain and started to climb, it was not easy but he had trained, he had the best equipment, he knew he would make it, and he certainly did. He reached the top… except he had chosen the wrong mountain.

See the problem? If you don´t know what your destination is, any road can take you there. Wanting something is not enough, making your best is not enough, you have to know what it is that you want, but we hear over and over that success, reaching the top, being the first is all that matters. If I hate what I study or my job, it does not matter if I´m the best, I will still be miserable and quite probably will not even try. That does not mean one´s failed, that maybe simply means one´s not found the right path. All that pressure may make you think that you are wasting your time and effort, but even when you do what you don´t want to, even then you can learn about the things you do want.

Being miles away from home can hit you hard and make you lose balance, suddenly everything you knew and took for granted seems to be part of the past. Places and faces are so unfamiliar that you feel the whole world turn while you stay still. So many people in a hurry, wherever are they going? What do they want? Trying to go on can be difficult, sure, but feeling sorry for yourself will only make you fall deeper and remember that, no matter what the outcome is, life is your gift! Your time and what you do with it is your responsibility and you can and deserve to be happy! Is there any better way to live?

Maybe all those strangers, all those people you just met are feeling like you, maybe they have lived similar things, maybe they share your thoughts, your loneliness and all they need is a word to open up and show their concerns are as real as yours. Sometimes we fight to stay where we are, sometimes we fight to be able to leave and the thing is, we might need just a little shore where we can set foot, a place where we can be ourselves and hold on as tight as we can. Don´t be afraid to talk, don´t feel like it´s wrong to feel bad, you are not alone! That romantic loneliness movies try to sell is as fake as unnatural, there´s no delight in being miserable, people don´t fall in love with the lone wolf because he´s always quiet and misterious, it takes character and bravery to show who you really are and what you are made of… and it is quite probable that nobody will come to that lonely guy to ask if he´s feeling fine, we just assume they are… and they wonder why nobody asks. Lives could be saved, pain could be avoided if we just opened up our hearts to say we´re hurt, to ask if that guy at the corner is doing fine… but we need to produce, we need to run and be part of the system before it leaves us behind.

If you feel the need to talk, take a moment to visit your relatives or friends if you can. If you think professional help is what can make the difference, RWTH offers that service and it is mostly free of charge, I leave you a link here. Please, talk, get help… you might think nobody´s there for you, but trust me, if you look around and give people a chance, you will notice that you are not alone! I cannot repeat it enough. It is fine to be sad, it is part of our lives… but so are happiness and hope.

Maybe I am simplifying things, but I guess I don´t know any better.



Random annoying things

17. November 2014 | von

A few days ago I was walking my dog around the park near our house. As soon as he feels the need to hit the grass, I know it is time to get the bag ready and leave no track of his business, which is common knowledge in Germany… or so I thought. Before walking with him, I never actually paid attention to the amount of, say, clues, some dog owners leave behind, showing zero consideration for others. It really bothered me because, it´s not like grass needs that much fertilizer to grow, and certainly walking around those land mines is not nice. Then I thought about many annoying things that we come across at some point, things that are sometimes unavoidable either because it is just nature or because other people are responsible. So, let´s take a look at common annoying things that we know a little too well. In no particular order, here they are:

Only one earbud works: 


if I had to choose between drinking a glass of mustard mixed with red wine, while eating jalapenos covered with spicy sauce, and having only one of my earbuds working properly… I would pick the latter one, but it would be a close call. How annoying is that moment when you hear music coming from only one of your buds? You move the cable, fold it, twist it, pull and push and it always seems like there are a thousand wrong positions against one that works. The best solution usually involves the following steps: getting mad, bending the cable around 180 degrees and holding it between thumb and index fingers until you get sound from both buds, placing tape around it, noticing it does not work, getting really angry, cutting the useless thing into pieces and buying a new pair, regretting the time you wasted tryig to fix it.

Water in your ears: remember how annoying this is? Whenever your ears feel like it, they let water in and a few drops make you think that you have the whole ocean inside your head. Every time you move your head it sounds like you are in front of a river where it meets the ocean, while it rains and a mariachi plays the maracas. There are many remedies: the typical idea-shaking hit to the head with your hand, using your palm as a plunger, jumping with your head tilted like you are being electrocuted, etc. That being said, whenever you finally manage to get it out… sweet almighty potatoes! Does that feel nice!

Labels on your new clothes:


they used to be a single piece of annoyance. Yes, they were also annoying back then… but you only had to deal with one. Nowadays, besides the fact that you find three or four attached to your new shirt, it seems like labels come with the news, ancient translations, stories, language exercises and activities for children. It is not just that they are there, they are so itchy that you eventually lose it and get the scissors, but surprise! Scissors cannot do the job, because that tiny bit that remains attached makes things even worse. The only real solution comes in the form of a seam ripper… though that sometimes means that you will end up with a hole where the label was. Some companies print the information on the back of thier clothes, that works, but is probably too mainstream.

The toilet seat dilemma: cold seat or warm seat? Choose your poison! This is especially relevant whenever you use a public toilet. Those cold winter mornings and nights, those long hours waiting at the airport or at the train station… nature calls and eventually you have to take that walk even kings have to. Not particularly happy, you walk into rooms that tend to be full of phylosopy written on doors and walls, you hear noises you´d rather not find out where they come from and try to get out as soon as possible. Eventually you find a free one, lock the door, get things ready and sit… what an array of sensations hit you! If it is cold, all your bodily functions will freeze for a while and trying to escape becomes imposible and senseless, it is so cold that even girls on that magazine you are reading put their clothes back on. If it is warm, instead of feeling happy and comforted, you cannot help but think about what that means and again, the less you know about that, the better. As an added bonus, let´s not forget the always heart-stopping wet seat… no further comments.

Constant updates:


computer updates, video game updates, TV updates, phone updates, gossip updates… well, that one is fine… (did you know Miley has a new tatoo?). Those who love statistics know about sudies that show how many hours per day the average human sleeps, eats, plays, etc. But, why don´t they show how many hours we waste waiting until updates have been installed? I´m guessing they are updating the information. Oh, the irony!

Killing a language: We all have seen it, things like using there instead of their, should of instead of should have, your instead of you´re – if it is written by someone who is just learning the language it is fine, but that´s exactly the problem, people learn it that way because they see it so often. Dishonorable mention: PeoPlE wHo WrIte LiKe ThIz... they should be punished and sent to jail, but again, what can you do? Stop using internet and social media? 

And last, but not least:

Random lists: This might come as a surprise but… neeeeh, just kidding. That´s all for now, but maybe new annoying things will come to mind and the list will grow. What drives you crazy? Comments or suggestions are welcome! Cheers!

Spanish Theater in RWTH: Dios en la niebla

10. November 2014 | von


How about some Spanish theater, amigos!?


 Dios en la nieblFrontFlyer3a, a play written by Dr. Natalia González de la Llana , will be presented on November 14th at  the Romanistik Institute as part of the Wissenschaftsnacht. Students of the Romanist Faculty, under the  direction of Natalia de la Llana herself, bring to life characters that deal with questions that people at some  point in their life have also asked themselves; questions about life, death, beliefs, hope and despair. It is  through the eyes of Augusto, a 50 year-old teacher who recently became a widower, that we get a taste of  human existence and analyse the ups and downs of life when it seems to stall. His journey through bitterness,  sorrow, hope, anger and uncertainty are a faithful testimony of our weaknesses and strengths, a reminder of  the changing nature of our lives. In the eternal fight between good and evil we get to know the devil and also  an angel, characters that try to take Augusto´s soul to their respective sides as they find out about his suicidal  thoughts. The conversations between devil and angel serve as a way to draw the audience into a delicate  atmosphere where those questions about eternity, afterlife and faith – among other subjects -, will not necessarily be answered, but rather left open so that everyone can make their own conclusions.

The play is in Spanish, but subtitles in German will be projected automatically. The date is November 14th, the time 19:00 and 21:00 hours. Free admission and a nice surprise for everyone. Come, join us and have a good time… hasta pronto!

The bittersweet taste of procrastination

07. November 2014 | von

The bittersweet taste of procrastination



New semester, new rprocrastinationesponsibilities, this is probably a good moment to talk about the unwanted companion many of us have dealt with. Remember that instrument you will learn to play two years ago? How about those painting classes you will take last year? Or maybe it is something like studying, you know, that thing you will start with, say, like a week ago. Unless you are an extremely responsible person – in which case I take my hat off and salute your greatness -, you probably know to the bittersweet taste of procrastination, the habit of delaying or postponing something .

Almost everyone, at some point, has succumbed to the voice of this uninvited guest that somehow finds a way to squeeze its long and lazy body under your door and sit next to you as soon as you decide it is time to work. It is not a weak enemy, in fact, it possesses some incredible abilities that make it really dangerous, if you ever hear “do it later, you have time” be careful, procrastination can be a terrible adviser! Even though putting off those things you don’t want to do and doing instead those you enjoy might seem like a great deal, the pay off is usually not that nice. So, without further ado, we will take a look at a couple of those particularities that make procrastination such a tricky foe.


It knows where you are:

one of those abilities this little critter displays is its capacity to notice whether you are at home or somewhere else. This is important because it is at home where it seems to be really powerful. If you are at places like university or school it is weakened by the lack of its sources of energy, distractions like the kitchen, your TV, your dog, your video games or that piece of dirt on the ground that looks like an airplane.


It knows what day it is today:

this enemy of productivity is able to tell the difference between weekends and the other days of the week. You know the drill: you swear that Saturday will be pretty much only about working and studying and maybe a little about things like breathing, eating and drinking… but then, the attack begins. It is Friday night and you set an alarm on your phone   – nobody uses clocks nowadays, though we all hate that message telling us that the alarm will go off in X hours – so that, no matter what, you get up at seven. However, as soon as you hear the alarm a strange scene takes place: you roll on your bed and move like an octopus out of the water while you try to find that noisy thing that woke you up, after seconds that feel like an eternity and when your lamp, your books and anything near the phone is already on the floor, you finally turn the thing off and stop saying words I will not write here. Ready to get up? Not so fast! You hear the sweet voice: “do it later, you have time”. It’s not like you needed much to convince you to stay in bed, so you just give in and think that five minutes will definitely make a huge difference. Careful, here procrastination shows yet one more ability!

It can bend time:

those five minutes, for whatever reason, suddenly became two hours, yet, you could swear that you only closed your eyes for a moment. Well, not the best beginning, but that will encourage you to work even harder, right? Sure!

Time to work… of course as soon as you eat, you will definitely need energy in order to work so much. Fast forward and by the time your breakfast is ready you notice that almost two hours have passed since you got up… that working thing? Well, next thing on the list.

So, breakfast is over and now you sit in front of your documents and computer, ready this time? Mh, wait… you should check your mails before you start, there might be something really important awaiting, plus, reading your mails will not take more than a few minutes! You don’t know it, but you are about to fall for other of its tricks.




It is all over the Internet:

you open your mails and, besides those kind of irrelevant messages from your tutor, your doctor and the bank, you also have the really important ones: Facebook notifications, Candy Crush requests (people still play that?), Twitter updates, YouTube newest videos of cute cats and dogs and invitations to buy original replicas of your favourite watches.

Well, since you already clicked on those Facebook links, why don’t you take a look at your Timeline? Something nice must have happened during those long six hours you were offline! It is certainly so: your friend X posted a picture of her blue left shoe, you were invited to the annual convention of peanut butter producers and your friend Y posted Lady Spear´s newest video. Well, just that video and then you work!

Between watching that one video – and the other four they suggested – and reading comments that start about music, move onto religion and politics and then back to music, you check the time and notice something funny… it´s almost one pm and you haven’t done a single thing about your homework and duties. Wait, already one? Well, time to prepare lunch, after all, you can´t concentrate if you are hungry, so it only makes sense to take care of that first, but after lunch you will really work. This takes us to the next ability…


It gives you what you want:

by three o’clock a glass of coke and a piece of cake keep your hands busy and you notice that a new episode of Breaking Dead Theory is on… of course, you cannot miss it! But after that you will definitely work, yes sir.

While watching the new episode and the repeated one they showed after the first one, you gaze through your window and notice that it’s getting dark, you know dinner time comes, or that maybe you will accept that invitation to go out with your friends, after all, it was a long week and you deserve at least one day off! Yes, you deserve it, plus, you still have Sunday… but surprisingly, another funny ability procrastination can brag about greets you.


The replay effect:

Simply wash, rinse and repeat on Sunday.


And so your weekend is over, and then the month, and then the semester will follow. This train of life won’t bring great results and grades for you, which could be a problem. So, the most important step is, as usual, prevention.

This is, by no means, a guide to help people overcome their procrastination issues, (I wanted to write one, but I will do it later) even so, I would like to share a couple of thoughts which might help… or at least keep you entertained a couple of seconds more:

  • Set your goals and try to stay focused. There is always a new step to take, a new thing to learn, a new place to see. Time is precious!
  • Do not wait until conditions are perfect to take action, that might never happen.
  • Try to limit those distractions that consume too much of your time. Computers can usually be both salvation and doom, it depends on how you use them, try to be responsible.
  • Set priorities. Maybe a to-do list would help you visualize what should be done first.
  • Finally, don’t let procrastination take over, because once it finds a place in your house, it will also find a way to stay.


Remember, many try to get rid of the habit, but then they hear a sweet voice saying: “do it later, you have time”.