17 Sep 2015

WÖRTER DIE ES IN ENGLISCH NICHT GIBT


I've compiled a list of great German words that I've struggled to find a good English translation for. ​

16 Aug 2015

WHAT IS CULTURAL TRANSITION?


I wrote this article when I was still content manager for The South African, a news website for global Saffas.

As someone who has travelled a lot, I'm always interested to see how other people adjust to a new place and how they cope with this change. People who live cross-culturally often experience different emotions when they return home.

Read my full article here.

31 Jul 2015

POEM: 'WALKING HOME'

​​Walking Home

small snowflakes are whipping my face
we walk together down the road
i to my apartment; you to the train station
together we talk
our silence punctuated with conversation
together we walk
our footsteps echoing on soft dark tar

28 Jul 2015

FREEDOM


My lovely brother took this photograph of me last week on a visit to Nordrhein Westfalen in Germany. It was so lovely to see him again after a year of being seperated. He's really, really the coolest kid I know.

Check out his awesome work if you love Ireland, weddings and analogue photography.

7 Jul 2015

KAFFEE UND MC DONALD'S


Der Kaffee dampft.

Langsam kehren die Lebensgeister zurück.

Ich wache auf, der altrosa Morgen erstreckt sich über die Firmengebäude, die wie Roboter, streng und geradestehend, den Morgen salutieren.

Ich sitze in Mc Donald​s​: die Wände in Kakao Zebrastreifen gefärbt, der billige Holztisch an den Boden fest montiert, und über die In-House Sprechanlage spielt Xavier Naidoos "bitte hör nicht auf zu träumen".

Und ich, habe ich schon aufgehört zu träumen?

5 Jul 2015

POEM: 'OH, WILLIAM'


I visited the current William Kentridge installation, showing at the IZIKO National Art Gallery in town on a bright summer's day.

Perhaps it was the at first intimidatingly loud music, the rattling of the machine, or the quietness of the rest of the other exhibits, but when I came home I penned this poem.

29 Jun 2015

GOING BACK TO THE PLACE WHERE YOU GREW UP


When my sister announced she was getting married in Cape Town last year, the entire German side of the family and I, who had settled down in Germany in the last decade, were frantically scanning cheap flight websites and schmoozing bosses to approve leave.

To return to the city where I grew up was – always – a mixture of emotions.

I had been living in Germany, at that point, for three years. You see, Cape Town is my “heart” home. It’s the place, among other milestones, of many first: visiting kindergarten, school and university, where I first learned to drive, and where a boy first broke my heart.

But after three years away from South Africa, I had become used to the way things work in Germany’s daily life. The accent here really, ironically, lies on ‘work’. Everything in Germany is organised, while first mocking this cliché, I got used to it and enjoyed it. Things were as smooth as a jazz tune: I applied and received my new passport in under two weeks; public transport is punctual and is a great alternative car substitute; all my doctor visits are paid for by my health insurance; I could apply for help from the government if I lost my job; garbage is diligently recycled from toothbrush to milk cartons. Germans care about their health, the environment and that things run smoothly.

Germans are cooler and more distant – both emotionally and physically – but this is only true at first glance. If you make friends, and trust me it takes a long time, they will be your bosom buddies for life. Germans are also slightly neurotic (Roger Boyes refers to them as ‘paranoid’ in his book, My dear Krauts) and they fear that everything can cause cancer – from using a barbecue without tinfoil or from not ventilating your home enough.

What else did I get used to besides the smooth running of daily life? Well, I certainly unlearnt a few things. I arrived in Cape Town, and headed to the car rental place with my soon-to-be brother in law Carl. I stoically gave the man behind the counter my papers, passport and booking number. Luckily Carl quickly jumped in with some small talk, “Hey, how’s it going? You guys been busy?” The guy behind the counter quickly warmed up to Carl and told him all about his morning, what car I was getting, etc. I had forgotten the golden rule in South Africa: be nice if you want something!

 It’s the opposite way around in Germany. You are drilled to be forward and cut-throat to get what you want. I had become used to not exchanging a single hello, nod or smile with anyone on my way to work. So, it was quite an overwhelming experience in Cape Town when strangers suddenly talked to me. Imagine that! An unexpected conversation about something like the weather or crime or cricket with a complete stranger!

Going back to Cape Town, when I was living overseas, was always a weird experience. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, I always noticed the strong presence of nature and poverty in South Africa’s capital city. The city is so green it hurts the eyes – especially after a year spent abroad in Europe’s muted summer colour. Surely, ee cummings’ “true blue” is an apt description for Cape Town’s skies. Nature allows the city to exist for now but – at any moment – the wind and storms could destroy what humans had built. Or giant jungle plants and palm trees would engulf the entire city.

Poverty too, is ever-present. I was confronted with guilt and gratitude on a daily basis – how lucky I was to drive a rental car, live in an apartment, and have the assurance that my fridge was always stocked. What would be the best remedy for every deeply unhappy European I met? The ones who complain about how their IKEA furniture doesn’t last, how their dishwasher doesn’t clean properly or how the latest iPhone design is crap… The remedy: go to South Africa and spend time with the people who are living in shacks, who are begging on the streets, who are sniffing glue to forget how bad things are. It’s poverty that pulls at your heartstrings (what poverty doesn’t?) and its intensity and in-your-face proximity makes you want to shut it out, not confront it, roll up your car window because it’s just too much to see a little child begging at the intersection. But you have to face it.

 And so, returning to my “heart land” was always a mixed bag of tricks. Driving along the winding road that curves around Devil’s Peak, was a feeling that made the uncertainty about whether or not to return ebb away. I know, one day I would return. And I did. I know too, that I will find it difficult to deal with: bad road planning, poverty and crime, rush hour or the traffic department (every South African hopes their driver’s license never expires!) or even the slowness of how things get done.

But I know that the small moments would cement the joy of returning. Moments like when a shopkeeper at the supermarket gives me a shy smile and says “welcome back” after I told her where I’d been. Or a passer-by tells my dad to watch out he doesn’t scratch his car on a pole as he was reversing, or a random lady at the supermarket points out a buy-one get-one-free special.

I love and loathe different things in each country. I’ve learnt that neither is better – they’re just two very, very different spaces.  

1 May 2015

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?

We live online. We shop, order, consume and flirt online.

Social media is going to be integrated into all areas of business planning. No longer will a “mobile friendly” version of a company’s website be enough. And social media has caught on.

Our attention spans are growing shorter. We are overloaded with information. The future of social media is going to be dominated by visual content. Instagram, with over 150 million users, as well as newer channels such as Snapchat (the 9th most popular iPhone app) is going to be integrated into mobile and social strategy. Snapchat allows users to make short videos that are deleted within a few seconds. Pinterest and Instagram are growing in number of users and popularity.

According to trend predictions, Google Plus will reach its “tipping point” this year. Its users are up from 190 million to 300 million. Social media will have to make use of this monster, although hopefully Google will do something to make the product more “lovable”. People love Facebook. People love their Pinterest and Instagram accounts. But Google Plus is like that work colleague who is always lurking in the background. He’s there. But just a little uncool.

The social media monster Facebook – with about 1.5 billion users – bought Instagram, which will see an interesting development in its integration in marketing. Other websites such as the ad-free and exclusive Ello are bound to gain traction too. They appeal to users who are unsettled with Facebook’s new privacy laws and information trading. But social media users are becoming harder to please and are not as easily swayed as they once were. Companies will have to produce quality posts (videos or photos/ images) for users who are becoming more and more discerning.

It’s my opinion that social media is adapting to mobile. Social communication over Whatsapp and messenger is shaping the way we interact, communicate and view our world. Apparently, by 2017 every person on this planet will have downloaded 37 apps. In the US, every adult spends about 2 hours a day on his smartphone. That’s amazing. It’s given social marketing a great relevance and capacity to reach millions of people.

Overshadowing it all – social media has to get customers to make a “call to action” in order to be successful. Strategies will have to become more creative in the ways they reach people in a world of ads, where the consumer has gained a lot more power. Social media is part of our world. The names of the websites we use may change, but it’s here to stay, like a rumble in the jungle.

24 Feb 2015

GUEST BLOGGER: 'LONELINESS'

My good friend is a really amazing writer. She wrote a piece and e-mailed it to me (because that's what writer friends do). I loved it so much that I basically forced her to publish it. Because it's so personal, she doesn't want to her name to appear. It's an honest, vulnerable piece that speaks to all of us in those quiet, lonely moments.

Thank you, my friend, for having the guts to write this (even though no one else will know).

I added a photo I took for our shared love of airports.

I love that you know how cathartic writing can be.

Much love to you.

21 Feb 2015

HELLO, JEMIMA KIRKE!


Jemima is best known for her role on the HBO show "Girls" by Lena Dunham. She's a mother, actress and artist. I just love her extraaaa-ordinary sense of style. 

18 Feb 2015

MY LATEST ARTICLE FOR DENIZEN


I wrote a new piece for Denizen on my experience of returning to my home town. Denizen is such a cool website, uniting all global nomads and third culture kids, giving them a platform to speak.

And...

8 Feb 2015

STUCK IN TRAFFIC

Sometimes it's useful having a phone with a camera, no matter how crappy it is, and being stuck in traffic. 
Oh right, yeah, this is just Cape Town showing off pastel blues.
It does that occasionally.

5 Feb 2015

A MONTH ON FILM

My brother sourced the camera that I first started taking photos with in order to re-kindle my love for photography. He found the beautiful Minolta x700, which my dad used to keep in a silver case at the bottom of his bookshelf, on eBay in a good condition. 

The camera is heavy enough to sit comfortably in my hands, and it's light enough to lug around in my handbag. When I spy through the 50mm lens, the colours appear magical. 

I'm still getting used to the camera but here are some of my attempts. It appears that my love for taking pictures is sticking around like a rumble in the jungle. 




4 Feb 2015

WHO ARE THE JESUS FREAKS?


Many of my English friends have asked me what on earth Freakstock and the Jesus Freaks, which I keep talking about, is all about.

Let me explain the:
what,
where
and who.

THANK YOU GOOGLE

I was perusing the internet (as one does on windy, cold nights!) and found this guy and his rad, little illustrations. They are so sweet and honest, exposing inner dialogues with such softness.

Also, he's got budding illustration skills.



24 Jan 2015

DIVE FOR DREAMS


dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)


18 Jan 2015

FERNWEH


These are some photos my brother took of me, and some I took of him and the Danish landscape. Sometimes, when I really miss him, because he's so close to me, and a part of me, I look at the photos of our times spent together.

I think this was probably the coolest roadtrip we ever did. It was towards the murky, grey end of summer in Hamburg. And we were blessed with sunshine and blue sky, booked a rental car last-minute and enjoyed a weekend in Denmark. We didn't even pack sunscreen because we thought the weather would be so bad.

And my brother, having bunked a day of work, returned to the office on Monday morning with sunburn.

17 Jan 2015

WILD


“It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on that white bench on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn't have to know. That is was enough to trust that what I'd done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was, like all those lines from The Dream of a Common Language that had run through my nights and days. To believe that I didn't need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life - like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.” 

― Cheryl Strayed

4 Jan 2015

STEADY IN YOUR BOOTS

My brother has started his own business as a photographer.
He created an awesome and sleek website.
I am impressed.