Thursday, August 24, 2017


So this is my farewell, I guess. At least for now. Behind me lie eight months full of excitement, joy, laughter, fascination, stress, head-shaking, and feelings of being lost.

Exciting was living and studying in this pearl called Athens in this middle of nowhere, called Southeast Ohio. Dipping into this college-microcosm and experiencing all of its codes, traditions, festivities and rules is something I will (hopefully) never forget.

Joyous and full of laughter were the countless nights (and days) with the guys from our GLC class, who were among the kindest and most interesting people I got to know in this country. They truly made me accept Athens as my home for these eight months. Fest season, barbecues, playing Broomball and Flag Football, Cabin night, breakfast at Casa, the list is long.

Fascinating was my experience at the International Institute of Akron, the refugee resettlement organization I did my internship with. To see what outstanding work the men and women there did under immense pressure during these, especially for this sector, difficult times was a great motivation for me.

Stress – that’s what classwork often really meant, midterms, finals, and the time in between. I didn’t know that I could write four essays and do an oral exam in one week, and I just took twelve credits!

I was shaking my head numerous times, in cluelessness, anger, or both. A few examples include: Standing in front of the pink handguns on display in some clothing store in the Athens strip mall. 
 Driving behind someone on the highway who left his turn signal on for ten minutes. Being offered a beer for breakfast because “that’s totally German dude isn’t it?”

Feeling lost. To me that mostly occurred when driving through the endless suburbs of northeast Ohio. There seems to be nothing else besides flat houses with mowed lawns, strip malls, gas stations, chain-restaurants, and Walmart supercenters between Akron and Cleveland. And no matter where else you go in this country (at least from Louisiana to Illinois), these places all look the same.

So here I am, sweating at night in the outskirts of New Orleans near the Bayou. Over the last twelve days I have driven my car for over 2000 kilometers, hoping that it doesn’t break down, picked up my friend Max in Atlanta, and now we are on our way to Texas. I will muse about my time here and the impressions I gathered for quite some time.

Bottom line is it was one hell of a journey! And probably I’m going to come back one day for a visit. But now I’m looking forward to three weeks in Mexico with no cell reception or Wi-Fi, and then I’ll finally get back home. To Leipzig. I’m sure Prof. Garrett has some work for us again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

“Oh, these Americans and their guns...”

One of the issues that always fascinated and baffled me about US culture was the obsession with guns and the right to carry them. As an outsider, it seems so obvious that the gun policies in the United States don't work in favor of peoples' safety. We hear stories all the time about toddlers being killed by accident, people shooting themselves, minor conflicts escalating into gun violence, mass shootings... the majority of Europeans, I assume, look at the situation and ask themselves: how is all of that still not enough to change peoples' minds and gain popular support for stricter regulations on guns?

Since I've been here, I talked to a wide variety of people about guns to understand their mindset. One argument I heard repeatedly by many gun enthusiasts was: “All these people from California and New York trying to take away our guns don't understand anything about guns and our culture, have never been to [Texas / Louisiana / Tennessee], have never shot a gun before. How can they judge us and try to regulate our rights to carry guns?”

So to be able to join the conversation, I decided to try shooting a gun for myself, hoping to gain a new perspective.

I went to a shooting range in San Antonio called “LoneStar Handgun” and took a female beginners' class called “Daughters of Texas”. I thought: Let's go the whole hog. I wanted the full Texas experience.

Before the class started, I was sweating – and not only because of the 100° Texas weather. We all had to sign waivers that said that the shooting range could not be held accountable for any injuries or death that might be inflicted upon us by ourselves or other shooters. Just in the morning, my roommate had told me a story about a death on a San Antonio shooting range a few years back, when a 11-year old girl was unable to handle her shotgun's recoil and shot her instructor.

The class started with some theory about safety rules and the parts of a hand gun. While we were sitting in the classroom, waiting for the instructor to come, a slideshow of pro-gun memes were shown on the projector. My “favorite” one was probably the picture of a thirteen year-old sitting on his bed with a shotgun in his hands and the caption: “Old enough to be home alone – old enough to own a gun.”

You might also enjoy:
  • “Change the 2nd Amendment – make the streets safe for rapists again.”
  • “Being prey is a choice – what is your choice?”
  • “Stopping a stalker with a piece of paper? - A gun is more effective than a restraining order.”
  • A woman on the floor with a dark man towering over her: “Would you wait for 911 to arrive half an hour later?”
These memes, I belief, tell a lot about the worldview of many gun proponents. First of all, they portray the world as an extremely scary place, where danger and threats are waiting for you at every corner. Especially as a woman you are lucky if you have not been mugged, raped, tortured and murdered - yet. Allegedly, you have to be prepared for “evil” at all times.

The images also reflect a big distrust in the institutions of law and order. The message is: the police won't help you, they are too slow to help you, and restraining orders are just useless pieces of paper. You cannot trust anyone; you yourself have to take the responsibility for your survival.

The pictures also always show a clear distinction between the good and the evil: some dark, shadowy figure representing the “criminal”, the pure evil, the rapist and murderer, who obviously needs to die to protect the innocent victim, often portrayed as a young girl or as a mother with her children. The victims are put into a corner by the bad guy and have no other choice than to protect themselves by the force of a gun. How convenient that the world is such a simple place without any human error, mental illnesses, or complex situations!

Most of the other participants in the class were recently divorced women in their 50s, who now lived alone in some suburb and wanted to get a gun to protect themselves and their homes. One had her concealed carry license and a Glock at home already, although she openly admitted that she was unable to handle it. Another one of the women, the oldest seemed to have trouble following the instructor's words and didn't manage the right stand and the right hand position during our short class period. But the instructor nevertheless encouraged everyone to get a gun as soon as possible. He even said: “Get your license first, get your gun first, and then you can still train to perfect your shooting. But at first, it is important that you have your gun to be safe.” A very responsible sales strategy, I have to say.

Then we actually went out to the range and got to try out a handful of different guns. I cannot lie, shooting was pretty fun (and I was pretty good at it). It was also more physically challenging than I had expected. After fifteen bullets, my arms started shaking already. Shooting also made me realize how much more training I would need to actually be able to use a gun in a real-life situation. It is easy in this protected setting, with someone correcting your stand, and all the time in the world to aim, and no adrenaline of an actual threat. But using a gun in real life takes a lot more than understanding how a gun works and how to shoot it.

Many people I talked to said that they own guns because they want to protect their loved ones. Wilson from Nashville told me this story about how he and his girlfriend were shot at in the city in a drive-by shooting. Since that day, he has always carried a gun. My Athens roommate imagined an armed burglar breaking into his future house and threatening his future family. Another scenario I heard a lot was: “Imagine someone came through this door right now and started shooting – would you not want to stop him?”

Rationally, these arguments don't make a lot of sense, I believe, because most likely shooting back will do little to deescalate these situation but instead heighten the likelihood of injuries and deaths on all sides. But these arguments are not driven by rationale, they are driven by emotions, by fear and by love. Emotions are very hard to argue with.

It is a vicious cycle. Many people admitted that they would prefer a country without guns. But that would be impossible to ever achieve in the US, they predicted. So even if they opposed guns theoretically, they felt the need to have one: “because everyone else does!”

Another argument is that the state should not have the only monopoly over the use of force. Generally, the suspicion against government power is a lot bigger here than back home, a suspicion very deeply ingrained in the country's history and culture. And, for very good reason, people also have very little trust in the police and the judiciary. In reality of course, the high prevalence of gun ownership in the country does nothing to limit the power of government and police.

Whenever I asked the opponents of regulations what they thought about high numbers of adults and children killed by guns every year by accident and due to a lack of caution, most said that these people were just stupid people – something like that would never happen to themselves. Mike from Louisiana expressed anger over the people who don't follow the rules and thus injure themselves. According to him, they only shed a bad light on the majority of responsible gun owners.

And lastly, I also met three people from small towns or the countryside who actually didn't cite self-protection as the reason for their gun ownership, but instead actually used their guns to hunt. All of them also consumed the animals they shot. One guy even told me that the meat his dad shot during his childhood used to be an essential part of the family's diet during economically harsh times.

I talked a lot already, I know, but I want to add one last remark: All of these people I met who defended the US gun laws did not convince me or change my mind. Their arguments might make you shake your head. But it would be very wrong to just put these people in a box of “gun fanatics” and close the lid. These people were neither stupid nor uneducated. Many have understandable fears, caused in part by real experiences of threats and violence (and in part by pro-gun memes). But my point is: instead of just shaking your head about the gun owners, it might be more constructive to think about why people are fearful and what can be done to address these fears' causes.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New York City

For the last weekend of July I decided that it was time to go to another city again, so on Saturday I flew to New York to meet Annika and Jojo. This time was, luckily, very different from the last time when I went over spring break, simply because the weather was so much nicer. I was very pleased with the weather up in the "north", since it really was a break from the hot and humid weather down in Atlanta. Even though it was warm, it was much nicer to walk around the city and explore new things. Every time I go to New York it is an adventure, and I get to see new things or different parts of the city. We took it easy on our first day and just walked around Manhattan, went to different shops in SoHo and simply enjoyed the New York atmosphere. After a while, as we realized it was time for dinner we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, even though I already did that several times it's a great experience every time you do it. After we managed to get to the other side, passing hundreds of tourists, cyclists, and joggers, we enjoyed a walk alongside the river to watch the incredible sunset over Manhattan. I took approximately 743 pictures of the scenery, simply because I couldn't get enough. I think we got home around 12am that night, pretty much immediately falling asleep after this long day.

We didn't have much time to rest though, since Jojo and I had tickets for the Rockefeller Center the next morning at 9, which is something I always wanted to see. Surprisingly, there weren't that many people around when we got there, even though it quickly got more crowded, luckily I was able to take my photos before that happened. A couple of years ago I went to the Empire State building, which was really impressive, but I always wanted to see the Top of the Rocks and I was really happy that I got to see it this time.
 Since we already paid a little fortune to go up there and see it, we thought that we might as well pay a little bit more to be able to see the incredibly view twice in one day, so 12 hours later I got to see Manhattan by night for the first time, and I'm still stunned by its beauty. I took way too many pictures to post all of them, but I tried to at least show some of the best ones. On Sunday we also went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, followed by quite a long search for a little shop with Cornflakes ice cream, and a stroll through Central Park.
 On Monday morning we walked through the Financial District down to Battery Park, to see Miss Liberty at least from the distance. We really wanted to go to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but it was pretty expensive and we didn't have that much time left so we just walked around outside, which was beautiful but moving as well. There are still so many things in New York I wished I had seen, and as always there is never enough time. However, I'm just happy that I was able to have this incredibly fun weekend, I got to see my friends again, and a different city as well. Jojo went back to Hamburg on Monday night, and I'll already see Annika again next week, so there isn't even time to be sad. I can't believe that there are only 1 1/2 weeks left of my internship, and only one month until I'm going back home. I'm already so excited, but I'm also really looking forward to all of the things I have planned for the coming month. On August 12, Annika and I are going on another road trip, this time down to New Orleans and the gulf of Mexico, followed by one week on the West Coast in California with my Dad.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Border Life

After my time in Seattle, I continued my journey by train to El Paso. I was intrigued to experience life at the border, and it was indeed intriguing.

I had seen pictures of El Paso before, where it looks like the border separates two different worlds from each other – poor and rich, "developed" and "developing". But I ended up experiencing El Paso and its Mexican counterpart Juárez a lot differently. Crossing the border did not feel like a sudden step into a totally different world, rather, crossing the border rather seemed like a gradual process to me.

Let me explain: In El Paso's neighborhoods further away from the border, I was greeted in restaurants and shops mostly in English. That's also where the standard chain restaurants and coffee shops are mostly located, where the houses are bigger on average and people walking by foot are a rare sight. But as I walked further south closer to the border, I would hear people increasingly speak Spanish or Spanglish in the streets, some signs are in both English and Spanish, but mostly just in Spanish. In the neighborhood I lived in, there were fewer American flags displayed outside the houses than colorful Christian decorations. There were a lot of family-owned, small businesses around there: corner stores selling cigarettes, soda and eggs, restaurants offering Mexican food, and hair salons on the ground floor of residential houses, where a haircut is $8 (although the many buildings slowly falling into ruins also made evident, that these businesses are having an increasingly hard time). Initially residential buildings also house law and doctors' offices, as well as churches. In the Segundo Barrio, directly at the border, there were also actually people on the street walking home with their groceries. The music played in the restaurants gets more Latin American, and the televisions in bars or restaurants showed Mexican soap operas or news shows rather than some US-American sports channel. Businesses often advertise with murals (or just with their name painted on the wall) rather than with neon signs. The architecture in the Segundo Barrio also often reminds of the small one-story adobe brick houses that the first tribe members had been built in the region before the arrival of the Anglo-Americans.

Many of these elements I recognized again after I actually crossed the bridge over the Rio Grande into Juárez: the small businesses, the murals, the music, the TV shows, the language of course. And then, once I strolled a little more through Juárez, I also found the large fast food chain restaurants again, and the fancy mansions with actual green gardens (which not many people have since it requires constant irrigation in this area).

It should probably have been obvious to me, but I was nevertheless surprised that El Paso and Ciudad Juárez felt in many regards very much like one unit to me. It makes sense though, considering that crossing the border is an everyday thing for a lot of people in El Paso. I met a student for instance, who walked from his home in Juaréz every day to the community college in El Paso. Or one 20-year old, who crossed the border regularly to go to the bars, because the drinking age is only 18 in Mexico. Most people probably come to the US side to work, but I also talked to a doctor living in El Paso and practicing in Juárez. So it should not be a surprise that the cultural ties are very strong, and even people living in the US for many generations still probably maintain a closer relationship with Mexican culture on average than people living further removed from the border. Some of course also work actively to keep the distinct border culture alive, like my AirBnB host, who is currently working on her autobiography about her life as a resident of the border, and who also writes poetry in a mix of Spanish, English and Nahuatl.
(And I'm not even getting into the historic factors of the struggle about Texas and border disputes in the area that were only settled in the 1960s.)

All that being said, I also want to mention some differences that were noticable to me when crossing the border, even just for a short time. Just after crime rates had been dropping in Juárez for a few years, the city made it onto the list of the 50 most violent cities in the world again this year (although the murder rate is still a lot lower than in 2010, when Juárez was ranked the one most violent city and dubbed "the murder capital of the world"). El Paso on the other hand, is a very safe city with very low crime rates. When I was in Juárez (only during the day), I felt mostly safe, but two sad byeffects of the drug war stood out to me: A lot of buildings, and not only the big, fancy mansions, but even small residential houses are protected with high walls or fences, often crowned with a lot of barbed wire. Besides, I saw quite a few "Missing" posters showing young womens' faces posted onto walls and street lamps.

I didn't intend on ending another blog post on such a negative note, but yet it happened again... Maybe some low quality pictures of some of my favorite El Paso / Juárez murals can cheer you up again!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Sunshine State

First of all: so much has happened! The past two weeks went by way too fast, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Even though it's been more than a week, the images of the amazing 4th of July fireworks are still on my mind. There are so many options around Atlanta of what to do on this day; watching the fireworks and Laser Show at Stone Mountain, see the Peachtree Parade (which is a 10k run), or so many other things which I can't even remember. I chose a very popular one: watching the fireworks in Centennial Olympic Park, right next to CNN, the Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca Cola. I don't even know how many people attended this event, but on the website it said that last year around 30 000 people went. Everybody was sitting on the grass, enjoying a picnic and some quality time with their family and friends, when at 9:45 pm the fireworks started. It was a huge show with music and all kinds of fireworks which went on for about 20 minutes. Even though I was stuck in traffic for an hour afterwards it was incredibly beautiful, a great experience and definitely worth it.
Due to the festivities, I had Monday and Tuesday off at work, which was a nice break to relax for a while after the stressful week before our deadline in June. Even though I already had a long weekend, my week got even better because: I went to Florida! On Friday I took a plane down to Miami, where I met Jojo at the airport, impatiently waiting for her flight from Hamburg to come in.

A few thoughts on Miami: it is incredibly beautiful and full of life, even hotter than Georgia (when I told my coworkers that I thought it would be equally hot in Miami and Atlanta they just laughed at me), and you're definitely a bit lost when you can't speak Spanish. Overall, it was such an amazing trip, and we were running around all day to see as much as we could. On Saturday, which was my 22. birthday, we went to Downtown Miami and Little Havana. When you're in Miami it actually feels like you're much further south, and not even in the US anymore, since pretty much everybody speaks Spanish and naturally you can see the Latin American influence in the infrastructure, as well as in restaurants and shops around the city. We rented a car so on Sunday we drove down the Florida Keys because we really wanted to see the landscape and hopefully go swimming. Even though we did go swimming it wasn't as satisfying as hoped, since the water had about the same temperature as it was outside, and you could walk around 100 meters into the water and it would still be shallow, therefore also really warm.

However, it was still absolutely stunning to look at, and I'm glad that we went on the trip. On Sunday night we drove to Miami Beach, to finally see South Beach and the Ocean Drive, which was another great experience. We were lucky to see an incredibly beautiful sunset on South Beach, and enjoyed some Spanish Tortilla in a restaurant later on. I took approximately 500 photos that day, because everything just looks so beautiful. Unfortunately, we had to go back on Monday in the afternoon, since I had to go back to work on Tuesday. However, our flight didn't leave until 4:40, so we took the time to go to Miami Beach again, to sit on the beach and enjoy the ocean view for a little longer.
It was still pretty early, so we finally got the chance to go to the pool of our absolutely amazing AirBnb (seriously, so great), and enjoy some more of the Florida sunshine. Time went by way too fast, and I wish we had had more time in Miami, but I guess that's always the case, so I'm just really happy that I got to see all those beautiful spots in Miami and its surrounding. I'm back in Atlanta and back at work now, but I'm already excited for my next trip in almost two weeks to New York City, where I get to see Annika again!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Heavy Rain & Fundraising Deadlines

Completely off topic, but one of my favorite pictures from
 Georgia Aquarium, which I visited a couple of weeks ago!
That's it, those four words pretty much describe the month of June. Well, I'm kidding (only a little bit though), because in retrospective the past weeks actually feel like I haven't done much but working and watching the rain from inside. The rain is an interesting phenomenon here in Atlanta; in the beginning when my coworkers seemed overprotective and warned me repeatedly about the heavy rain I was thinking "well, they're probably just nice and overcautious", but as I soon would learn: they are not. I believe it was last week when I was on my way home from work, taking my beloved 8 lanes on I85, I encountered the perfect example of Atlanta heavy rain. Usually, it is a common thing in Atlanta to ignore speed limits of any kind and drive at least 20 miles faster than allowed, however, not so much on this day. On a street where people normally drive carelessly around 120km/h, it was 30-40km/h on that day. I could barely see anything but lights in front of me, even though my windshield wipers were on their highest level. Rain was pouring down the bridges in little waterfalls and my only thought was to get home safely. The lawn next to my apartment turned into a small lake, and streets looked more like rivers, but I made it! It was an interesting experience though, and I definitely won't underestimate the crazy weather in this city.

As I said, work was a lot, especially this past weak. The disclosure was June 30 by midnight, which means that candidates are trying to get in as many donations as possible to look good when they publish their fundraising results for the past quarter. This also means, however, that everybody was working every minute they could spare at the office, which led to a lot of hangry and sleep deprived people.
To keep a healthy balance I tried to do some fun and relaxing things besides working, which was hanging out in Decatur, drinking iced coffee and having the best chocolate croissant ever, or having even more food on my balcony.

I feel like food is such an essential part of my life these days, whether it is trying food in new places, or at fancy restaurants in which I'm lucky enough to work for our many fundraising events (which are really interesting, by the way.) I'm honestly so glad that this week is over and we survived the month of June (everybody at my office is), and I'm looking forward to some fireworks on the 4th of July next week, and even more to my trip to Miami on which I am going next Friday. In Miami I'll actually meet Jojo, an American Studies alumni and a good friend of mine, and I'm already very excited to spend some time in Miami and show her around in Atlanta the week after. I'm sure that I'll have some great photos and even better stories to tell after next weekend, so stay tuned!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Seattle's Ups and Downs

Failed to take touristy pictures and had to improvise! 

After a while in Seattle, I haven’t quite made my mind up about the city: It certainly has its ups and downs (that is funny because there are very many hills in Seattle – our house was located on a street with warning sign for trucks: 20 percent incline. I had to take several breaks when walking home).
Seattle is an attractive city in many respects. I enjoyed the culinary diversity brought about by the long history of East Asian immigration to the West Coast. I was a month of many firsts!
I’ve had Chinese dumplings for the first time (at a tiny restaurant in the International District, where an elderly lady rolled out the dough, filled it and pinched it into dumpling form at the neighboring table). I’ve had Pho for the first time (and tried to learn the correct pronunciation from my Vietnamese roommate – he deemed me hopeless) and – probably my favorite experience – I’ve been to a Korean restaurant for the first time. The menu was in Korean, but I managed to order a soup with the help of the waiter. I was pretty surprised to end up with seven plates in front of me, filled with stuff that was all new to me: some kind of pancakes, spicy kimchi, and something that I assume were potatoes marinated in honey. In the International District, I also spent almost an hour in a supermarket, just strolling though the isles. There was frozen pizza, but next to it, there were all variations of frozen dumplings, vanilla flavoring next to Durian flavoring, as well as something called “fish cakes” (I was intrigued, but I chickened out), and 7.7 pound jars of kimchi that would unfortunately not fit into my backpack. And lots of stuff I was never able to identify.
Besides, Seattle is also a very open and progressive city with a big LGBT community. On my last day, I went swimming in Lake Washington, at a tiny beach in Denny Blaine Park – a place that the internet describes as “increasingly gay and increasingly nude”. I felt almost like at home at the West Coast of the Cossi! And the smell of weed – which was legalized in Washington in 2012 – seemed to hover over all of the city.
I also liked that Seattle is a very green city (in the original meaning of the word): I lived in walking distance to various small and large parks, and I could also walk down to Elliot Bay to look over the water, and watch the ships load and unload at the port. And in the other direction, National Parks and Forests are very close by the city, too.
Undoubtedly, Seattle has a lot to offer and it has become very popular for good reasons. The population is growing, and tech companies like Amazon, eBay, Dropbox, Facebook and so forth have moved to the city in recent years as well.
Which leads us to one of the city’s big downs: its big housing crisis. The city’s rents have increased 57 percent in the past six years – and that is not without effect. A guy I met on the bus on my very first day in Seattle told me that he could not afford his apartment anymore and would move into an RV next month. I also made my own experiences: finding a place was very challenging, and I ended up in a bed in the living room corner of a shared house with five roommates. Privacy was provided through two book shelves shielding me from the rest of the living and kitchen area, and I payed more than three times as much as for my room in Leipzig (which actually features four walls and a door).
Of course, one has to mention that the average income in Seattle is growing, too, and the minimum wage amounts to $15 an hour, which is the highest in the US (if Wikipedia does not fail me). But on my first day in the city, just from walking out of the train station, it became painfully obvious to me that not everyone profits from the leap in the Seattle’s popularity and economy to the same extent. Homelessness is on the rise, it is commonly written about a ‘homelessness crisis’ in the city. It is not easy to find reliable numbers on homelessness, but according to an annual random one nightcount, the number of unsheltered people has increased by 19% only between 2015 and 2016. As an info screen in the Public Library told me, homelessness affects especially LGBT adolescents and people of color. African-Americans are five times more likely to become homeless, Native Americans even seven times more likely than white people. It seems off that a city as flourishing as Seattle cannot provide more help to the homeless than designing benches impossible to sleep on. (I am being a bit unfair, actually the city has workedon ways to fight homelessness and spent a lot on the issue – it just hasn’t been very effective yet.)
I had a conversation with a man in his late twenties who told me he was unable to work without his diabetes medication, so he could not start a physically demanding job he was offered, because despite his health insurance, he could not afford the portion of the medication’s price he had to finance himself – a cycle that seems so unnecessary.
I had another encounter with a man on the bus, who told us with tears in his eyes to be grateful for the roof over our heads. He also lived in the shelter - despite having a job.
Many of the people on the streets obviously are in desperate need for mental and/or physical health care.
I think most of the reasons people become homeless are not very different from the rest of the US: ridiculous medical costs, unexpected lay-offs, mental illnesses – and a lack of safety nets in all of these situations. But Seattle has one of the highest absolute numbers of homeless in the US – only “topped” by New York City and Los Angeles, (according to this page,) although the city’s population is much smaller. I guess it comes down to the lack of affordable housing and the increasing rents again.
The Economist ranked Seattle the 3rd most liberal big city inthe US in 2014. What does that even mean, you ask? I have no idea, but I hope that the city will soon be able to live up to this reputation and provide people with roofs over their heads.