Tag Archives: People

My take on poetry: Tranquility and Chaos

Tranquility and Chaos

 

The sound of silence

Captured in monochromic rainbows

A constant urge to create unplanned spontaneity

reflected in

truth-bearing lies in a

one-dimensional sphere of deep

impressions

 

Insipid coffee beans

arranged;

seemingly at random on a surface-free mirror

 

Edentulous smiles on oddly drawn souls

covered in yesterday’s wisdom

Memories of tomorrow’s instability of change

Fresh smell of old habits

viewed by

uncoordinated emotions

renewed on a cloudy battlefield of

hope

and unverified assumptions

 

Ill-natured sovereignty, expressed in closed

yet talking eyes

 

Disturbed heartbeat

beat

for

[…]

for

beat

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Zagreb: Ideas and Images

A firm handshake, 1 second, 2 seconds. Eye contact. Straight. Sincere. Little blinking, every now and then. The coffee arrives on the table. The usual glass of cold water as well. You light a cigarette with a match. Inhale.  Breathe out in the clear summer air. Sunglasses disturb your vision, do not use them. The book is almost over, you read it for weeks and weeks now. Clearly. It looks like being tossed around too often. You like that idea. Smile secretly. A smile. The most honest thing one has to offer. You take a sip of water, while letting the spoon find its way to the bottom of the coffee. A small pack of sugar accompanies your cup. Do not open it. Coffee wants to be pure. The cigarette in the ashtray keeps burning down. You take a hasty pull and start reading. Lose yourself in a book. Trams keep speeding by, so do people. You look up, once in a while. People change. Your coffee gets cold. You still drink it. Cold coffee: a metaphor for time leaps on rusty chairs in moments of pure alienation. Detached from notions.


Addicted to a certain kind of kindness

Now, there is a different connotation to living in a Slavic country, I really have to admit. I only been here for, what, 2 weeks and I already feel another wave of honesty that I am exploring. Of course, I have been familiar with the kind of kindness, openness and ease of living for many years, but I somehow could never fully accept and/or appreciate it. To little congruence with my own culture, my way of being and my style of communicating was visible and so I did what I was best at – I stuck to what I knew and what I felt at ease with.
After those 2 weeks in Zagreb, I can say I found 1 real friend yet. 2 weeks! Real friendship does not come easy to me and it normally takes quite a while before people make the transition from being a “close acquaintance” to becoming a friend. Not here. I felt accepted and liked by the people I met so far and despite my different upbringing and history, I am welcomed immediately, That 1 guy I consider a friend, he has a girlfriend. We talked twice, I told her about my study and what I have to work on while in Croatia and she, in an instant, told me, she would help me! I was perplex! I told her, I was. She stared at me with surprise and simply replied, “that’s what friends do”. 🙂 Wow!

I came here for a reason. I start to understand a culture that really should have been familiar to me by now. I will try to incorporate every inch of this culture. It means the world to me.


Zagreb 50h

So far, I spent a bit over 50 hours in Zagreb, Croatia and thought, it definitely is time for a first statement:

I am so overly positively overwhelmed!!

To be honest, I haven’t really done anything here so far. I took 2 cabs to find my final destination (I get to that later) and did a bit of grocery shopping here and there, but for the most part of my 2 days, I spent them at my new, overly dusty, attic room a good 5km outside the city center. The room is…something else. Roughly 30qm I reckon, it is packed with dust and old broken furniture. Since I won’t be needed much, I simply dragged all those boxes in the one corner of the room I most likely never again will pass by, and set up my bed and desk close by the window. Now I use the bed, the desk and something that looks remotely like a cupboard to store my clothes. My 4 house mates seem to be pleasant companions, but I only met 2 so far. However, I explained my reasons for being here and instructed them (nicely) that within short time, I shall practice my Croatian language skills on them!

Back to my being overwhelmed. I have spent two weeks in Ljubljana, Slovenia over the past 4 1/2 years and the mentality I got to understand their seems to be much applicable to what I saw from Zagreb and its people so far. Every single person I talked to so far is so friendly. And it is an honest kind of friendly, the one that makes you want to just smile at strangers and talk about everything. My first cab driver asked me whether I am married and what brought me to Zagreb. He liked the reasons… 🙂 He continued telling me that Zagreb is a safe city with no harm for strangers. Just imagine a somewhat similar conversation with any (!) German cap driver, I dare you.

Okay, since I don’t want to reveal too many emotions at this first of many posts, here are two more things that I find worth mentioning:

a) The weather. I was told that the Balkan are in the middle of a severe snowstorm. I write these words on my shiny, -3°C cold balcony! It hit +7°C yesterday, so much of the snow has turned into brownish mud, but that is okay. It is very very slippery here, guess that compensates for missing out on the white beauty.

b) The burek. I tried 2 different places already. They were good, the one I had in Ljubljana in ’07 was better! Guess the first one is always the best and the most memorable.

Oh yeah, pictures. Next time… 🙂


Day #118 after arrival – Comparing Estonia and Germany (part 2)

After my 1st comparison between Germany and Estonia only four days after having arrived to Tartu, I now have had some more time. This time these differences are much more sophisticated, as I have been watching, witnessing and interacting within the society for quite a while now…

1) The University

Coming from a University of Applied Science it has been a real challenge to me. being a number in a rather big classroom with no personal interaction from the lecturer refers to a concept which I appreciated to have gotten to know, but I still prefer the idea of communication within classes. This is not much a difference between two countries, I know. But I was aiming at showing the differences. Despite being a highly accredited university within the region, Ülikool Tartu lacks efficiency and clear focus. Maybe that may be different for my perspective of being an ERASMUS student, but I am shocked regarding the lack of clarity among certain factors.  Teachers missing without notifications, teachers answering private calls during class, no predefined schedule, no ideas regarding the assessment. I have spent hours discrediting the Hanze for its unclear structures and its complicated means of communication, but now I gained awareness that maybe this is no Dutch or an Estonian issue, but one that spreads across higher education institutions. The image below shows a procession of Estonian societies during a torch walk from the Vanemuine Theatre towards the University’s main building.

2) Snow

I have seen snow and cold weather in my life. Yet I have barely even been exposed to -19°C and heavy wind at 9pm at night. It is slippery, my beard keeps freezing, snowball fights with Americans seem like modern warfare and sledding down one of the highest hills within the country –  all that is what, all that is what makes a winter in Tartu being much more interesting than a winter in Germany or the Netherlands.  Of course, I really miss the Christmas markets in Oldenburg or watching the arrival of Sinter Klaas in Groningen, or the winter festival nearby the waterside in Groningen, but for 1 winter, these new impressions are highly valuable to me!

3) Public Speaking

I admit, German and Dutch are not among the most beautiful languages in the world, no doubts about that. But let it be due to linguistic history, roots of people or general an ability to speak to a crowd of people, but the language of Estonian is not mad for public speaking. The language is not as “lively” as Spanish or Italian, but also – rather stiff – languages like Russian or Norwegian sound more cheerful and thus more entertaining than Estonian. I witnessed a speech by the dean of the university the other day and even though I give some room for interpretation (in addition to zero understanding of the language itself), it was very difficult to follow, since I could not reckon a rhythm in the speech. One needs to know that the language per se is not well elaborated, in terms of number of words. Rather, the end of main words is being changed according to the meaning of the word or its usage. So sentences sound long while in fact very little words have been used and only changes have been made to the endings. Therefore, the rhythm is not a present as I am used to be hearing and thus, it does not sound sweet!

4) Christmas markets

a. They do have them here in Estonia (though “only” in Tallinn and Tartu), and they are clearly related to their German heritage (I will not go too much into detail here regarding the history, but my people have been the ruling elite in the region for several centuries). A big tree, highly illuminated (and thus disobeying the Kyoto protocol) with cards to Santa, written by kids stands in the middle of the Raekoja plats, leaving only limited space for the boat. The boat? Yeah, the boat! For a second successive year, a big wooden ship has been transported to Tartu, offering people to enter it, hold seminars and workshops on it, chop wood for the open fire, drinking hot spiced wine (Höögvein in Estonian) or Solyanka (Russian-style meat soup). The fountain, which has been covered in previous blogs is frozen (so is the river!), but with temperatures around -19°C at night that is no surprise. Now before I post this blog, I will publish a link about the boat in Tartu. I don’t want to mention too much right now, but you got to give it a glance, you might find someone you know…!

http://www.reporter.ee/2010/11/26/hansalodi-jommu-tommati-joulukuuks-kuivale-maale/

118 days in Tartu, times have passed so fast; it seems just as yesterday that I left the base. Only some weeks are left, but I am sure I will make the most out of it and the end of my ERASMUS will witness a sort of payback….So stay tuned!


2 months in Estonia – Evaluation of a situation

Today, 2 months ago, I have grabbed my suitcase, I have grabbed my bag. I have said “Goodbye” to those I am going to miss and then: I was sitting in the airplane, taking off for a 5-months adventure to Tartu, Estonia!

Now, exactly 2 months later, I thought it might be time for an evaluation, in addition to posting a new bunch of pictures! The time being here kind of flies. It is hard to imagine that 2 months have passed already. My weeks at the Ülikool pass by so quickly that I sometimes feel I have missed a week or two. Before I noticed it is weekend again, and then Monday, and so on…

What have I seen from this country so far? I have been in Tallinn for two days, only walking around the Old Town and watched football in the national stadium. I have taken a train to Tartu (and I am still receiving “thumps up” for my Stalin-reference on the waggon-quality. I have spent a day sightseeing in the South, including the oldest tree, the highest mountain, the deepest lake and an interesting walk in the sump.

I have watched football in Tartu, I have bought Tofu in a store, I became a regular at the open food market (which offers the lowest prices for fresh vegetables and fruits in the city).

I have experienced a student city in which students form, change and rearrange the city and especially its nightlife with tremendous pace. All sorts of different music offer a wide variety, next to bars and pubs and clubs… The clubs are crap, like clubs normally are, but the pubs are worth visiting. The price level in Estonia in general is very “consumer-friendly”, though with the € coming soon, a tiny but constant rise in prices is notable (Tallinn has become almost as expensive as some German cities).

It has not quite been halftime for my in Estonia, but since I feel the time rushing through, I need to plan my time more wisely. What definitely is my list is a 4-day trip to Moscow, starting in less than 2 weeks. My Russian is still “under construction”, but I reckon I could use some catchy phrases to get along 😉 In addition, I will have a day trip to Viljandi sometime in October, for sightseeing the city and watching a football match over there!

My resume after 2 months: I like it! Tartu is a great city, Estonia is a great country and the Baltic Area is a good place to spend a semester abroad!