So, where is Europe?

One week ago, the Euroculture programme was celebrating its 20th anniversary during the Intensive Programme held in Krakow. This time, the theme was “Where is Europe?”, which inspired all students to write papers on various topics, from law and borders to ecology and environmental issues, from linguistics to history, new technologies, multiculturalism and many more.
The Intensive Programme (IP) is the final part of the first year; it summarises all that has been learnt during the first semesters in terms of research methodology, academic writing, discussions, peer reviews, paper presentation. It is also a unique opportunity for all students of the same cohort to meet (again or for the first time). Indeed, it is the only time everyone is gathered during the whole duration of the programme.

This year, as you could discover it in our interview with Senka Neuman-Stanivukovic and Karolina Czerska-Shaw, the IP was organised jointly by the University of Groningen and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.
It started on June 24 with an introductory lecture by Paulina Alcocer (from the non-EU partner university UNAM in Mexico), who took a very insightful distance from Europe, making us travel to Latin America and opening a door into the world of alternative epistemologies. Then, another highlight of the programme was the keynote presentation by Ian Manner, named after Kraftwerk’s album “Trans-Europe Express”: a journey through Europe and its popular cultures.

Beside the panels and presentations, our journey through the question “Where is Europe?” also took a historical dimension when visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and watching the film “Denial” by Mick Jackson and David Hare (2016). This part of the programme was closed by a lecture and workshop entitled “Why have you been to Auschwitz-Birkenau?” given by Tomasz Cebulski (licensed guide and lecturer, and author of “Auschwitz after Auschwitz”). The discussions kept going afterwards; even though there is no specific answer to give to this question, the main message was that making the effort of going to such a place of remembrance makes sense once you are there. It is indeed difficult to fully grasp the meaning of Auschwitz without seeing it, especially for the 3rd generation who had no or very little direct contact with survivors. And especially with the current political atmosphere of manipulating historical facts, willingly propagating falsified information, and blurring the line between opinions and hate speech. Though it was obviously less festive than the rest of the programme, this part of the IP was as thought-provoking as one could expect from a Euroculture-related activity.

IP 2018 pic

The last teamwork of the year generated very different and interesting projects covering again a multitude of topics: environmental issues such as waste (the winning project, advocating for a reduction of unnecessary waste in Europe), the construction of Europe through education, the perceptions of Europe, the linguistic diversity that can be found at every corner of Europe, and how new technologies define Europe and answer the IP’s question “Where is Europe?”.

As a conclusion, I will write just a few words with a more personal approach.
It was an intense week, indeed; however, every single minute of it reminded me why I chose to study Euroculture over another Master programme. The constant efforts from the organising team (both from Groningen and from Krakow) to give us “food for thoughts” while finding the balance between seriousness and funnier moments made it all worth our own efforts to survive this first year. To new students or anyone who is considering this programme, let me just tell you a well-hidden secret about this unique, challenging and entertaining week (and programme): it is all about enjoying and belonging. Enjoying the fact that you will spend two years discovering new people and yourself and belonging to a very welcoming and amazing “family” which goes far beyond “Europe”, wherever it is. You may find it light as a conclusion – but don’t be fooled, the IP and Euroculture weights a lot in our academic, professional and personal experience.

You can find pictures from the IP here.

And according to you, now, where is Europe?

IP 2018 picture

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