Meet Mandy, a clever but plain nerd and handsome, shallow Severin: once study partners, they meet again after seven years under profoundly changed circumstances. Author's note(s): a) I wrote this story about five years ago when I had no clue whether fat attraction was a real thing, let alone that I was an FFA. Therefore please forgive me if my narration lacks juiciness. I didn't dare before. b) It'll take a bit of time for my BHM to make an appearance. Please bear with me. c) Germany does not distinguish between college and university. A Bachelor's degree didn't exist before the European harmonisation in the so-called Bologna Process 1999-2010. Today, you still directly chose your major which you study - with no general education requirements - for 3 years to get a Bachelor's Ddegree. A Master's degree then can be added on and obtained in another 2 year program. The system is more similar to the British than the US one. Many employer's still demand a Master's degree though, as that was the previous standard. The Improved You by Unbasher Chapter 1: First impressions (part 1) Although a public institution, Murnau University had established its own Darwinist methods of sampling and selecting those worthy of one of its coveted business diplomas. Most students saw their own self-importance validated by a mere acceptance letter from this prestigious Alma Mater; add to that that the lecture halls were housed not in an accumulation of cubistic concrete but in an imposing Baroque castle, one of Murnau's finest boasts. Eager to live up to the external promise of the sizable edifice, the city as well as a cornucopia of private and corporate sponsors had initiated a series of renovations of the dilapidated interior a few years ago, the brunt of which the around 11,000 students were currently experiencing. Site fences and roped-off rooms or hallways constituted as fixed a part of their academic life as their classes and books. While some of the older lecture halls still seemed to be held together only by the aid of generations' worth of gum stuck surreptitiously under benches and desks, some of the other rooms had already been completely refurnished, and most of the modern folding seats bore the plaque of its respective patron. The university clearly profited from their strong and multiple ties to its alumni and the local businesses, something that would hardly be remarked upon in the United States, for instance, but that stood out in Germany. Mandy, however, paid the impressive edifice as well as its founders' lofty educational standards no heed as she navigated towards her destination with her first-semester campus map firmly in hand. She had only applied because it was the one university located close enough to reach by train which offered a teaching degree in business. She would never have been able to afford accommodation on campus, at least not without incurring massive debt, but that was not how her parents had raised her. Unfazed by the polished people in her even more polished surroundings, Mandy availed herself of one of the folding seats, ready and prepared for today's tutorial in Corporate Governance. The fall semester and with it the first lectures had begun the week before in mid-October and the tutorials began one week after. Once Mandy had unburdened herself of her faded but nevertheless beloved purple Eastpak backpack, she pushed up the sleeves of her simple dark red sweater that matched her knock-off Chucks, tied her long, dirty blonde hair up in a messy bun and unpacked her laptop. It may have been refurbished was was still mint condition. Having treated her silver Harry-Potter glasses to a perfunctory cleansing, she booted up the machine, opened a Word file and typed 'Corporate Governance Tutorial 1' for a heading. Although over five minutes remained until the beginning of the tutorial, the rows were filling up quickly, quite unusual for the academic population. Taking care not to invade her neighbors' tiny space in the row of folding seats, Mandy carefully opened her binder on her lap and let her gaze wander over her schedule once more. Their student association had done a fine job assisting the new generation of business teachers in choosing their classes for the first semester and providing them with campus maps as well as other useful documents. More social events would follow, but Mandy, never having been of the party persuasion, had already resolved to make friends the uninebriated way. She knew she had a way of making friends easily, depending on the sort of people that surrounded her. Within her first one and a half weeks, however, she had already gleaned the impression that the collegiate population was composed exclusively of elbows, which their owners did not hesitate to employ when it served their needs. For instance, she reflected bitterly, how selfish could someone be to reserve seven seats for their friends in an overcrowded lecture hall? Seven?! It was as if the reputed German habit of reserving loungers by the pool by the aid of a towel had extended into the academic realm. Or what had happened to usher the simple courtesy of holding the door open behind you into obsolescence? On the other hand, one of the definite perks at this university was that the sense of superiority was fostered and assisted by the proliferation of laptops and therefore a multitude of electrical outlets in each lecture room. Mandy preferred to type her notes if the lecture or tutorial did not include too much math, which simply took up too much time on a standard laptop keyboard. Still, whenever she could evade the usage of a traditional writing utensil, she gladly seized the opportunity. Hours upon hours spent in front of a laptop had reduced her initially passable handwriting to human-rights-violation quality. The arrival of the tutor, a bearded nerd who looked to be in his late twenties, put a temporary stop to any further reflections and Mandy carefully stowed away her binder in the backpack between her feet. “Welcome back to a new semester, guys, I hope you have all looked at the tasks for today." I have. A lot of blah-blah mostly, Mandy thought, the corners of her mouth twitching. “So," the tutor got right to the point, "let’s start with the cost function k(λ). In our first example k(λ) = 8λ² - 48 λ + 80." Uh, what?! Mandy frowned. Not in her example it didn't. The tutor turned to the white board while everyone doggedly picked up their pens to take notes. Everyone but Mandy. After seven minutes she had not typed a single word besides the heading 'Corporate Governance Tutorial 1'. Although she had even reviewed the lecture prior to attending this tutorial, she was feeling as lost as Alice in Wonderland. Nothing seemed to match what she had typed in the lecture two days ago. With growing irritation, Mandy let her glare sweep across the rows of students, none of whom were displaying any signs of similar confusion at the tutor’s words – the term 'words' being loosely applied here, given the wealth of mathematical operators and more Greek letters than Mandy had expected for a Corporate Governance tutorial. “So, obviously the total cost K must equal k(λopt) * x." ‘Obviously’, Mandy agreed sarcastically. The tutor might as well be speaking Greek in addition to writing it. Irritated beyond the bearable, Mandy finally leaned over to the right to her tall neighbor with the longish hair and striking hazel eyes she had noticed immediately when he had sat down next to her. Well, currently he was lounging rather than sitting, actually, and judging by the amount of attention he was dedicating to a bent paper clip, he was absorbing about as much of the teaching matter as Mandy was. "Excuse me,“ she whispered, and reluctantly the guy peeled his remarkable eyes off the paper clip in order to settle them on her face with a bored expression. "Isn't this the tutorial for Corporate Governance?" "No." The guy shook his head, an amused smile hovering around his full lips. "You’re in Production Management II. I've been wondering why you would type 'Corporate Governance' and sit here,” he indicated her laptop screen with a slight jerk of his head. "Then why didn't you say anything?" Mandy hissed, indignant at this display of complete and utter disinterest at a fellow student. Her only satisfaction could now be derived from the fact that this misanthropist would be obligated to rise from his comfortable position – along with every other person in the row – to let her out. "Now will you please move?" His eyebrows shot up in surprise at being thus addressed. Yes, mister, Mandy silently snarled at him, those eyes, height and toned arms are no replacement for manners! Suck on the fact that a girl who looks like me fails to simper and apologize for something that is entirely your fault. "Now?" she suggested with a week's worth of sarcasm, and finally he unfolded those long legs, rose to his feet and nudged his right neighbor to follow suit. Under a wealth of groans and ill-wishing, Mandy squeezed her long, narrow frame out of the row and left the room without another glance.