The experiences of the last few weeks make me think of the popular German phrase: “Why make it simple when you can make it complicated?”
While the rest of the world is busy with going digital, there seem to be some pockets of resistance in Germany. My health insurance company – let’s call it Medisure – likes to present itself as efficient and customer-friendly. I was pleasantly surprised when they introduced an app that allowed you to photograph a multi-page bill and send it to them for processing, instead of filling out an ancient-looking form by hand with information they mostly already had. A year later, they added the feature of an email telling me a message had been received in the app. Which cryptically means the app can also show what reimbursement they just granted. Why the app can’t send me a notification, I don’t know. They will probably tell me it has something to do with data security.
Harlequin Beate wrote a while ago of her trials and tribulations with language attrition. I am sure many of our readers will recognize the struggle we have maintaining our command of our first language when spending long periods abroad. And the longer we stay, the Wurst it gets!
I was pleased a while ago when I read Oliver F. Lehmann’s proposed project typology. He included a number of characteristics of internal projects that I recognised. As an external consultant I regularly experience that companies behave quite differently when their own employees are allocated to internal projects, particularly in business departments. “Just do it,“ seems to describe it nicely.
The author of the following article is Michael Clark. Now retired, he is pursuing a lifelong interest in communication. This led him to language studies, to teaching language and contributed much to his work as a business analyst. He has lived and worked in multicultural and multilingual environments in different countries for most of his life – currently in California.
You could say my wife, whom I met while working in Germany and abducted to Dutch Friesland, and I have been surrounded by cultural differences for so long they have become second nature. In our relationship we rarely think about the fact that she grew up in one country and I did in another. We think – maybe others don’t – that we do not fit the stereotypes.
After Harlekin Beate’s article on “International Relations” was published she asked those other Harlekins who are married to “foreigners” to write on their personal international relations. But then, I thought, I’ve never been married to someone from my original home, so how can I compare? I’ve spent much more of my life outside my “home” than in it, living in 4 countries other than Britain, so much that I wonder how British I really am now. The “home” I left is not the same now nearly 50 years later.
You probably missed the short article last week that related how the UK was funding a programme to explore the feasibility of dogs recognizing Covid-19 from its scent. Labradores, Spaniels and other smart-nosed breeds are already deployed to sniff out contraband, drugs, even apples if you dare to smuggle one into the States in your lunch box. They can also spot cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, though you wonder why bother with the last what with the striking visual clues of the disease.
It would be easy to fill our blog with just a list of events and topics that depress you. Here’s just a sample: Climate change, populism, the refugee problem and our response, political “leaders”, fake news, hate speech, consumer waste, knife crime, endangered species, insect decimation, locusts in Africa, child abuse, hunger, sex discrimination, obesity, Brexit, plastic in whales’ stomachs, Trump’s inability to put a sentence together without the words “wonderful” or “beautiful”, floods, fires and now a deadly virus. It’s enough to make you want to emigrate – but where to???
If you want a breath of fresh air and the chance to say to yourself, “Pull yourself together!”, then this is the book you need. Hans Rosling (1948-2017), Swedish head of the Division of International Health at Karolinska Institutet and advisor to the WHO and UNESCO, co-founder of Médecins sans Frontières, combines his experience and knowledge of world health with statistics. Sounds dry and boring, doesn’t it!
The two-part article “Too much bloody choice!” (published on 21st and 28th February 2020) ignited an impassioned discussion in the Harlequin team. We wondered whether it was an issue that affects all sections of the population or just the 50+ generation. Therefore, we were curious to hear the younger generation’s view. We are very happy to post a guest contribution by Ricarda Fillhardt, who looks at the “agony of choice” from a different perspective. Ricarda is a student and currently lives in Edinburgh.
I certainly doubt an excess of choice makes us happy. Just last week I spent so much time trying to decide what to watch on Netflix that it was too late once I had (semi-content) settled on a film and went to bed instead. I also recently decided to treat myself to a wellness day on my birthday and must have spent hours on tripadvisor trying to find the best option in the vast amount of saunas and wellness centres my home town had to offer. However, this rarely occurs to me as a problem. I grew up with choice.