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City Guide – Uppsala

In this addition of the Euroculture City Guides, Bryan Bayne (American/Brazilian), who spent his first semester at Palacky University Olomouc, will give you an insight into life in the Swedish city of Uppsala, where he attended Uppsala Universitet during his second semester.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city?

Bryan Bayne (BB):I love Sweden and wanted to spend a full semester there. I chose Uppsala due to its proximity to Stockholm and its reputable university.

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less?

BB: Uppsala has its charms. Its quaint center is charming and its river Fyris is quite romantic. The city is unique in that it feels like a small town, but has a strong international vibe—you can find anything and anyone here. Its inhabitants are very diverse and this is the city’s greatest strength. 

What I disliked most about Uppsala was the suburban feel of the city. Apart from the charming-but-small center, most of the city is comprised of generic suburban landscapes.

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IP 2021: Concordat versus laïcité – the case of Alsace-Moselle

This article is part of the IP 2021 series, in which we publish abridged, general-public versions of the academic papers presented in the Euroculture Intensive Programme. This year’s topic was Religion.

Anna Wierzbicka is a Polish student who spent her first semester in Strasbourg and her second one in Groningen.

By Anna Oliwia Wierzbicka

On ne touche pas aux choses d’Alsace.

“Do not change anything in Alsace.” These words, attributed to the king Louis XIV, may never have been expressed by him, but they can be seen as  evidence of the specific attitude of the French crown towards Alsace over the centuries. This attitude has lasted to this day, to the times of the French Fifth Republic. And one of its manifestations is the Concordat of 1801, which regulates the relationship between the state and four religious denominations in Alsace-Moselle (a region that consists of three departments: Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle) until this day. It is still in force despite the adoption of the State secularism in France in 1905 by the French Law on the Separation of the Churches and State (Loi du 9 décembre 1905 concernant la séparation des Églises et de l’État), prohibiting any influence of the State on religious matters and vice versa. 

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City Guide – Udine

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Christina Huemmer (German), who did her first semester at the University of Groningen, will give you an insight into life in the Italian city of Udine, where she studies at the University of Udine for her second semester.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city? (what inspired you about the city?)

Christina Huemmer (CH): I chose Udine not just for the excellent food and the weather, but mainly the people, the language, and the whole history of this place. Before starting Euroculture and selecting the second-semester university, I never really thought about moving to Udine one day, but when looking it up, I saw the unique location in the very heart of Europe. I was always interested in cross-border studies and communication, and there is no better place than here to explore it further. Udine is really a meeting point of different worlds and cultures (Austria, Slovenia, Croatia are nearby and easily reached by public transport) and you can also feel that in the city. 

The city has a historic centre with everything you need. Something that really inspires me is that even during these strange times, I still feel like I really have the chance to be part of this city and the culture. Udine gives you the opportunity to have a real “Italian/Friulian” experience and be part of a rich culture. It seems like the people really know each other, and this also gives it a specific charm. I also found the region very interesting. Living between the mountains and beaches and close to three different other countries — no other second-semester university can offer that!

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City Guide – Bilbao

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guide, Chingyz Jumakeyev (Kazakhstani) tells you all about life in the city of Bilbao, where he spent his second semester at the University of Deusto as part of the Euroculture programme, after his first semester in Göttingen.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city?

Chingyz Jumakeyev (CJ): I have always dreamed of living at least for a short period of time in Spain and even when searching for MA programmes, I always kept that idea in mind. Because of this, it was very easy for me to put the University of Deusto on the list of my preferred study destinations for three simple reasons. First, when applying for the Euroculture programme, I had already acquired a decent level of the Spanish language. Second, I really did not want to lose a chance to live and study next to the ocean (I think Deusto is the only university in the Euroculture programme that can give you that opportunity). Third, Spanish football! Being a fan of  Spanish football  I was eager to experience Spanish football culture and Bilbao is the perfect destination for that. You can literally feel how Bilbao’s identity is merged with its football club and players. Fun fact: Athletic Bilbao is the only Spanish team that is loyal to its local talents, which means every player of Athletic is required to have Basque heritage!

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less?

CJ: Despite being a relatively small city, Bilbao offers a variety of activities. The best thing about it is that you have mountains for hiking, a river for paddling, an ocean for surfing, amazing weather, and of course you have a huge variety of bars and local food. Also, I would highlight the city’s well-developed infrastructure that allows you to travel not only Bilbao but the whole Biscay region very easily. Besides all of that, the city has much culture as well, which can be found in its famous Guggenheim Museum, the cultural area of the San Francisco neighborhood, Casco Viejo (Old town), and the renovated parts of the city like Moyua and Abando. The only thing that I appreciated less are the high prices which are typical for the Basque Country.

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City Guide – Krakow

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Rachele de Felice (Italian) will tell you about her experiences and recommendations for her current homebase, Kraków, where she has just finished studying at the Jagiellonian University for her second semester, after finishing her first semester at the University of Groningen.

The City Guide Project is led by Paola Gosio and Felix Lengers

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Why did you choose to study and live in this particular city?

Rachele de Felice (RF): I guess the two most focal points that motivated me to go to Kraków were firstly, the fact that I have travelled and lived in several Western/Southern European countries but have never made it to the East. In terms of experience, I thought Eastern Europe would definitely be the place that would challenge me the most to come out of my comfort zone. As Kraków has a reputation of being very international as well, I thought it would be a great option for me to gain a first-hand experience of life in Central Eastern Europe. Secondly, the focus of the IES at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków really caught my attention. I wanted to broaden my horizon in terms of learning about this region and the courses they offered for the 2nd semester also sounded the most interesting to me. Looking at my current situation, I feel I made the right choice.

EM: What are the aspects you appreciate the most about the city and which ones are those that you like less?

RF: What I love about the city is that its looks and architecture are just super beautiful and in my opinion, it is the perfect size as well. I enjoy wandering through the city centre and even though Kraków is the 2nd biggest city in Poland, everything is fairly closely located, and you can easily walk to all the hotspots, especially when you live close to the Rynek, which is the main square in Kraków. There is a lot of history to this city and I feel like you discover something new each time when you go exploring. It also has a lot of very hipstercafés and restaurants, which hits close to home for me. I’m a big coffeeholic and I can guarantee that any coffee lover and foodie will get their money’s worth in this city. There is a « Bar Mleczny » almost on every corner where you can buy Pierogis and other Polish dishes for very little money, I don’t think I have to add more right?

Something I don’t like as much about the city are the doves. I do not think I have ever seen a city that has more doves than here and they leave their marks everywhere as you can imagine. I also notice a lot of police everywhere. I am not sure whether that is due to the pandemic or just in general, but it definitely leaves an impression on you. So far, weatherwise, I must say I wasn’t very lucky either. Although spring has sprung, the weather is still quite bad and some days/nights it gets very cold, plus it can rain a lot, which has been hard on my Southern European soul.

EM: Was it easy to communicate with the locals or did you encounter any issues ? Do you have any tips on how to deal with the language barrier?

RF: In and around the city centre most people will be able to communicate in English with you, which definitely helps. However, once you go a bit outside the main square and try to communicate with people above a certain age, English is not very commonly used and known anymore, and you will have to rely on any gestures you can imagine in order to bridge the language barrier. For me, knowing a Slavic language has definitely helped a little bit in certain situations, as well as using Google Translate in certain situations, of course. It definitely helps to get familiar with some basic phrases in Polish. Another tip I can give you is to get to know international students with Polish roots or local “Krakowians”. It will increase your own experience in the city and it’s always handy to know someone who can help you out with the local language sometimes, when really needed.

EM: If you were in the city for 1 day as a tourist, what would you certainly do?

RF: I would suggest to go and visit the Rynek and walk around there, visit a Milk Bar for some Pierogia and Polish salads or soups. After I would suggest exploring the ulica Florianska, which is Krakow’s main shopping street and just a stunner to walk down. I would also suggest visiting Stary Kleparz, a really nice market in the north of the city, where you get to mingle with locals and experience the perks of a globalized world, hence trying dierent foods and groceries from all sorts of dierent cultures and countries. I would then continue to the Wawel Castle by the river, have a look around that area, which is super beautiful especially on a sunny day. After that I would definitely continue to Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter, get some local food, a coee to go, maybe a « Good Lood », which is a local ice cream chain that Polish people go crazy for (and I must say as half-Italian, the ice cream is really not bad at all and worth a try). Have a look at all the beautiful synagogues in Kazimierz, walk to Plac Nowy for a Zapiekanka, and admire all the beautiful gratis on the way. Enjoy the sunshine and architecture and as a culmination of the day in Kraków, I would recommend having a walk around the « green circle » that surrounds the city centre, where you can also easily stop and admire the dierent sights and views of the city. At the end of the daytrip, I would recommend checking out the southern part of the city and to have some food and beers at Hala Forum. There you can enjoy the sunset and views of the city next to the river and after you can check out Kraków from above by taking the hot air balloon that is right next to Forum.

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Swedish Politics: boring no more?

By Bryan T. Bayne. Special thanks to Jonas Axelsson, who provided valuable commentary and insight.

Swedish politics have a reputation for being a boring, predictable, and consensus-driven low-key affair. Not anymore. Last Thursday (17.06) the formerly-Communist Left Party announced that it no longer had confidence in Stevan Löfven’s Social Democratic government and was leaving the coalition. Today a supermajority in the Riksdag has voted to oust the prime minister and ushered in a new era of political instability in Sweden. At the heart of the issue is a dispute over the housing market, however, its causes harken back to the instability produced by the 2018 elections and broader debates on immigration.

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The Eurovision Song Contest: A Non-Political Song Contest Filled With Politics

By Leyre Castro

The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is an international song competition organized annually since 1956 by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The idea behind this contest was to unite European countries following the end of World War II. Now, it is the longest-running annual international televised music competition as well as the most popular song-contest in the world. 

After the contest being cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, next Saturday, 22nd of May, 2021, the 65th edition of the ESC will be held in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. 

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French Secularism: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

By Dorien Julia Rijkens

Laïcité, the well-loved term referring to secularism in France, has been under excruciating pressure after the recent string of attacks in France, including the brutal beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty, performed by a handful of fundamentalist members of the Muslim community. French President Emmanuel Macron declared Paty’s murder to be “a typical Islamist terrorist attack” and claimed the need for France, and the rest of the world, to “fight Islamist separatism,” as Islam is an ideology which claims that “its own law should be superior to those of the Republic.” Macron’s rhetoric and actions stirred outrage all over the Islamic World, from Turkey to Tunisia, from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia, as these statements, justified by French secularism according to Macron, are positioned on the fine line between secularism and islamophobia. In this article, I will argue that President Macron’s rhetoric and actions cannot be justified solely on the basis of secularism because they challenge the established relationship between the “West” and the “East.”

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Citizenship and the Democratic Deficit of the European Union

By María Belén Silva Campos

The European integration began as an economic cooperation that evolved into a political entity after the foundation of the European Union, a sui generis organization that has developed into a new “type of political system by evolving from a horizontal system of interstate cooperation into a vertical and multi-layered policy-making polity.” [1] In this sense, traditional theories, such as federalism, confederalism, functionalism, neo-functionalism, intergovernmentalism or supranationalism, cannot be used to fully explain  nor improve it.

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Keeping your Eurocompetence project alive — United Citizens of Europe

Luca, Anton and Hannah are all part of the 2019-2021 cohort. Luca studied in Groningen in his first semester, Anton in Krakow and Hannah in Uppsala. They all three got to know each other during their second semester in Strasbourg. All three decided to pursue the professional track in their third semester, leaving them spread across the continent: Luca in Sofia, Hannah in Geneva and Anton in Berlin. They are all co-founders of United Citizens of Europe and each brings a different expertise to the project.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): Hi Luca, Anton and Hannah. Tell us a bit more about how the United Citizens of Europe project came into being and what you are trying to accomplish.

United Citizens of Europe (UCoE): The original idea behind United Citizens of Europe was to have a MEU (Model European Union) on European Citizenship and golden visas. The pandemic forced us to change our format and our overall initial idea. In the end, we decided to carry out live interviews on Instagram, hosting guests with a relevant background in the European institutional and civil society sector. The original team was composed of five members; only two of us are still here. When contemplating whether or not to continue with the project, we knew we wanted Anton to join because of his creative mind and attention to detail.

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