Sunday, 31 January 2016

A week in London.

As part of my MA in Film Distribution and Marketing we visited London for the week and met up with loads of different companies. Now you need to know two things before I move on:

1. If you want to work in film distribution/marketing in the UK, the only place to be is London.
2. I have been pretty much telling everyone how I don't want to move to London.

The point of this week was to see all these people in different companies and jobs, from home entertainment to sales to exhibition, and ask them loads of questions. Some companies were studios such as 20th Century Fox or Universal, some were independent distributors such as Soda Pictures or Altitude. We also visited a lab that processes film and Pinewood Studios, where they are currently shooting the new Star Wars. To say this week was 'cool' is a huge understatement. It was AWESOME to see these influential people and hear them talk about their jobs. You pick up and learn things that you couldn't do by just googling the company.
And guess what? I think some of the confusion about life has been slightly lifted. I have a clearer idea about what job I want to go for. I mean, HOW GOOD IS THAT?  (It is international sales, just fyi)
Also about what I said before, my aversion towards living in London has decreased. Slightly.
Baby steps here.

So after convincing myself that I want to try and work in Germany, I have now opened up a whole new can of worms. Working in the UK is back in the game. AAH!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Sailing in Croatia with Medsailors

I have mentioned before that my friend and I went to Croatia last summer, as a graduation treat. I have heard of this kind of holiday from a girl that writes the blog The Londoner. The Yacht Week offers a week-long exploration of Croatia (and other countries) on a yacht, with other like minded people. Sun, clear waters, booze, parties, and generally a hell of a good time. You can book a whole yacht with your friends, or if you need some more people on your boat, you can find someone on specifically set up Facebook pages. We tried to do that for a little while, but we all know how facebook stalking and the assumptions you make about strangers can influence your thinking. We never found a perfect yacht crew and by that point, my friend suggested another company.

They pretty much offer the same thing as the Yacht Week:
A week on a yacht, eight people on a yacht plus skipper, parties, wine tasting, amazing sunsets, etc...
Their prices are much more transparent than the ones from the Yacht Week, because with Medsailors, you can simply book a cabin or a bed. You do not need to fill a yacht with eight people. This was a great thing for us, because it was just me and my friend.


We chose the Discovery route, which leaves from Split and goes back there at the end of the week. There is another route called Voyager, where there is more sailing involved. Here you leave from Split but end up in Dubrovnik. 
The prices for the week include most of the basics:
  • Seven days’ accommodation on board your own yacht
  • Breakfast and lunch prepared fresh every day
  • No extra charges: bring your own drinks on board
  • Drinking water supplied by MedSailors
  • Learn how to sail with your qualified skipper
  • Hire your own yacht with friends or book as a solo traveller or couple
  • Paddleboards free of charge
  • Discounted day trips, scooter and car hire
Depending on the date, they range from £414 to £515. What is not included is the following:
  • £60pP for a pre departure tax (including petrol etc)
  • all the dinners you eat (mostly around 100kunas and upwards)
  • any kinds of snacks (and you want snacks, cause swimming makes you hungry!)
  • tip for the skipper
  • transportation to or from the departure port (you don't really leave from Split, but Trogir, a whole different part)

Depending on when you book, you start by paying a £100 deposit per person. The rest of the money is due around 6 weeks before the departure. 

Other costs
I think I spent quite a lot of money on the whole trip. Denise and I arrived in Split a day before departure and had two more days in Split after we went off board (fun story: we were 100% sure that the trip ended on Saturday, but actually it already ended on Friday. Obviously we didn't book any accommodation for that haha). Medsailors recommends about 250-300kunas for each day as an allowance. I would say that is about right if you are modest in drinks and don't buy any souvenirs or other fun things. The places you visit are not really as cheap as the rest of Croatia can be. They are quite touristy and depending on your season, crowded. That didn't bother me though. A lot of the swimming spots we visite were secluded and super beautiful and because you were on a boat most of the time, it felt like a special take on Croatia that most of the tourists don't experience on the mainland/islands.  

You also have to think about getting there and back. We took a super long bus from Munich to Split (14h, such fun) for about 70€. Flying is obviously much faster and nicer, and the airport of Split is connected well enough for you to get the places you need to. I would recommend staying in Trogir the night before you leave, because it is really convenient for going on board. Trogir is small but quite cute, so not that bad in general. I flew home with Germanwings, directly from Split to Hanover and it also cost about 70€. There are not that many routes available from that airport, so that is something to think about as well. 

The boats
Living on a yacht for a week is cool, in theory. In reality it means that you have to get used to the weird bathroom system on board or train yourself only to go when you are on land. We did the latter, haha. You dock every day around afternoon/early evening time, and most nights you are staying in the marina, which means you can get on to land via a plank. Two nights we anchored in a bay and had to take a little motor boat to land. 

The boat itself has a downstairs inside area with 4 bedrooms with either two bunkbeds or one bigger mattress. It also has two bathrooms with a toilet and a shower and a kitchen with a sitting area. Upstairs there is another sitting area and the deck where you can sunbathe. The size was just fine, although you do spend most of your time on deck and not downstairs. Walking around on deck is seriously not as fun as it looks like and most of the time I was scared of falling of, haha. 

Seasickness was a serious concern for me beforehand. I have been on a variety of boats and ships before and most of the time, I got seasick. I cannot stand the motions and it just messes with my tummy. THANK GOODNESS this didn't happen in Croatia. Almost all of the time the sea was veeeeery calm and it was all smooth sailing (haha). I did have these chewing gums against motion sickness with me and I took them whenever I was below deck. This is where is really hits you and it gets to your head. Weirdly it is fine when you are sleeping haha, but walking around below deck is horribly when you are moving. 
The worst combination is obviously being hungover and below deck, so I don't even wanna mention that. Being hungover and on the upper deck is still horrible and gets you laughed at, but at least there is a fresh breeze. Jumping in the water is also a kind of cure for a hangover, let me tell ya. The sea is like a magical hangover cure. 
Generally I wouldn't worry about being seasick. It's mostly smooth and more fun that anything else. 

The people
Your crew is like your family. You eat and sleep together and if they are annoying, I can imagine that it can ruin a part of your trip. We were ridiculously lucky and ended up with six of the sweetest Australian boys, that gave us the best room on the boat, let us play our music if we wanted, and shared everything from shoes and sunscren to drinks with us. In the beginning, everyone had their own water bottle labelled with their name on it. By the end we all just drank from the same one, haha. It was great because everyone was respectful of each other and we became friends in no time. The skipper is supposed to be a helpful companion during that week, providing you with recommendations for restaurants and places to go etc. We did not really get that part because our skipper was brandnew to Medsailors and has never sailed that route before. It was annoying at times, but looking back on it, it doesn't change my feelings about the week.

The program
Medsailors has put together a great route that makes for a great week on board. Every evening there is an (optional) program, such as a dinner or a wine tasting or just a recommended bar with free shots (haha). I think we went to every dinner they organised and it was nice hanging out with the other Medsailor people. Especially the wine tasting on the second night is awesome, it takes place at a beautiful vineyard with fun donkeys and dogs-  an unforgettable evening and a great night to bond with your new friends (see the picture above). My favorite day was the on in Vis. The island is absolutely beautiful and you are parked right in the middle of town. We rented scooters and a really old green VW Beatle. The island is really small so driving to the other side doesn't take that long. The road there is windy and very hilly. You make your way slowly up to the top of the hill and can see the bay and the water and it is just glorious. We drove back just when the sun was about to set and it was the most beautiful drive.

Booking & Safety
You book the whole trip online and can access your booking afterwards through their portal. The booking process was straightforward and when we called their customer service, they provided great service as well. Online you can add in your passenger details, as in your dietary requirements and emergency details etc. During the week there is a guest service manager with your flotilla, who you can always approach about anything. All the skippers generally know each other quite well, so it's like having a nice family for the week (although they do get very competitive when it comes to sailing).

Learning to sail 
I was quite excited for learning how to sail. During the week the water was so smooth that we only put up the sail once, all other times we just had the motor on. The other things such as dropping the anchor and helping the skipper mostly were done by the boys. I know, girlpower etc, but the boys were really eager and I was a little scared of falling over board. Even walking over the plank was scary for me haha (especially when you are a little tipsy, oh lord).

I would recommend this trip to EVERYONE who likes the sea and a good time. Medsailors offers these trips in Croatia, Greece and Turkey. I definitely want to try the Greece route next time, or do the Croatia Voyager route. The best thing about this holiday is that it caters to all kinds of people. If you want to chill and just tan, you can do that. If you want to party every night, go ahead. If you go on a boat with your boyfriend/girlfriend, that is fine too. The Medsailors people try and match you with like-minded people, which is why you have to answer one or two questions when you book the trip. If I remember correctly it is something like "do you want to party a lot, a little or not at all" and your age group. So technically you cannot go wrong with this holiday- although I would recommend being between the age of 20-35, otherwise it would be a little weird. Maybe leave you parents at home for this one. 

If you are not convinced, I have two more things to add:
1. YOU CAN SEE DOLPHINS (I spotted them about two or three times)
2. These pictures are not lying. I promise everything will be even more beautiful in reality.

If you are not convinced now I don't know what's wrong with you.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


This is the start of a series I wanna call 'Useful services for living abroad'.

Starting with TransferWise, which I unfortunately only discovered last year but pretty much changed the way I transfer money. FOR THE BETTER.

For the past four and a half years, I transferred money between Germany and the UK for at least once a month.  During my semester abroad in Texas, I did the same between Germany and the US. Sooooo many times I was frustrated by the amount I received and the fees I had to pay.
For every SEPA transfer that came in from my German account, my Scottish Bank RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) charges me 7 freaking quid. Everytime, no matter how small of large the sum of money. Additionally, the exchange rate was horrible and I felt sad everytime I had to make this transfer. Let's not talk about transferring money from the UK to Germany, because apparently that would at least cost £35 in fees. Ridiculous, to say the least.

For my MA here in Birmingham I pay quite a lot of tuition, something that I didn't have to pay in Scotland. So not only was I looking at transferring money each month but also transferring a lot of money. I did not want to lose money to a horrible exchange rate and started googling for alternatives. I stumbled upon TransferWise. This project has been backed up by Richard Branson and was developed by the founders of Skype. After more research I conidered them safe to use and went ahead and transferred some money from my German account to my UK one. It is not only super fast (2 days, maximum!) but also safe and transparent. I can see the fees they charge me (about 1 or 2€, depending on the amount) and the exchange rate. Instead of an annoying bank transfer, I can use a kind of direct debit (Sofort├╝berweisung for the Germans) and it works perfectly.

This video explains how you do the transfer. When you have made the transfer, you can track the progress of it and you also receive status updates via email if you like. I wish I had known about this service before, it would have saved me sooo much money. Actually really depressing to think about it. That's why I have made it my mission to share this with everyone who transfers money abroad. 

If you like this service and might make us of it, sign up here:
By signing up through this link you will receive a free first transfer (if it's under £$€3000). Signing up is obviously free. And for transparency, yes, for every three people that sign up through my link and make a transfer, I receive £100. But even if I didn't, I would still tell the whole world about it.

This is a company I have full faith in and I hope they will get much much bigger, so that eventually everyone will know about this.
Let me know if you have any questions :)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

10 things you should know before moving to Edinburgh...

If you (lucky bastard) are thinking about moving to Edinburgh, here is a list of things you should know and consider before doing so. But let me tell you, each negative aspect is outweighed by ten positive things. 

1. Your uniform includes wellies and a rain coat (oh and you gotta get over your hair looking good)
2. You will have to try haggis. You will LOVE it, sooner or later.
3. The combination of wind and single glazed windows creates a beautiful symphony of draft. Get used to it.
4. Cancel all plans you have for August, because it is FRINGE TIME.
5. Shona at Benefit will give you the BEST eyebrows. Promise.
6. You gotta learn how to Ceilidh. Fear not, your best bet is a Friday night at the Ghillie Dhu.
7. Your friends and non friends will use you as a hotel because you simply live in the most beautiful city
8. Going to the Highlands is a must (in every season!) and they will make you weep.
9. Most greasy food places close before the clubs close. That is annoying, but there is always that corner shop on North Bridge that plays party music and sells samosas.

10. It is the most beautiful city of all and moving anywhere else will ruin your life.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Pre Weekend Mood Booster

In this truly depressing week, where it seems like cancer is winning all fights, I think we can use some mood lifters.

Adele. It's like she never left. Love her English potty mouth.

I mean, no words.The lip synch battles on Jimmy Fallon have been great, but this show in Spike is just taking it all to another level. Not always better, but this is one is just.. out of this world.

And then here is his wife's comeback. I dislike her simply because I would much rather be his wife, but you gotta give it to her- that girl can dance.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The year that changed my life// BEING AN AU-PAIR

Like so many others, I dreamt of going to America for a long time. I mean you see it in all the movies and how can you not fall in love with a country so diverse and beautiful?
I knew about the Au-Pair program from another friend of mine and it sounded like everything I ever wanted. I have babysitted since I was 14, I kinda liked children and am good with them (for some reason) and combining that with America sounded awesome. In the year I graduated from highschool I applied, got all the stuff together and waited for families... They always tell you that it's important to have a good gut feeling... And with most of the families I talked to, I was just nervous and I didn't feel... 'right'. It was quite late already and I was nervous that I wouldn't find a family! Scary.

And then one night I got an exciting email with a possible match, and then a call from that mother. I talked to her for about an hour and at the end, we matched. Haha! Just looking at the cute pictures she sent, I knew it was right. I WAS SO EXCITED!
From there, everything went really quickly. Getting all the documents, a visit to the embassy, packing and repacking and planning my good bye party (those are the best, for some reason). In July I was off, first to an orientation with other Au Pairs and then finally my host mom picked me up and we drove to upstate New York, where they lived (AND ME FROM NOW ON!).

The life of an Au-Pair is truly awesome IF 
  • you like children
  • you accept that you live in another family' house and following their rules is key
  • you work hard 
  • you have a little bit of luck
I honestly got really lucky with my host family. This doesn't mean that the family was perfect, but it was perfect for me. I bonded well with the kids, my host parents are generous and kind people and I adapted really quickly and well to the American lifestyle.
I had a great friend that lived close-ish (for American standards at least haha) and life was more fun with her. We pretty much did everything together and my kids loved her, so weekends and holidays we were like siamese twins.

Coming back to life as an Au Pair.
Getting paid weekly is great, and because I pretty much only went out on the weekends (too knackered during the week), I had sooo much money. haha. I mean you have no bills to pay, you have a room and food to eat at your house, so you can spend your money on ANYTHING YOU WANT. I bought an expensive camera, so many clothes and books and things, went out to eat so much, and of course- holidays. During the year you get a two week holiday if I remember correctly, so we went to Hawaii for 11 days. IT WAS AWESOME.

We came back from Hawaii with a tan and no money, but damn it was worth it. So we saved up again and after the year was over, our final travel month started. We planned a two week road trip through California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. AND IT WAS ALSO AWESOME.

Saying good bye to my family after almost 13 months was the saddest thing, but I think it only hit me when I was back in Germany. Reverse culture shock is a bitch, let me tell you. Even now it still happens to me, and it is a slap in the face and messes with your brain. It really makes you aware of how much you have changed and how people around you ..well, haven't.

Looking back, I think of my life divided in two parts. Before and after the Au-Pair year. I mean, I was a normal teenager before: my life consisted of school and friends, going out, living life in a small German town, having a boyfriend... I always knew I wanted to go to university one day, I clearly remember that. And AMERICA.
When this dream finally came true, I realised how much more there was to the world. I met so many amazing people during that year and made so many memories that I will treasure forever. Exploring other countries makes you so aware of all the differences to your home country. Many times I thought (for the first time I think) that I am really lucky to have grown up in Germany. Other times I would see something and think- why do we not this the same way? It clearly works so well.

The reason why my life is the way it is now is this Au Pair year. It was a real turning point in my life and I am forever thankful for this. I am so lucky that I was able to do this and all the things that came after this. Even though there are many Au Pairs that do not enjoy their experience, for a variety of reasons, I would still recommend this program. It teaches you independence and an intercultural competence that is the key to being a more aware and responsible person. AND IT IS A HELL OF A FUN YEAR!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

How I got into a UK university

I cannot believe that I started this blog when I got into university. Let's go back to that point. I technically took a second gap year after my Au Pair year, cause I was still confused about life and everything. I did apply to universities that year but the courses I got into were just not right and I did not want to study something random and not like it. It was quite a horrible year, all I wanted was to be back in America, and not be stuck at home with my parents. Back then, someone was urging me to just do another course that is culture or whatnot- so I wouldn't end up with a gap on my resumee.
Utter bullshit, let me tell you. Until now, no one has EVER looked at my CV and asked me what I have done that year. And I would rather have a little work experience than a dropped uni course on there. So just don't listen to anyone, if your gut tells you something else. Most of the time, you know what's good for you. And I am not a quitter. I probably would have complete that degree while hating it. And that what not have gotten me anywhere.

Just like every other person, I wanted to do something "with media". Getting into university in Germany seemed ridiculously complicated if you didn't graduate top of the class in high school. Then I looked in to studying film but that was either in film schools in Bavaria or impossible to get into grade-wise. Meeeeh!
Eventually I got into the idea of studying abroad. First I was obsessed with Ireland, but then the application process seemed random and complicated and then I found that the UK has an actually straightforward process. It's called UCAS and has pros and cons. What I LOVE about it is that the unis don't just look into your grades but at your motivational letter. This gives people a chance that really wanna do something but don't have the most amazing grades. The cons is that you can only apply to 5 unis, so you have to pick them carefully. I eventually applied to four English unis and one Scottish one. Can you guess which one accepted me?
Not gonna lie, the English unis all rejected me. I think the research I did on those unis was not the best. Honestly, I had no idea what kind of unis I applied to. I am so so glad that they did reject me though, because studying in Scotland is pretty much free and in England you have to pay a bijillion pounds a year. Biig factor that I somehow forgot to include in my thoughts? 
As you see, I got incredibly lucky with my application. I obviously did some things right but then some of them were not good enough. (I just wish I could have found a blog where someone told me what to do- haha)

This was my weird journey to university and I always tell people that it was fate that I ended up in Scotland. Random thing- when I was about 15 I bought a travel guide for Scotland. My friend asked me if I was planning to go to Scotland anytime soon, and I just said 'one day'- The travel bug only really hit me after my Au Pair year, but even though I wasn't specifically thinking that I wanted to move to Scotland. It was more a case of "I hate Germany and feel so out of place" and "I need to study in English cause I cannot deal with German". I consider myself really lucky that everything worked out the way it did, and my years in Scotland were just the best.