Barely two weeks have passed and yet it seems to me that enormously more time went by. It feels like a world lays in between those days prior to my departure and today, which is literally true once you consider the distance of over 8000 kilometres.
Nonetheless, a little over fourteen days is not a huge time span, thus my thoughts and observations are still fresh and genuine, and therefore a lot more fun to share. One just gets used to different environments so fast and you can’t question everything around you the entire time — not even as “part-time philosopher”. First of all I have to emphasise that in regards of weather Vancouver has particularly treated me really well. My Instagram feed actually shows that quite nicely (yes, this is an implicit call on having a look for yourself!).
Usually, so I was told, September and October are splendid months in Vancouver, yet it can be a pretty foggy and rainy time as well. A week ago on “Imagine Day”, when all UBC clubs (over 300) presented themselves to recruit new members, I enjoyed a little appetizer of that. I was thus so soaked that I immediately went to buy a proper rain jacket (almost gore-tex grade) afterwards. You have to face the truth that this is an essential equipment to sustain here. But enough for the weather!
Picking up on with what I closed the last article, the general command of English, I must confess I either underestimated it or had too high expectations towards myself or probably both. It takes more time to get back to the peak of the past than I thought it would and it requires also more effort. In a way it is a lesson in patience and the urge for exercise. Eventually it boils down to the fact that English is easy to learn but hard to master, which is at least my impression. But maybe this also a crucial part of the travelling experience, as one philosopher once put it, that travelling has to be inconvenient and flawed with obstacles to be truly “travelling”.
Turning to my “observations”, which are by no means unique and never stated before, I’d start with the sheer discrepancy of space in North America and Europe. I daresay, that the difference is indeed huge. This is nothing which I wasn’t already aware of earlier, but it has struck more vigorously than ever. The streets, the cars, the dimension of the city and my campus are so much bigger (“bigger than bigger” as Apple would claim). Fun fact: an Audi Q7 which is considered to be a very large car in Germany looks quite reasonable in contrast to those many Dodge Rams etc. which are very popular here. I can also see the point of using the car here so much, because often enough walking really sucks since the ways are considerably long. For instance, I wouldn’t even dare to walk from on end of the campus to the other, it just takes me to long. I’d rather take the bus.
Another thing which made an impression on me is the different use of resources. I feel that North America, being blessed with essential resources like timber, gas and oil (Alberta’s tarsands i.e.), is way easier on resources and does not care as much as Europe about a more or less efficient application. This is obviously a biased and generalised observation, yet sheer number of pickup cars driving around (and I’m sure not everyone actually has a use for the dedicated features of that car category) supports my thesis at least in terms of fuel. The largely popular use of timber for almost everything around the house and many more on the hand makes totally sense for Canada, yet on the other hand it still appears strange to my eyes, being used to see houses built up with stone and concrete. Maybe Canada’s approach is actually more sustainable, who knows.
One last thing I recently made my mind up with concerns privacy. I think that North Americans have a largely different conception as Germans do (again, this is highly generalised) which also accounts for the more open attitude towards strangers. When I think in terms of the German privacy conception I imagine everyone being equipped with a kind of considerable, invisible bubble around one’s body which represents one’s private space. Germans usually don’t like unknown people (to interfere with their bubble unless they are specifically invited to do so. On average privacy is considered an important value in Germany, which is also reflected in law, constitution and public debate. I’d even say that use of social media in terms of commitment to share every tiny bit of one’s life is considerably different. North Americans on the other hand either don’t seem to have such a bubble or it is definitely smaller in scale. On average they seem value openness and the willingness to meet, to get to know new people, and to hear their stories more than privacy implications. Assuming this to be a valid thesis can offer one explanation why privacy concerns regarding the excessive use of social media and the behaviour of big players like Facebook and co. seems not so much of an issue here as it is Germany.
So long, it’s bed time for me!