Balance

Thinking back at my life – and mind you, I’m aware that I’m not even that old yet, – I can’t help but think that I am an incredibly lucky girl. I was able to attend a good school, lead a quiet life in the suburbs. My school was surrounded by woods and meadows and even when I got home in the evening the first thing I often did was throw my backpack in a corner and run outside to explore the forests surrounding my house. I played there for hours. I waded through small streams, climbed trees and built snow castles. I often fell. I had dirt beneath my fingernails and scrapes on my knees.
I was also lucky enough to live close to a major city that offered everything you could ever want in terms of culture. I’ve seen great works of art, been lost in major museums, went to concerts, the opera, musicals and jazz festivals. I’ve eaten at fancy restaurants as well as enjoyed simple, homemade meals.

For me it was an ideal childhood. It is still ideal living now.

And not just at home. My parents let me tag along every trip they made. From an early age I was used to seeing sights and eating unusual food. And now, at 22, I still continue to live this life.
During the week I walk the streets of Vienna, marveling at the breathtaking architecture. On weekends I make my way through the forest, sometimes on horseback, sometimes on foot.

I travel alone to countries in Africa and Asia. I travel with friends to cities like London or Rome. I still travel with my grandparents and parents and I treasure all these moments, covet all these memories.

I marvel at the things my eyes have been allowed to see. At the sand my feet have been allowed to walk on.
Red in Togo. White in Thailand. Black in Tenerife.

I still have dirt beneath my fingernails, scratches on my arms and bruises on my legs. And yet, I wear heels as well. I put on lipstick and wear a dress to head out for a glamorous night in the city.

It never has to be either or. It can be both. Always. Life is about balance and I hope I will always be able to keep this.

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Summer Days

I’m trying to find joy in simple pleasures more and more every day. However, there are also a lot of things I stumble upon that make me happy. Or things I find by accident. Or things I used to hate but grew to love. I’m such a lucky girl. I truly am.

This morning I was at the university library, studying for my upcoming exams when I decided to text a friend to see if she was up to grab some lunch together. I was hoping we could grab a quick bite to eat because I wasn’t sure if I’d see her before the summer holidays again. She agreed and then asked if I was up to go see Passenger at the Rathauspark because there was supposed to be an impromptu gig happening there. The Rathauspark (a park right in front of the city hall (=Rathaus) is right next to the university. It’s literally only a two minute walk. So we went to the supermarket, bought some salads and drinks and then plopped down in the park, listening to Passenger sing us some songs.
It was truly amazing. I’m not a huge Passenger fan. In fact I know all of two songs. One of them is being played to death by the local radio station and the other one’s a duet with Ed Sheeran. In any case, I was completely blown away. He was funny, cute, charming and humble. He seemed to truly enjoy himself while he was playing, bantered with the crowed, covered a couple of songs and encouraged everyone to join him and sing along. I know I just sat there and sighed because right there, in the middle of this crowd, sitting in the grass at 30°C weather, listening to him sing, I was so unbelievably happy.

Here’s to a summer full of unexpected opportunities. Full of possibilities. Full of joy and fun. A summer in which I hope to grow yet stay a child at heart and take pleasure in… the simple things.

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Frage Foto Freitag

Question photo friday hosted by Ohhh Mhhh.

1.) A wie aufregend?
A for aufregend (exciting)?

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/Viele Teile meines Studienplanpunktes abgearbeitet zu haben. Ist vielleicht doch ein Ende in Sicht?!
/Having already finished a lot of my curriculum. Maybe the end is in sight after all?!

2.) B wie besonders schön?
B for besonders (extraordinarily) beautiful?

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/Die atemberaubende Aussicht nahe vom Stall.
/The breathtaking view from a spot near the stables.

3.) C wie chaotisch?
C for chaotic?

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/Das Projekt “Küche renovieren” wurde auf das ganze Haus ausgeweitet. Ale Wände streichen und Frühjahrsputz… Umbauarbeiten sollten mit heute erledigt sein, die neue Küche kommt erst in zwei Wochen und bis dahin haben wir immer noch unsre “makeshift” Küche… Auch gemütlich… oder so.
/The project “remodel our kitchen” was expandet to our entire house. All walls got a new coat of paint, there was a major spring cleaning going on as well… The major construction work should be finished today – the new kitchen won’t arrive for another two weeks though so we’ll have to make due with our makeshift kitchen. It’s kinda cozy, I guess.

4.) D wie deine große Liebe?
D for deine (your) big love?

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/Sargon. (Ich bin eigentlich nicht so pferdeverrückt, aber sie spielen doch ne Rolle in meinem Leben und nachdems doch hier um diese Woche geht glaub ich ist die Antwort recht treffend. Ich hatte nen wunderbaren Tag mit ihm :))
/Sargon. (I’m usually not that… horse crazy, if that’s the right word, but horses do play a major role in my life and since this is about the past week it seems more than fitting. I had a wonderful day with him :))

5.) E wie eine einfache Idee?
E for einfache (simple) idea?

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/Kokosflocken als Topping for Eis (oder in diesem fall: Mango Frozen Joghurt).
/Coconut flakes as a topping for ice cream (or in this case mango flavoured frozen yoghurt).

Frage Foto Freitag

This is my first try at the Question Photo Friday hosted by  Ohhh Mhhh.
I guess we’ll do it bilingual today, let’s start :)

1.) Schönes Gefühl?
(Beautiful feeling?)
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/Einen Sekt Orange trinken während man die Füße das erste Mal in den Pool steckt.

/Sipping a Mimosa while sticking your feet in the pool for the first time.

2.) Schöne Idee?
(Beautiful idea?)
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/Mal schnell ein paar Marshmallows grillen – wozu gibts nen Feuerkorb denn sonst?
/Quickly grilling some marshmallows because… it’s what a fire basket was made for, no?

3.) Schöne Kombination?
(Beautiful combination?)
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/Kaffee-Topfen Eis (von Bortolotti auf der Mariahilferstraße).
/Coffee-Curd cheese ice cream (from Bortolotti on Mariahilferstraße).

4.) Schön einfach?
(Beautifully simple?)

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/Mein Lieblings-Accessoire diesen Frühling. Mehr Infos gibts hier.
/My favourite accessory this spring. More info here.

5.) Einfach schön?
(Simply beautiful?)
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/Frühlingsmoren im Stall. So ruhig, so warm, so friedlich.

/Spring morning at the stables. So quiet, so warm, so peaceful.

World: Togo – Life in the village

If you’ve read my post “Reflection” you probably already have a fairly good idea of what my time in Togo was like. It was tough, yes, but also a great experience that I wouldn’t want to miss.

Here’s a bit more about my stay; more precisely, about how the life in the village was.

Our day started at 6.30am. We had breakfast before school started at 8am. We taught French and Maths until roughly 11.30am – and sometimes we also went outside to play a game. After school, we started preparing for lunch. In the afternoon we usually had “sieste” for… well as long as we wanted to sleep. Then we had to do our chores – wash the dishes, fetch water, or prepare dinner. Times was spent walking around the village or playing with the kids we had a tiny room within the village so we were surrounded by kids all the time. All. The. Time.

It doesn’t sound like much, but I literally fell asleep the moment my head hit my (makeshift) pillow. The days were incredibly exhausting and every moment I could crawl into my sleeping bag and get some quiet time was welcomed with open arms.

The people in the village were very welcoming. Once you get used to the customary “Yovo, Yovo, Bonsoir!” (‘Yovo’ is what white people are called in Ewe, the mother tongue of the people in Togo. This saying was yelled around wherever we went all day long – even at 7am. It followed us everywhere – from the tiny village to Lomé, the capital city).

As previously mentioned, we stayed in rooms within the village; for lack of better description, you could say we practically shared a hut with other villagers. We also shared our first room with a mouse and far too many massive, massive spiders. When we changed rooms we saw that the lock on that room was broken, so we changed again – again to a room with a broken lock. After a week we gave up.

Since we lived within the village, we were surrounded by children the entire time. You could barely go to the toilet(hole in the earth, used by the entire village) without someone following you around. They were lovely, sure, but I’m a person who needs some quiet time for herself. I need to be alone – without having to talk to people, or be surrounded – from time to, so this was difficult for me.

As I mentioned in the previous post we collected water ourselves, showered with buckets of cold water (hot water had to be boiled on the open “stove”), and brushed our teeth with water from the bottle. Living conditions were pretty simple and probably not for everyone, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience this. While I wish that I would have been warned about the living conditions before I left, I know that I might not have gone, so maybe not knowing what to expect was a blessing in disguise. Who knows?

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[Above: Packed and ready to drive from Lomé to the village! | Below: the stove.]

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[Above: the toilets. | Below: the shower.]

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[Above and Below: Floriane fetching water.]

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[Above: one of the classrooms. | Below: my room.]

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[Above: washing my clothes. | Below: candlelight dinner is a necessity when it gets dark at 7pm and you have no electricity.]

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[Above: our roommate. | Below: a life-saver!.]

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[More Togo-travel posts: The People | Activities | Reflection | All Around | More photos here.]