Munich: Pop goes Politics

Call for Papers

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Students from the American Institute at the LMU in Munich are putting together a student conference on American pop culture and politics. Every student (both undergraduate and graduate) may apply by sending in their abstract by the end of July.

After sending in your abstract, together with some personal details (name, email, phone, name of university you’re attending), you should get an email, informing you if you’ve been chosen to participate in the conference. The deadline for the papers (around 8-10 pages) is the end of August /so, 31-st/.

The topics on which you may write are varied (from their website):

  • How is the relationship between popular culture and politics constructed? How did it change over time?
  • In what ways does popular culture shape, reflect, and respond to the political climate?
  • Which role can film and TV play in the relationship between popular culture and politics? (The Wire, House of Cards, All the President’s Men, The War Room)
  • In what ways do musicians and music engage with politics? (Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, System of a Down)
  • How do political elections and social media campaigns influence each other? (Presidential Elections)
  • Why are celebrity endorsements of politicians or political campaigns vital to popular culture?
  • How do video games depict the social and political climate? (Call of Duty, Mass Effect 3, Grand Theft Auto)

You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter & ask your questions regarding the content, or perhaps organizational issues etc. I am really excited about sending my abstract (which exists only in my head right now!) and I am very tempted by the “House of Cards” suggestion. I’ll have to run it by my professor and see how she feels about it. The series is quite new, but I feel like there can be volumes written about it.

The conference will take place on 17-18, October. As far as I know, they do not offer any travel grants but they’ll help participants find a student-friendly accommodation.

Is anyone else interested in applying? I’d love to hear which topics interest you?

Also, have you seen this video?^^

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Why study abroad?

Germany edition.

On this wet & dull Sunday evening here in Dresden, I find myself watching the World Cup on monitor #2, while searching for compelling study abroad programs on monitor #1. How great is it to have two monitors? Go get yourself a second monitor and enjoy the greater multitasking abilities that come with it. Germany is playing tomorrow (Go Schland!). The mood here is elevated! I too find myself excited about soccer – unbelievable.

Back in 2010 I decided to leave my home country and move to Germany. For a citizen of the EU a decision like this is not a huge deal because it’s fairly easy to move within the Union. I knew that I wanted to live in Dresden – a town 2 hours south of Berlin & roughly 2 hours west from Prague. The town is most popular in connection to its WWII past – it was bombed and later Kurt Vonnegut wrote about his experience in the amazingly weird book Slaughterhouse Five. Apart from history, the town is well-known for its wonderful baroque architecture and distinguished art galleries. This is also the place where the expressionist art group Die Brücke had its start. Dresden is also a town of many colleges and universities: Dresden University of Technology, Dresden University of Applied Sciences, Academy of Fine Arts (located in the heart of Dresden), Dresden University of Music, Palucca University of Dance  & several more you get the main idea, which is the focus on art&technology.

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I am a student of Dresden’s University of Technology where you have a wide range of fields to choose from. My bachelor studies were dedicated to the study of Art History and English and American studies. I can, therefore, speak best for my institute and only for the TU Dresden. Prospective students need to have a circa B2/C1 level of German. If you do not have a certificate you could also first move to Germany and then take an exam – many universities also offer one semester of German language prior to beginning your actual studies. So, if you are considering studying in Germany but think your level is not high enough, say you have a B1 level, you could apply for the summer semester (usually semester begin is April 1). Master students may choose from English taught programs, at the TU Dresden you have – Computational Engineering, Distributed Systems Engineering, Computational Logic – 4 semester-long, English language Masters of Science.

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Future leaders, Albania and the Adriatic coast

I haven’t checked the interwebs for study abroad programs lately – busy schedule or laziness, I’d rather not comment. Just yesterday I came across an interesting opportunity for those who find themselves in one of the following fields: Natural Sciences, Environment, Energy, Politics and Diplomacy, and Social Media. The program is short and is more of an information exchange/great networking opportunity than an actual study abroad program.

FUTURE LEADERS CONGRESS ALBANIA 2014 will take place from 25-th until 27-th August in Vlore, a beautiful Albanian port city.

The organization behind the congress is the Association of Youth Development for Albania and all students (16+), researchers, diplomats, doctors, architects, journalists, and engineers are eligible. From what I’ve gathered from their website, this is their first Future Leaders Congress. The congress itself consists of two panels on the topics mentioned above. Each panels will be moderated by experts in the respective fields. All participants will have the opportunity to present their topic and engage in short Q&A sessions with the audience.

There are several enticing awards for the best presentations at the congress. The two best presentations will receive an award of 1000 Euros. There’s also a special award, which I, as someone who briefly considered applying before figuring out those dates don’t work for me and I am not a student in any of the required fields, found very motivating – participation in the biggest science fair ISWEEEP 2015, USA.

The participation fee for this program is 140€ (travel to and from Albania not included but they’ll take care of you if you arrive at Tirana Airport). The best applications, however, are going to receive a travel scholarship.

As far as the application process is concerned, the form consists of several open questions in which you’ll need to impress the board. At the beginning you’ll need to write a 500-word-long motivation letter explaining why you’d like to participate. Afterwards, you’ll be asked to explain what experience you have with conference, congress participation and what your expectations are. Your understanding of the word ‘leader‘ (a true leader) will be inquired and you’ll also have to provide them with a favorite quote on the topic of leadership. If you get this far, the rest of the application is fairly easy – eating preferences, additional comments + uploading your CV, a photo + clicking on submit. And here’s a link to the, as it is named on their site, registration form.

You will also need to write an abstract – a general description of your topic. It needs to be between 300 and 500 words.

Friday 25-th July 2014 is the deadline. A whole month to write the best abstract and come up with the most moving and inspirational motivation letter in the history of motivation letter-writing.

You can also get in touch with them too, as the website doesn’t manage to provide detailed information on what exactly their expecations are of the applicants’ abstracts. You can find them on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

stream of consciousness

Following the assignment of the writing 101 blog.

I have to write a practice essay tomorrow on the topic of gender equality. I do not know the more specific topic of the essay and I need to prepare for a myriad of possibilities. Perhaps, I’ll have to write about gender in the workplace – what are the roles both sexes have as part of today’s workforce. I could introduce s short statistic, stating that men make the majority at the top and the bottom, while women rule over the middle grounds. I need to check the source first, so that it will sound believable.

Writing for 20 minutes without a stop is hard, I don’t think I can motivate myself to do it unless there is some external factor – tomorrow I will have to do it. The factor – a teacher standing in front of me. I will have 90 minutes to write an essay of roughly 500 words. But writing ‘offline’ on paper is becoming more and more of a challenge for me. I am used to writing on a keyboard to such an extent that my hand has forgotten some of the movements it had previously made to allow me to write better, visually at least. My handwriting has become worse than that of a doctor. And this is saying a lot. I myself have a hard time understanding my own notes. A year ago I began taking notes on my laptop, so that I can ensure the readability of my notes and so that I can increase the amount of information I get from the lecturer. This has further decreased my ability to write with my hand. The consequences are severe. I have gotten terribly used to MS Word and now expect an indication of a misspelled word. Alas, paper can offer no such amenities. Online dictionaries and thesaurus websites are incredibly helpful when I need a better synonym or the exact meaning of a word, but in class I’ll have to use a monolingual dictionary. A dictionary. A DICTIONARY. So much time will be spent on trying to find the word, that if I put this time together, I could, at the very least, earn a quick coffee break.

My mind is blank. I sometimes wonder if this is what meditation feels like. Probably not. Mentioning the coffee break has made me crave some afternoon coffee before my lecture on Canadian history. I will get a cup of hot, black coffee and a cookie. I hope they have the ones with almost no sugar and oat meal. I like oat meal with coffee and a nice book. The book I have with me now is a great one, by Philip K. Dick. I have to read it for a literature seminar which has resulted in a plummeting of my desire to ever finish reading it. I want someone to come to me with a book recommendation. But it has to be inspiring. The recommendation, that is. I want to really want to read the book. Preferably with character(s) who do not annoy me. I want to read about the life of someone who is struggling to find his path: someone who may be traveling, or who is stuck in a place, in time, with people and needs to overcome it and set himself free. I want to read about Ireland, or Scotland, or the southern states of America. I want the character to drink a lot, maybe do some writing as well. Waste their days with sleeping, drinking coffee and reading, and their nights in bars, drinking whiskey, or wine, watching the people around him and thinking about what their lives may be like.

I am going to go buy coffee and sit on the stone bench outside. I will pretend I’m reading Dick’s book on androids but in reality I will be watching the students rushing off to lectures, riding their bikes and meeting their friends for coffee. Right now, this book is more interesting than anything else.

I can already smell the coffee.

the life of a so-called student

 

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We humans are cognitive misers and as such we love to take bits of randomly heard information and apply it to a whole group. It’s just easier this way. As a result of this human tendency, I have frequently been informed that university students have it easy – parties, a lecture here and there, where said student can snooze and dream of more parties, hanging out with buddies, drinking, a few weeks of hard studying followed by exams and then – time to rest. Sure, there are the stories of poor students who eat leftovers, have no money to go to restaurants and often go to their parents’ house to get their bellies full of homecooked meals. But why are those students poor? In the stories I’m being told they save money so they can go out and party some more. Or travel – partying out of town is so in. Also, none of them have jobs.

* Writing this I get frustrated that I am now doing exactly what those people are/ have been doing – I am generalizing about people who generalize. It’s a vicious circle. However, I am resolute to continue writing and publishing posts regardless of how much my writing annoys me. Bare with me*

Here is my take on the topic:

Students do not party all the time.

Students may go out and have fun more than older, married people do but that’s just because many of us are:

a) younger and thus in possession of a larger amount of energy

b) do not have kids to take care of

c) do not have a 9-to-5 job to stand up for early 5 days a week.

This statement is, however, being redefined all the time, as there are many students who have families of their own and the majority of students, at least here in Germany, have a job. The old days (I’ve never personally experienced them, so I can only guess) of being a student, living in a dorm, only studying and having fun and the money comes from the parent/scholarship-providing body, are over. And nothing points to them ever coming back.

In order to maintain a fairly decent lifestyle everyone needs at least one small part-time job, if not several. Many tend to do a variety of small things – tutoring, student help at the library, cleaning jobs at hotels, service jobs at supermarkets or restaurants, helping out at festivals, conferences, babysitting, pet-sitting, donating blood plasma etc. The list is almost literally endless. But just almost because there is an end to every list, even the literally endless ones can end if the one writing gets lazy.

Everyone who is quick to denounce all students as lazy young adults who frivolously spend their parents’ hard-earned money needs to know that we come in all shapes and sizes. For every slacker, there is a hard-working political science student who gives French lessons in her free time. And for every over-achieving medicine student who has no time for anything but his studies, there is a motivated philosophy graduate who works part-time as a waiter to co-support his new family. Here, the list may actually have no end because every single student has a different story and no two stories are alike.

Let me leave you with a photo of students who are sitting around on a work day, just for fun. Because that’s what being a student both is and isn’t all about.

 

Grants for aspiring entrepreneurs

As I have already mentioned in a previous post, the Erasmus program has evolved into a more inclusive, international exchange-providing super intiative. I suppose the EU has finally realized that more of us Europeans need to travel and meet each other if the Union is to continue to exist. We need cross-cultural, cross-border exchange programs &  Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is one of them.

Next to travel, (social) entrepereneurship is becoming a symbol for Millennials. We cannot be bound by the restrictions of our country & we refuse to work solely for money and for someone else’s ideas we don’t believe in. We need to go out there and start our own business, if possible – a socially & environmentally aware one. This program is seeking to aid budding entrepreneurs. It also helps those who have already began running their businesses and are looking for an intern, i.e. a temporary fresh addition to the team.

No matter if you are still developing your idea or have already started your company, you may apply, receive a grant from the EU & be assigned to mentor – an experienced entrepreneur.

Now, let’s see if you’re eligible:

The 2 main target groups are aspiring & experiences entrepreneurs.

Your (future) company or activity can be in any sector and there is no age limit.

The aspiring entrepreneurs need to either already have a business plan, or to have started their company within the last 3 years.

The experienced, on the other hand, are those who have had a company for 3 years or more.

All need to be permanent residents of the participating countries: 37 of them More info and the list of all of the participating countries can be seen here. (28 EU Member States + other participating countries including Liechtenstein, Norway, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Turkey, Albania, Serbia and Israel. )

And, of course, here is the most important piece of info: financial aid is available and can be found by clicking here!

Everything you need to know is there on the website, to which I’ve given so many links that I’ve even annoyed myself. Too much repetition cannot be great. But, if you want to get more personal and discuss the program with participants, you can join the discussion on LinkedIn. There you might even be able to find and get to know your future mentor. So, go ahead.

 

Has anyone participated in this already? Or do you plan on checking it out? Would you say that a program such as this one is profitable for both parties? I’d like to hear your take on it.

 

Go Turkey

I have just come across a great opportunity for those of you who are about to graduate from high school this year.

The government of Turkey is offering scholarships for students who are interested in doing an undergraduate course in a Turkish university. They are offering to fully cover your tuition fees, your ticket to Turkey, a year-long Turkish-language course, health insurance cost & will also cover your accommodation (they have state-run student accommodation buildings and if you stay there, you’d be staying for free ^^).

What makes you eligible: under 21, high school graduate, or you’re about to become one; you must not be a Turkish resident (all countries worldwide allowed) & in good health (the good health part I find a bit discriminatory, though).

I’ve just came across this pieve of information today, but I am already late because the deadline is in 5 days: 19 May! If you want to have another college option + the chance to get such a great scholarship – go for it, quickly!

 

here is a full list of what they can offer, what makes you eligible and how to proceed: http://www.turkiyeburslari.gov.tr/index.php/en/haberler/681-2014-turkiye-burslari-lisans-burs-programlari-basvurulari-basliyor

 

This was a short post but I have already posted twice today, so I don’t want to overdo it, do I? :)Image

Also, there is really not much time left until the scholarship deadline. Good luck!

 

Falling through the cracks

Or how I plan on bankrolling my time abroad.

I want to focus a bit more on those who, like me, do not fit into the bureaucratically prescribed categories. Those who fall between the small, yet very much existing, cracks & end up being let down by the ‘generosity’ of certain financial aid institutions. One again, I will draw on my experience and expectations. I come from Bulgaria, an EU member, but I have a B.A. and continue to reside and study in Germany. I have been nominated for an Erasmus place at the National University of Ireland, Galway. If all goes well, I should move to Galway at the end of August and this is where I expect my financial struggles to intensify.

The Erasmus initiative, which was this year renamed to Erasmus+ ( #erasmusplus )  and has thus increased its effect on those who judge programs on how positive their names sound, offers a small grant, which can be literally translated to ‘mobility aid’. They are, metaphorically speaking, allowing us, the financially disabled, to move. Be that as it may, ain’t nobody can survive on the amount they’ll transfer. Now, I won’t know until after I go to Ireland, but the Erasmus coordinator has already managed to dramatically lower my expectations. And so, off I go on a hunt for scholarships, grants, more financial aid, whatever I manage to get my hands on will have to do. ( here I would like to mention that I am very happy about the existence of a program such as Erasmus+. It allows me to spend a few semesters pretending I had the money to afford studying in Ireland. Tuition fees are for suckers. Am I right? :D Please, don’t take everything I say literally or you’ll end up thinking I hate everyone and everything. Glad that we cleared that up.)

If you are or have ever been a resident of Germany, you will probably have heard of (Auslands)Bafög. Basically, you go through a very complicated process of filling out a myriad of documents (the wet dream of every Volgon), you send them to the institution (for Auslandsbafög for those who travel to Ireland the Studentenwerk responsible is the one in Hanover) and hope you are eligible to get roughly 600-700€  a month. Once you have graduated, taken a few years off to travel the world and then settled down with a boring old office job in Chemnitz, you can start paying off your ‘loan’ to the state. It is a loan in the real meaning of the world, not as banks tend to abuse it nowadays – you need not pay any interest + the state is really into young people and only charges them for 50% of what they’ve taken. Basically, Germany is your grandma. No, wait, scratch that. Your grandma would not want you to pay anything back. Jeez, Germany, try being more like our awesome grandmas, will ya?

Before I get too off topic, I have only 2 more things to say – Auslandsbafög can be awarded to German citizens who do not receive the normal kind of homefield-Bafög. Also to those who do. If you are from the EU then you also have a chance, but you need to have spent quite some time in the country. I have been here for three and a half years and it was not enough. I need to spend 3 more. So, it is safe to say that by the time an EU foreigner is allowed Bafög he’ll also be eligible to apply for German citizenship. Needless to say, I was denied Auslandsbafög.  Now what?

I have commenced a research mission – go through as many scholarship listing websites and find those you are eligible for. Then, apply! I have my eyes set on two so far:

1. Deutschlandstipendium – It is only for those who are enrolled in German high education institutions. They offer it every year and it seems as though the competitions is tough but also there are many scholarships to be given. So, I am still unsure about what my chances are. You need to write a motivation letter in German, so I shouldn’t be too optimistic. I will, however, apply this year. This is a link to the guys of Deutschlandstipendium. However, every participating university should have more information on their websites as well. Applications can be handed in July and the results come in roughly 2 months later.

  1. DAAD scholarships – those are definitely worth checking out. -> DAAD website

On the surface, a myriad of scholarship opportunities, but if you look into it, you might just find you have, yet again, fallen between the cracks.

I try (evidently not hard enough) to not sound cynical. However, my experience has made me a cynical person where money is concerned.

Look forward to your study abroad program, no matter how expensive it may appear to be. Just keep looking into different scholarship opportunities, some financial aid, extra work here and there to save up some money for the time abroad. Whatever you do, try not to picture yourself having all the money those offers promise. Money is fickle. It comes and goes. Your time spent abroad, now that will always stay with you. Perhaps, a little more struggle can do us some good.

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This post has taken me weeks to write. I am sorry if it is a complete mess. So are my thoughts on the issue of money & bureaucracy. Falling through the cracks is a major let down, so, if possible, always try to get as much information (call, write mails to the organizations who offer said stipends) as possible, before you get your hopes up.

Put the I in IPU & travel to Switzerland

There are two more weeks in which you can apply for a 3 to 6-month-long paid internship in Geneva, Switzerland. May 16 is the deadline & application forms can be found here.

The internship is open to undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students. However, there are some restrictions in terms of what they are studying. To some extent, the applicants’ studies ought to be related to the activities of the organization. The organization in mind is the INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION (IPU) and their field, generally speaking, is law. Often working together with the United Nations, the IPU aims at stimulating the international discourse on co-operation, peace and democracy.

Taken from their website, here are the benefits of being an IPU intern:

  • increase their understanding of relevant issues at the international level by involving them directly in the work of the IPU Secretariat and the application of IPU principles, programmes and strategies;

  • gain practical work experience related to their academic background or future work in the field related to IPU’s mission.

The successful candidate will be, regardless of nationality, a fluent speaker of English and/or French. He/she will be at least in their last year of undergraduate studies, majoring in one of the following subjects: international law, economics, political science, social sciences. He/she will be flexible, a team player, a great communicator (Reagan levels of communication skills are always appreciated, people, keep working!) & adaptable to multicultural environments. Also, decent IT skills and some work experience are a plus.

The renumeration the intern will receive is SFr. 1,000 montly, which in European terms is 820€ (“Sweet”, sighed the penniless student in me.).

Here is a link to the application form: English & French. You fill it out (BAM!), you write a great motivation letter about how much you care about international law and the advancement of democracy (BAAM!), you brush up your amazing CV (BAAAM!) and send all these precious docs to this address:

Inter-Parliamentary Union

5, chemin du Pommier

Case postale 330
CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva
Switzerland

 

Or if, like me, you pride yourself in being a member of the Millenial generation, send them via email: postbox [at] mail.ipu.org

Again, that’s their website: http://www.ipu.org            

Ah, Switzerland. Where pharmacies sell maple syrup & people wipe their plates clean with bread. Prost!

Planning my year abroad

It’s time for another post on the Kate, i.e. me. I hope it manages to help you if you are, or ever will be, in a similar situation – preparing your semester/year abroad.

I am currently enrolled in the second semester of my Master studies. I am continuing my studies in Linguistics, Literature and Cultural Studies on the graduate level. My focus are British and American studies. My lifelong dream – living in Ireland. My efforts to combine both pushed me to apply for Erasmus and I will, if all goes well in the following months, spend 2 semesters at the National University of Ireland in Galway, starting September ’14.

Image   NUI campus

What I’ve done so far:

First I checked the places my university offers abroad. For my major there are 2 places in Dublin (Institute of Technology Tallaght), one at University of Warwick, Coventry & one at the NUI in Galway. In my motivation letter I explained the reasons why I want to attend the NUI but I also mentioned that I am open to taking a place in Dublin, if the one in Galway was given to someone else. According to the professor I asked, you have a higher chance of getting a place if you list several places in your letter. However, that may just be here at the TU Dresden. The best way to go is have a short talk with the Erasmus office at your institute or the professor who goes through the applications. Only then can you be 100% sure that your application was prepared according to their expectations.

The application usually consists of a one-page long motivation letter, a CV, transcript of records & a filled out learning agreement.

ImageGalway musicians

Doing some research on the university you want to attend is crucial. A big part of the learning agreement is the selection of courses you plan on doing. What I did was, first of all, create the list of courses I want to do. After that I had a clearer view of what the university had to offer and could mention several of the courses in the motivation letter. I have no idea if this helped convince the professor how much I wanted to go to Galway. At the very least, it gave me something to write about. A blank page could be very intimidating.

The deadline at my university was the end of March. About 3 – 3 and a half weeks later I received an email from the professor who approved my application and nominated me for the place at NUI.

So far so good. I am going to a pre-Erasmus orientation meeting in a couple of weeks and I’ll have more info to share then.

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photos taken from:

http://advice.myhome.ie/2012/01/building-work-to-resume-at-nui-galway/

http://merlinandrebecca.blogspot.de/2012/11/the-galway-music-scene.html