Friday, April 19, 2013

Living in Angers

Student in the French Province

Young Philologist. Before deciding to leave Greece for her master, she used to say that the crisis on social level had charged her a lot on personal level. So, the next station of her life,
 would be the small French city of Angers...

Name:  Jenny
Age:      25
From:    Piraeus, Greece
To:        Angers, France
For:       Master recherche lettres
University: Université d’Angers

1. What do you see from your window? 

Mostly other roofs of other houses, beautiful picturesque picture, and trees (there is a lot of green). Its particularly interesting that clouds are very low, you think they’re just out of your window… that you can touch them.

2. Your basic academic interest. 

"Education on both levels of practice and research. The combination of the two is preferable."

3. The best thing about this University. 

"I adore the Library. It is a place that is really worthy being called a “Library”."

4. The hardest thing to get used to. 

"Meaning apart form the language? Then it is its accent!"

5. People of the city in 3 words. 

"Polite, helpful, distant."

6. Yourself, living there, in 3 words. 

7. Your new (daily) habbit.  

"Reading at the Library."

8. What is really missing from this city. 

"The lift. It is missing from the country in general I’d say."

9. Angers compared to Paris… 

"It is much more quite, it does not remind of the Parisien chaos. The cost of living is lower and there are interesting things going on in terms of culture and entertainment. It’s a student-city, so there is everything a student would need and in good prices."

10. International majorities in Angers

"At my University, Chinese and Polish."

11. The best thing to do with company.

"Going out at little bars or staying in with good wine and movies."

12. The song linked to your life in this city.

“Not something specific… as I observe myself, I see me listening to French music when I have a good mood, whereas I turn to Thanasis Papakonstantinou when I get melancholic… “

13. The taste

“It is something between camembert cheese and red semi-sweet wine.”

14. The reason why you wanted to go abroad. 

"The situation in Greece, the social crisis... Plus, I felt that I got all that I could get from Greek University. Apart from these reasons, generally I wanted to leave."

15. The most important virtue that education should transmit to children. 

"Learn how to learn and be able to make decisions."

16. Your furthest dream

"To teach children how to learn and make decisions." 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The New York Experience

Spanish Intern in the USA

Sofia considers that New York City is the loud city of traffic, lights and cinematic beauty 
as we know it from the movies.
 The american experience from a Spanish point of view.

Name:  Sofia Esnaola
Age:     24 
From:   Bilbao, Spain
To:       New York, U.S.A
For:      Internship in Advertising Agency (Global  Woks)

1. Your main academic or professional interest.

"I got my degree in Journalism, Advertising & Public Relations and Audiovisual Communication in the European University of Madrid last year and, although now I'm working in the world of advertising, where I'd really like to end up is in the film world, maybe producing a movie".

2. Your motivation for going to New York

"Mainly work... In Spain there was nothing and when I was offered the opportunity to come and work here, without thinking about it I packed and got on the plane".

3. What is unique about New York?

"The city itself is unique. People walking fast through the streets with coffee in hand, the roads full of yellow cabs, green parks hidden among skyscrapers, ..."

4.What do you see out of your window?

"From the office's window I can see Washington Square Park and the Flatiron Building in the background, one of the most curious buildings of New York.
And from my house's window I see a schoolyard normally full of children playing basketball and the Williamsburg bridge to the right, one of the many bridges that cross the river that surrounds Manhattan".

5. The best thing to do with company in N.Y.

"Dinner with friends in a typical American restaurant and end up drinking beer in a bar until closing".

6. The best thing to do alone

"Lose yourself in the long crowded streets with the music on the iPhone held loud and no hurry to get anywhere".

7. The hardest thing to get used to

"Food! Hard to find good and cheap places to eat... Everyone eats at fast food restaurants here".


8. New York in 3 words

  fun,  intense".

9. Your new favorite habit.

"Enjoy happy hours! $1 Budweiser drafts every Tuesday night after work".

10. The reason why you would stay forever in NY.

"Living in NYC is still one of the most amazing experiences of my life but I do not think I could spend more than one season of my life here... I would not stay here to raise a family... Although you never know."

Basque Country, Spain

11. The reason why you would not.

"Family… I miss my family a lot. Although six years have passed since I left my home, I've always been as much as a 4-hour drive or 2-hour flight away. But now I'm more than 5000km away and it's hard."

12. The song linked with your life there.

"Feel This Moment, Pitbull & Aguilera "

13. The taste linked with your life there.

"Chicken Tikka Masala! We go to Indian restaurants very often :) "

14. The most significant difference between American and European culture, as you experienced it.

"Schedules. Here people begin the day much earlier than I'm used to (at 6am they are already awake) and they finish it soon too. The dinner is at 6pm whereas in Spain I eat dinner at 10pm..."

15. The most impressive area in NY.
"Times Square at night. Just awesome…"

16. What is untrue about the impression you had about U.S.A.

"People here are not as pretty as you see in the movies! - kidding… 
The truth is that living in New York is like living in a movie. It is just as you imagine it to be, as it is in the movies. As the song says: New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do here. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."

17. What you will keep forever from the American experience.

"The incredibly good friends I made here."

This is a video Sofia and her friend/flat-mate Laura made for their winter NY experience:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dancing in Salzburg

Contemporary Dance Student

Here is an example of strong willing and effort. 
After falling in love with dance, he seriously went for it. 
 And he danced all the way to Austria. 

Name:   Alexander Metaxas
Age:      24
From:    Piraeus, Greece
To:        Salzburg , Austria
For:       Study major in perfomance or choreography
In:         Salzburg Experimenta Academy of Dance (SEAD)

1. Your dance route. The beginning.

" I started my ballet training when i was only 7 yeas old. My mother was a fan of Nureyev so she sent me to a small ballet school. I WISH! The truth is that although she loved dance as an art, she included nothing artistic in her children's education.. Still swim racing was a good base i realise now.
I started taking contemporary dance classes when i was 18. It was only after one semester in Informatics school that i had decided that i'm not a computer geek after all (I adore computer geeks, i think they are sexy but i'm not one...) so i was trying to find what i should do with my life.. Fortunately one of my colleagues was Myrto Papailiou, a girl who by that time was already in a professional dance school. She suggested me Dancce studio where there were open classes (beginners) of  contemporary dance. My intention was to attend the classes as a hobby but after a month there i was attending all the classes every day regardless the level... The professional classes teachers were so scared that i would break my neck or somebody elses neck.. I don't blame them. After 6 years of training everyday, there is someone that has to visit the hospital occasionally because I got hyper during improvisation... (I'm really sorry Pauline!)"

2. The experience of professional training.

"What you experience when you decide to train professionaly varies, I believe, depending on your background physically,mentally and socially... A professional dance school is after all one more social stucture that aims to educate people. The difference with other educational structures is that it has to do with an art. And that's why sometimes a dance school can be like Fame and some other times like Dantes Inferno...( It is never like Step Up... NEVER!)
In the first school i got in (State Dance School of Athens, ΚΣΟΤ) , i realised after one and a half year that physically my body could not (back then)  survive almost 8 hours or more of intense dance training, plus my mentality could not handle a teacher screaming in my ear to strech my knee.. Nevertheless i have now understood that a teacher is screaming sometimes basically because you are so spaced out while focusing in your arms for example, that you will never hear him if he just says ''stretch your knee'' in a low voice.. The approach of the teachers in the school I am now is very different. It is up to us to make use of the feedback we are offered and the game is all about who gets more feedback or even no feedback..."

3. Dance’s social aspect.

"Regarding the social structure of a dance school saying that the interaction of students resembles what we have watched in american school tv shows like Beverly Hills 90210 is an understatement. People are always exaggerating in both positive and negative feelings.. You are extremely happy or on the verge of depression every other week..  But maybe i'm exaggerating myself now describing the situation... Even if i am, I do love all my dance mates from both schools and (with some gradient for sure) I consider them all friends..."

4. Highlight moments.

"First thing tha pops in mind is being applauded after our last school perfomance..Also auditioning for Sead was a highlight since I didn't really believe I would get in so I was just fabulous, attending an audition while i was enjoying my spring vacation in Austria. No really the same situation with my first audition for ΚΣΟΤ where i almost sat on the lap of one judge after a ridiculous failed landing of a rather decent pirouette..."

5. Significant sacrifices.

"The only thing i consider a sacrifice -since i am so determined to make this happen that i don't feel it is a sacrifice- is spending all my life waking up at 7 to do ballet training at 9, is that there are days that i don't get to stay under the sun.. Especially in Austria it is still dark when we begin classes and by the time we have finished in the afternoon it is night again..."

6. The hardest moment.

"For sure my last month in  ΚΣΟΤ. Due to unweighted factors i had to leave the school and my whole world collapsed in a month. Good thing that life always balances offering also well-weighted factors afterwards that you can benefit from."

7. Why so fewer male dancers compared to females in Greece? Is the analogy different in Austria?

"One basic reason is that art generally in Greece is not considered as worthy to be part of our education. Girls do ballet from a young age to get nice beautiful bodies and have the essential ''french, ballet and piano'' trinity in their C.V. for their future husbands. Inevitably boys most of the times will be motivated to play manly sports like soccer and learn languages to understand what the fuck is written in their future wife's C.V. So time passes you are 17 and even if you love dancing you feel really awkard attending an open class of ballet where you are probably the only male in the middle of young girls with pink tights, bitchy ballerinas and in the best of occasions a very polite funny guy in pink fluorecent leotards... (Love you)".

8. Why Salzburg?

"Because of this school. For sure I prefer any european capital because this is the environment i was raised in; traffic, noise and pollution make me feel like home. But having a rather popular school based in a small town in Austria (which is a rather popular base for art schools, Mozarteum is also here) aims to keep the students focused on their training and not the upcoming Woodkid or Beyonce concert in town... We only got Peaches last semester...<Who cares! She is a far better Music Producer than Woodkid and she a far better performer than Beyonce! >"

9. What is special about this dance school?

"Basically it's who is in the school which makes it special.. All my colleagues belong to a mental istitution like me.. And for sure some of my teachers too! One other thing is that the school is self-organised. There are very few faculty members and everything else is organised and done by us. Our lunch, the production of the perfomances , the maintenance of the school ( respect to the brave cleaning-team, they wake up every morning at 6!) everything is our responsibility!"

10. The best thing to do with company in this city

"Bike riding at midnight already a bit dizzy from beer, singing all together on our way to somewhere. We look like juvenile criminals disturbing the public peace.. And it's not true! All of us are adults!"

11. The best thing to do alone.

"Explore the countryside around the city... When it's sunny and green Salzburg look like Narnia after Aslan decided to show up finally.. He is very late this year.. Aaarghhh!"

12. The hardest thing to get used to in Salzburg.

"I would say -20 degrees but dressing like an onion solves this.. What is really hard for me to accept is how conservative local people are.. It's just pink shoes people, you don't have to stare at me like i'm an alien  or a witch that has to be burned alive. Seriously?"

13. The song linked with your life in this city.

"It's not only one...

Lykke Li  -  I follow rivers (night bike riding)
Alela Diane  -  Oh my mama (to wake up in morning ballet)
Arcade Fire  -  My body is a cage (to try to sing while you are doing ballet)
Missy Elliot  -  Music makes you lose control (to get hyper for a three hour rehearsal)
Scissor Sisters  -  Let's have a kiki ( for every occasion that includes alcohol)"

14. The taste.

"Mama Nitsah's cookies ( Roni's successful buisness in our school cafe)"

15. Your furthest dream.

"To dance at least once in a piece of every famous dance company like Rosas. And then be a happy househusband and teach dance improvisation for children in a dance school."

16. Favourite dancers.

"Mistaya Hemmingway, Stella Zannou, Lali Ayguade, Sofia Butela, Daniel Cloud Campos, Sidi Larbi Cherqaui (choerographer)."

17. Your personal balance among talent-skills-expression.

"I believe that balance between those three is what one should aim for but never achieve it.. Because if those three are balanced i believe you have a very correct but rather listless dancer..  It's our flaws in one of them that brings out our skill in the others and vice versa."

         18. Your most usual thoughts before getting on the stage.

         - It's gonna be amazing. We will shine..
- I have no recollection of the first three moves of the material... FUCK!

       Photos of performance by Theano Vasilaki