By Ty Malcolm
With its central location in Europe, the city of Vienna serves as a gateway to Eastern Europe, a region which is becoming more and more popular for tourists on holiday. Countries like Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary are all within easy reach from Vienna, and they offer beautiful views for lower prices than Western Europe. My friends and I signed up for the EBN trip to Budapest, in order to experience more of the East for ourselves!
...continue reading "Trip to Budapest"
Something that has been a big adjustment in my day to day life in India has been figuring out which spaces I can comfortably and appropriately occupy as a foreigner and as a woman. In Madurai, I have learned that spaces I would normally frequent in the U.S. (cafes and coffee/sweet stands, restaurants, etc.) are largely male dominated spaces.
Even in my daily interactions at a samosa stand near campus, I am often the only woman standing in a crowd of men having their afternoon coffee, reading the paper, chatting with friends, and observing the activity on the roads. This ratio is not an uncommon occurrence. In restaurants, walking on the road on my way to school, and even at the local shopping mall, the environment is largely male. At first, I didn’t really notice this unfamiliar social dynamic, and simply assumed that the isolation I was feeling in certain spaces was do primarily to my distinct “foreignness” (namely my whiteness).
However, after several weeks, I began seeing this isolation in a new context. Not only was I the only foreigner in a crowded public space, but I would also often be the only or one of a handful of women present. Some of this awkwardness and uncertainty has been significantly mitigated when I am out and about with my ammaa, who’s familiarity with these spaces makes my interactions with it much more comfortable, as well as providing me unique and meaningful access to some of these spaces.
...continue reading "Navigating Public Spaces as a Foreigner"
Some of the most exciting experiences in my life have been going to see my favorite teams, the New York Yankees and Giants, live and in big games. There's just something special about being there in person, cheering along with thousands of like-minded fans.
So I knew when I came to London, I had to see my other favorite team, Chelsea, (nicknamed the Blues) live at least once while I was here. Fortunately I was able to get last-minute tickets to Sunday's game against English giant Manchester United. There was added anticipation going on as the match would mark the first team that Chelsea's former manager Jose Mourinho, who was largely responsible for making Chelsea a European superclub, would return to Chelsea's home now managing one of the club's top rivals.
It was a game millions around the world would be watching and felt so fortunate to be one of the 40,000 or so who could actually see it in person. So, I arrived at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's home ground, along with throngs of other blue-clad supporters ready for an authentic taste of English soccer, or football to be more exact. It did not disappoint.
...continue reading "Going to see the ‘Blues"
Kiyana, myself, Sophia (fellow GW Student) and Shaun in Venice, Italy on one of the many weekend trips outside of Paris. We've bonded over our shared identities which come from all over the world. ...continue reading "Finding Community"
I am certain that some of you may be wondering what the name actual stands for. For starters, my good friend Merriam Webster tells us that “Expat” is a noun and short for Expatriate. Expatriate then is “a person who lives outside their native country.” So I think that explains the logic behind why I myself, at this very moment, am an expatriate.
Every day though, my situation becomes a little more complex. For instance, when people look at me, I am the epitome of what a “typical German person” is. (We’ll talk more later about why that actually doesn’t exist.) Nonetheless, the people at stores speak to me in German, I’ve never had a problem at the airport, and until I open my mouth and start to speak–I could pretty well pass for a young German student just riding my bike to school everyday. That, my friends, is what sometimes makes things difficult. ...continue reading "Call Me the Internal Expat"
There wasn’t a standing ovation, but everyone kept clapping. And clapping….and clapping. I sat there is awe and I was really brought into the story. I was amazed and yet as I looked onto that stage I could see that, though there was a continual applause, there was something being hidden. Neither me nor anyone in the audience could do anything but clap, we couldn’t fix it, we couldn’t even imagine it, all we could do is sit there and clap. But the reality is, it’s not our reality. We are so detached from the performance and so what would it really be like to stand on the stage and accept a fifteen minute applause when you knew that no-one in the entire audience understood you. ...continue reading "Untethered and Privileged"
By Ty Malcolm
Unlike some cities (Paris, I'm looking at you!) that have a major architectural style, Vienna is much more varied. Maybe it's less pretty, maybe it's more navigable, that's for everyone to decide for themselves. While I can't include everything, Vienna has several standout architectural pieces that I thought would be good, to show the variety of architecture in the city:
1. Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (University of Economics)
This is where I go!! It has such beautiful architecture, it really looks like each building is a modern art museum. The library, or "LC," was designed by Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-born British architect who also designed opera houses in China and Olympic stadiums in the United Kingdom. The building emphasizes natural light, accessibility for the disabled, and connectivity for modern lectures and working groups. Although she recently passed away last spring, her creations continue to win awards around the world.
...continue reading "Cool Buildings around Vienna"
The Prithu Mandapam Market is a destination souvenir shop for tourists in Madurai. Located across from the iconic Meenakshi Temple, the market is framed by massive stone columns and a smattering of vendors selling silver anklets, bracelets, and jasmine. The dark interior made cool by its smooth stones provides a stark contrast to the blazing heat just a few steps outside. Here, you can find rows of tiny bronze colored Ganesh statues, each one just as gleeful and impish as the next.
Other vendors boast yards of colorful fabric, many sporting elephants of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Tapestries with a reclining Vishnu flutter into the aisles, and the smell of burning incense for sale sets the tone for this fast paced (and overwhelming) buying experience. Each vendor’s booth is deceptively small, but is overflowing with trinkets enough to make tourists go weak in the knees.
Walking through the market, I am reminded of the Indian (and even more broadly Southeast Asian) icons that crop up in the most unlikely of places at home: Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Urban Outfitters. I have seen giant neon Ganeshes on Urban Outfitter tapestries, busts of Buddha in various pastels sold in the “home décor” section of TJ Maxx, and lotus flower votive candle holders in numerous styles and sizes. These items are mass produced and reasonably priced to satisfy the stylistic curiosities of Western consumers. Shoppers pass through the aisles everyday, often without context for what they are admiring or buying.
...continue reading "Commodifying Culture: Elephant Pants, Ganesh Statues, and the Western Consumer"
The last three days I was finally able to take part in the time-honored study abroad tradition of traveling around Europe. I went with a few friends to spend the weekend in Barcelona. It is probably the most picturesque city I've ever visited.
Situated on the shores on the shores of the Mediterranean and at the foot of the Montserrat Mountain range, from virtually every vantage point the city is stunning. It has something to offer for just about everyone.
Beach people can soak up the sun on Barcelona's long stretch of beaches, for history buffs there's the winding streets of the medieval Gothic Quarter, for art lovers there's the Picasso museum and the whimsical architecture of Antoni Gudi, a huge point of pride in the city, there's hiking for those who love the outdoors, night clubs for party people and sports fans can go see F.C. Barcelona, probably the greatest soccer team on Earth. We were fortunate enough to take in a match on Saturday and see Lionel Messi, arguably the best soccer player who ever lived, score a goal.
...continue reading "A weekend in Barcelona"
Catholicism is a huge part of the culture in Spain! This photo shows a major church is Madrid but also shows how much refugee crisis is all of Europe. The sign that states “Refugees Welcome” has gone viral and shows the church’s stance on the issue.
GW Madrid this semester is comprised of 7 girls. We take all of our classes together and go on GW excursions as a group! Here we are at El Escorial, a historical palace, monastery, and burial ground for Spanish royalty. ...continue reading "My GW Madrid Community"