Human Nature: Latvia vs Germany

Future teachers, linguists and philologists of the English language are the students I have seen and observed during the first two months of my studies in Leipzig. Since the first week I was trying to find pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of being here and comparing the behaviour of people in different situations as well as their appearance. Now I have come to some particular conclusions regarding these topics and the outcome is quite balanced.

First I’d like to start with how Germans dress and compare it with Latvians. People from my country are very much into labels and most of them try to earn money to spend it on either few and expensive clothes, or many and cheap ones, but the result is the same. Looks are so important that if you think of going out wearing pyjamas or sports clothes you will be confronted with a lot of judgemental glances. In situations like these one has to have guts to  ignore them with a raised head. Whereas in Germany the situation is completely different. Very many people from Germany are into some labels, but those are sports or casual style labels like Jack Wolfskin and Adidas. Some people wear outfits and shoes that are tore in some places, but still usable. They dress like people who are free in their mind and souls. This remark leads to an other particularity regarding knowledge and intelligence.

Second remark I want to introduce deals with how German people from different fields of English studies present their knowledge pending the lectures. In the classes with linguistic students I feel uncertain, yet very fascinated by the theories I am learning. The linguistic students are so knowledgeable that sometimes they even compete with the professor who always sticks to her guns to stay authoritative, even though they confuse her very often. Philologists on the other had are very neat and accurate students. They are in the beginning of their studies, but they are eager learners who speak up only when they know the answer at the same time using interrogative mood. Last but not the least are future teachers whom I would classify as the least acquainted with the various aspects of the English language. Those students haven’t had a grammar class, don’t know the theoretical names for some languages features like the definite and indefinite article, the degree of comparison, etc. Further this leads to the question of how one can be an English language teacher without knowing the terms…

Third and the final conclusion concerns Latvian students of the English philology who are contrariwise to all the above mentioned. Students in my faculty are not so talkative even though they study languages. They are always thinking and over thinking each and every tiniest detail. The tiniest outspoken mistake would make them feel like failures. The insecurity of their ideas isn’t constantly weakening their outcome, but eventually it will worsen their performance. This observation has made me change my mind about the educational system in Latvia in general.

Finally, I would like to come to a conclusion that I enjoy studying in Germany more that in Latvia because the lectures are not about lecturing, but about acquiring knowledge in a sensible way and not by learning everything by heart while using short-term memory.

Nina

Human Nature: Latvia vs Germany

For a Better Future

The other day I was going to meet my friend at the Hauptbahnhof when I saw very many people dressed up mostly in black. My first impression was astonishment because I have never seen so many Gothic people in one place. The most amazing thing wass that the outfits very not any black garment, but well-thought-out to the tiniest detail.

Wave-Gotik-Treffen is an annual world festival for “dark” music and arts in Leipzig, Germany. More than 150 bands and artists from various backgrounds (Gothic rock, EBM, Industrial, Noise, Darkwave, Neofolk, Neoclassical, Medieval Music, Experimental, Gothic metal, Deathrock and Punk being examples) play at several venues throughout the city over 4 days on Whitsuntide.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave-Gotik-Treffen)

In the streets of Leipzig one could see various gothic styles and sub-styles some of which I could distinguish were Goth, Cybergoth, Steampunk, Rivethead, and Medieval subcultures. Further I’d like to draw attention to the age groups and particular features describing their looks.

First, I was impressed that Goths where not only young people. They where couples, married people, old people, families, young adults, children and grownups. This observation led me to the conclusion that this festival is very important for them, that the dressing up is not only for fun, but also for being able to be who they really are and to step aside from the everyday life, and that it is not only a disguise, but a valuable lifestyle.

The second thing that thug my heartstrings was the costumes. If you haven’t seen it yourself you cannot imagine it… The appearance of the most people was planned and fixed to the tiniest detail.

Women had contact lenses that were white or light blue with a black dot in the middle; make-up was put on the faces like in the Rococo era where faces were white, and lips were small and red, whereas cheeks — peachy, and still it wasn’t all. Sides of face were painted with flowers, glitter, and pearls. Hair, of course, was also important. Black, pink, red, white you name it; curled, or straightened, real or fake, up or loose, short or long, but never simple. Then for certain styles hats, bags, and umbrellas were also important. It seemed that a dress is the most important part of the looks and I was given the impression that they were own designed, bought, created. Most of the dresses were full length and huge with an ‘underskirt’ (metallic hoops) that made it look even bigger. The dresses were with ribbons and bows, bell-shaped and glamorous.  Whereas shoes and stockings were no exception, they were very special as well. Shoes were exclusive because one could see some of those only in the museums.

Men did not fall behind the looks of women, they supplemented each other. They wore the long forgotten top hat and leaned against a walking-stick. Some were dressed like Dracula with long black overcoats, some were dressed like pirates in full, and others were dressed like zombies. Men wearing long, black skirts with metal rings, chains, ribbons and  was nothing unusual. Further, men’s hair were long and short, always black and messy. On their arms they wore bangles and wristlets, and on their fingers they wore silver rings or gloves.

To conclude, I must admit that I most truly admire Goths and their lifestyle. I am disappointed, angry, and sad that sometimes they are judged and misunderstood, and that some people think they have the right to state their opinion to them about their looks. I hope for a better future for those who are special and do not go with the crowd, and as for me, I will still fight for their rights of freedom and free will.

“I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.”
― Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Gertrude McFuzz

For a Better Future

On Paranoia

In Margaret Atwood’s novel “Bodily Harm” the main protagonist experiences a continuous mania of being watched. Thus largely negative personal experiences cause a personality confrontation. The main heroine undergoes a breach of body and identity:

She began to see herself from the outside, as if she was a moving target in someone else’s binoculars. She could even hear the silent commentary: Now she’s opening the bean sprouts, now she’s cooking an omelette, now she’s eating is, now she’s washing off the plate. Now she’s sitting down in the livingroom, nothing much going on. Now she’s getting up, she’s going in to the bedroom, she’s taking off her shoes, she’s turning out the light. Next comes the good part. (p.40)

I found this passage somewhat hilarious because it gives an opportunity to look at thing around oneself from an opposite perspective.

xoxo Nina

On Paranoia

Man and Religion

“God is dead.” -Nietzsche, 1883

“Nietzsche is dead.” -God, 1900

Nietzsche described religion as an escape from responsibility for one’s own actions: “When man experiences the conditions of power, the imputation is that he is not their cause, that he is not responsible for them … in so far as anything great and strong in man has been conceived as superhuman and external, man has belittled himself — he has separated the two sides of himself, one very paltry and weak, one very strong and astonishing, into two spheres, and called the former ‘man,’ the latter ‘God'” (Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 86-87).

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