City Guide – Göttingen

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Maike Mewes (German), who recently finished her second semester at the university of Uppsala, will give you an insight into life in the German city of Göttingen, where she studied at the University of Göttingen during her first 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?

Maike Mewes (MM): I already completed my Bachelor’s degree in Göttingen – more by chance – and got to know about the Euroculture Master’s programme. Göttingen is a very beautiful city with a high percentage of students (almost 25% of the inhabitants). Located in the middle of Germany, Göttingen also offers the possibility to visit many other interesting places – either with the regional trains which are for free as a student (at least in Lower Saxony and some neighboring cities) or with the ICE which connects you to Berlin, Munich, or Cologne within only a few hours.

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

MM: In my opinion, Göttingen is the perfect city to study! It is quite small which helps a lot to find one’s way around after a short time and not to feel lost. One can easily walk or go everywhere by bike or use the bus for free, and there are several green areas like parks and the forest around the city. The Kiessee, a small lake, is the perfect place to go for a picnic during a nice sunny afternoon with some friends.  Göttingen is also a city with a large number of students and therefore offers many possibilities to meet friends in cafés and bars and to do cultural activities, which are included in the Kultursemesterticket, like going to the theatre or concerts of the symphony orchestra (depending on the theatre/concert either for free or almost for free!). Tip: have a look at the long list of activities one can attend with the student card!

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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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SOSJobs! Alumni4Students: Virginia Stuart-Taylor (2016-2018)

Virginia Stuart-Taylor is British and was part of the Euroculture 2016-2018 cohort, but graduated in 2019 due to undertaking a full-time job. She spent her first semester at the University of Groningen, her second one at Uppsala University and chose the professional track in the third semester. Before starting Euroculture, she completed a BA in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Exeter. Currently, she is living in London (UK) where she is working in the UK Government on UK-EU trade relations and negotiations. Virginia always wanted to pursue a Master’s degree and explore Europe further, therefore the Euroculture M.A. was a perfect fit. Apart from moving to Europe, she wanted to shift her career towards the public sector. Ultimately, pursuing the Euroculture M.A. was a fundamental step in her career, as it enabled her to re-orient towards politics, public affairs and foreign policy.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM):  What were your expectations when you applied/started the Euroculture M.A. and do they match the reality at the moment? 

Virgina Stuart Taylor (VST): I started the Euroculture M.A. shortly after the UK’s Brexit referendum and, as I’m British, the vote added a certain element of drama to the course. I was excited to study among so many different nationalities, after 4 years predominantly working full-time in London. I was so thrilled about the freedom of the student experience that I over-subscribed to practically everything Groningen had to offer: Dutch and Russian classes, the Honours College, a Photography course and even some ad-hoc paid work for Study in Holland.  I quickly discovered that the MA course at Groningen is really demanding too, so I did struggle to find time for everything. I learned my lesson and was subsequently more realistic with my extracurricular activities in Uppsala for the second semester. Despite that, I was thrilled that the course was so rigorous, as it meant I learned quickly and absorbed a lot of knowledge, which I’ve used in my jobs after graduation. Following the Brexit referendum, there has been a lot of demand in the UK job market for expertise in European Affairs. While studying though, I tentatively hoped I might settle in the EU with a residency and work permit. Fast forward 4 years and I’ve used my Euroculture experience to start a career in the UK Government, specialising in UK-EU relations and negotiations, and I unfortunately no longer have the right to work in the EU. My network of friends and contacts in the EU is huge however, both in Brussels and spread across the continent, and I catch up with many of my Euroculture friends when visiting Brussels for work. I would ideally like to have a more accessible route and the right to work in the EU again, but I’m also happy that my career has remained EU-focused, even when I’m physically based in London.

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City Guide – Strasbourg

The Euroculturer is proud to introduce you to our new project: the Euroculture City Guides! In this edition, Céliane Breuyre (French) and Diego Gómez Pimienta (French/Mexican), currently studying their second semester at the University of Deusto, Bilbao, will tell you all about their first-semester homebase, Strasbourg in France, where they studied at the University of Strasbourg.

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?)

Céliane Breuyre (CB): Strasbourg is a very beautiful city that I had already visited before starting the Euroculture semester. It is a very lively city as well, especially on the weekends. Unfortunately, Covid did not allow us to take advantage of this but normally, it is a student-friendly city. As one of the European capitals, Strasbourg also has a multicultural dimension. 

Diego Gómez (DG): I always wanted to live in France, and Strasbourg seemed really nice to live in. Having the EU institutions there was certainly a bonus since I aim to do an internship there.

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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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