Monday, 5 May 2014

What happens while you are abroad

Last night I chatted with my dear friend Sebastian about all kinds of topics. Totally out of context he then updated me on some important developments in German pop culture:
"[22:29:30] Sebastian: Germany's Next Topmodel has been trying to establish hippie-flower-crowns since the first episode of this season, so don't be surprised when you get back."
Not only did this statement make me laugh out loud, but also I started wondering: Will I notice a difference when I get back? Will people have changed? Will there be new fashion trends? And that's not all: a show like Germany's Next Topmodel can incite and reflect debates that are not merely fashion-related, but concern society on a larger level:
"[22:30:35] Sebastian: and since the first episode they've shown Heidi [Klum, the host of the show] eating at a buffet at least once per episode."
Will I also miss new developments in pop cultural discourse or politics? Will I come back and see a difference in the way people behave and talk, in the things I talk about, because of the time that has passed?
I am sure that I will come back with an increased awareness of general differences between the life in Budapest and Frankfurt. After 5 months, I will be so used to the look and feel of the city I live in, that I barely notice its stunning beauty and concerning poverty. But I will surely go back to Frankfurt and it will feel different. I will compare its looks and atmosphere, the pubs and clubs, the university buildings and fellow students, to what I have seen and felt and discussed in Budapest, because I have to in order to settle back in. Just until 5 months later I am. 

I will notice how I have changed.

But for the other people? I know there have been the usual squats and evictions in Frankfurt as always. I know there are political debates that I am not talking about. I know that there are TV shows I don't watch and commotions I miss. Staying in touch with my friends is easy with Skype, Email and Facebook. To be briefly updated on developments in cultural and political discourse and to actually experience these changes first hand is two different things.

I am not afraid to miss anything. Sitting on a third chair somewhere between two cultures, not being deeply involved in either of them, I don't feel uncomfortable. To be honest, it is pleasant because it softens a pressure that I sometimes feel at home: the responsibility to be up to date and (politically) involved. Here, I can allow myself to lie back and relax for 5 months without having a too bad conscience. It will be interesting to see if only 5 months abroad will make me aware of cultural and political changes /significantly/. Will people and discourses have changed? I don't know yet. To find out, I will need to get involved again and be curious about it. I am sure I will.
For now, I enjoy sitting here and watching my surroundings from my third chair. 

What do you think? Where are you sitting?

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