slumdog millionaire

22 03 2009

I saw this movie tonight with a friend, and I know I’m a little late to the party, but WOW. This was an amazingly well-done movie. The cinematography, the soundtrack, the story–all of it. Amazing. Totally deserved all the Oscars. 

But, this is not a movie review, and what I want to say is this…

I wrote an essay for my application to Jacobs that included the story of a day that changed my life. That day changed my life because it gave me a sense of purpose (go here for the full story; the version in the essay was abbreviated). I wrote that I wanted to help make a difference in the world, and was going to college to learn enough to make my help matter. Ignorant help can be worse than no help at all, and it’s true. I need to understand the situations in the world in order to understand what I need to do to make it better. I have always believed that, and two years ago, I felt it. Deep inside of me, I felt it. I had seen firsthand that a lot needs to be done, more clearly than ever before, and I felt the need to make a difference, or at least to try the best I could. 

As the months, and then years, passed by, I started to lose that sense of purpose. The horrors of the world weren’t staring me in the face anymore. My memories were fading. I tried to remember, but the words when I spoke of it became empty. I started to talk about other things. I started to think my feelings before were stupid and idealistic, that I could really make a difference. I started to think, why not just drift. It’s as good a plan as any. 

But then. But then, I saw this movie, and it sounds ridiculous to say a movie made a difference in my life–but it did. The pictures of life in India’s endless slums, so truthfully and heart-renderingly captured, made me see clearly again what had not been clear to me for months. I saw it again, and I felt it again. I am going to school next year in order to understand what’s going on in the world, and then I am going to try my best, give it all I can, to change it. 

I’m not enough of a good person for this to be my entire life. I intend to have some fun, too. But when it’s all said and done? This is what I’m doing, and this is why I’m here. I’m trying to figure out the best way to help alleviate at least one of the countless problems faced by our world. And, thanks to Slumdog Millionaire, those words, those promises, and that sense of purpose, are no longer becoming emptier and emptier.



19 03 2009

I always thought this would be impossible–going to Europe for college. Sure, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but I never, until now, really believed it was possible. But, it is. It’s possible, and I’m doing it, and it’s going to be amazing.

Doing something “impossible” has made me think about other possibilities–things I have always kind of wanted to do, but never really believed were truly possible. I saw a gorgeous picture of Sydney, Australia today. Before, I would have thought, “I’d love to see that in person.” Today, the thought was the same, except added on to the end was, “And I will.” I have always wanted to see the world, and now I think that’s a dream that might really come true at some point. Before, I’d thought, “It would be really cool to teach English overseas,” and now I think, it would be amazing, and it’s something I might actually do. This is evident not just in things like travel–I thought, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel,” and on Sunday, I thought, “I will.” And since then, I’ve written eight thousand words and have a plan for the rest of it. Not that it’s some kind of masterpiece, but this time, instead of giving up after a few chapters, I believe that I really will write this whole story. I believe it, and that’s what’s different. I believe it’s possible. Nothing is really different, but I believe it is, and that makes all the difference in the world.

the german language

19 03 2009

I’ve been studying German, both because I am going to Germany next year, and because it’s my senior project (it’s the “practical experience” component, the research paper is about foreign language education reform). I have a book called “Learn German The Fast And Fun Way” that I’ve been using, and it’s completely ridiculous. The order in which things are taught doesn’t make much sense, and the only things I’m retaining are beyond useless. For example, I can say “The city is overrun with tourists” but the book has not yet addressed counting…so I have no idea how many tourists there are 😉 It feels kind of pointless and ridiculous, but I don’t have many better options for studying German, so I’m stuck with this book. And perhaps some podcasts. That might be a good idea. Because even though I will probably be able to survive next year without much German (as it’s an English-speaking school and a lot of Germans seem to speak at least a little English), I’m sure that the experience will be a lot better if I do speak German. And while I’ll take classes when I’m there, I’d still like to start out with at least a little basic knowledge. So, wish me luck with my German-learning endeavors!


17 03 2009

A teacher said today, when we were discussing my plans, that this is what I’ve been working towards. That what I’m doing, is following my dream. And I just suddenly realized, oh, yeah, she’s right. For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me before that a love of travel, a desire to see the world, a fascination with other cultures, and an affinity for languages all kind of add up to this, to Jacobs. That this is the logical next step for me. I thought it was crazy, and, sure, maybe it is, if you’re someone else. But if you’re me? This just makes sense. Wow. It makes sense. It’s the right choice. And I’m excited.


16 03 2009

This morning, work was dead. It’s Sunday morning and everyone’s at church. So I had plenty of time to talk to my coworker. He’s also a high school senior, and currently making his college decision, between two state schools. One is about an hour from home; the other is more like three hours from home. We were going over the pros and cons of each choice, and I asked him what his gut feeling was, and he said something he couldn’t name told him to go to the school three hours away, but he wasn’t sure if he could–it was just so far away

How am I not petrified?, he asked. How am I not in tears thinking about it? He’s afraid to go three hours from home, and I’m crossing the ocean

I’m not afraid. I mean, I’m a little nervous, of course, and I know there will be times when I’m homesick, but I can’t imagine wanting to stay so close to home. I just can’t fathom it. He and I are very different people, of course, but this conversation made me think about why I’m not afraid. There are a lot of reasons, but I think one is, I know how interconnected the world is. I know it better than most people. I know that with modern technology, it’s easy to stay in touch, and I don’t just know it in a vague out-there sense; I know it in a real, today, right here sense. One of my closest friends lives in California and we talk all the time and while I’m sure it’d be awesome to hang out with her in person, I don’t feel like we’re necessarily missing something by not seeing each other every day. Another friend lives in Tennessee and we talk regularly. I already know that it’s possible to keep up a relationship without an in-person component, from multiple experiences like these two, and I understand it better than most people I know.

So, no, I’m not afraid (or at least the fear’s not enough to make me consider staying here), because I don’t see it as being isolated from everyone and everything I know, because everyone I know is a facebook message, a google chat, or a skype call away.

images of jacobs

15 03 2009

As promised, an image post for Jacobs University Bremen campus. These are just a few of my favorite pictures of the university, found through various search engines. 



















images of bremen

13 03 2009

I’ve spent way too much time online searching pictures of Jacobs and of Bremen, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites here. This post is just Bremen, not the university, and I’ll do a separate post for the university later. I know this is really long, but moderation is not my specialty. Anyway, enjoy.