Selection

Posted in Brands and Business,media, culture and society,planning by thomas on the Juni 27th, 2011

So right now I’m sitting at the airport in Vienna, waiting for my delayed flight to Hamburg. What I’m going to do there? Listen to smart people talking about selection in all kinds of different areas. From ideas, to news, to beauty, to nature, innovation, recruiting, investment, sports and taste.

First of all, I think APG Germany came up with a brilliant selection of speakers and industries, and I particularly like that they haven’t invited loads of people from the advertising industry – except of course Russell Davies, but then again he’s got this history of not talking about advertising but rather about ‚interesting‘ stuff. (Nice that this is most of the time a contradiction, isn’t it?).

But second of all, I think the topic itself is highly interesting. Recently, there is a lot of talk in adland about design thinking (see Neil Perkin’s brilliant FireStarter events with Google) and the divergent thinking process within individuals and systems – something I covered also in my bachelor thesis and I think is really important (but not really new). But then again, I don’t think that agencies or organisations of all sorts have that much trouble coming up with ideas per se. What they often do have trouble with, however, is to come up with relevant ideas. They also don’t seem to lack data. What they sometimes lack, though, seems to be relevant data. Often times in my little time in the industry, I’ve seen organisations overwhelmed with loads of information and struggling to filter it to generate knowledge and wisdom out of all the data they are generating.

These times of complexity, chaos and speed necessarily make selection and reflexivity both about the ways of working and the environment critical, and there are obviously different ways to go about that. The discussions about weak signals monitoring, a big board and Chief Culture Officer as sketched by Grant McCracken, pattern based strategy, real time data analysis, experiments data based prediction (see Google FireStarters #1, Google Correlate, Google Prediction API) show how important this whole issue of sense-making has become. In this process of making sense about the environment, both divergent thinking – coming up with possible realities, hypothesis and relevant options – and convergent thinking – selection of the most appropriate, but still contingent options, are important.

To be honest, I’m still struggling a tiny bit (= a lot) with the selection bit. More often than not, I find myself with various options that I think are worthwhile and possibly effective, both in the part about inspiring with context and in selecting solutions. Let’s see if these guys can help me:

Selection of Ideas:
Russell Davies, Ogilvy & Mather

Selection of News:
Thomas Osterkorn, Chefredakteur des stern

Selection of Beauty:
Armin Morbach, Herausgeber TUSH-Magazin

Selection of Nature:
Dr. Björn Brembs, Neurobiologe FU Berlin

Selection of Innovation:
Ulf Pillkahn, Siemens AG

Selection of Talent:
Prof. Dr. Björn Bloching, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants

Selection of Investments:
Lars Stein, Gründer & Präsident von Studienaktie.org

Selection of Football Talents:
Ernst Tanner, Sportlicher Leiter TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Selection of Taste:
Sylvia Kopp, Biersommelière – mit Verkostung –

Documentaries and the ‚Real‘

Posted in media, culture and society,planning by thomas on the Juni 21st, 2011

My last post was already somehow related to documentaries – Bananas* in this case. For some reasons, I’m thinking a lot about documentaries at the moment (this also has personal reasons but they don’t matter for what I’m thinking about). I came to find documentaries interesting for a lot of different reasons.

First of all, they may not all want to be overtly persuasive or activistic, but they sure want to present ‚reality‘ and so they have to persuade you of a certain perspective, a certain framing of an issue. For the time you’re watching a documentary and ideally after that, you’re supposed to accept a certain type of portrayal of the world as real. Which essentially is also what advertising is trying to do, although on a mostly more dull level, with a tiny bit less involvement of everybody involved. (Yes, that’s kind of what I wanted to say.)

Another thing I find interesting about documentaries is that that lots of them have a purpose. Sure, there are loads of artistic documentaries or animal or nature documentaries, but from what I’m now being exposed to, there are loads and loads of activist docs out there. These are films that are supposed to document stuff, but they often have an underlying message, a POV, a call to arms or something similar. Bananas* is an example for such a documentary. It might now want to tell you straight in your face, but after watching it you’re supposed to feel like an arse when you buy Dole Bananas. Same is true for Pipe and Shell. For most food documentaries. And for many more. I think this is interesting from the culture creation POV.

And when you think about it, most feature length docs are produced with production budgets that aren’t that far away from your 45 second TV commercial. 90 minutes of passionate framing of an issue for the price of a TV commercial? Hmm …

Then of course there’s the aesthetic view on docs. I think most of them are really, really beautiful. They have this authentic look and feel while looking absolutely great. Schwarzkopf for example looks totally sharp.

Goodnight Nobody is poetic and beautiful.

Oh, and documentaries have this knock for delivering a triangulation of perspectives. They often cover an issue from an individual view, giving insights into the subjective meaning of whatever issue, but then they also show social interactions around the topic (usually there’s some sort of social object around) as well as presenting an analysis or opinion on it’s cultural implications. And even if they don’t do it, they provide you with lots of cues and inspiration.

That said, I still have to go and watch Abendland:

(Would anybody in the plannersphere join me for SXSW film instead of interactive?)

About Bananas, Ethics and Consumption

Posted in Brands and Business,media, culture and society by thomas on the Juni 7th, 2011

Some of you may know that I spent a month in Nicaragua during my civil cervice for the twinning between my old highschool and a technical school in León, Nicaragua. Our school sends a group of pupils there every second year for them to learn about how different people on different spots of the earth live and runs a couple of projects there around energy usage and sustainability – all under an educational umbrella. There are Austrian civil servants in León and over the course of many years, some great things happened around the school and twinning in León. While this might only change the bigger picture a little bit, it does have its effects. Having said that, I might be a bit biased about what is going to follow later. But there’s a second disclaimer: I’m also not that big of a fan of the fair trade concept. I’m not sure whether it provides the right long-term incentive (it may not be sustainable to stay a farmer in the first place) and I’ve learned a bit about the bureaucratic and very expensive certification process. And last but not least, I still do have my troubles calling trades that all partners agree on ‚unfair‘.

That said, I’d like to ask you to watch the trailer for Bananas*, a documentary:

My first reaction when I saw Juan Dominguez, the lawyer in the documentary, was apparently the same as the director’s, who, in an interview described him as „the type of person most people wouldn’t buy a used car from.“
In fact, I find both the speeches he gives in Nicaragua and the way he conducts himself appalling. While the case that they present in the documentary seems to be very, very strong and while Dole’s representatives look like they don’t give and gave a shit about the Nicaraguan people, something about Dominguez made me feel a bit uncomfortable about that case. Now in the end, 6 of the 12 plaintiffs are awarded about $2 million and Dominguez wants to bring group after group after group of plaintiffs to court to bring justice to hundreds of workers and Dole (and millions to his law firm).

After I the documentary, I turned to Google to find out more about the lawsuit and what happened later on and found that the suit was overturned, the lawyers were reported for fraud and for coming up with a sophisticated scheme for extorting money out of Dole and that, because of that, no further lawsuits of Nicaraguan farmers are going to be accepted in court. How did Dole do that? They found some anonymous plaintiffs.

In 2007, Dole was found liable for causing six Nicaraguan banana workers to have been sterilized by Dole’s use of the pesticide DBCP and the jury found that Dole acted with malice, fraud and/or oppression. One year later, anonymous Dole witnesses stated that several workers in two upcoming cases had never worked on banana farms and that this alleged fraud had infected all Nicaraguan banana suits. Dole successfully spread their version of the story to international media, which was possible due to a court order protecting the identity of the witnesses, making their stories impossible to double check. Several media articles stated that Dominguez not only risked losing his license, but also “possible prison time”. See LA Times from May, 2009 »

http://www.bananasthemovie.com/juan-dominguez-cleared-of-any-wrongdoing-by-state-bar

After the court had thrown out the case,

Steve Condie, a solo practitioner in Oakland, Calif. who represents Nicaraguans who worked on Dole’s banana plantations in the 1970s and 1980s, filed a bar complaint in October 2010 against three of Dole’s lawyers, arguing that a newly translated recording indicated that the company bribed witnesses in the form of thousands of dollars in cash and luxury hotel accommodations. The witnesses later testified in secret about alleged fraud between the workers and the plaintiffs‘ lawyers.

Fredrik interviews Steve Condie from WG Film on Vimeo.

This was unsuccessfully, however, as

„The State Bar has completed the investigation of the allegations of professional misconduct and determined that this matter does not warrant further action,“ the letter reads. „Therefore, the matter is closed.“ The letter was signed by Chief Trial Counsel James Towery and Deputy Trial Counsel Melanie Lawrence.

On Feb. 28, Condie said the bar’s decision „reveals a dangerous sinkhole in our legal system when the State Bar can’t fully investigate a complaint against California lawyers because of court-imposed secrecy. The state bar did not exonerate Dole’s attorneys, they simply have dropped the case because they could not investigate the bribery report because of the thick veil of secrecy that Justice Chaney imposed on everything connected with this case. I would have preferred to have had the matter fully and publicly investigated so that the truth could come out. It appears that that will never happen.“

http://www.law.com/jsp/law/LawArticleFriendly.jsp?id=1202483509606

In March 2011, the appellate court threw out the case again, this time for good.

So much for justice.

Phony plaintiffs and helpers on both sides and many poor men that have definitely been hurt in one way or another, now unable to sue Dole ever again. And still, after watching the documentary, seeing the historic documents and letters showing that Dole didn’t and still doesn’t give a shit, you have a company that is – at least morally – guilty.

A few weeks ago, I was in the supermarket shopping for groceries. I apparently put bananas in my basket and went on to the cashier. Only then I found out that the banans I just bought were Dole bananas. I returned them and saw that these were the only bananas the supermarket had. So I left, without bananas and even more convinced that we live in a low-attention, low-involvement world, in which people in general don’t care much. If I, heavily invested in the topic and the country, almost bought the Dole bananas, why would anybody else care? Or even know in the first place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Dominguez_(lawyer)#Involvement_in_Tellez_v._Dole

Nivea, confronted with being ‚denounced‘ as a’jewish‘ brand, adapting to National Socialist content and style in the thirties.

Posted in Brands and Business,media, culture and society by thomas on the März 29th, 2011

Stockholm Observations/Impressions

Posted in media, culture and society,Off Topic by thomas on the März 24th, 2011

IMG_0073
So as some might know I spent a long weekend in Stockholm for my first time on Scandinavian soil. The city, with its abundance of water, cleanliness and progressive vibe reminded me a lot of Vancouver, which, as some people might know, I liked a lot.

So here’s a list of impressions and observations, without any inherent order.

1) For someone who knows Ikea and H&M longer than Sweden or Stockholm, the whole city looks like an Ikea and H&M showroom where a lot of independent shops copy the big guys. Of course, it’s the other way round and Ikea and H&M took Swedish design, probably rounded some (symbolic) edges and therefore made it accessible for bigger flocks.

2) Everything seems to be a tad more in order and stricter in Stockholm than in Vienna.

3) Showing yellow to the king. A guide on a ship tour (yes, I did that) told us a story about a king, who a few centuries ago spent some time in Italy and France to get exposed to the world. The result: he thought Stockholm was ugly and forced people to paint their houses. Which people did, but – because it was expensive – apparently only on the sides facing the palace. Reminds me a lot of social media and brand management: CEO sees this thing out there that apparently everybody now has to have. Reaction: Ok, let’s put up some Facebook page and a boring corporate twitter account so it seems like there’s something going on. Check.

4) There are more hairdressers (‚Frisör‘) in Stockholm than in every other city I’ve been to – they exist in all sizes and forms and all of them were well-visited while we were there.

5) Related to 1). Apparently people in Stockholm re-do their apartments every few weeks or so. How can all those furniture/interior design shops survive?

6) I was (pleasantly) surprised by the Swedish ‚Konditori‚ and ‚fika‚ culture. I was pretty ignorant before going there, not really reading a lot about it before, but this stuff is pretty amazing. Wondering if it has a substitute function for alcohol.

7) Which brings me to the next – slightly more serious point: I’m seriously wondering how and if alcoholics are living in Sweden. Even with higher wages, this has to be a bigger nightmare than in other countries.

8) „We’re waiting for the government to solve that problem“ – same ship tour guide told us about the ridiculously high rents, flat prices and a supposedly 300.000 people long waiting list for (public?) apartments. He totally casually dropped that line, which tells you loads about the value system.

9) Södermalm is another example of the hipster gentrification that is also visible in other European cities. Chic student, arty, relatively inexpensive, alternative flair, but in all of that still a tiny bit posh, maybe slightly celebrating alternative chic for the sake of it.

10)  There are a lot of men with strollers in Stockholm. As in „more than 2/3 of all strollers“ a lot. Not sure if the laws are different with men and paternity leave (i.e. if they ‚have‘ to), if public aids are that much higher in Stockholm, or if it’s simply in the culture but there are loads of men happily playing and strolling with their kids. It’s a great thing to watch to be honest.

11) Apparently this was the toughest winter since they measure temperature in Stockholm, so it was no surprise that people came out in their sunglasses and enjoyed their ice-cream outside when the sun came out on Saturday and Sunday. The ship guide mentioned the pagan tradition of worshipping the sun and I was wondering if it is always a scarce thing that we worship …

12) Stadsmission Stockholm – Now I have no idea how well this actually works but I think the concept and execution of it is just lovely. Stockholmers donating stuff for other Stockholmers to buy with the proceeds going to Stockholmers in need is pretty simple, but the shops are really well-designed. Nothing looks like this is some shabby second-hand shop or an unloved charity. This is proper boutique style shopping. Compare this to a similar Austrian concept like Humana and you know what I mean.

13) Overall, there seem to be a lot more concept stores in Stockholm than in Vienna, with brands such as Indiska, taking a (symbolic) concept and stretching it to its commercial boundaries – or at least further than they would here. Other notable commercial encounters: the Urban Outfitters flagship store, Beyond Retro, Granit (kind of a Swedish Muji), the record shop/bar/club combination of Pet Sounds and Pet Sounds bar and a bunch of small shops.

14) Moderna Museet has a very interesting, albeit a little chaotic photo exhibition.

15) We might see a lot of those
IMG_0072
around here next winter.

Werner Herzog: Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Posted in media, culture and society by thomas on the März 24th, 2011

I really hope they play this in Vienna.

About the Social Uses of Advertising

Posted in academia,Brands and Business,communications,media, culture and society by thomas on the Februar 22nd, 2011

Stumbled upon a research paper I didn’t know before on the social uses of advertising taglines among young men from 2007:

Most of the social uses or tagline recitals stemmed from television advertising campaigns. Respondents said that they would not normally use any copy from print ads, poster ads, radio or internet ads because ‘it’s just not done, everyone our age knows what you’re talking about with TV’. (Mitchell et. al., 2007: 209)

One of the quotes from the research:

Was on the phone in the evening when a new Nike ‘Freestyle’ ad came on TV so I couldn’t really concentrate on the advert. When I was finished on the phone I asked my housemate what the advert was like and he said it was really cool and my other housemate said it was the best one yet and I felt a bit left out and my housemate seemed to think they were better than me cos they had seen it and I hadn’t, like they had something over me, some sort of power and they said I would have to watch TV all week to see it and wouldn’t tell me what happens in the advert. I then watched TV all night and secretly hoped it would actually come on but it never did. (Mitchell et. al., 2007: 212)

Advertising was always ’social‘ media. It’s just that business theory didn’t get it: 

Thus the audience that current theories of advertising describe is not an audience at all but rather an “aggregate of individual consumers” (Sheth 1979), p. 415) who respond to advertising stimuli while remaining “islands of cognitive and affective responses, unconnected to a social world, detached from culture” ((Buttle 1991), p. 97). At the center of the great majority of theories in advertising research stands a lonely individual, cut off from the social contexts in which he or she, you and I, actually reside. (Ritson & Elliott 1999, S. 1)

Taken from:

Mitchell, V., Macklin, J.E. & Paxman, J., 2007. Social uses of advertising: an example of young male adults. International Journal of Advertising, 26(2), S. 199.

Related research:

Lannon, J. & Cooper, P., 1983. Humanistic advertising: a holistic cultural perspective.

Buttle, F., 1991. What do people do with advertising. International Journal of Advertising, 10(2), S. 95–110.

O’Donohoe, S., 1994. Advertising uses and gratifications. European Journal of Marketing, 28(8/9), S. 52–75.

Ritson, M. & Elliott, R., 1999. The social uses of advertising: an ethnographic study of adolescent advertising audiences. Journal of Consumer Research, 26(3), S. 260–277.

Heath, R. & Feldwick, P., 2008. Fifty years using the wrong model of advertising. International journal of market research, 50(1), S. 29.

Something To Try On A Train Ride

Posted in experience,media, culture and society,Off Topic by thomas on the Februar 19th, 2011

Up and away early on a holiday. It's dark and Vienna is still sleeping/partying.

I did something today you might want to try on a train ride.
First, use your MacBook until the very last drop of your battery, while playing music on the loudest possible level. Wait until the MacBook turns into coma mode and close the MacBook during the song. It is essential that the music is still playing, when the MacBook falls asleep. Then, when you’re on the train, plug in the MacBook and wake it up from the coma mode. Then … wait.

A very interesting experience. Around 10 people around me try very hard not to ’notice‘ loud, loud music blaring out of my speakers. I get hectic, hit buttons, open and close the MacBook, look at it in distanced disbelief. I unplug it, hope the music would stop (it doesn’t, and it won’t if you try it). The MacBook very unsurprisingly doesn’t give a shit. All of this goes on for 2 minutes.

I shouldn’t have given a damn about this, it’s only (good) music after all.

Keeping a a rather strange New Year’s resolution

Posted in experience,media, culture and society by thomas on the Februar 19th, 2011

People who know me a little better know that I am absolutely horrible at watching TV series or movies alone. See, when I was a kid, I always watched television with my slightly older brother. When we used to watch TV series from the Star Trek universe, or X-Files, or Dark Skies or Babylon 5 or whatever, the really interesting part often only started when we switched off the TV and started rather obscure discussions about possibilities, relationships, motives and causes in the universe or drew parallels to the actual world we were living in. And later, in high school I could be sure everybody had for example seen a certain comedy show on Monday night and a good deal of Tuesday morning was spent re-telling the jokes and mocking the guests he had on. Now, all of this is pretty much gone except for blockbusters and live events. Not only am I not able anymore to watch stuff with my brother (that’s the minor issue) but most of the time my friends have already watched episodes, seasons of current TV series (running in the US or UK and not on Austrian/German television) or movies alone already. Watching movies has been individualized. Or to say it in the cultural pessimistic way: the internet has destroyed the ‚fiction of the audience‘ within my group of friends, while creating a new and scattered audience connected entirely via ’social media‘. This leads to the sometimes odd situation where we meet and can’t talk about a TV series in a group anymore because one (usually me) is stuck at SE01E08, others are at SE03E01 and others again start to watch the whole series again from the beginning …

Anyways, 2010 has been a horrible year for me in terms of watching movies and TV series. I’ve watched less good stuff than I’d have liked to in the last few years already – with The Wire being a notable exception – but at least I went to the movies regularly. Last year however, my ‚moving pictures‘ diet was horrible. And as I love going to the cinema – heck, I’d pay to see the trailers – and usually enjoy watching series, I made the resolution to watch a little more, with quality considerations coming second. (There are some interfering variables in that development obviously, …)

What did I get exposed to so far? (Ok, some of those were December 2010 and I only list fiction here, but who cares …)

TV series

Modern Family

Great casting, witty, some easy laughs.

Pretty Little Liars

‚From the producers of Gossip Girl‘, this was called a mashup of ‚I Know What You Did Last Summer‘ and – surprise – ‚Gossip Girl‘. So far it’s entertaining in a Dexter kind of way. Not as subtle and more ‚American‘, high school-y and girly in every way, but still entertaining. Everybody is obviously extremely good looking and has and doesn’t keep a bunch of really dirty secrets, but hey.


The subtitle says „Men are the best medicine“ and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s really at about that level. Sometimes witty, mostly bland. Very popular.

Movies

Enter the Void

Enter the Void is a strange piece of film. It is most probably the most exhausting piece of film I’ve ever watched (Jerry by Gus Van Sant now holding 2nd place). It is at times annoying and frustrating to sit there and watch it. It goes on and on. It repeats points endlessly, it overly celebrates its own aesthetics, but, more than any other film this year (except for The White Ribbon even the second time I watched it), it made me think. About deep stuff and stuff that I usually don’t like to think about. Stuff like life and even more death. Enter the Void is a strong movie. One that could have been better, storywise, but one that made me feel something, even though if this means making me feel extremely uncomfortable at times.

Exit Through The Gift Shop

The Black Swan

I am not into ballet or dancing at all and my knowledge of classical music is very rudimentary. Still, I liked this one a lot. The dramaturgy, acting, sound and art direction made me sit in there absolutely tense, both of the times that I watched it.

White Ribbon

The White Ribbon is just a great film that you should definitely watch. I think the movie works well on the level of human universals, but it also gives an even better insight into some of the not so feel-good roots of German/Austrian culture.

Machete

A must watch if you can cope with someone using a gut as a rope. And with all kinds of other weird, violent and brainless stuff. Machete fits great in the whole Fortress Europe and WASP brain melt context, so it’s highly recommended.

El Secreto de sus Ojos

Underwhelming. I was pretty excited about this one, as it won the Academy Award in the year that The White Ribbon – one of the best movies I’ve ever seen – was released. I watched it in OV with English subtitles and had quite some troubles getting the Argentinian Spanish, so that might explain it, but I thought the film had incredible lengths towards the end. Plus, you could see the make-up of the ‚old‘ actors so clearly that I was taken out of the cinematic experience – which almost never happens to me.

Spartacus

Kirk Douglas has an enormous chin. The movie is very long. It’s not the best movie to start at 11 pm. Doesn’t feel overly Kubrick-esque.

Bran Nue Dae

Australian folklore apparently, but with some interesting twists. Stupid at times, rather lovely at others.

Hostel

While I’m certainly not the right guy for …. (everything is a remix 2), I do believe that this kind of stuff exists, so I’d actually love to see a decent movie about the topic in The Wire-style.

The Kids Are Alright

From what I read and heard before, the film was promoted (at least here) as an independent piece from the US. I don’t know all that much about independent US cinema, but this film shouldn’t have to be called independent in any country. Sure, I get the context and setting of the story itself is ‚alternative‘, but the film itself is done in a rather standard way. It’s a mostly lovely piece of film, partly witty, quirky and funny, partly cheesy, but at no time does it feel or behave unexpected.

My Sassy Girl

I watched the film in Korean with English subtitles, so I spent quite a bit of time reading this one. There’s also a Hollywood version, so some of you might know it. The first half is quirky and funny, but the second half of the movie is just incredibly cheesy. Incredible.

The Grudge

I’ve seen this one before, both in the US and the Japanese version but was up for seeing it again as I recalled it being scary as hell. I was slightly less disturbing this time, but I had the feeling that the story was way more coherent last time I watched it. Strange.

Dude Where’s My Car?

Yeah, I’ve never seen that one before. Now I did. A concept movie, ridiculously stupid, in a sometimes good way. Should probably be watched again on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a pint, or 7.

Traveling, Living and Life

Posted in experience,media, culture and society,Off Topic by thomas on the Januar 13th, 2011

Last week I finally managed to get the pictures from my travels over the last 2 years developed and this made me reflect a little on travelling and living abroad.

See, I was born in a small town called Braunau on the Austrian periphery, bordering southern Bavaria, so basically German periphery. (Paradoxically, this spot is referred to as the centre of Europe, geographically mind you).


View Larger Map

Now, this area isn’t exactly known for being open. It’s a rather rough and conservative area. Austria’s notorious freedom party was founded there and people still love to vote them.

I was always a rather curious kid and when I was 17 or 18, I was lucky enough to be sent to the London International Youth Science Forum for a couple of weeks by my high school, where I met students and pupils from pretty much all continents. Contrary to what the title of the event might suggest, this isn’t a pure nerd convention, but also a massive exchange of arguments about who brews/distills the best [insert alcoholic beverage here] in the world and other discussions like that. Anyway, the point is, it’s like a massive cultural fair, where you are shown 1:30 trailers of all kinds of countries, their culture, what is important to them and so on. So after that, I always wanted to travel. However, I didn’t only want to travel, but ideally also wanted live there at least a while to understand what’s going on and not only „look at“ it.

Rivas
So I’ve been to Nicaragua for a few weeks during my civil service.

Target - hello goodbuy.
I did a road trip in the US.

Camp Nou
I spent a month Barcelona for a rather touristy attempt to learn Castilian.

Quan animiert den Professor.
I went to Hanoi for a few weeks for a summer university.

Good morning Vancouver!
I did a brilliant exchange semester in Vancouver.

Hungarian karaoke
I worked for three months in Vienna’s lovely and at least as grumpy twin Budapest.


And I spent a bit of time in Tanzania, doing a lot of the above.

Of course, these were all great experiences, among the best of my life, really. They made me smarter and wiser and culturally more aware and I miss them. I want more of them. (And I miss the sea, goddamn it.)

But upon reflection, I realized that all of this wasn’t all that brave or cosmopolitan or whatever of me. From the beginning in London, to Nicaragua to Budapest, there were either friends or other Austrians that travelled with me, or as in the case of Budapest, an Austrian planner was already there. (Ok, not in Tanzania, but that was just 10 days.) And ultimately, I always had a safety net, because all those stays abroad had a termination date. I knew that after this month in Nicaragua, I could go home and start with my university degrees instead of having to struggle with life there. I knew I didn’t have to live in Hanoi forever, but would fly back to cosy Vienna after the summer university. I knew I couldn’t stay in Vancouver to work or do a PHD or stay Budapest, because I „had to finish my studies“ at home.

It’s not like I ever packed my things and moved to really live somewhere else. So I’m curious how my urge to travel and live abroad will feel once I’ll have removed the university parachute.