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The Chat

Posted by
MadScientist (Düsseldorf, Germany) on 26 April 2010 in Lifestyle & Culture and Portfolio.

Listening to student's conversations today is completely different from having done so twenty years ago. With the execution of the Bologna process the actual content of studies seem to be marginal; instead, everything is about collecting 'credits', organizing courses and events, collecting money for the much needed stay abroad, and organizing grants and other types of support. There was not a single moment in their conversation where they were talking about their recent studies; only the mentioning of Japan revealed that both ladies were studying Japanology. The essence of their discussion was about responding to the pressure and organizing. This might be okay for an executive assistant one might think, but these young people are still students in their early twenties.

Compared to that, I was an eternal student. I had good and rough times, I attended lectures that did interest me, I was much more busy with the stuff I had to learn for the next exam. I had a lot of fun, a lot of trouble, and a lot of time. And though one of the ladies, whose discussion I was able to overhear, will travel to Japan, I think that their world has become much smaller compared to mine two decades ago.

Japanalia from Yokohama, Japan

I do agree 100% with what you wrote above! Like you...I had a normal student life....This is why, nowadays, I don't get it at all when I hear students'conversations...and not only.In Japan this <emptyness> starts much earlier...At times I found myself womdering WHY they go to university (?!) Even if they graduate from a famous university it is not sure they can get a good job..present-day econmy situation doesn't guarantee it anymore....
Now I understand the meaning of the shadowy foreground in your, let's get to light where the beautiful architecture beckons!
A wonderfully executed composition!

26 Apr 2010 8:13am

@Japanalia: Thanks a lot, Gabriela! I don't envy young people of today, which is quite sad, if you think about that. Where people like me had a choice, today everything seems to be an important feature for one's curriculum vitae. Every step they do is being tested and retested again. This is so different to everything I experienced in my youth!
The building in the background belongs to Bonn University - go figure! :-)

António Pires from Lisbon, Portugal

Can you imagine what you will say when you will make the same comparison two decades from now?

26 Apr 2010 9:38am

@António Pires: If things continue to develop as they've done so far, I would think that going to college will be a matter for just a few wealthy people. As a special 'feature' with the advent of 'Bologna', German universites are allowed to collect charges - up to €500,- per semester. When I was studying twenty years ago, studies were free, I just had to pay a social service contribution, which today adds up to another €200,-. I wouldn't be able to afford this. Considering that you will get only a 'master' (or even just a 'bachelor') instead of a true 'diploma', I would think somebody's pulling my leg! But these young folks are so well-behaved, so I think that nothing will stop this development. I'm already feeling like a dinosaur!

Ian Bramham from Manchester, United Kingdom

beautiful detail and light in the tree canopy!

(interesting discussion about tertiary education as well)

26 Apr 2010 10:04am

@Ian Bramham: Thanks a lot, Ian!

☾éline from United States

Beautiful light and composition !

26 Apr 2010 1:10pm

@☾éline: Cheers, Céline!

MARIANA from Waterloo, Canada

Beautiful light and framing . Do not know why but I see this image, if mine in BW :)

26 Apr 2010 1:47pm

@MARIANA: Haha, but not here! :-)

Nazzareno from Rome, Italy

It's a really lovely compo

26 Apr 2010 1:56pm

@Nazzareno: Cheers, Nazzareno!

Steven from Chicagoland, United States

I love how the trees "envelope" this composition with their branches and leaves. And nice silhouette of the statue. Hard to believe "two decades" are approaching for me as well. :-O

26 Apr 2010 3:53pm

@Steven: Come on, we're still hot! ;-)

B.Held from Santa Fe, United States

completely sensational :)

26 Apr 2010 5:26pm

@B.Held: Many thanks, Brittany!

Brian Chen from Seattle, WA, United States

I love it when I see people utilize natural frames. Nice work and good eye!

26 Apr 2010 6:06pm

@Brian Chen: Then you certainly would like this one too.

Philip from South Wales, United Kingdom

Travelling to Japan!!! When I was in University the only thing I was worried about was whether I had enough money to go to the next party at the weekend. We had grants in those days and rarely went overdrawn at the Bank - how times change.

26 Apr 2010 10:01pm

@Philip: This travel to Japan would be part of her studies - no pleasure trip! These young people are so professional, cool and straightforward, something I even would envy them, but recalling my own chaotic studies make me think that I like it more my way.

Connor Walsh from Astoria, NY, United States

You have a great title for this scene. I also feel that you did a wonderful job capturing the buildings in the back.

27 Apr 2010 12:03am

@Connor Walsh: Thank you very much!

Connor Walsh from Astoria, NY, United States

I wish I could be a student again - I miss the learning, the structure, the chatting with friends...I am more like the statue, solid and in the shadows. It's all good since i have someone who keeps me on my toes with learning (and relearning) and in the not to distant future will be like the students above chatting and organizing. I also like the leaves and the very top. Just enough light to make them stand forward.

27 Apr 2010 1:36am

@Connor Walsh: Thanks very much! Sometimes I wonder of I would like being a student again, but in the end I'm happy that this part of my life is over. :-)

Andrea from Regina, Canada

Beautiful light and shadows, and an interesting commentary on student life in Germany. Of course, the life of a student anywhere in the world will certainly have its share of light and darkness, of knowledge and ignorance, as the photo suggests.

28 Apr 2010 10:03pm

@Andrea: The shadows I'm referring to are man-made: this Bologna process is a drastic measurement that breaks with many good traditions in favour of an accelerated study, producing academics with a narrow-gauge title. They are on the wrong track, they are children of the neo-liberal doctrine.

drphoto from Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

I am glad that the bias was not so strongly toward 'credits' when I was at school because I was there to learn the subjects I was interested in! But I do think that as a society we are getting younger and younger - and taking longer to grow up too! - so a little bit of 'chief executive' skill building is not necessarily a bad thing...

I do like these discussions you open - and I love the photograph too!


29 Apr 2010 7:54pm

@drphoto: Perhaps not, but I don't think that we are getting younger all the time but older! When hundred years ago you would have been an old man with 50, 60 years, you probably live much longer today. So why is it necessary to start extremely early, when your work life might for five or six decades? We are pushing the young people through school and studies and in the end they know less than before.