Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog

Starry night (Credit: Pexel Free Stock Photos)

Aries (March 21—April 19): It’s your time to shine, Aries, although I don’t see how that’s different from any other month. Maybe you should do everyone a favor and be a little less . . . yourself this month.

Lucky numbers: the low value, quiet ones

Taurus (April 20—May 20): You’re naturally stubborn in your beliefs, Taurus, so star signs and horoscopes have been deemed as “unscientific” and “bogus”—and no amount of persuasion will allow you to see the truth. Because of this, the universe has arranged a special karmic journey for you this month. Godspeed.

Lucky numbers: all of them. You’ll need the luck.

Gemini (May 21—June 20): In an unsurprising Gemini move, you’ll be caught in a bald-faced lie this month. Maybe this wouldn’t happen if you were more straightforward, but it’s too late now. Instead of pulling your usual move—blaming Saturn—you should beg for forgiveness and promise you’ll never gossip again. Because we all believed you the last time.

Lucky numbers: the imaginary ones

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Eastern and Western Europe Map. (Credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and I were at a café pretending to do work when he read me the following passage from Annie Ernaux’s “The Years” [*1], a memoir that aims to capture collective experiences, that I have not been able to get out of my head since:

       Yugoslavia was in a state of bloody mayhem. Bullets whistled back and forth across the streets from the weapons of invisible shooters, snipers. But as the shells vied to wipe out passersby, reduce thousand-year-old bridges to dust, and the formerly ‘new’ philosophers vied to shame us, going out of their way to repeat, ‘Sarajevo is only two hours from Paris’, we kept to ourselves, overcome with fatigue. We’d exerted too much emotion during the Gulf War, for no good reason. Consciousness retracted. We were angry with the Croats, the Kosovars, etc., for killing each other like savages instead of copying us. We did not feel we belonged to the same Europe as them.” (171-2)

Given the context of Ernaux’s book, which traces different instances of French and world political history over the span of 66 years, one can clearly infer that the “we” of this passage refers to French people and, by extension, Western Europeans as a larger group. As a Macedonian, I am inclined to think that I am not and probably never will be a part of this “we”.

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View from Blithewood Garden on Bard College Campus featuring Annie Swett (EPST 2019) and Nancy Stanley (HAST 2019) (Credit: Emma Jacoby)

Studying abroad for one year at two separate institutions on two continents has been and will be exhausting but beautiful. The decision you made to spend two semesters in two separate locations was not taken lightly. After two years at BCB, you probably did know everyone and had taken classes across several concentrations; it was normal that you felt a little restless. You and most of your friends consequently decided to study abroad at BGIA, CEU, Bard, Lingnan, Sciences Po — and for two semesters instead of just one. Silly as it may seem, if you were considering spending those two semesters at two institutions, you realized it would be a good idea to come up with a kurz und knackig (short and sweet) introduction to your life. Even before coming to upstate New York, you’d been asked which state in the US you were from countless times. So your spiel was to establish that you were a German-but-international student from an undergraduate program at Bard College Berlin who has lived in places like Bangladesh and Georgia, yet always ended up at English-speaking international schools where picking up an American accent proved to be surprisingly easy (and franky unavoidable).

Your time at Bard during the Fall Semester began with an unexciting eleven-hour layover in Dublin, one that was made even more unpleasant than usual by the cold you had caught just twelve hours before your flight. After that fiasco of an airport experience, you would not recommend that particular AerLingus connection to future study abroad students.  Thankfully, things definitely picked up for you from there. Insider information about airlines or cafeteria food is something you’ve always appreciated in reflections about academic experiences when making big decisions, such as where to go to college or study abroad. You hope that your reflection, through the sharing of some of your unprofessional opinions on Bard and CEU, might be helpful to others in the middle of filling out their study abroad forms.

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Artwork by ODIOUS collective in Südgelände park (Credit: Liza Ostrovska)

Google weather confirms: It’s been there for the past three days. Im-pos-sib-le. But look, it’s there, caught in the roof tiles of the Treskowstrasse 25 front building: There. Now do you believe me? It’s been there all along:

The February sun.

Have you noticed? As our studies resume, the world around us takes on a peculiar character. Our world starts to suffer from mysterious distortions. The difference between Platanen- and Eichenstrasse appears to be in the number of minutes it takes to transport oneself from Cafeteria to Lecture Hall, from Lecture Hall to the Iderfenngraben tram stop. The world around us suffers from puzzling distortions so that the only voices we begin to pay any heed to are those of Gospels, Critiques, Confessions, beckoning from the reading room and all agreeing on the same point: set the alarm for 6:45, latest. Well, I do. But in the morning, the M1 takes me away from academics, in the direction opposite the Reading room: time to reclaim the world and hit the (rail)road.

On the S2-nach-Lichtenrade, I resist the urge to pull out the latest reading assignment and resolve to count stations instead. Fumes of cars vibrating in the frosty air, Garten-Kolonies, bare branches of Humboldthain — and that’s it, the S2-nach-Lichtenrade, way too loud for the city center, is swallowed by the dark tunnel of Nordbahnhof. A few (fives of) minutes in the underground limbo, and I find myself facing the gate of the world far beyond the Reading room, more commonly known as Naturpark Schöneberger Südgelände.

Read on to find out what was lost on BCB campus and found again in a former industrial area.

Tea is served (Credit: Flickr)

We’ll never know just how much we don’t know. To remedy our ignorance as best we can, we have decided to mine the wealth of knowledge held in the collective psyche of the student body and present it here in a new podcast series, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” In today’s episode, Brenna O’Brien tells us a little bit about Japanese tea ceremony, which she studied for over 6 years both in her home of New Mexico and later in Japan.

Songs used:

  1. “Tea for Two” by Doris Day
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A mutilated rendering of the Star of David (Credit: Flickr)

When one thinks of Antisemitism in Europe and particularly in Germany, the first images that are likely to come to mind are those of skinheads or Nazis, or even individuals who regard themselves as bio-Deutsch (ethnically German – whatever that means). These people represent a valid threat to those of Jewish background. What many neglect to realise is that they are not the only ones who hold Antisemitic views: Antisemitism among people with an Arabic or Muslim background is generally overlooked. It may be difficult to grasp the notion of a minority oppressing another minority as it contradicts many popular historical narratives, but this does not mean that the critique of such intolerance and hatred should be silenced. It is becoming increasingly important to voice these concerns today as Europe sees the rise of populist right-wing parties that target Jewish, Arab, and Muslim minorities.

The fear of being seen as ‘Islamophobic’ by the liberal left or having one’s stance instrumentalized by the far-right to promote an anti-migrant rhetoric is preventing a discourse on Antisemitism among Arab and Muslim communities, further marginalizing those with a Jewish background. In order to address this, one needs to understand the difference between European Antisemitism and that enacted by Arab and Muslim people. While both have brutal histories of victimizing, persecuting and marginalizing Jewish groups, the atrocities committed during WWII against the Jews in Europe generated historical guilt and shame that lead to hyperawareness, a nation-wide condemnation of Antisemitism, and Germany’s culture of remembrance. This culture of remembrance is  criticized by AfD’s senior member Björn Höcke when he references the Memorial of the Murdered Jews in Berlin, stating that “Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital”[*1].  The implication of such a statement is that no remembrance or shame is necessary. This opinion, shared among party members and right-wing Germans demonstrates that, sadly, Antisemitic sentiments are still held by the supposed bio-Deutsche.

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Symbols of Faith (Credit: Sara D. via Flickr)

My grandfather was not a Jew by choice. In 1930s Europe, being a Jew was a curse, and one that promised death. Born in the Jewish ghetto of Vienna, he was given the name of Erich Christian Schwarz, a triumphant effort at masking the family’s heritage through words. My grandfather escaped Europe by hope, beautiful coincidence, and profound vivacity, so that I could be born an American shiksa: a gentile girl devoid of the Jewish burden. Now, 18 years later, I choose to spite him. I proudly call myself a Jew, and it has allowed me a greater understanding of my family and our people than I ever had before.

I will not be the first to say that discovering religion has done me a service. Even now, years after beginning my new immersion into Jewish culture, the words sound saccharine and cliched. I want my experience to be an original one, but I know it has never been. The faith has a power that, regardless of our willingness to admit it, has ensnared and enraptured countless people since the dawn of time. This may be for good reason, as I have learned.

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