Nonfiction

Pechvogel — (n.) A “Walking Disaster”

A person who attracts bad luck wherever they go

Dr. Casey Lawrence
Globetrotters
Published in
8 min readJul 6, 2023

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Photo of the author on her first day in Munich, with multiple bandages (2015)

From German “Pech” (“bad luck”) and “Vogel” (“bird”), ein Pechvogel is a truly unlucky person: a human jinx: a walking disaster.

In 2015, I received a scholarship from the Deutsche Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) to study German in Munich. I’ve always been lucky when it comes to applications: in those days especially, mid-college, I seemed to be getting opportunities left and right. My personal life was a total disaster, but academically, I was on the up and up!

So of course, because the universe needed to take me down a peg, on my very first day in Munich, I fell off a curb and skinned my knee. In all of my photos from the trip, I am covered in bruises and Band-Aids.

But — despite a string of bad luck, I survived my foreign exchange! It was a close call a few times, if I’m honest, and some of my best bad luck stories come from this trip. For example:

A Slip in the Sea

It was my last day in Munich.

The morning of my last full day was a Saturday. I woke up early and packed my suitcase. Having worked hard for five weeks, staying in most nights to do homework, I thought I’d take a solo walk…

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Dr. Casey Lawrence
Globetrotters

Canadian author of three LGBT YA novels. PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Check out my lists for stories by genre/type.