The student – self-worth struggle

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetSearching for a job as a student can be tough. It will make you want to pull your hair out and scream. There are some jobs out there but basically, if you don’t want to work in the service sector, a call centre, or hand out flyers on the street, you’re sh-t out of luck.

And this is exactly the position I find myself in.

I’ve worked in a t-shirt store, behind a bar at two different operas, and now I’m working all kinds of jobs that relate to the catering business.
The truth is that while those jobs have been convenient, have supplemented and funded my travels and other activities for the most part, they obviously are not what I truly want to do in my life.

And I’m tired. I’m so tired of having to force myself to be friendly. It’s not that I’m not a nice person per se, you’ll find me smiling a lot, but if someone is rude and condescending towards me I want to have the freedom to defend myself and tell this person off. But no. That’s not possible if you work the jobs I work.

You endure. You endure condescending customers with a false smile that doesn’t reach your eyes. You endure off-handed comments about the youth. You endure stressed and rude bosses that treat you like the exchangeable good and cheap labour that you seem to be.
And you are.

Don’t like your job? Fine, go find another; there are a ton of other students who need a job to pay their bills.

What people do seem to forget is that all these student jobs they look down upon are taken up by people who struggle to balance their studies with the rest of their life. Who try to afford a roof over their heads, clothes on their bodies and a tuition to maybe better their life in the future.

You, my dear people, are talking down to the future doctors and lawyers of this society.

Go see how this will work out for you in 10 to 20 years, when you suffer health problems from all the fatty food and overpriced champagne you’ve had and see who’s going to save your life. Probably that mousy looking girl behind the bar at the opera you yelled at years ago for something she wasn’t even responsible for.

Don’t even get me started on the internships that are available to students. If you’re lucky to score one, you can most probably expect it to be unpaid. Which will mean that you will have to work double: one job to support and feed yourself and another to gain the experience that is apparently required for every job that is out there.
Looking at job ads and all the requirements recently has made me sick to my stomach. I need a job to get experience but these jobs only take people that already have experience. It’s a vicious circle from which I don’t know how to escape.

So go ahead, belittle us. Belittle hardworking people for having hope and making their own luck. Just know that, as much as we want to brush it off, your words do leave an impression, do have some sort of impact and might also do some damage. Self-worth is a fickle thing.

On more than one occasion it has me in doubt if I was qualified or experienced enough for positions. The truth, of course, is that I’m not. But the struggle I’ve mentioned above is not helping that matter.

All these things together have me struggling. They make me doubt myself, question my sense of self-worth. Logic and feelings often don’t coincide and sometimes feeling low and a bit desperate is just something that has to happen to you. I am and it has. And this is why I’m writing these words. I write this to empower myself. To remind me that I am capable. I am worthy. I am good enough.

So go ahead, mock the youth. Mock the students and how they’re living ‘the life’. How they’re lazy and how all they do is party all night and sleep all day. I’m not going to disagree, but I know the truth and I know that there is always more than one side to a story. I do enjoy my life, but I am also one of the luckier ones. I have a family that supports me and a country in which uni fees aren’t too high.

However, I am sick and tired of being treated as cheap labour. Sick and tired of being looked down upon because I stand behind and not in front of a bar. Sick and tired of rude customers and even ruder bosses and large companies with no regard towards their employees.

So go ahead and mock us students. See how that works out for you – to belittle people that are just trying their best to finance their life as well as their studies. Just know that we work hard, and what you deride as ‘young individualism’ is what keeps us going, keeps us motivated.

Here’s to us, the students, and our neverending optimism. Here’s to the hope we carry in us that one day, this all will pay off. Here’s to priorities and sacrifice. Here’s to nights spent studying instead of partying.
Here’s to us. The young and determined ones. The ones that might not know where exactly we’re going or where we’ll end up, but know for sure that there’s a road there that’s worth all the hardships.

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Apple Pie

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Rhubarb is back in season, and if you can remember from last year, I go absolutely crazy whenever rhubarb hits the markets.

It’s not a joke, it’s something I take very seriously! I love it. It’s just so easy to make and I love the crisp and sour taste!

Last year I made Rhubarb – Curd Cheese Cake and Rhubarb – Curd Cheese Tartlets. I was tempted to just go back and repeat these recipes because I couldn’t really find anything that tickled my fancy but then I stopped and thought “well, why not do your own thing?”

Why indeed?

Among my friends and family I’m mostly known for three things and ironically I haven’t posted either of those recipes here yet.
As it is I’m known for my Chocolate-Coffee Cake, my Chocolate – Banana Bread and my Apple Pie.

Then I started thinking – I could make that Apple Pie and just switch apples for rhubarb. And yes, it really was that easy. Kind of.
I had to tweak it a bit as I went but if you’re like me and enjoy the hands on cooking more than the fussy weighing of the exact amount of grams, then let’s get started, shall we?

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400g flour
40g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
200g butter (unsalted at room temperature)
1 tbsp vinegar

1kg rhubarb
400g strawberries
1 apple
200ml strawberry juice*
50ml maple sirup (honey works just as well)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp rum
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 egg
2 tbsp milk

* I used strawberry juice but rhubarb leaves more juice than apples so I ended up having a lot of liquid in my fruit mixture which I had to drain out again. So you can either forgo the strawberry juice (as well as the lemon juice as rhubarb is already very sour) or you can just put it in and then drain the excess liquid before you put the fruit on the dough.

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What to do

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

For the dough you mix together the flour, 25g sugar, salt, 175g butter (room temperature and cut in small pieces), vinegar and 9 tbsp cold water until you have a smooth dough.
Divide the dough into two pieces, wrap in foil and let it chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Wash, clean and cut the rhubarb and apple into small pieces. Don’t worry if they’re a bit bigger as it will cook and soften anyway. Add the strawberry juice, lemon juice, maple sirup (I usually always use honey instead), cinnamon and rum and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Wash and cut the strawberries and add them to the mixture. If you think this isn’t sweet enough you can add some (brown) sugar or more honey if you want to.
In a separate cup put together the cornstarch with 3 tbsp cold water and stir it until it dissolves. Add this to the fruit mixture and let it cook for another minute or so. Leave the mixture to cool.
If you have used the juice (or even if you haven’t) and the whole mix seems very runny, try to get rid off the excess liquid by draining it.

Grease a form with the remaining butter. Roll the dough until it fits the form, put it in and then prick the bottom with a fork.
Put the fruit mixture in the form. Roll the remaining dough and cut into stripes so you can braid it on top of the fruit.
Mix the egg yolk with the milk and brush it on top of the dough.

Bake for around 60 minutes.
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A couple of days later I basically made the same thing but without the strawberries. I also tried my hand at braiding the crust around the form. With the leftover dough I made some rustic tartlets filled only with rhubarb (cooked with honey, rum and cinnamon – basically that’s all you need!).
It really is easy and such a fun and creative way to try new things.

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Oh, Prague

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A trip to Prague has been months in the planning and always got postponed. I was busy with University. Christmas madness was taking up all my time. The weather in February just really isn’t all that great. I guess you can see where this is heading…

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with a friend over breakfast, switched on our laptops and started getting down to business. Within half an hour we had our bus tickets booked and found a great hostel for two nights situated smack in the city centre.
That wasn’t so hard now, was it?

A four-hour bus drive (return tickets) and two nights in this great hostel (breakfast included!) added up to less than 100€ per person. Isn’t Europe great? Don’t you just love it?

A four-hour bus drive takes you in a completely different city, with different customs, traditions, language and history. I’m prone to taking it for granted but isn’t it the most mind-blowing thing?
In the case of Prague I found myself constantly comparing it to Vienna. And to a certain extent the cities really are incredibly similar as they have shared quite some time in the same empire. The local food was very similar to dishes that we consider “local” here as well as the food I ate in Budapest – again, a reminder of how long and interwoven the history of these countries are.

Prague itself is a stunning place. I cannot say this often enough. The old town has been virtually left undestroyed by war of the communist era, houses are not run down but beautifully restored and preserved and people speak – at least that was my impression – sufficient to really good English. I also realised that I love listening to Czech.

The weather has been great the weeks leading up to our three-day stay in Prague but the second we were on the bus it was cold, rainy, windy and all around awful. (Our first stop was to a local H&M to buy a thicker sweater, I kid you not! Don’t let the pictures that follow fool you, it really was awfully cold!)

Three days in Prague were a good amount of time to spend there. Though, we were already struggling to find things to do on our last day it was still nice not having to stress about all the sights we still had to see and be able to leisurely walk from café to café all day.

Here some observations I made during those three days:

Petrin hill is great for spring (and probably also summer) walks.

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Going up to the clock tower really isn’t strenuous at all (no steps and even an elevator !) and the view over the city is spectacular!

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I’m not sure if this is due to my complete lack of orientation or if the Czech street signs are out to get me but I constantly got lost. I swear. We got lost all the time. I love it because it often gives you the chance to discover places you otherwise wouldn’t but after three days of walking huge detours my feet started protesting.

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Czech love their beer.

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Café Savoy is a Viennese-style café and the savoy cake is absolutely mouth-watering.

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Prague has a multitude of cafés and restaurants. From french bistro’s to typically czech pubs, it’s all there and you definitely won’t go hungry in Prague.

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You don’t necessarily need to buy tickets to get a good impression of Prague Castle. Most of the sights are open for the public and you only need the ticket if you want to go to the back of the church or further in the chapel. In fact, had we known this before, we probably wouldn’t have bought the tickets.
The change of the guards at 12pm is a more elaborate spectacle with modern fanfare and quite a tourist attraction. We watched around half of it and then snuck away to buy the tickets because we thought we’d be able to avoid a long queue. We were right and it was a great decision!

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Prague has a jewish part of town which used to be the jewish ghetto. Today you can visit these synagogues as well as the old jewish cemetery. Some of the synagogues are a memorial for the jews killed during the holocaust and very beautifully renovated.

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In the middle of the Old Town Square was a huge Easter Market with a lot of traditional as well as international snacks. Get a “Trdelnik”, it’s super tasty (again, this is also something they sell in Hungary!).

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Prague is definitely one of the most stunning and maybe even underrated cities I’ve been to, so far. It’s been a lot of fun, until next time, I’m sure.
These pictures can all also be found on my Instagram. I constantly post on there, it’s an obsession. So come say hi?