beschäftigt – busy

Listening to my professor – whose English is passable, at best – try to explain the concept of a log function to a class of decidedly non-math-inclined students was equal parts excruciating and hilarious. I was gonna rip into his contradictory remarks (first mover advantage vs. greater cultural differences; demand-driven immigration vs. ‘Greeks will start emigrating by next year’), but then I did my presentation and would rather give him mad props for being able to lecture for an hour in this heat, standing up, wearing long-sleeves. I could barely utter a coherent sentence (actually my presentation was probably incoherent).

There’s a new intern whose German is worse than mine. You know what that means? It means we speak English at lunch now. Hurrah! I am not-so-secretly pleased. I embrace and welcome the challenge and opportunity of learning and practising German, but it was just… so hard to be social in a language I sucked at.

Work is crazy, but I prefer it at this pace. Having pressing short-term tasks allows me to put off long-term development… though I’m sure a good worker can juggle both at the same time. I’m just an amateur.

Things are crazy up till next Tuesday, after which I can relax and start studying for exams. Wait, what?

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happiness, well-being and life satisfaction

This was the topic of a 20-hour block seminar this weekend. 15 one-hour student presentations. I’m wiped. We all are. Yesterday most of us went to bed before 22.30. My presentation went ok – my first presentation using Prezi, so that impressed most people. I don’t wanna talk about the two profs at all cos I’ve ranted enough about them this weekend.

At the bus stop a stranger also waiting for the bus asked, ‘Darf ich Ihnen etwas fragen?’ – Am I allowed to ask you something? Such politeness is rare, and he struck me as a very conscientious young man. Prefacing a question with such a question naturally hinted that he wanted to ask something personal. And it was obvious what it would be, so I said yes. He wanted to know where I was from, and when I said ‘Aus Kanada,’ his face registered a little surprised and he said, ‘Oh, I would have thought China or something.’ We chatted a bit on the bus, just about what we were both doing in Hamburg, and as I climbed out of the bus he bade me a friendly ‘Have fun!’

Nicest Hamburger stranger I’ve met thus far, probably!

Then just before I got home a man stopped me on the sidewalk with a polite ‘Entschuldigung…’ to ask for directions to the main station. That was really awesome… when people on campus and the streets hand out flyers and ask if you want to subscribe to a newspaper, every time  I walk past them I dread both that they will hand a flyer or try to talk to everyone else rushing past them except me. Because there is some probability that they ignore me because I look Asian and therefore probably don’t speak German. Of course, it’s perfectly possible that just by random selection that they didn’t ask me. But, as an interview on racial discrimination so rightly put, random acts of violence (to take one example of a random act) are put down to random by people in the majority. A white person who is the victim of such an act will put it down to just that: random. A racialised/non-white/minority person, on the other hand, who is the victim of the same act has a mental checklist of reasons why it may have happened to them. Could it be because I’m gay? Because I’m black? Because I’m muslim?

So yes, when someone doesn’t hand me a flyer when they’re handing one out to every single person walking by them on the street, I might put it down to my race. I entertain the possibility.

That’s why I’m so happy when strangers stop me to ask for directions.

So yeah, two good things happening this evening. But for some reason I feel like shit. I think it’s cos the professor I talked to about the seminar paper basically said I’m not very familiar with axiomatic methods. And he’s right, I’m not… compared to an economics student. But compared to the average PEP student, I’m not too shabby. I’m not taking offense… just a little hurt, is all. I thought I did a pretty good job on the presentation.

So I feel like shit, but have to go to a classmate’s place to socialise. Normally I’d just bail, but I not only told a bunch of people I’d be there, but CONFIRMED it with three people (including the host) within the past hour. Damn it.