Archive for the 'Düsseldorf' Category

Social Software @ Work

I’m at a great workshop today and yesterday, “Social Software @ Work” at HHU’s Schloss Mickeln in Duesseldorf. I didn’t have much opportunity to take part in such conferences – something that has to change! Dozens of like-minded people, from companies like BASF, Daimler and Siemens as well as Frauenhof researchers talking about web 2.0. Check out the speakers list and their publications.

Düsseldorf Business School

I did it! After reading up on further education, thinking over my decision not to do a doctorate, but an MBA program and coming to the same conclusion once again, I started looking for business schools in the area. There are two local schools, FOM and DBS and a number of distance study programs like the ones from Akad and Open University. The latter was really tempting, but I wanted to sit with other students in one room and work on problems together. Since every student has several years of experience in his work field, the mix of experiences a group can offer is unparalleled and can’t possibly be reached by distance learning. The DBS has an English MBA program as well, but it hasn’t started yet for this year so I’m settling for the German one and might switch later one.

Money is scarce as always, so I applied for a scholarship – and obtained it! The first day of school is today. In the next 19 months, I’ll dive into the world of economics and business administration. See you December 2009.

The Eagle Has Landed

IMG_2750 They say every voyage is an adventure – well, sometimes it’s more than that, it’s a thriller, too. Everything at home was prepared, bags packed, the apartment cleaned and most of our belongings already in boxes, ready for the move in June. We’re visiting the family in South Korea before that, May 23rd, KLM flight 1860, from Düsseldorf via Amsterdam to Incheon, departure time 16:25. We arrived at the airport about two hours before departure, everything seemed to go smooth. Almost everything. At the check-in counter, the ground staff gave us back my passport because it was invalid, I’m terribly sorry, but you can’t fly with this passport. Imagine the shock. Turns out, we’ve left my current, red passport at home and took the green, temporary one that expired in 2004. Next followed a speed race back home with a cab. The driver was sympathetic and used hidden Tunesian driving skills to get me home in a mere 15 minutes. I needed much longer to find the passport though, because, as mentioned above, everything was already packed and prepared for the move. The passport was found at last after a dozen boxes were opened and we were able to check-in 30 minutes prior to departure.

The exitement wasn’t over completely: The bus that took us to the airplane drove a few rounds around the air field, somebody else was a higher priority. As we found out, the police escorted a black prisoner to the airplane. He tried to resist against his extradition, kicked and screamed, fought with the guards. One of the police men had a wound over his right eye and lost his uniform badge on the right shoulder after they succeeded in seating him in the back of the machine. I don’t know what the reason for the extradition was, but he seemed very determined to oppose it in every possible way. He stopped screaming when we entered the airplane – it took us a few minutes to fold the buggy and hand it over to the ground personnel which is why we were last to board the prop airliner. The prisoner was kept in the last seat, closely watched by two male and one female guard. I remembered the deportation of a Sudanese refugee in ’99, who died of suffocation due to the restraints and the position he was forced to keep – the job to keep another person quiet and calm for even just an hour who doesn’t want to in a small airplane is unbelievably hard, the police officers today did a good job without having to resort to a harsh approach. I guess a few years ago I wouldn’t have thought this way, today my primary concern was how to calm down my son if the rioting should restart. It didn’t, and I was thankful for it.

IMG_2762 Shiphol Amsterdam for us was running again, from one gate to the other, since our plane was late. We hadn’t time to buy one or two presents we planned to, so we skipped that part. One advantage when you travel with infants: Everybody is nice to you, the ground personnel asked us into the VIP line for boarding, skipping a queue of a couple of dozen passengers. When we boarded the KLM Boeing 747 to Incheon, we finally had a feeling of relief. The 8563 kilometers in 9 1/2h were over rather quickly. One detail mentioning: If you’re on international flights with KLM, beware of the food. Ours was good, but the stuff they try to sell as children food is far from acceptable. White bread with sugar (the slice of cheese helps a little), a chocolate bar and a sweet beverage – better bring your own breakfast if you don’t want a hyperactive kid jumping on and off your lap for the rest of the flight.

IMG_2777After arriving at Incheon airport the next day we ate at “our” Japanese restaurant and took the bus to Daejeon (??, ??). Beside hitchhiking, there’s no cheaper way to travel the country. Plus, you get your own track on the expressway. It was Buddha’s birthday, but the roads were rather empty. From my first visit I can remember that on that day there’s no coming through. Three hours later, our family fetched us from the long distance bus station and we arrived at home, happily and exhausted. The welcome dinner was fabulous!

Today’s lesson: Double-check passports, tickets, money and key. Triple-check passports. Check once more. And again. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Farewell Party

IMG_2728We’re celebrating two good-byes: Firstly, we’re moving to a new home at the end of June after living three and a half years at Europe’s most polluted micro-dust street, with a paper mill and a major Autobahn drive-up in the neighborhood. The apartment itself is great though, spacious and affordable considering we’re living in Düsseldorf – but it’s no good if you have kids and want to go out for a walk every day. We’ve looked around for almost a whole year and found just the right place.

The second good-bye is a rather temporary matter: We’re leaving to South Korea for a month-long family visit. As long as Jun is still an infant – in aviatory terms – he doesn’t have to pay the full ticket. Since we’re planning for a second child, it’s not getting cheaper in the future.

The picture on the left should give an idea what you missed, in case you were invited but couldn’t come.

First Step

I’m planning to do an MBA program at the Düsseldorf business school of management.

Googling about the matter, One Girl’s Journey caught my eye. The blog includes several helpful urls – if you’re thinking about an MBA, take a look.

Firstly, I registered at MBA.com. During registration, if you choose your country of origin, two form fields are grayed out if you’re not from the US. Being the curious guy that I am, I changed it to United States of America to see what those two fields are about. The first one was to designate your state of origin within the US, the second one though… If you are a U.S. citizen and are residing in the U.S., select your ethnic or racial identification. They’re not alone, a lot of sites do that – what for? Beside the usual suspects (African American, Asian American, White etc.) there were two selections, multiracial and multiethnic that made me think. On many websites, those two terms are used conterminously, but the difference is simple. The concept of race though is not clearly defined at all and problematic from its basic concept, which is probably why the usage of the term multiethnic is increasing.

Next thing is line is proving that I understand and speak English well enough. Since I’m a TOEFL test center manager myself, I’m not allowed to take the TOEFL – and I’m not going to quit my job just to be eligible to take it after three months of unemployment for a part-time MBA course that requires me to have the job I had to quit. 😉 There are alternatives though, IELTS for example, which is where I wanted to sign up. Surprisingly, I can’t do that online as with ETS, I have to print out the application form. So very 20th century.

2007 Quality of Living Survey

Life’s great, and now it’s even official, Düsseldorf is Germany’s top city to live in.

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Düsseldorf Goes WiMAX

Düsseldorf is one of about a dozen cities worldwide that build up a WiMAX network. There’s a public presentation on the 25th:

Standortvorteil Regionale Funknetze -WiMAX und die Digitale Stadt der Zukunft
25. Januar 2006, 12:00 – 16:30 Uhr
Rathaus der Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf
Marktplatz 2, 40213 Düsseldorf

If you want to join the event, send in your registration within the next two days.

state capital Düsseldorf – WiMAX-Event in Düsseldorf’s city hall

Kijiji Düsseldorf

Competition for craigslist, who’re starting their service in Europe as well. Ebay, although not mentioned on the site is behind Kijiji. There’re others who’re fighting for their slice of the cake, we’ll see who’s going to come out on top.

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How Things Should Be

I’m back. Bonn and the DAAD Freundeskreis convention were great. We’ll construct a main portal with space for each regional group, so this unprofessional pell-mell of private emailaddresses, not standardised or even missing websites is soon going to end. Since having a website depends on having a tech-savvy member in the group we’re going to centralise all regional groups and build-up a technical support group for the clubs who need help.

And now to something completely different: I’ve been in the city today – too bad I didn’t have a camera, because this is what I encountered. A vibrant crowd strolling through the city, enjoying the day (despite of the snow) and shopping. Please note that today is sunday – which doesn’t mean much to people who don’t live in Germany. On sundays, German cities look much like this. See the difference? There’s nothing wrong with Germany’s economy when you look at the export. We’re top-notch exporters of high-quality products and services – but the national economy is ailing. The regulation of opening hours strangles consumption and lowers employment. I’m well aware of the sociocultural (and even religious) reasons to keep things as they are, but as far as I’m informed there’s no other country in Europe keeping the lid on the opening hours as we do here.

The first time I got to experience the pleasure of being able to go shopping in the middle of the night was in Jackson, Michigan in 1995. I don’t remember anymore what I bought, but I can recall my fascination about some mall in the area being open at midnight as if it was yesterday. Four years ago I had the opportunity to buy new glasses for a couple of ? on a sunday afternoon and get them adjusted to my visual acuity in no time. Good luck with getting your local optician to do that for you in return for money in Germany.

I can only hope the new coalition is going to do something about the national economy, but their coalition agreement doesn’t look too promising.

Annual DAAD Alumni Convention

I’m gone for the weekend for the annual DAAD Alumni convention at the Gustav Stresemann Institute in Bonn. I’ve been told they have an internet station in the lobby, but the schedule looks pretty tight. Anyway, this is a good opportunity to point to our local Alumni Club’s website. Guess who’s the administrator.

Paradox?

Why do so many people smoke on a fair about medicine and health? Germany desperatly needs air for breathing, enter Irish smoking laws!

Any person found guilty of breaching the ban on smoking in the workplace may be subject to a fine of 3,000 euro. The owner, manager or person in charge of the workplace is legally responsible for ensuring that the ban on smoking in the workplace is complied with.

Even Irish smokers like them, that must count for something? Here’s BBC’s global overview on smoking. A complete ban on tobacco like in Bhutan would be even better, but in no way enforceable and surely wouldn’t be backed by the majority of the population in Germany. One can still dream, though.

Master of Modern Japan

My studies at Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf are over – yesterday I turned in my thesis and today I’m already busy with 100 other things.

Fresh Fish

SaitoBuy where the Japanese buy… Saito behind Düsseldorf main station is the best place for fresh fish – you can buy everything there, even raw fish for Sushi like Toro – and even fish that only exists at Saito – I couldn’t find it on Google. I don’t know the exact address, but you can take a look at this map.

A New Face for the Neighborhood

planned construction at Bilk SWe’re living in Düsseldorf, close to an old goods station that’s not used anymore except for S-Bahn transit. The area is huge, some 50-60,000 sqm lie idle since the 80ies. A few weeks ago mfi, an estate company opened an information tent for the citizens in the area, informing them about their plans: They’re going to build a shopping mall, 39,000 sqm of space which is twice as big than the Schadow Arkaden in the city. I’m sceptical that Bilk, which is not part of the downtown can use that much shopping space at all – it would be about 60% of the size of Europe’s shopping mall #1, the Centro in Oberhausen (70,000sqm). The train station is planned to be expanded for regional transit as it was the case a few decades ago, but even with a new subway line Bilk is hardly going to compete against downtown. For the curious of mind, the local Green office informs about the construction site and alternatives here.

K21 – a new exhibition

Mann und Maus, Katharina Fritsch, 1991/1992Until Sunday, Yoshitomo Nara und Hiroshi Sugito exhibited about three dozen paintings in Düsseldorf’s Kunstsammlung, a.k.a K21. The works itself weren’t that interesting, although I failed to understand their distinctiveness. My new Japanese language exchange partner, who is a student of Thomas Ruff and a passionate photographer, mentioned that the way Nara’s and Sugito’s works are painted makes them special. One of the pictures was a drawing of Afro-Ken, a figure I haven’t seen for at least four years.

I liked one of the permanent exhibitions better, expecially a work by Katharina Fritsch: “Man and Mouse” is, as I read, actually a statement about unfulfillness of contemporary love – but also reminiscient of Francisco Goya in a clever and very amusing way.