Internet

Study Abroad Tip: Always try in-person

Just a quick note about something I’ve learned during this second bout abroad:

Always try to figure things out in-person or via telephone.

Getting anything accomplished relating to official business at the German universities requires patience and know-how. Being an Google-friendly society, many of us look towards search engines as providers to answers for life, the universe, and everything (though, I don’t know why they bother with the internet when it’s 42). The problem with the webby bureaucracy of German universities, whose administration offices are spread all over the place just like their classrooms, is that navigating the webs, analog and digital, is tricky.

For each thing that needs to be accomplished, use the web to find out where it gets done, and then spare yourself the trouble of navigating the websites. Call the number of the office or info-center and ask your questions in person- much less complicated. The good news, most people who answer the phone have to have good English to have gotten their position. It helps, though, to be able to express yourself in German.

I recommend calling, but visiting the office and physically showing someone what documents you have, don’t have, don’t know you have, makes things easier as well.

I like to think that Germans make up for their extremely low student fees by having minimal support for their students. I also think, part of their entrance qualifications is figuring out how to enroll in their school. It’s a rite of passage that I haven’t quite made yet, but I’m almost there. There will be champagne (or at least a really fancy beer) once I finally have my admittance papers.

 

Imagine if Turkey disappeared tomorrow…

Also, kommen Sie raus aus Ihrem Realitätszentrismus. Schnell. Das Internet ist unser Neuland. Und Instagram eines seiner wichtigsten politischen Organe. Wie also kam es dazu, dass Justin Biebers Instagram-Account verschwand, und was bedeutet das für uns?

I’m not a real pop fan. I swear, I’m not. I may know a little more than I want to about singers like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande (who went to the same school as some of my friends, by the way), but that’s only because while surfing the Internet about politics, social sciences, philosophy and literature, I also inform myself about sports and pop culture. 

Plus, I’m not the one who chooses to include articles about these people in between what should be serious news. 

The quote above is from an article by Julia Friese on a German news site Die Welt reporting on Justin Bieber’s decision to deactivate his Instagram account (oh? You didn’t know? Well now you do. You’re welcome). I am sure the whole article is a farce, and that the writer is making a joke of this event, but uncareful readers may actually think that she is really concerned and wants to get across how significant this event is. Considering that Justin Bieber has had nearly the same number of followers as people living in the dictatorship state of Turkey, the reporter remarks that the loss of his account is like erasing Turkey off the map. 

As if Justin Bieber’s ego needs more inflation. 

And this is how German reporters share this news with German readers. Seriously. 

I still think it’s a satirical piece, and the subtle message by the end is that if Bieber can live without his account, we all can live without one. I read the article to begin with, because I’m interested in reasons to stay with/leave social media (see “Shaky Streaming Quality” below). 

Upon closer reading, what I see in this article is commentary on the power of the Internet. 

Das Internet ist unser Neuland. Und Instagram eines seiner wichtigsten politischen Organe.

“The Internet is our ‘New World.'”(there’s thankfully more truth to this signifier than the first time it was used for N. And S. America). “And Instagram is one of its most important political bodies.”

You there, sitting in front of your screen, think this is insane (I figure you do, since you’re sensible enough to spend your free-time reading blogs like these). But what you maybe do not consider, is that 77 million + teenagers and young adults, those people who are up for some important political, medical, social positions in your future, are devastated affected by this. Should we be worried about these kinds of shifts? Maybe. 

As a closing note, if you opened this post hoping for some information about the situation in Turkey -sorry. I can tell you that the people of Turkey do not deserve to be compared to Bieber Instagram followers (even if a few of them were), and that I’m extremely concerned about Euro- German-Turkish relations, especially given that people from Turkey and with Turkish heritage make up the largest minority in Germany and given the large number of Turkish-Germans who declared their loyalty to Erdogan not so long ago. 

Just thought I’d post about this, this morning. I’m in the process of setting up daily routines that work for me, and so far, reading the news while listening to the RadioKlassik station and eating breakfast is something I’m enjoying. What, too snobbery for you? Deal with it. I’m reading about Justin Bieber for god’s sake. I can’t be that sophisticated. 😉

Hope you have a great day!