100 posts and there are green leaves against blue sky outside my window

Well, it certainly feels like it’s been at least a year since I last posted, but it’s just been a month and a few weeks. Time is a funny thing.


In this time, I turned 26, flew more than 10,000 miles, was invited for a scholarship interview and had that interview. Went from part-time to part-part time work (i.e. 8 hours versus 20). Celebrated Easter with my family. Celebrated my birthday, a friend’s birthday, and my cousin’s birthday. April babies= best babies; no bias there. Basically I lived and celebrated living.

In the meantime, I wanted to write a kind of special post. Seeing as this marks the centennial edition of my humble beginning in July 2014, I decided to reflect on blogging and what it means to me, and why I find it worthwhile to continue. Basically, I’m here to say “I’m back! And even if I take breaks, I will likely always come back.”

First of all, I thought long and hard about why I write. There are a lot of reasons, but in the end, I noticed blog writing is about celebrating ourselves and our productivity as writers. I see a level of egoism in this and a kind of consumerism, but on the other hand, I value the positive things blogging can bring, so I will focus on that.

I write to:

  1. motivate myself to get something done by asking for some implicit accountability
  2. share experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen or thought, partially as checkpoint for others taking the same or similar journey, partly to record these things for myself. I do occasionally go back and read posts and am often surprised by the person I was then, and how I still understand this person like it was me, but see her as separate from me. I can always learn something from this person
  3. inform the few family and real life friends who do check up on me with this blog what I’m up to and that I’m still alive. I’m not as bad in staying in contact as I tend to make myself seem, though. Most of my family and friends don’t rely on my blog to know what I’m doing or how I am. That’s what coffee dates, Skyping, and lengthy personal emails are for, still these kinds of readers are at the back of my mind when I write
  4. find affirmation for the choices I’ve made and the person I present myself to be
  5. for therapy, I can work through certain fears and challenges by writing them out, but also benefit from the comments made at the same time… because otherwise, honestly I could just focus on my hard-copy journal
  6. gain practice in writing. 10000 hours, after all

Of these six reasons (too bad it’s six, but I didn’t want to fake a 7th for the sake of a nicer, for me, number), the one thing I learned over the past month(s) is that I don’t need to write for number 4 anymore. I mean, I still have my insecurities and brand of ego to share and fuel, but I don’t really think I have to anymore.

Of these six reasons, I plan to whittle the list down the reasons to 2, 5 and 6.

In other news, a three month construction project started in my apartment building, which has meant power-drilling at 7 AM and maybe is helping me wake up earlier even if I still have jet lag and need to work on getting to bed earlier as well. My mother broke her second bone in 5 months, got operated on, but is on her way to full recovery, I may finally have financial security to stay in Berlin for at least three years as of the Fall, I am moving forward with my dissertation, barely run more than 10 miles a week and have found my peace with that, and a lot of other things that will slowly become relevant as I post regularly (for me, it’s meant about 2 posts a month) again.

I still read a lot of WordPress even if I don’t post myself, but I don’t mind if you tell me one (or three) significant things that has happened since I last posted. How do you deal with in-house construction at what feels like o’dark thirty on a hangover? Do you do mental checks with yourselves to refigure out why you’re doing something?



Look! I caught a fish. Or, Ft. Lauderdale Marathon recap

I’ve been reminded that since my main blog is not my running blog, people tend to miss out on the running side of things. Here’s what’s new for runner me. The rest of my life is significantly much less interesting right now, but that may change now that I have an excuse to take a break from running.

Source: Look! I caught a fish. Or, Ft. Lauderdale Marathon recap

Boogers, and other things

There’s an expression my father uses, “that booger off the finger.” I don’t know where he got it, but it refers to taking care of something unpleasant that you can’t wait to get rid of. Unfortunately, these boogers are sometimes harder to take care of than others. Loans are one of those. Thankfully, most things, if one puts one’s mind to it, can be taken care of within a few days.

The problem comes when it’s someone, like me, who procrastinates and despite being super organized, still pushes off doing certain things in favor of doing other things… like blogging, until the deadline.

There’s two ways I keep track of boogers. I have tabs open in my internet browser or notes on the dry erase board at my desk. Most recently, I had browsers open for my school applications. On my board, I had notes for replacing the spare tire in my car, friends whose e-mails I wanted to reply to, blog posts I’ve wanted to write, and the website log-in info (not my password, though!) that I need to go to repay my loan.

Keeping track of my unpleasant things helps make sure I get them done, but sometimes I wonder if I am too concerned about getting things done. For example, should writing friends and writing blog posts be things I can’t wait to get off my list? I know they shouldn’t, but I also worry what will happen if I stop reminding myself to do them…

On the other hand, I know that keeping track of the application was a good reminder to make sure I put the work into it that it deserves. It’s a lot of work. I applied to U.S. and German schools for PhD, and both have their own expectations- see the breakdown below:

U.S. PhD application German PhD application
expects GRE scores expects high school through post-secondary transcripts and diplomas
costs 85-100 dollars to submit


expects letters of recommendation

expects writing sample

expects potential as a teaching assistant expects potential as a successful dissertation writer: this includes a fully developed proposal for a PhD project (10-15 pages with a timeline)

Financially, the German applications are much easier. There’s no GRE test to pay for and no application fee. However, the work is a lot more. U.S. students show up for their PhD studies and still have 1-2 years to figure out what they heck they want to do. German students show up and are expected to know what the heck they’re doing. There’s a huge difference. I worked on my application for the German school since the summer, whereas the US school application got done along the way.

So, I was happy to get that booger off my finger today. This past week, I’ve taken care of many other boogers as well, the car has a tire (in case we ever get a flat, we don’t have to be ridiculous and call AAA), the friends have been written (with some friends who’ve already replied, waiting for my second reply), the monthly payment for the loan is out… I’m fairly free as far as Fall 2016 goes, and got a start on Spring 2016.

There’s two other things I need to take care of, which are some bills to doctors in Germany that my international insurance may or may not have taken care of since my study-abroad trip ended. I have to  check that tomorrow. I have a few thank you letters to write, too. But then, I’m done.

This is how I like to end my year. I have aspirations and goals for the new year, but usually don’t base them on the Jan. 1st starting date. Some of my goals I’ve already started working on, or have the beginnings of a plan to start working on. It has less to do with the time of year, though, than with the phase in my life I’m at. However, what’s important to me, at the end of the year, is to have the boogers all gotten off my finger, so that I can start clean into the new year and be ready for whatever is to come. In that way, the 31st of December always has been a deadline for me. It’s my favorite one of the year.

Hope everyone wakes up feeling just as free on the 1st, without too much hangover and ready for a fresh start.


This image has nothing to do with that thing I kept mentioning throughout this post, and it’s better that way. 

Happy New Year! – Dorothea

p.s. those annual reports are kind of neat, from WordPress. But I won’t bother you with the details. 😉


Blogger Recognition Award

My thanks go out to Jim at trying to get faster as I get older. Now that I’m living adult people life too, I find it difficult to write a post outside of what I’m used to or inspired to write. However, with grading to procrastinate on and the windows open (in south Florida, turning off the air conditioning in fall is akin to you northerners turning off the heater in spring), I’m inspired to respond to my award. I’m a recognized blogger! That’s worth a lot to me, even if the number of readers varies between 1 and 2 on average.

How my blog got started:

This is an easy one to answer. I received a scholarship to study abroad in Hamburg, Germany for a year. That inspired me to do a study-abroad blog, since I felt having a space to update my parents (hi, Papa), study-abroad coordinators at my school, and coordinators over in Germany a chance to see my experiences was a three birds with one stone kind of setup. Plus, I had the idea that my experiences would be informative to other people studying abroad or wanting to study abroad. So far, I have a few people who have had their questions answered here. I have a lot more people who find my blog opens more questions about studying abroad and living abroad in general than answers. That’s why I continue writing. Now I write with the idea that even if I’m back in the States, I am still connected with Hamburg and Germany and therefore respond to things going on there or how I see the U.S. differently.

At the same time of starting this blog, I also started a reading log blog (to keep me accountable, somehow, in keeping up with my MA reading list) and a running blog. Lately, I update the running blog the most, since (let’s be honest here) I don’t need to do much critical thinking for the action I’m writing about or the writing.

In the meantime, I also started a blog for my teaching experiences. Long story short, though, I started this blog summer 2014 and am fairly happy that I’m still posting to it, even if it’s not that often. Thanks for continuing to read!

Tips for new bloggers:

I can only reiterate what Jim said. “Just write.”  If you have something you think is worth spending your time to write, chances are, there are people who think it’s worth reading. And if not, who cares? You should continue doing your thing and keep flipping that hourglass and slowly, but surely, things will fall into place. Even if blogging on the internet seems like a vortex that’s worth unplugging from before getting sucked in (this is kind of how I felt at the beginning), eventually you’ll learn to appreciate the people who read regularly and build connections that rival off-line connections. For growing writers and/or academics (I’m one), the blog is, if anything, practice in writing and expressing ideas. That’s the final reason I agree with Jim. My advice: just write.

So, in conclusion, there’s a few people I think deserve this award (there’s more than I will mention, but I’d have to hunt all their blog URls down, and I’m short on time!). I’m passing the blogger recognition award onto: 

Eilish at Eilish Eats
The author of A Pilgrim in Narnia
he author of Mice Notes
he author of Never a Dull Bling
nd Kyrosmagica

I hope you go check out their blogs!

Coming Back

I’m not quite sure how I feel about coming back. But as I am reminded every time I see an old face, I am definitely back.

I’m a study-abroad alum now!

I am thrilled to be back among my family and friends, be back in a familiar environment where I don’t have to worry about doing something wrong and saying something wrong, and to take up old routines and habits again.

At the same time, seeing how everyone has continued their lives while I’ve been abroad makes me surprise myself in how much I’ve changed. Just working through normal bureaucracy at the Uni reveals that I’ve become more assertive and less patient with the services I need. It’s because I’ve become used to a higher standard. Towards the end of my stay, I found out how expensive things like lawn and plumbing care are in Germany, and I was told that it has to do with the higher standard of service. I didn’t think that the same work is valued differently in the US than in Germany, but it has to do with the higher training Germans have. Even the cashier at the supermarket has an Ausbildung, an extensive program 1-2 years of training. Compared to that, the 12 hours orientation the day before starting at Target are a joke. Therefore, when I walk into some administrative offices now, I almost feel like I have to tell the person how to do their job, but I try not to be rude about it.

On the other hand, my jet-lag has worn off, and it feels like I’ve been back here for about three months versus a little less than two weeks. Part of my transition has been sped-up by how quickly I was put into a new position and started work. I guess it’s a good thing. It means I have less time to reflect, but reflection can only be so healthy before it becomes obsessive.

Welcome back!