17 May 2007

Exam Period Update, London and life in general

Here I am, procastrinating again.

Actually, I should be studying these cursed development economics topics (which is what I did for the last few days until it came out of ear and out of my nose). GDP, PPP, SAPs and PRSPs into infinity. I need a break. Maybe reading about Southeast Asia will help. Also, I am slightly panicky about this development exam because my lesson at school was to stay away from anything remotely related to mathematics. It is interesting how I suddenly have these "u-huh moments" when I read through stuff again one year after I heard it in class and suddenly a lot of things make sense to me. For most of the time at the beginning of the year, I sat in that tutorial, staring off into space and at the clock on the wall alternatively, thinking, "What the hell am I doing? Why did I decide to continue with development?" It seems I have found my answer now. That doesn't mean that I like it more than anthropology. The latter is still my primary passion and I will probably always be in love with anthropology. However, while I was going through the economics stuff, I remembered what development was like at Univie. Very theoretical and basically revolving around policy paradigm shifts and debates concerning the social aspects of development. At SOAS, development is very much approached via economics which - even if I struggle with it - gives it a better foundation I believe because what matters in the end and what poverty reduction is about in the end, is generation and productive use of capital.

Concerning capital, thanks to my third and last Dinwiddy instalment (term 3), I have broken a new record with my account balance. I have actually exceeded my overdraft limit (not the valuta limit!) for the first time in my life. Luckily, I am probably going to receive a larger sum of money from the sale of my flat soon. Until then, my credit card will be put to use as much as I can. I haven't really checked my account the last months because money and surviving stressed me out so much a while ago that I just worried more than I lived. This does not mean that I imprudently spent my money with both my hands. I just stopped thinking twice whenever I buy everyday things. Also, for the first time over here I have bought markers (in English a "Marker" is a highlighter and a "Filzstift" is a marker), something which I badly wanted when I arrived but which I deemed an unnecessary expense. I just can't live like this anymore. This is what London does to you. It makes precious things out of markers.

From Serrula's holiday remuneration (still not received any payslips, neither me nor Lila), I ordered a book I have wanted to buy for three months or so now. It is called Diaspora City and is a London Writing Anthology. I might have already told you about it. In addition, I also bought a DVD of a movie I have wanted to see ever since it was released in 2001, Intimacy. After a year of pennypinching, everyday craze of living in this city and studying like mad I deserve treating myself.

About London: Will I go home this summer? Can I imagine returning to Austria for good after my degree? When I came here, I expected to regard Austria as home after I will have moved away from it. That I will dash to the Austrian delicatessen shop in London regularly and that it will be difficult for me to build a new life from scratch. Now, that summer is drawing near and the end of term and full-time uni, I asked myself, will I go and visit Austria? And then, something which I have probably known for a very long time at the back of my head, became clear to me: That I do not consider Austria a home. Sure, I grew up there, went to school there, spent the most part of my life there and it is where my friends and family live. But I am not anchored there. Although I love drinking Mélange, strolling through beautiful Vienna and spending time on the country side, I do not miss Austria or my life there. Another reason is that there is no market for my qualification whereas, in the UK, there is. Most importantly - and this is where I will not pretend to have penetrated the mind of the British after only one year of studying with predominantly international students at one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world - the Austrian tendency to parochial thinking, multicultural cleavages and reservation is something I find irreconcilable.

Will I stay in London for good? I don't know. It certainly will nurture your curiosity and entdeckunglust for a long time but also slowly and very sneakily, it gnaws at your sanity. Even the multiculturalness that I so admire about it can drive you crazy at times (ie Sam trying to study at SOAS enveloped by groups of people who speak Sanskrit, Chinese and Swahili trying to block each other's noise out; the bureaucracy marathon and just being a pedestrian can be very nerve-wracking too not to mention the financial side of things). I want to travel. I want to see Southeast Asia. If coming to London was my last dream then going to discover Asia the next one! Prudence suggests that I pay back my tuition fees first before I travel the Philippines, get kidnapped and then my mum has to pay ransom AND my student loan.

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