Moving Back Home and Preparing for Adventure


What a week it has been! My last week in Cottbus. Now, I only have the defense for my thesis left and then I will be done with my bachelors. What a thought.

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I’m home now! Back from Cottbus. And this is the wonderful view from my window. I love it so much, especially the apple tree right in front of it.

I moved to Cottbus three years ago and it rained like hell when I did. Today, after these three years, it rained again and I was just really happy to leave the place. Leave everything behind, start anew. I will make an extra post next week in which I will show you my favourite places in Cottbus and which memories are connected to them. So stay tuned!

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A little sneak-peak picture for you 😉 The rest is following on Wednesday.

It was also a week of lasts: I did my last presentation for this programme, saw many people for the last time there, I took my last walk along the river…

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The river Spree. It’s wonderful to follow the path beside it with your bike.

I practiced the organ in that little church for the last time…

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Organs always have these little mirrors above the keyboards so that you can see what is going on below. It’s also quite fun because sometimes people came in while I played, to see the church and I could watch them from my mirror high above…

And I had my last choir rehearsal. We learned two new songs, which was really cool. Since I hadn’t printed sheet music, I put my laptop on the grand piano, where you normally put your sheet music. And then the choir stood behind me, read the notes from my computer programme, while I was playing the piano to accompany it. We sang a really nice gospel that I learned in a gospel workshop last weekend and we sang a Christmas song: Carol of the Bells. Yes, it is July but it’s so funny to sing Christmas songs in July. And most of them are so beautiful that you can sing them the whole year through. In the end, we found that the text was too difficult for the short time, so we changed it to la-la-la. Not much relation to Christmas anymore afterwards.

They surprised me with flowers and cards and little gifts and I was so moved by their kind words and that they loved the choir so much. They all said that it was a great place to meet and I think we have grown so much as a group and got closer and closer. Many said that they couldn’t get the songs out of their minds after rehearsal and that is just brilliant: This is the way choirs should work.

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The beautiful view from our balcony this evening… I love the colour of the evening light and how it paints the trees so nicely.

And now I have left the city and moved home again. Home sweet home. After all the stress of the last weeks- finishing my thesis, emailing professors like crazy so that they grade me on time, fighting for my diploma to be finished soon etc- I just fell into bed today. I couldn’t move anymore. I knitted a bit on my jumper…

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I’m nearly done with it now! I will show it to you next week.

…drew a portrait again after an immensly long time…

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Malala. Drawn with polychromos coloured pencils on light grey pastel paper.

…and other than that didn’t move at all. I’m tired. I think I will need a few days to calm down again after all the events and projects and then I can go on. Also, I got a room in Uppsala on Wednesday, which is really exciting. I will live close to forests and the water, which is lovely. I’m so looking forward to it! Just one month left until I’m travelling to Sweden!

This week has been dominated by the rain. We haven’t had rain in weeks. In the city, all the trees had gotten grey and the air was sticky and you felt like choking on it sometimes. The grass was yellow everywhere and we all longed for a little water. So last week it has been gloomy and rainy and for me it was absolutely wonderful. I went for a walk barefoot today and jumped in all the rain puddles and it was just the best. People look at you funny when you do but I don’t care. I enjoyed the rain, just as much as all our plants did.

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A walk through a field near home with a bit of gloomy weather

 

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Handing in My Thesis and a Chat About Forests


The bags under my eyes were big enough to go shopping with them. It has been a crazy time. I didn’t pull an all-nighter to finish my thesis, but it often got really late. And I couldn’t sleep well because this document was always on my mind. But now…

thesis
My thesis is done!

68 pages. Now printed and handed in. It’s glorious.

What’s it about now?
It’s title is “Comparative analysis between regulatory measures for a sustainable forestry sector in Germany and Sweden”.

How did this come about? I was in Sweden, on the road for an excursion. We were talking about forests and that there are so many of them in Sweden. Then David from my biology course said that it was horrible how Sweden treated its forests. They check if the forest has the right age (it’s normally 70 or even less as I found out now) and then they clear-cut the entire area. I would never have thought that. And in a lecture we had, our teacher Lasse told us about a programme he had heard on the radio in the morning: They were planning new nature conservation measures for highly valuable forests. This in turn would make it impossible for forestry to be conducted. As a result, all forest owners ran to their forests and clear-cut them before the new regulation came.

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On the road through Swedish forests

I became really interested in forests and what we do to them and I wanted to know more. So I wrote an article about German forests during my internship and what climate change is doing to them. My thesis was just the next logical step combining everything.

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A forest in near Ullared, Sweden

In the end I found out that not governmental regulation, laws etc alone will make forests more sustainable. There has to be a combination of regulation and certification. Certification with – in Germany and Sweden – FSC and PEFC: These are systems where you let your forest be tested if it fits certain guidelines set up by FSC and PEFC and then you get a label for your wood. People who buy your wood then know that it comes from sustainable forestry. This was inititally proposed to counteract deforestation in the world. But it isn’t really effective. This is why a combination of a good forest law and certification is so important.

Also, there is no world-wide forest law. We are talking about climate change and there is no forest law! This would be one of the first steps – stopping deforestation and setting the world’s forests on fire, and planting new ones. Sadly enough, though, it isn’t thus far. Leaves more work for us environmental managers of the future, I guess.

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This is what climate change will also bring: More storms. In the forests in Münster this was really extreme. So many pine trees and spruce were thrown by the storms. This is why we need to forest composition and prepare forests for these new circumstances.

After all the work around forests, I finally have time to go back to my commission paintings that I need to finish before I go to Sweden again. Also… A lot of time to knit. I started a patchwork blanket with all the little wool balls I have left over from various projects. They sit in a drawer in my room and I never knew what to do with them. Now, they have a purpose. I want to make the blanket 180x100cm so I need 180 squares. I’m at 18 right now… That’s going to take a lot of time. I also think that I will probably bring the squares that I already did to Sweden and finish it there one day.

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Here’s me knitting squares…

I sat in the garden in the grass, was knitting a jacket and suddenly felt a sting in my thigh. It was no bee or wasp or anything. It was my cat. It had spotted the wool. I never knew that cats can be this obsessed with wool. I couldn’t really get her away from it, so instead I just went on knitting while she threw around the yawn between her paws and nibbled on it from time to time. This game got a little boring at one point so she walked away a few meters and lay down in the shade of the apple tree.

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My cat who was exceptionally interested in the yarn

This has been my week. Lots of forest stories, lots of knitting, painting, and singing!

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Some flowers in our garden

 

Summer Joys and Choir Concert


This week has mainly been filled with me typing away on my laptop. On Wednesday, I will hand in my bachelor thesis and there are still some other assignments to be written. I love writing, though, so that’s not a big problem. Only that at one point you lose your motivation. That has been a little exhausting sometimes. It’s been three years of studying now and I’m really happy to have had great teachers and that I have learned a lot. But I’m craving for a change.

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Home.

It hasn’t been all working and studying though. I also got to enjoy the great weather during a weekend at home…

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A field near home…

 

And when I was back in Cottbus, back at my uni, I rode my bike out of the city every day. It’s so refreshing and so calming to have all the trees around and the river so calm beside you. I’m normally working a bit in the morning and then when I hit the first wall of writer’s block, I go downstairs, hop on my bike, and just ride away. It’s been lovely.

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There’s a lovely path along the river in Cottbus. Only that this summer has been so awfully dry so that all grass has changed its colour. Looks more like a desert than a grassland.

I have less time for drawing than I would like to have but I know that when my studies are over for this semester, I will have all the time I want. So instead of painting or sketching much, I have worked on my pullovers and jackets a little. It doesn’t take any setting up like painting (which is, by the way, the only thing I don’t like about painting). I just grab whatever project I’m working on currently (there is a huge variety of them to choose from) and start. One row or sometimes I work until the yarn ball is finished. It’s really calming and I don’t even have to be creative in any way for the moment. Just knit. And why am I doing this? I need to prepare myself for the Swedish winter. 😀

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I’ve been knitting and listening to our choir pieces again and again to practice when I have to give whom a hint 😉

And it was also Midsummer last weekend! I haven’t experienced Midsommar in Sweden yet but I would love to. Maybe I will make this possible next year and join some of the craziness that is going on on that day. Instead of jumping around a midsummer pole or making a flower crown for myself, I have painted some flowers. These cards are really small which makes them easy to finish in two hours. And I learn a lot about botany along the way, which is always great.

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Then there was the highlight of this week: The choir concert. In Sweden last year, I have been in an absolutely amazing choir. It had a great leader who taught me a lot about singing and about holding a choir together so that everyone has lots of fun. Which she definitely achieved. I got really sad when I had to leave this choir to go back to Germany but in my head, an idea developed. We didn’t have a choir in our university in Cottbus back then so I thought: Why not make one? So I did.

I wrote lots of emails and one day, the leader of the student theatre called me and asked if I would like to set it up there. Which I did. We are 12 people all together now and we sing mostly modern pop songs that are really quite fun. I learned loads about conducting, about harmonies, about sounds and especially about group leading through this experience. And after 13 weeks of rehearsals, it was time for our first concert:

Concert
Here’s the poster I drew for the occasion.

We had an amazing time and a big audience in the small theatre as well. Probably around 50 people were there. The voices in the choir were a little shaky in the beginning but during the concert I developed such a calmness that the others said that I calmed them down as well. We had loads of fun and I couldn’t stop smiling. The best moment was when we taught our audience a canon we had sang before. We split them into three parts and they sang beautifully. I stood there, surrounded by the choir, looking at the audience, conducting. I thought: “This has been a dream. And now it has come true”.