Even though, New York (especially Manhattan) doesn’t have too much green space, of course you can find squirrels everywhere (a friend of mine called them New York’s rats of the trees – a rather unflattering account, I think)! The squirrels I found most amusing were jumping around in Central Park!
For everyone who’s wondering about why I post so many squirrels on my blog, click here.
Voilà, I fled London due to crazy high prices, just to end up in another of the world’s most expensive cities: New York. I’ve been living here for a while now but there are still some things that surprise me (after all it’s my first time on this continent). So in good old tradition with my ‘Impressions’ posts about Bishkek: here some impressions from New York City!
The last year, between September 2014 and 2015, I have not been continuing this blog because I was a student at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I studied in the government department’s programme ‘Global Politics’ with a special focus on ‘Global Civil Society’ and was thrilled by the UK’s systems possibilities to study basically exactly what you want. While my previous student life in Germany had been an open space of learning, developing and socializing, my time at LSE was – well: different.
After being granted the joint award for the best dissertation of my programme, my Department asked me to write a blogpost. Because I didn’t really know what I was to expect before I started at LSE, I decided to write both about my positive and negative experiences. I thought it might help someone else to decide whether to study in the UK and/or particularly at LSE. My department never published the post (maybe they expected something without negative aspects), so you can read an updated version of it here:
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
This English nursery rhyme is part of the famous novel 1984 by George Orwell. It is also a depiction of historical life in the East End of London, both known for Jack the Ripper’s murders and Charles Dicken’s stories, where I have lived during the past year. Much has been written about it and I definitely do by no means claim to be an expert on the history or the present of the area, but I wanted to give the interested reader a glimpse into what I learned about the neighbourhood during my all too short time there.
Some months ago, the US-economist Jeremy Rifkin published his newest book, in which he predicts the end of capitalism as an outdated form loosing power to the “Sharing Economy”. This model, as opposed to capitalist system of reducing marginal costs as far as possible for competition means, is based on zero marginal costs in society in many different aspects. I have not yet read the book (for more details click here) but have heard of similar models.
As nice as they sound (although of course every model bears their own problems), they are hard to believe in if you are currently living in Europe’s most capitalist city: LONDON!
Bureaucracy illustration with Max Weber and Franz Kafka by: Harald Groven (flickr)
I enter the building for the fifth time in two weeks. I know now where to head. I carry my passport in my hand, passing by the queue of people sitting at the table and filling out documents. The woman in line before me is almost crying: “… but he is studying here. He has all the documents to study, he already started!” Woman behind the counter: “The permit is only for a month. I cannot extend it”. The first woman: “But you cannot finish studying in a month. He will miss the exams. He will fail the exams”. Woman behind the counter: “The permit is only for a month.” The woman turns around and addresses the person she’s been arguing for. He shruggs, she sighs and both of them have to leave the room. I’m next. I’m nervous. I will ask for the director, I will try to find clear answers. I know I won’t get them from only-one-month-permit-lady but she is my starting point into a lot of trouble. I hand over my passport – and wait for the trouble to start.Visit visa-free Kyrgyzstan!
We heard so much about it – yet it all comes down to the straw.
And the people you love.
I really love this poem, Hermann Hesse wrote 1941 and think it’s still worth considering although it has whiskers. It is neither a travel nor a cultural poem. He wrote it after a longterm disease, reconciling thoughts about death and life.
Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend As every blossom fades
dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe, and all youth sinks into old age,
blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend so every life’s design, each flower of wisdom,
zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern. attains its prime and cannot last forever.
Es muss das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe, At life’s each call the heart must be prepared
bereit zu Abschied sein und Neubeginne, to take its leave and to commence afresh.
Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern courageously and with no hint of grief
in andre neue Bindungen zu geben submit itself to other newer ties
Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne, A magic dwells in each beginning,
der uns beschützt und der uns hilft zu leben. protecting us, telling us how to live.
When I arrived in Kyrgyzstan I was prepared for the ultimate shock that would strike me at one point in the next months. And with Hesse I was counting on the magic that would help me endure it. But there’s more to that subject than mere (always helpful and great) poetry: Science! As I studied the phases you go through, (predicted by scientists of I don’t know what subject – travel-psychology supposedly) I found different models that are of course all kind of idealtypes and are to be individually adapted but that now in hindsight offer the possibility for interesting thoughts.