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Studying Abroad: GREECE

Checks&Balances is, as of this moment, starting a series of blogs from IRIO students studying abroad. Leonie Jegen is currently studying in Athens, Greece. First Impressions of Athens „So you guys think we are like Pakistani?,” asks me a friend’s friend in a bar. In front of us: a Greek life band, young guys with beards and long hair, enjoying ... Read More »

La Crisis

The situation on the Spanish housing market gets more and more precarious. Over 400,000 families already faced eviction since the outbreak of the economic crisis five years ago and the same number is acutely endangered to suffer a similar fate. The implosion of the credit-financed boom reached Spain´s moribund housing market at full tilt. With an unemployment rate of 25% ... Read More »

Gypsy Kings

Once upon a time, there was a little town, deeply hidden away in the forests of a faraway country, where everybody lived wealthy in fancy castles and had a nice Bentley in front of it. Sounds a bit like a fairytale, doesn’t it? If you leave the Bentley out, it could have been written by the Grim brothers. But this ... Read More »

The Ost-Hippies of the DDR

Flower Power, peace signs and thousands of young people listening to music while sitting in the mud and smoking weed. For many of us, the Woodstock festival of 1969 is a key example of our current perception of hippies. What is often forgotten though, is the generation of flower children at the other side of the Iron Curtain. Yet, these ... Read More »

Forced sterilization: Transgender reality in Europe

In Sweden an attempt to reform a law prescribing forced sterilization in case of a gender update on ID cards failed earlier this year. There is a happy and excited atmosphere in Südblock, a casual bar in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The reason is the celebration of the long night against discrimination. The queer/ trans-scene has gathered to celebrate. While the party ... Read More »

A Grave Story

“All the gravestones offered were dates, something to serve as mere parentheses around what really happened in a person’s life’’ – Roy MacGregor See that gravestone above this article? It is known as a stècak. The word originates from an even older word stojećak, which can be translated literally as ‘standing thing’.  Stećci are monumental medieval tombstones, that lay scattered across the Balkan area. ... Read More »

The Worldwide Symbol of Rebellion

Ever since the end of World War 2, the AK-47, or popularly named Kalashnikov after its designer, has been a recurring phenomenon in international conflicts. The rifle is for many more than just an instrument of death, it is a symbol for their struggle against the Western world.  Cheap, easy to use, will not break down. The characteristics speak for ... Read More »

The Axe-Effect

Meet Ramil Sahib oglu Safarov. After being sentenced to a lifelong imprisonment and having been incarcerated for several years in a Hungarian prison, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan a few weeks ago, where he was greeted as a hero and immediately pardoned. The result? An angry mob in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, burning Hungarian flags and bombarding the Hungarian consulate with ... Read More »

No Payday for Madgermanes

East and West Germany reunited only three months before I was born. That makes my generation the first generation that is still alive that never knew Germany as being separated. As a member of that generation, I’m always surprised when I realise once again how little I know about that “other” Germany, the German Democratic Republic, although it existed for ... Read More »

600 Km For a Better Life

“In my country they kill you with guns, in this country they kill you with detentation centers“, says Omid, a 28 year old political activist from Iran who is demanding asylum in Germany. Omid is part of a group of asylum seekers who arrived from Würzbug (Bavaria) in Berlin last Friday, after a 600km food walk through the whole country.  ... Read More »