Open Your Eyes For Those Who Cannot

Have you been complaining lately about all the work you need to do for university? All the essays you need to write, articles to read and talks to give? Well, I have. Until I realized that sometimes I am too trapped in my everyday life to see how lucky I really am. Lucky, because I have the possibility to study in a foreign country. Lucky, because I know I’ll manage the workload easily. Lucky, because I can see.

After today’s lecture in “Writing for New Media” I decided to stop complaining about things like these. In this world, there are around 37 million totally blind people. Many of them go to university, write essays like I do, read articles and give talks. Little things I do in my daily life without even thinking about how they can present great challenges for others – and I am the one worrying?

“How new technology helps blind people explore the world”

In her amazing TED talk, Chieko Asakawa, who has been blind since the age of 14, opens her world to those who can see. She is a strong and inspiring woman who does not let fate take its course: By inventing new technology, she wants to make the visually impaired more independent. It is just incredible to see everything that is possible in this area today!

Accessibility is not only a theoretical concept. It is a vital ingredient for every dinner in the dark. It has never been so easy for blind people to get around, in the physical and the digital world. Still, things need to improve. I think that by being aware of their needs and making the little effort to consider accessibility while creating online content everyone of us can contribute to a bigger picture.

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Smartphones, laptops and co. facilitate life for the visually impaired enormously

Image Sources: pixabay.com, wordpress template pictures

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Tell Me What You Eat And I Will Tell You Who You Are

Conscious consumerism is the term of these days. Type it into Google and you will be confronted with hundreds and thousands of ways to make a positive impact on the world. You appreciate the discussion but don’t want to be involved? That’s okay. If you don’t ignore it.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

It was in my module “Consumption and Consumer Culture” that I realised how much power we, as consumers, actually have. And it was one documentary that showed me the drastic consequences of this power in the hands of people that are not aware of it. Like I was. Like you are, maybe.

We need to learn how to consume consciously and sustainably. Or do we have a second earth in the cellar?

The matter is meat consumption. And the problem is not just animal suffering.

  • animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction (1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second)
  • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries (even though we are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people!)
  • animal agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today (1/3!)
  • livestock and their by-products account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions

I have been vegetarian for over a dozen years now and consider it as one of the best decisions so far. Still, reading these figures, it doesn’t seem enough.

“Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq. ft. of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.”

It is our responsibility to take this bull by its horns. The planet won’t be patient with us forever.

Cows in Nature

Appearances can be deceiving.

Images Source: pixaby.com

It’s true. All of it.

True thoughts on Fake News. “If we want to counter populists’ empty talks we need to have a differentiated perspective that undermines their black-and-white way of thinking.”

Embracing an Online World

In the age of digitalisation our behaviour of how we inform ourselves changes. Nowadays, none of us buys a newspaper anymore when it comes to information gathering.

Who needs newspapers when we have access to the World Wide Web? Exactly, no one!

FakeNews newspaper

Newspapers are a dying breed in a time where serious, factual journalism has never been more important. “Fake news” is the watchword of the moment. The paroles of European populist parties and lately, the President of the USA are blaming the media of publishing nothing but lies. We, as rational citizens, are aware of the empty accusations and rely on the credibility of public-service broadcasters. But do we actually make use of them?

  • Who of us is scanning daily the electronic version of long-established newspapers?
  • When was the last time you read an article entirely?
  • Who would consider to subscribe to a newspaper in the light of the…

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Why Time Management Is The Secret Of Academic Success

Girls and boys, it is time to face reality. The exam dates are out and the “why bother, tomorrow is another day” attitude may not be the best idea anymore. Things need to be done. And time needs to be managed.

How to efficiently use my time is one of the major things I’ve learned so far during my stay in Ireland. Not only because studying in a foreign language requires a different study approach and definitely more time, but also because I want to make the most of the two months I still got left in Limerick.

Starting with my assignments soon enough enables me to dedicate more time to each of them, more time and more patience. With a clear head I can produce results of higher quality than in a late-night-coffee-boost-I-need-to-get-it-done-by-tomorrow session. No doubt we have all been there. But it is time to learn from our mistakes.

Is there an ideal approach?

Well, it is all about identifying one’s study-type. It took me a few semesters, a lot of coffee, chocolate and frustration to discover mine. Generally, I tend to invest a lot of time in each task and I can concentrate best during the late afternoon. For memorizing I need complete silence, writing essays is easier with some piano music. I therefore learned how to structure my schedule around this.

And it works! I can’t complain about my marks and even though my free time is almost non-existent towards the end of the semester, it is worth it. In the end, studying is a full-time job. We must not forget that.

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When you realise that your plan is actually working…

All images: pixabay.com

Suiting Up For The Internet? Meet Netiquette, The Online Etiquete

In today’s world there are rules for everything. Rules that tell us how to eat properly, how to dress properly, how to behave properly… online, offline, anywhere, anytime. It was in my “Writing for New Media” lecture that I became aware of the dimension of this issue – and that I should definitely improve my knowledge of the newest “netiquettal” trends out there.

Because cyber communities consist of real human beings

As Jenny Preece writes in her article about online etiquette, “one person’s clever joke is another person’s offensive insult”. The anonymity of the exponentially expanding internet allows for more uninhibited behaviour than in actual face-to-face situations. Thus, online etiquette is necessary, even though people are not looking each other in the eyes while communicating.

Generally, it doesn’t make a difference for me if I communicate with people that are commanding respect online or offline. While common sense and experience have taught me the basic internet etiquette, I realised that some behavioural patterns reveal themselves to me intuitively. A friend of mine wrote an interesting anecdote about contact she had with a lecturer via email and her discovery about the online etiquette that underlines its complexity.

Nevertheless, it is true that I sometimes talk to people online in a way that I would never address them if we were having an actual face-to-face conversation. In that sense, I want to be more careful in the future. Netiquette means respect. And respect should always be the basis of all communication, no matter how important the other person is or if he is physically present or not.

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Giving A Talk In A Foreign Language – To Fear Or Not To Fear?

My heart is thumping, my legs are shaking nervously. I can feel the adrenaline rushing through my whole body. Just a few more minutes to go. A last quick revision of my notes. It is time to accept my fate. I approach the podium and wish myself to a place far, far away.

Okay, full stop. What is happening?

Over the last few years and weeks, I’ve had countless situations where I had to stand at the front and, hello Erasmus life, speak in languages that were not my native tongue. Double trouble? Well, it is definitely time for some reflection on something I can’t run away from. And I wouldn’t want to.

Because, as Kelly Clarkson knows, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have been thinking a lot about where this nervousness may come from.

  • Is it my language skills? No. I have reached a point where I feel perfectly comfortable using and switching spontaneously between Spanish and English.
  • Is it the fear of saying something wrong or not being good enough? Maybe. I mean, of course I want to do my best and the high expectations I have of myself definitely put more pressure on it.
  • Is it the other people that make me nervous? That could be it. But why? Especially in the university we are all in the same boat and can usually expect moral support from each other.

Basically, there are no problems. University is the best place to practise speaking skills, because we will never be so protected. Knowing how to present yourself and foreign content in a professional, relaxed and appealing way is vital for our future careers. So why not use the chances we are given instead of trying to avoid them?

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HE has a reason to be nervous.

Images: pixabay.com

 

The Moment When You Turn Into A Personal Brand

What do Coca-Cola, Apple and You have in common? It is this one question from my lecture on “Interaction, Relationships and Networks” that inspired me to make my mind up about something I’ve never really considered important – personal branding.

Well, the answer is pretty straightforward. Just like an iPhone or a bottle of Coke, our chances in the market depend on how we market ourselves. Just as Apple or Coca-Cola represent strong brands in their respective industries, so should we while hunting for jobs.

  • What do I stand for?
  • How do I want to be seen by possible employers?
  • How am I selling myself?

It is time for some reflection on core values, strengths and an increasingly demanding labour market. I am happy about the incentive and the insight that reflection is not only important inside university. How academic it might feel, this is true life. I know I tend to forget that while sitting inside these big walls.

To dive into the topic this guide about How to build your personal brand has helped me a lot as well as Peter Montoya’s book The Personal Branding Phenomenon. Everything I learned in this lecture is definitely going to help me for future job applications.

Maybe it could help you, too!

Image: pixabay.com