How much grandstanding can a good deed suffer?

By Nicolas Malzacher

A gust of wind whips at my face and heaves me forward, over the ridge of the oncoming wave. The neon sail impatiently tugs at my waist, forcing me to lean back over the white crests of the Aegean. A sly bead of sweat and brine escapes my eyebrow, only to be received unhappily by my iris. I flinch and blink and try to clear my vision, but it’s too late: I miss a particularly insidious wave, lose my balance, and am catapulted over the bow of my fickle vehicle. The cackling of a passing seagull tells me that I cut an ungainly flying figure indeed. 

I cough up some salt water and heave myself back onto my board, grappling for the rope to haul up the sunken sail. However, I notice a stowaway that has made itself comfortable on the rope; a blue plastic bag from the local supermarket. I remove the fare dodger and throw it back into the water, only to immediately regret doing so. 

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Letters from Abroad: Welcome Week at Warwick

Stephanie Heeb is studying for an MA in English and French at the University of Zurich. During the Autumn Semester 2019, she is completing a semester abroad at the University of Warwick in Coventry.

I had been warned about Welcome Week (or Fresher’s week, as it’s also known). “You won’t get any sleep.” “It’s like a week-long hangover.” “You’ll definitely get fresher’s flu.” And to be honest, I was rather apprehensive about the experience. I thought Welcome Week would be all about drinking, and while I do enjoy the occasional night out, a week of partying sounded like hell to me. So while I was hopeful I’d make friends, I felt rather doubtful about this first week. There weren’t even going to be any actual classes – was there really much point in being there? 

 It turns out there was – Welcome Week turned out to be such a joyful experience that I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The best thing I did in preparation was to connect with other students in advance. I had joined a Facebook chat for other incoming study abroad students, which was useful in preparation for the exchange, as we were able to ask each other questions about housing and registration. But it was on the first night especially where I was really glad to know there were some people I could go out and grab a drink with. I was anxious that I would spend the first day sat in my (rather depressing) room alone; but it ended up being a lovely evening, where I got to know a couple of people over a pint in the Student’s Union’s pub.

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Elif Shafak – a Gem of Contemporary Turkish Literature

By Leah Süss

After four semesters of studying English, I have realized that the novels that touch me most belong to the field of postcolonial literatures. However, my interest in “non-Western” literature had already been sparked years before university. I realised early on that immersing into a different culture’s experiences and its stories can be highly enriching, as it allows me a better understanding of other people’s realities, which finally enabled more tolerance and a better understanding of the world’s complexity. Reading a story of a white woman’s struggles in early Europe, for example, is touching as it seems to be easy to identify with the protagonist. But what about being confronted with a Kurdish male character who decides to kill his mother in the name of honour? This may sound less comfortable but, all in all, it can be extremely helpful to understand important issues with religious and cultural differences that are still prevalent today.                                                            

One of my favourite authors who allowed me such an experience is Elif Shafak. Having read almost every novel of hers, I count three of her books to my all-time favourites. Currently, I am reading her latest novel, and she keeps amazing me. Thus, I would like to introduce you to this talented and inspiring Turkish woman.

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Podcasts for the Summer Months (and the Rest of the Year)

Imagine: a hot summer’s day. You’re lying on a slightly scratchy towel, next to the lake, still dripping from having taken a dip. The sun is slowly warming up your limbs, and your wet hair clings to your scalp. You’re feeling utterly content. It’s too hot to read a book – the effort of having to hold it up and turn the pages feels too much to bear in this moment. You put in your earphones instead, to block out the sound of the wailing children nearby, and you put on a podcast.

Which podcast, you ask? Here’s a list of recommendations.

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Young, Bohemian, Obsessed: Three Novels

By Stephanie Heeb

After three years of reading the books listed on a syllabus or on one of multiple reading lists, which were mostly filled with books from preceding centuries, last year was the year I fell back in love with contemporary fiction. Having the complete freedom to choose what I wanted to read, I browsed bookshops with immense pleasure and excitement. I read a lot and I read widely; from children’s fiction to classics to commercial romance. Only when I looked back recently, however, did I notice that three of my favourite books from that year showed significant, almost curious, similarities: all published after 2016, they were all written by young, Irish female writers, and all treat themes so similar, that I started interrogating myself about why it was that I was drawn to those specific books.

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Celestial bl(ack)ue

By Daria Galkina

If I am celestial blue,
Is there any celestial black?
In velvet,
Embroidered with beads?
In sequin,
Opaque and matted,
Noble.

Is there any celestial black?
In glory,
With cut out uncertainty;
Neat-handed
And with a lindy-hop talent
For dancehall?

Is there any celestial black
In grace?
Tits looking fit in décolleté,
Heels with the heels,
Glittery lipstick, smoky eyes –
Looking sharp?

If I am celestial blue,
Is there any celestial black?
23 y.o.,
Perky and beckoning,
Confident,
Red haired and weary,
Effeminate?