Natasha Aruri

It has been three years since the termination of my MU studies. What remains unaltered is gratitude for experiences made and lessons learned, pride of having endured and succeeded, and a conviction that I have become a better practitioner and scholar thanks – particularly – to this program. 

I shared my two years of studies in Darmstadt and Barcelona with 26 participants of 23 nationalities and 15 participants of 11 nationalities respectively, and a multitude of disciplines and academic backgrounds; environments best described as a fast – yet intensive – running track to learning multi- and inter-cultural as well as inter-disciplinary teamwork. Personalised learning experiences were forged with several of the colourful trainers, practitioners and academics whom arrived from the five continents to guide that journey, encouraged critical thinking, provided non-Eurocentric perspectives, knowledge and questions, and to whom I am thankful. Today I remain in contact with several, and proud to call some friends. 

I still think like an architect, but now my cognitive framework to practice, analysis and the subsequent expression of ideas is social, anthropological, economic, political and administrative; thus enabling me to communicate efficiently, effectively, and with considerably fewer instances of conflict and stress. Today I am confident to refer to myself as an Urbanist. Soon after graduation I moved to Berlin and joined the Advanced Research in Urban Systems (ARUS) doctoral program. I am due to complete my research this coming spring, which is developing tools for planning for uncertainty and urban resilience based on the framework of sociospatial change in a setting of geopolitical complexity. Along the way I have taught, participated in urban competitions and worked as a consultant to a couple of european and palestinian organisations. What lies after the spring of 2014 still hasn’t revealed much of its features, but I sure am exited about returning to Darmstadt in June 2014 as visiting professor.

No program is perfect, and my two-years were certainly neither worry- nor fight-free. Those moments have not been forgotten, but today I see them as further practical learning opportunities. Here is the thing with this program, it is you who sets the bar. You can set it to minimum, pass and move on. Alternatively, you can set the bar high, the MU-team will meet you there, invest in you as much as you ask of them and a grain of salt atop, and you will have a life-changing experience… at least, that was my journey in 2008-2010.