Research, research, research! It seems that’s all anyone can talk about these days. The number of PHD’s has sky-rocketed over the past couple of years and the competition for tenure positions has become as fierce as the competition for the last Oreo amongst a group of 8 year old boys. However, as the world becomes more data-based and driven by constant gathering of information, there is still one aspect of our mental facilities that has remained untouched.In this new era of immediate, quickly accesible information, in-depth, focused, thorough investigations have become sorely unappreciated and almost non-existent. Why take a class on a subject when you can look up the Wikipedia page and gather enough details to “sound” smart? Why pursuit a degree in anything if you can google an answer at the tip of your fingers? Why go to a lecture when you can just skim the book’s headings and fill in the blanks with “key words” that you once read in an article in the New York Times?
Although it might not be as fun to delve into a topic and push one’s attention span beyond 5 minutes, the rewards of in-depth research are unparalleled in the personal growth they yield. Here in Vienna, as I schlep myself down to the Austrian Archives, sit amongst century old documents and read over what happened eons ago, my brain has actually begun to understand a by-gone era. Consequently, Austrian society no longer seems as “another European country.” Instead, with research, Austria has become a community with a passion, personality and beliefs. As one explores the past of Austria and begins to understand why the nation is the way it is today, Austria can no longer just be “another fact” to know, but rather Austria becomes a book; a book to read and explore, meditating on what truths of life have been revealed through her trajectory. What can we learn from the Austrian book of life? What can we bring back with us to the 21st century world? What would we have said to Austria during the climax of her Empire? Through the ups and downs, the Austrian nation remains with us today, but what of her heartaches and triumphs? Will they be forgotten simply because they are not quick bits that we can consume in seconds?
Now, please don’t misunderstand this as a call to go back to the dark ages. If anything, I’ll be the first to admit how much I love my Mac, my ipod and speakers! Internet, electricity, facebook, google, and twitter…..they are all good things! But friends, they are also in Vogue, they are the common lingusitc currency of our age. As we see and speak these terms consistently they become encrusted in our modern pysche and outlook, thus we are desensitized to them and accept them as givens. Taking courage, we must fight back against the speedy pace such technologies have set for our lives and minds. If we do not try to resist, we might get stuck with just topical charateristics, sound bites, and clips of what our world is. By witholding from what is “Vogue” we allow our brains the space to breathe, think, and analyze in a way that does not look for short cuts but looks at the relationship of ideas in our globalized society.
The concept of an “Austrian Nation” has taken the Austrians themselves years to formulate. It has not been easy for them. From empire, to republic, to province, to occupied territory and back to republic, the Austrians are the frist in line to discuss issues of identity. Nevertheless, through their great appreciation for their past, they have been able to see how much they have grown, observed their behavior and can now decide what kind of future they would like for themselves. They have built a relationship with their national history and have confronted their inner selves. But achieving a relationship that yields such insight requires quiet research and silences to concentrate. Relationship building might not be full of memes, links, or hash-tags, but still one can hold on to the hope that in the end, such a relationship to the self will not only reveal how we are meant to relate to the world around us but also give us further clues as to what our destinies might look like.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ramon, originally from Boston, MA, is a Junior currently studying History at Columbia College. Specializing in Eastern European history with a focus on the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, he hopes to deepen his understanding of the fundamentals of the dual monarchy during his time in Vienna. Through comparative research of geo-politically marginalized regions, he aims to find new ideas to aid development in the 3rd world. Strongly believing that everyone has an inner child, he actively works to raise awareness on the rights of children worldwide through is involvement as co-president of the Columbia Child Rights group. However what most captures Ramon’s imagination is his admiration for one of Europe’s greatest institutions, The Eurovision Song Contest itself! Eagerly following year round developments, Ramon enjoys watching how countries choose to represent themselves to the world and how they project their national identities unto this unique international platform. A passionate fan of music, he spends as much time as possible following the music industry. He can usually be found reading Rolling Stone magazine, keeping his eyes peeled for new emerging music genres, and eagerly looking out for new artists on the rise!</span></div>