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The Perks of an Exchange

The road towards a career constitutes a never-ending story and is imbued with making choices. One of these is whether or not to step out of your comfort zone, and take on the challenge to study abroad. After careful consideration, overwhelming amounts of paperwork and endless procedures I decided to go on an exchange, and here I am, studying at ... Read More »

Interview: The Life of a Diplomat: a Football Match

The word diplomat always invokes a promise of success and adventure, at least among many IR/IO students. Checks&Balances interviewed Jan Willem Bertens, who was not only a diplomat in Uruguay, Costa Rica and Sudan, but also the party leader of D66 in the European Parliament. Above all, Bertens is a passionate story-teller, with plenty to talk about: he built a ... Read More »

Study Abroad: Scotland

Checks&Balances is writing a series of blogs from IRIO students studying abroad. Sander des Tombe is currently studying in Aberdeen, Scotland. In a stroll through the city, I noticed the absence of sale signs and I came to understand that Aberdeen’s house prices have actually doubled over the last ten years. Along with London, Aberdeen is unique in the U.K. ... Read More »

Review: The Act of Killing

How do you make a documentary of a massacre, a genocide, when there are no living survivors willing to speak about it? When the massacre itself is still celebrated and its perpetrators are deemed ‘heroes? The answer is as simple as brilliant; you make the documentary about these ‘national heroes’, the ones who proudly talk about how they killed over ... Read More »

Studying Abroad: Greece

While studying the history of Greece in the 19th Century in the last month I realized that the past may tell us more about the present than I thought. A little summary of my déjà-vu backwards, meeting austerity, speculation and European crisis in 1898. To understand the background of the past, I will start out with a little summary of ... Read More »

Review: The Fog of War

With the academic year nearly at an end, is it possible that you over-satisfied your yearly reading needs? Apart from some well-deserved relaxation, the decade’s worth of documentaries that is freely dispersed over the internet can provide you with sufficient food for thought. In the field of IR, The Fog of War is often considered as a standard work among ... 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 »

Love Letter to Pope Francis

by Victor Kuijpens Dear Holy Father, Having followed your first papal appearance from Africa, I was happy to see a South-American successor to Saint Peter. We wished for a black pope, but anyone from the global south is welcome. From what the newspapers say, you have a strong reputation in poverty reduction in Buenos Aires, and you are attached to ... Read More »