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Studying Abroad: Greece 3

Greece is one of the gateways of many refugees routes to Europe. This is a fact, which does not go unnoticed on the streets of Athens. It is an afternoon in March. I am on my way to a self-organized refugee assembly. The meeting is about to begin. It takes place in a lecture room of a university building. In ... Read More »

Studying Abroad: Turkey 3

Even though many Europeans consider the touristic cities at the Mediterranean Sea as ‘Western’ and, therefore, as an extension of their own country – which is true to a certain extent, as you can talk in any language you desire with the local population – there are some striking differences between the ‘real’ Turkey and Western Europe. Foremost, it could ... Read More »

Studying Abroad: Ukraine 4

Last month I went home to Germany for a weekend.  On my way back I took a bus from Berlin to Chernivtsi. It took a whole day to get there and Ukrainian roads are not exactly a joyride, but the experience justified the means. Such a trip reminds you of what it’s like to live in Ukraine. The (Ukrainian) bus ... Read More »

Studying Abroad: Rome 1

“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd and everything conceals something else.” (Italo Calvino, Le Cittá Invisibili) And this certainly counts for Rome, the city where I am currently spending my Erasmus semester. Absurd rules. The first remarkable thing was the impossibility of getting in ... Read More »

The Inbetweeners

Ukraine is deeply divided over where it should head – East or West. While the EU offers an Association Agreement including a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, it isn’t the only one reaching out its hand. Russia, the powerful neighbour to the East, offers membership in a customs union with Belarus, the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan, which might one day turn ... Read More »

A Shadow over the Anniversary of Dutch-Russian Relations

A while ago, I had a visit from a friend from Moscow. No, it was not Vladimir Putin, who has arrived to the Netherlands today to mark off the 400 year anniversary of Russian-Dutch relations. But both visits had something in common: they both reminded me of the situation Russian gay people are in. My friend came to the Netherlands ... Read More »

Francois’ Sporty Tax

He wants it, he gets it: After his first proposal for a 75% mega tax for income-millionaires was rejected by the Constitutional Court, France’s president Francois Hollande announced in a TV interview to shift the burden of payment from individuals to businesses paying salaries above the magical one-million-euro-line.  That means that companies paying wages higher than €1m p.a. are required to ... Read More »

An Economy Running on Money from Abroad

“Goris-Stepanakert autoway, built with participation of all Armenians” reads a sign next to the very road. In other words, this road has been paid for by the Armenians living outside Armenia, the Diaspora. The money they send in is of such importance, it is one of the main reasons Armenia and its economy have not collapsed yet. Armenia is a ... Read More »

The World’s Most Dangerous Criminal

Semeon Mogilevich seems to have walked right away from the set of a Hollywood gangster movie: he is fat, highly educated, powerful, rich, and above all incredibly elusive. The Ukrainian criminal is wanted by various countries and has been on the World’s Most Wanted list of the FBI since 2009. Despite being one of the world’s most hunted criminals, the ... Read More »

Studying Abroad: UKRAINE 3

When studying abroad people always tell you about the stages of cultural adjustment, which apparently are very typical phenomena for people experiencing life in foreign countries. While I am not a big fan of generalisations of such a kind and always expected that I would embrace all things new – even I have to admit that there is some truth ... Read More »