FREIBURG, GERMANY – I have been struck during my short visit here in Germany by the way the world is at once made smaller by the internet and yet remains also somehow large enough that what concerns people here is rather different from what concerns us currently in the United States.
I feel the world smaller when I am able to access all the information I would have at home easily over the internet here in Germany. I can still read the New York Times, the Centre Daily Times, Slate.com. I still have access to all the feeds to which I subscribe through Google Reader. I can even talk to and see my family. The world felt small when I skyped with my Mom upon my arrival, and then, later, with Val, Chloe, Hannah and Choo Choo Nana. To be able not only to talk to them, but to see them, made the distance disappear.
I feel the world larger when I see the real differences between the German and the American academy, when I sit in a cafe and am not rushed out, when time slows, when I hear the city cheer each goal in the European Football Championship (Europa Meisterschaft).
And yet, the sense of excitement is not unlike that we feel in State College when the town swells with football fans, and so I am left, ultimately, with a sense of how similar we are, how small the world has become.
Note: The above picture was taken in Freiburg of me with Korbinian Golla, the graduate student who spent a year studying and working with us at Penn State this past academic year.