Lang lebe QUEEN!

„Früher gab es noch richtige Musik!“

Dem kann ich nur zustimmen. Ich halte nicht viel von synthetischen Melodien, Boybands, Girlbands und Popstars. Für mich muss eine Band ihre Instrumente selber spielen können und ihre Songs selber schreiben. Sänger müssen Charisma haben und geborene Entertainer sein, die selbst das größte Stadion rocken können.

Playback bei Live-Auftritten gibt es nur wenn wirklich nicht anders möglich, synchronisiertes Getanze gibt es nur in Ausnahmefällen und auffällige Bühnenoutfits sind ein Muss. Echte Bands spielen Gitarrensoli, und wenn dann doch mal live ein Patzer passiert wird darüber gelacht und weitergemacht.

Leider gibt es solche Bands im Zeitalter von Lady GaGa und Justin Bieber viel zu selten. Für mich hat niemand Rock so verkörpert wie Freddie Mercury, der legendäre Frontmann der britischen Rockband Queen.

Am 5. September 2011 wäre Freddie, der 1946 als Farrokh Bulsara auf Sansibar geboren wurde, 65 Jahre alt geworden. Doch leider wurde Freddie nur 45. Im November 1991 verstarb der bisexuelle Sänger an Aids, einen Tag nachdem er sich öffentlich zu seiner Krankheit bekannt hatte. Berühmt für seine grellen Bühnenoutfits und seine Tenor-Stimme, die 3 ½ Oktaven umfasste, erreichte er schon zu Lebzeiten mit Songs wie We Will Rock You und We Are The Champions Kultstatus.

Aus seiner Feder stammen unter anderem Bicycle Race (I want to ride my bicycle), Don‘t stop me now und vor allem Bohemian Rhapsody. In seinen letzten Videos war ihm seine Krankheit deutlich anzusehen. Doch da er immernoch singen konnte, nahm er selbst da noch so viele Songs wie möglich auf, damit seine Band auch ohne ihn weiterleben konnte. Bands wie Queen hielten sich wochenlang in den Charts, hin und wieder sogar mehrmals mit der gleichen Single.

Ihre Songs sind weltberühmt, ihr Auftritt bei Live Aid 1985 im Wembley Stadium ging als bester Live-Auftritt aller Zeiten in die Geschichte ein. Wer ein Musical für und über seine Musik geschrieben bekommt, der hat es geschafft.

Das Musical We Will Rock You ist ein internationaler Erfolg. Wie sehr die Musik von Queen ganze Generationen beeinflusst hat sieht man, wenn das Publikum von 15 bis 75 Jahren textsicher und tonsicher jeden Song mitsingen kann und am Ende ruft: „Freddie, wir werden dich nie vergessen.“ Das sollen Deutschlands sogenannte Superstars erstmal nachmachen.

What did you do 10 years ago?

11. September 2001.

The day the world seemed to stop for a while. It has been 10 years today that the World Trade Centre collapsed and buried almost 3000 people underneath it. I'm usually not great at remembering what I did a week, a month or a year ago. But for the last 10 years, I have always remembered what I did that day.

It all started pretty out pretty normal. I was home from school that Tuesday, aged 14 and doing homework in my dad's office. I had a computer, but no TV.

Around 3pm, my friend calls me on my mobile, telling me that the World Trade Centre was in flames, she had just seen it on TV. I laughed it off, thinking there must be a new disaster movie out, probably starring Bruce Willis or someone of equal calibre. A few minutes later, my dad also called me (he was out at the time), saying he had heard the news in the radio and was urging me to turn on the TV.

I ran upstairs to the flat and turned the TV on just as the first tower began to fall. I couldn't believe it. It was on the main news, and they kept repeating that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Centre towers. I was gobsmacked when I saw them zooming in on objects falling out of the second tower. Objects, that turned out to be people jumping to their certain death because they were trapped in the tower. I remember one man with a red tie who was falling head-first. The photo would go around the world.

While I was still trying to come to terms with it, the second tower started to fall. This was New York City, something like that was not supposed to be happening. There was a dust cloud, and then the screen went grey until the dust started to settle. I remember people on the street running in to help, strangers comforting each other in the streets of Manhattan, tears streaming down their faces. I kept watching the news, which then started to show repeats of the events - the planes flying into the Twin Towers, the panic in the streets, and the towers coming down.

Eventually, I got a call from another friend. She said that she had friends or relatives (I don't remember exactly) in New York who worked around the WTC and she had not been able to get through to them. The news coverage was driving her mad and she was very worried. She needed a friend, and something to take her mind of things. We decided to go to the cinema, away from mobile phones, radio, TVs and the internet, where nothing could remind us of what was happening in the world.

We watched Bridget Jones' Diary. On the way back home, we came past the newspaper house, and they always put out the latest edition in their front window, so people waiting for the bus could read it. And there it was: Front page, a picture of the debris of what used to be the World Trade Centre. At home, my entire family spent the night watching the news.

To this day, I have a copy of my hometown's newspaper from 12. September 2001.

A class trip shortly afterwards was rearranged, so we could lay flowers outside the American Consulate in Düsseldorf.

I can't believe it's been a decade, but I can still remember it as if it was yesterday.

For Freddie

Happy 65th Birthday, Freddie Mercury!

We will always remember you!

Confessions of a multilinguist

I've always been somewhat of a linguist. Therefore my latest decision should not come as a surprise: I want to learn more languages!

Next to my native language German, I currently speak English fluently, and basic French and Spanish. But that's not enough for me!

My plan is to learn as many languages as possible. Not because it would look impressive on a CV. I do this for the fun of learning something new, and I am not giving myself a deadline. As a travel journalist, I have always tried to learn at least some basic phrases in the countries I visited, out of respect for the locals.

I also find it interesting to see how a language developed, and compare it to others.

My love for languages had quite humble beginnings, though.

Aged 5 I asked my parents what simple phrases meant in English, so I could impress my godfather who was on a visit from the USA. I learned "how do you do?" and "what's the time?" and was mighty proud.

Then in primary school Yorckstrasse in Solingen, Germany, I had a British classmate for a while. Her name was Susan and we became close friends. If I had lunch at her house after school, her mum would make us count to 100 in English before we got our food.

I haven't stopped speaking English since. In fact, I liked English so much that I started courses for primary school children in Year 4 - back then, you only started learning English at school from Year 5 onwards. I became fascinated with English; so much so that when my secondary school, grammar school Gymnasium Schwertstrasse Solingen decided to offer a bilingual stream from 1997 onwards, I was one of the first to volunteer.

My entire grammar school career (9 years in total, from 1997 to 2006) I was taught bilingually. We were guinea pigs in many respects. None of the teachers had taught bilingual classes before, so being among the very first 60 bilingual students wasnot always smooth sailing.

For the first two years at the Schwertstrasse, we had 7 hours of English per week instead of 5 in the regular classes. In those extra hours, we read about history and geography, and we even wrote and performed our first plays, including Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood. My big advantage was that our English teacher was Scottish and therefore a native speaker. Everybody else learned from German teachers - and some of those teachers used to think that they were better than native speakers.

In Year 7 we started geography classes in English instead of German - History and Politics soon followed. The Year 7 class trip saw us staying with hostfamilies in Canterbury. At the beginning of Year 7 we were given a choice as is usual in German schools: we had to pick a second language and could choose between French and Latin.

I decided to study a language I'd actually be able to speak. So for the next four years, I had French lessons on top of all the English I already did. But unlike English, French was only taught in 2-4 hours a week, compared to over 10 hours (including bilingual lessons) of English.

Unfortunately, my school did not put emphasis on French. Although I sat and passed the TELC / DELF A1 exam, my French course never really gave us practice in reading or speaking the language. While I was reading The Lord of the Rings in English aged 13 (one of the first books I read in English cover to cover), I struggled to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone in French aged 16.

My first Spanish lesson came in the same year as my first French lesson. Together with my best friend, I signed up for beginner's classes at the community college. However, this was short-lived, as we kept mixing the two languages which had a negative impact on our exams at school.

When I turned 16, I moved to New Zealand for a year to be an exchange student. I would have loved to attend Maori and Japanese classes, but I arrived in the middle of the school year down there and was not allowed to join these language classes as I would have missed too much. But especially Maori intrigued me!

Within weeks of arriving in Auckland, I was able to sing the national anthem in Maori thanks to my friends, and one classmate made it her personal mission to ensure I knew all the words to the Ka Mate Kapa Haka (All Blacks rugby challenge). When I saw Italian classes offered at my school for night classes, I signed up and completed the 14 week course.

Returning to Germany, I found my English had improved while my French had suffered. A weekend trip to Paris revealed what I already expected: I would not be able to continue my French classes, if I wanted to skip Year 11 completely and go straight to Year 12. In retrospect, that would probably have been the better option.

Ever since Year 5, my plan had been to start learning Spanish and Russian in Year 11. Because I went abroad, I was not able to learn these languages at school, so I opted to fully concentrate on my bilingual classes, taking Geography, History and English all the way to A-levels.

It was my mum who saw an ad in the paper, offering lessons in various languages including Spanish and Swedish. I figured this could be a safer combination than French and Spanish, as there would be more of a difference between the languages.

The courses were great! Small classes, individual tutoring. For a while I made good progress. But then the Swedish classes got cancelled because the other students stopped showing up. And Spanish? There was only 1 other student, and he missed a few classes. But because of that, we kept repeating lessons that I had mastered weeks ago, and didn't proceed past lesson 5 in the book. I didn't sign up for more classes after that.

After graduating from grammar school, I went on a Gap Year. In Accra, Ghana, I learned to ask my way around in Ewe and Twi. In South Africa, I was amazed how easily I picked up Afrikaans. As a native German speaker, I can usually understand and read Dutch. But Afrikaans was even closer to my hometown's dialect. When I asked my dad to send me Maeck on Moer (Max und Moritz) in Solinger Platt, my hosts were able to read and understand it.

Travelling through East Africa, I picked up a few words in Swaheli, and learned standard Arabic greetings in Dar es Salaam. But the biggest challenge was Ecuador: I had to stay with a family that did not speak any English.

On Isla Isabela, one of the Galapagos Islands, I worked as the photographer for the Parque Nacional. My Spanish improved quickly - I had forgotten most of it when I arrived, and was limited to Hola, que tal. By the end of my 7 weeks there, I had worked as a substitute English teacher at the local Colegio, which meant I had to conduct my lessons in Spanish.

My Spanish is still not the best, but when I returned to Quito at the end of my stay in Ecuador, a friend commented that my pronouncoation had become Galapagueno.

While travelling I made the decision to study fulltime in the UK. I had always thought that a degree in a widely spoken business language would give me advantages.

During my studies, I took more language classes. It all started with British Sign Language. We got quite a few deaf customers in the shop I worked at part-time, and I figured a beginner's course in sign language couldn't hurt. I learned the Cumbrian accent, and soon noticed that the customers came to me for help and they also increased in numbers. Word that I'd be able to understand properly must have made the rounds.

During my second year at university, I got ambitious and signed up for evening classes in Mandarin Chinese and Russian. I am determined to learn languages that use different alphabets and signs. But after three lessons each, I fell very ill and was unable to leave the house for 7 weeks. This means I missed all my classes and because the new starts were only offered once a year, I had missed my chance.

Now I work in a multinational and multilingual company. Every day I hear my colleagues speak English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. I get to practise my French and Spanish again and have made the resolution to be at at least TELC level A2 if not B1 by the time I turn 25 in July next year.

There are many more languages I want to and will learn at some point in my life. These include, but are not limited to: Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish and Latin. Yes Latin. As it is the basis of so many languages, I figured it can't hurt to know it. And yes, the way it looks at the moment, they will be self-taught.

At some point, I would like to be able to speak and understand all these languages at level B1 at least. "No chance" some of you might say. "perfectly achievable", I say. Give me some time and I will prove it to you!! Just don't expect it over night.

An important decision

Yesterday I have made a decision that could really help me to further my career. At least that's what I hope.

I have just signed up to do a Diploma in Freelance Journalism at the British College of Journalism, Oxford. It's a short course by distance learning, aimed at those who want to make a career as freelance writers.

Now, being a full-time freelance is not my ultimate career-goal, but I hope to gain useful contacts from this course, and get published in a wider number of publications. The decision wasn't easy, though.

I wanted to get my NCTJ qualification. However, the NCTJ itself only offers a complete Diploma in Journalism, in which I'd have to start from scratch and would basically have wasted the last three years doing my B.A. (Hons) degree. And there was no way to just do the modules I needed. Besides, I don't really agree with having to do extra studies and spend money for something I should have been provided with while I was studying towards my B.A. at the University of Central Lancashire. The course is quite expensive, and I already have all the books. So what I'm going to do instead is study for the NCTJ's by myself - luckily my boyfriend has done all the modules, and can help me when I get stuck - and apply to sit the exams when I'm ready.

But until then, I'm doing the British College of Journalism course, which will give me a tutor from the field of travel journalism (FINALLY!), help me pitch to everything from local weekly papers to national magazines, and provide me with useful contacts, all aimed at getting published and paid for it! I'll have my articles published on the International News Syndicate website, get the INS media pass and they guarantee that I'll have my course fees back within my first three paid assignments or they'll refund the difference!

Distance learning will be tough, no doubt, especially as I have to fit a full-time job, creating Shoestring and study sessions for the NCTJs into my week as well. But the British College of Journalism is based in Oxford, so I'll have this reputable city on my CV. It's not the University of Oxford - I could not afford to do a proper Master degree from Oxbridge or any university for that matter, although I'd really quite like to - but it's based in the same city, and, as we've learned, perception is a powerful thing.

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