All Aboard the Orient Express – Chapter 1: From Lisbon to Istanbul


The Journey’s Beginning

Istanbul is the romantic and mysterious old capital of the east. A multicultural melting pot to which all roads led to which all citizens of civilizations past and current flock to. With its splendid monuments and narrow winding streets, its crumbling façades and shiny river, Istanbul is the perfect travelling destination. But the journey to Istanbul for every traveller begins much before. Much like it did for us.


Our journeys from Cairo, Kirchheim and Bangalore started when we were accepted at the Masters programme in management at Karlshochschule International University. With its constructivist approach, management studies at the Karlshochschule are uniquely different from other management schools. Here, we are exposed to a blend of emerging topics such as cultural impact on management models or the feminist movement on human resource practices along with practical exposure to case studies and field trips with healthy encouragement to pursue learning and work experience opportunities outside the classroom.

As management students, we are taught to think critically from both an academic as well as from a business and management perspective. We are encouraged to question the status quo, to ask what next and to discover what gaps lie in the argument. With workshop-based modules on how to handle power and conflict in a business world scenario to using creativity and theatre techniques to mine and inspire team management skills, the Karlshochschule management degree makes us business ready for the real world waiting for us once we graduate. The management programme at Karlshochschule is multi-layered filled with academic methodology and business case practices much like a baklava pastry.


An Adventure in Field Research

The programme allowed us to choose to different specialities – sustainability, cultural studies and creativity but our core subjects remained the same.  One such unique module was our introduction to field research. Field research is the collection of information and data on a particular research topic to support the argument and is set outside the classroom. Rather than going the traditional route of classroom lectures, Karlshochschule asked students to choose two international cities – Lisbon or Shanghai. We were given the overarching theme of sustainability and management and our task was to find an organisation within this theme that we would then research.  But the best part of this module was that based on the city of choice, we visited and stayed in Lisbon or Shanghai for ten days walking the streets and researching the topic.

Lisboa – Fado, Fatima and Football

We chose Lisbon as our destination. And that turned out to be the easiest decision.  We spent the summer, between writing essay papers and holidaying in Egypt, to find a topic. Luckily the fourth member of our group found an organisation in Germany called Next Hamburg. Her research led us to an offspring of Next Hamburg, LXAMANHA or Lisbon Tomorrow. In the autumn of last year, we began our research by first reading all material on field research theory and methodology. Then we interviewed members of the Next Hamburg organisation. Next Hamburg introduced us to the key members of LXAMANHA whom we interviewed over Skype. Based on our research question, we also posted an online survey on LXAMANHA’s website. By January 2015, we were ready for our trip to Lisbon.

Lisboa with its spectacular street art, Moorish architecture and narrow winding streets spread across a hilly terrain is much like Istanbul. Another port city, Lisboa has been at the centre of trade with the east, and has welcomed merchants from all over the world. With its colonial history, Lisboa is an urban sprawl with people from Brazil, Angola and India all calling it home.


Travelling with a huge group of people is always fun. And this trip was no different. We discovered Lisbon’s famous street of open bars on the second day all of which offered us fabulous student discounts. Needless to say, the night passed by in a whirl of dancing and drinking and celebrating a co-traveller’s birthday.


We were also surprised by a prankster in our group. Promptly named the ‘ghost of Lisbon’, this person or persons would happily move around rearranging the furniture in our holiday flat. And try as hard as we could, we weren’t able to catch the ghost as he went about his business.  But we were there for a purpose – for a university assignment. How were we going to manage that aside of all the partying? And did we manage to catch our Lisbon ghost?

Read Chapter 2 to find it out!

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