After the first six weeks in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I have finally ramped up my coffee consumption to normal, organ damaging levels again. It also took some time to get accustomed to a couple of things, such as not having severe fits of food envy whenever a squirrel hastily crosses my path clinging to a nut – which happens often. So, it seems like a good time to write a bit on my academic and personal experience so far during by fellowship at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.
With its beautiful campus that takes up a good part of Cambridge, Harvard makes it easy to immerse into its microcosm. The Center has been very welcoming and is making a great effort to realize its usual top-notch event program despite the pandemic and the uncertainties it entails. There have been various events on the German elections, and I was also able to participate as speaker in a panel on the German 2021 national elections at Boston University. It is a great pleasure to attend the “Seminar on State and Capitalism since 1800” hosted by Peter Hall and Kathleen Thelen, which features highly interesting presentations and discussions.
Among us Kennedy fellows, we are also planning to have our own seminar in which we can present and discuss our work from different perspectives – which promises to be interesting, as our backgrounds are economy, history, and political science. There is no hurry, though, as we are all still busy with various other things. Of course, current projects do not simply end when going abroad but continue to take their toll. Nonetheless, the fellowship is a fantastic opportunity to concentrate on a research project and provides the space to go down some rabbit holes one would perhaps not consider otherwise.
Gladly, besides settling in and getting to work on my research project, there has been enough time to get some impressions of Boston and other parts of New England. A trip to Walden Pond and the remnants of Henry David Thoreau’s hut is clearly a must when in Boston – especially for the aficionado of simplistic home furnishings. His temporary home there really was quite small and frugal – certainly not much do to there even for Marie Kondo – and one can easily imagine his mother and his sisters feeling the need to bring him sandwiches to support his contemplation about a free and independent existence in harmony with nature.
As a group of Kennedy fellows, we also went further north to the beautiful Lake Sunapee (New Hampshire) for a hike and to see a bit more of Indian summer. Fortunately, we were blessed with great weather until the end of October. Now, I am waiting to see if the winter really is as cold as a number of people have remarked and whether it will be the ideal occasion to stock up on Harvard hoodies as that extra layer to keep me warm. But first, I am preparing to fend off possible imminent attempts of sugar-crazed youngsters to decimate my candy stash. Happy Holloween!