This week I was saddened to learn that Rosebery Hall will not be hosting a postgraduate community in the next academic year.
I have met a lot of postgrads living in halls at LSE and not one of them has had an experience like the one we had here at Rosebery. Not even those living in Bankside.
Unlike other halls, at Rosebery, we too have both undergrad and postgrad students, but postgraduates live in a separate building and this makes all the difference; we have a similar (ish) age range, similar schedules and similar expectations of university life. Being a catered hall, most of us become closer to our neighbours and easily fall into a routine of hanging out together and creating a home away from home. This doesn’t happen in other halls, they do not provide this sort of community feel.
It is a unique version of the LSE experience that will unfortunately not be available for future postgrad students.
Without any hope of convincing anyone, I decided to write my third post about Rosebery and this one is about the amazing conversations that we held at the dinner table throughout the year.
I separated them into 2 categories: Random conversations, and politics and society topics. Check out the links with more information on some of the interesting items.
Politics and society
Our shared colonial experiences
Every Saturday at Rosebery we have brunch and this became almost a sacred moment in my week. Every single week I go down to the dining room at 11AM and we eat together and chat until 1PM, sometimes even later. This particular conversation happened in late September. Around the table, there was me, another Brazilian friend, Natalia, an Indian colleague, Sahana, and Diogo, who is from Portugal. A pretty interesting mix if you think about it. I am Brazilian, but I am also Portuguese because I have a double citizenship, and this drove us towards a lengthy discussion about our common colonial pasts.
In Brazil, we have a completely miscegenated population, everyone comes from many different places and everyone speaks Portuguese.
In India, they over a hundred different languages and almost no European miscegenation.
We also have very different relationships with our colonizers and for us Brazilians having Diogo’s take on it was really special.
Prostitution in Japan
Well, this conversation actually happened during a party in the dining room, but still, the tables are mainly used for dinner.
Myself, a South-Korean friend and a Japanese friend were speaking about the current repercussions of the me-too movement in Korea, which seems to have taken unprecedented dimensions. The conversation was already very interesting, as we discussed feminism and sexual abuse. But it turned even more enlightening when Amuto explained to us how prostitution is organized in Japan. As he puts it, prostitution seems to be a part of the reality of many Japanese men and also something embedded in their culture, even if it is illegal. To learn more about it, check out the Wikipedia page for prostitution in Japan.
Self-driving cars and mapping infrastructure
If self-driving cars were to take over, would the maps that they drive on be private or publicly provided? Will they be standardized nationally? Yeah, I don’t think that anyone has an answer, but think about it. Shouldn’t all the self-driving cars be following the same maps? Would you buy a cheaper car that came with less geolocation precision?
Families are like kiwis?
Have you ever wondered how people celebrate marriage in other cultures and why? I personally struggle understanding marriage, not in the sense that I don’t believe in it, but I think that each couple has a reason to get married and I catch myself thinking what reason I myself see in it.
This discussion started with an explanation of marriage in India; My friends told me that arranged marriages there are so common that it might be taken as a standard by some people, requiring them to create the love marriage category for marriages that weren’t arranged.
I then began to explain my own personal belief in a sort of compartmentalization of family, love and personal projects.
The problem is that the idea was so complicated that I had to use the different fruits on the table to explain it: So kiwi marries the orange. They get married because they love each other. Then kiwi decided that it doesn’t want children. I think that if orange wants children, maybe she could co-parent them with apple. She doesn’t have to divorce kiwi, but why not have a child with someone else with whom she is not emotionally involved but has similar parenting ideals?
We then moved on to add other fruits to the conversation and brought ourselves to discuss political marriages and the role of women in cultures in which a single man can marry many women.
The polish alphabet
With a Polish friend among us, one of our favourite topics of conversation is always how hard Polish words are to write and speak. There are so many consonants everywhere, right? One of the most interesting conversations was about the different sounds in the Polish alphabet; They have 32 letters, 9 of which are unique. You can learn more about it right here.
The conversation didn’t end here though because my friend Amuto was sitting with us at the table and he has both Pakistani and Japanese heritage. As he explained to us, in Japan they use both the Japanese and the Chinese characters. Writing his full name, which has some words that cannot be written in Japanese because of the Pakistani roots, requires him to use both alphabets.
Food myths told to us when we were kids
Are carrots really good for your eyes?
Does broccoli make you smarter?
I bet that you don’t know what the alternative spelling the word “fish” is.
Oh boy, this conversation took much more of our time than it would have been appropriate for master students. Google it and find out for yourself.
Would you rather…
Have rice every day for the rest of your life or have potatoes every day for the rest of your life?
Live in Rosebery every day for the rest of your life, or move to a different city every day for the rest of your life?
How come actors have accents when they speak if they can fake as many accents as they want?
This is another very good question. It is even more interesting if you have an actor onboard to share his perspective. As a follow-up discussion, check out this cool video from Wired in which they discuss movie accents.
What name do you give to someone born on Earth?
Someone born on Mars is a martian. In English, what do you call someone born on Earth? For a follow-up discussion, don’t miss the movie The Martian, which has nothing to do with the topic, other than featuring the word “martian”.
This is really sour…
No, it is really sweet! – Yeah, I think that this is just our standard conversation topic.
Rosebery, I am sad to leave you! And sad to learn that there won’t be postgraduates students calling you home next year.
For my birthday in March, my friends threw me a surprise celebration and I entertained them with some Brazilian treats in the dining room over the weekend – here are some photos: