Personal reflections

WiTF? (What is This Food?)

WiTF? (What is This Food?)

There is one thing every single person I have spoken to in Minnesota agrees on – that I must visit the state fair.

Locals say it’s an event rich with tradition, and attending is a rite of passage for all Minnesotans and their visitors. It boats livestock exhibits, prize winning produce, food and entertainment.

But the thing that intrigued me most was the phenomenon locals describe as food on a stick.

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Home, away from home

It is Monday morning and well past the Sunday mid night deadline given to me by David, our "supreme guide", and the WPI executive director, to write this blog. See, for days on end I have been agonizing about what to write about my stay in the US so far-not because there is nothing to write home about but because there are so many titillating topics to chose from. Initially, I wanted to write about the US and its unusual consumer behavior or the warm reception accorded to us by the residents of Ely on a bitingly cold summer last week.

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The lesson at one-room school

The lesson at one-room school

Many Americans are rightfully mystified and concerned by nostalgia for communism, especially when they learn there are those who miss the Soviet Union not only among radicals in Putin’s Russia – but also in my home country of Ukraine. Americans saw the dark truth behind the Soviet Union, the oppressive single party, starvation, mass deportation and genocide – but they did not see how the USSR presented itself to the majority of its own citizens.

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Just Another Perfect Day in Paradise

Just Another Perfect Day in Paradise

The quaint little town of Ely north of Minnesota past the grey waters of Lake Superior, comes as a neat surprise all wrapped in lush green on a rainy evening late August. Our six-hour long first road trip in the United States with pit-stops at Highway 61 and Dylan playing in the car’s stereo, the much-debated lunch at Subway, at Finland (just a moniker for a town that has actually little to do with ‘Finland’), or even climbing rocks and contemplating a twenty-dollar bet to swim in icy water all add to the curiosity that is Ely.

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Consumerism as an Intelligent Economy

Consumerism as an Intelligent Economy

Here I am in St. Paul for a few days – and my first serious challenge was buying shampoo. To finally procure it, I have to walk almost 10 blocks. Is that really a serious challenge – someone might ask. Is that the topic for a blog – others may wonder. My answer is yes. 

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System Overload (graduation speech)

One of the biggest data centers in the world is situated in Camp Williams just above Lake Utah. It has more than 1 million square feet and it has cost more than 2 billion dollars to build. The data center is home to the many servers of the National Security Agency (NSA). The agency uses them to store the data they collect on a daily basis with a collection of programs under the codename PRISM. It basically means they collect everything on everyone who uses the internet.

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Busting myths about America

Do you like it? It’s the most banal and often-asked question about America, that I got asked by many of my friends, and colleagues, during this fellowship. It’s tough to answer objectively. It’s the same as asking if I like Europe after trip to Italy and Germany. I don't want to generalize my impressions based on one nine-week experience. But one thing has changed for sure during this particular trip - the myths about living in this country have been bust, often rather sharply.

1. Life in America is easy and well established

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An American journey - things that surprised me

I am sitting here in my apartment at the University of St. Thomas wondering where time went. It feels like only yesterday that I got to campus, and somehow we are nearly at the end. Nine cities, and eight and a half weeks later, the one question the fellows repeatedly get asked is – What has surprised you about America so far? Our usual response is to stand there with blank faces, scratching our heads for a decent answer – a response that will do justice to the experience. We usually mumble something about the Minnesota state fair, or Ely, or San Francisco and quickly change the subject.

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