SOS!IP: The IP in perspective – Maeva Berghmans (2017-2019, Olomouc – Krakow)

Interview conducted by Carolina Reyes Chávez

January 2022, Maeva with Statue of Archduke Charles, Heldenplatz, Vienna 

Maeva Berghmans went through the IP process almost 4 years ago. Currently studying her 3rd year of Ph.D. at Palacký University, she speaks about the IP and the IP paper writing experience. Maeva comes from France and studied a BA in Nordic Studies at the University of Caen, France, with an Erasmus in Tartu, Estonia. After completing the Euroculture programme (2017-2019, Olomouc – Krakow), she is currently specializing in Czech History of the 19th and 20th centuries. She also carries out mentorship sessions for Euroculture students at Palacký University.

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Interested in Doing a PhD? Inés Bolaños Somoano’s journey to a PhD at the European University Institute

By Laila M. Lange (Groningen, Deusto, 2021-2023)

Inés Bolaños Somoano did a Bachelor’s in English studies, before joining the Euroculture programme in 2015. She attended the University of Göttingen and Palacký University Olomouc and finished the Master’s programme in 2017 with a thesis on Islam and terrorism in the European Union.

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SOS IP! Atiena Abed Nia (2020-22, Göttingen – Uppsala)

Interview conducted by Laura de Boer

Atiena Abed Nia is a fourth semester Euroculture student, having started the programme at Georg-August-University Göttingen and completed her second semester at Uppsala Universitet. At the end of her second semester in Sweden, she also took part in the 2021 Intensive Programme (IP) hosted by Uppsala.

Euroculture Magazine [EM]: What were your general feelings about the IP when you entered the Euroculture program? Were you excited about it, or were you nervous?

Atiena Abed Nia: The first time I heard and read about the Intensive Programme, I was very excited. It sounded like a very special event and the highlight of the Euroculture program. I really looked forward to it, especially to meeting and exchanging experiences with other students, but the closer the IP preparations came, the more nervous I became. This was mainly because our universities started the preparations very early and put a lot of pressure on us with deadlines, which was not that bad in the end because we did everything in small steps.

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The Entry-Level Paradox: Stella Meyer on the pitfalls of post-grad job searching

Interview by Leonie Glaser

Stella Meyer is a German Euroculture alumna from the 2019-2021 cohort, having studied in Uppsala, Göttingen, and Bilbao. In the following article, Stella tells us about her life as a recent Euroculture graduate. Entering the job market, even with a MA, is not that easy.   

I am an inherently indecisive person. On bad days, it takes ages for me to make a simple decision. As simple as do I want to have an apple or a banana for a snack. I know it doesn’t really matter and is an incredibly unimportant question to dwell on. Yet, it is a classic example of me being absolutely lost and unable to make a very basic decision. Now, the prospect of having to actively choose a career path is downright terrifying for me. I am aware that nothing is set in stone and career changes are not only possible, but normal – if not recommended. Yet, it still feels like a pretty big decision to me. Where do I want to go? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? And then there are the more practical questions concerning work-life balance, salary, benefits, potential career opportunities and so on. As it turns out, indecisiveness in light of the sheer number of options is not my only hurdle. The industry I am looking to work in comes with its own set of challenges: sky-high expectations and little to give in return. That does not pair well with my own – admittedly also high – expectations and career ambivalences.

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City Lifestyle: Sporting in Bilbao

By Laila Lange (2021-23, Groningen and Bilbao)

City Lifestyle: Sporting in Bilbao

For many students, sports are an essential part of student life. Besides the positive effect on the overall health and wellbeing of the students, participation in sports activities has been researched to positively affect the academic performance of students, as well as broaden the social ties to fellow students. Whereas some studies concluded that there is a relationship between violence, alcohol consumption and sports participation, the overall importance of university sports should not be underestimated.

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SOS IP! Jodie van ’t Hoff (2020-22, Groningen – Olomouc – Göttingen)

Interview conducted by Loura Kruger-Zwart

The Intensive Programme can seem daunting to new Euroculture students, but it doesn’t have to! Jodie van ‘t Hoff talks us through the IP preparation phase, paper writing process, and how the (online) IP in 2021 went for her. While Jodie’s Euroculture experience has been almost entirely online due to the ongoing pandemic, she is making full use of the programme’s mobility. Having started in Groningen then attending Olomouc online, Jodie moved to Göttingen for her third semester and is currently preparing to spend her fourth semester in Olomouc (in person this time!).

Euroculture Magazine: Would you mind giving us a small introduction about yourself? Where are you from, what are your universities, and how did you find out about the Euroculture programme?

Jodie van ’t Hoff: I’m Jodie van ’t Hoff, I’m half Dutch/half German, and I am currently in my third Euroculture semester doing a research track at the University of Göttingen. My first semester was in Groningen, my second in the Czech Republic. During my Bachelor’s programme, which I also completed in Groningen, I learned about the Euroculture master. In the end, I applied because the subjects seemed a great continuation of my Bachelor and the mobility aspect to me was a real selling point.

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My Third Semester: Internship at the Institute for Minority Rights

By Laura de Boer

Katherine Arena (2020-2022) has done her Bachelor in European Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen, where she majored in European Politics and Society. Her first Semester of Euroculture was spent in Groningen and her second in Udine. She is currently doing her internship at the Institute for Minority Rights at Eurac Research in Bolzano. She will return to Groningen for her final semester, back to where it all started.

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): What were your expectations when you started the Euroculture M.A.? Were they met?

Katherine: When I started the M.A. Euroculture, I was mainly expecting two things; the first one was to be part of an international group with people sharing a common interest in European studies and the opportunity to have an engaging exchange with them. The second one revolved around the whole moving and travelling dimension, getting to meet new people, and being confronted with new cultures. The first expectation was fully met; I have met a lot of interesting people, and I have shared and learned about different perspectives. The second one unfortunately was not fully met due to the pandemic; I was still able to do the second semester abroad, but the internship track, in the end, happened online, with me visiting the city and the office only once.

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SOSJobs! Alumni4Students: Felicitas Rabiger’s Experience as an International in the Swedish Labour Market

Felicitas comes originally from Nuremberg, Germany, but she has always been a real globetrotter eager to explore her surroundings. When she was 15, she spent a few months in Limerick, Ireland and that set the start to wanting to move abroad and trying out different things. Since then, she has lived in Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and since 2010, Sweden. She joined the Euroculture programme in 2009 starting off in Groningen. After graduating in 2011, she started a career in the education management business in Sweden, but has worked for both Swedish and American employers. Felicitas lives together with Saga (2.5 years), her partner Linus and her dog Mio.

Interview by Carolina Reyes Chávez

Euroculturer Magazine (EM): How long ago did you graduate from Euroculture and what are you working with now?

Felicitas Rabiger

Felicitas Rabiger (FR): I graduated 10 years ago and now I work at Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan. It’s a very Swedish organization. In Scandinavia there’s a long tradition of enabling people – normal people, with no education, to get more knowledge. The concept is called Folkbildning, it comes from the civil society and it’s built on associations. So a lot of people in Sweden, almost everyone is basically part of a group focused on some kind of topic, like football for example, or if I have a sickness, for example cancer, I can go and join the cancer association, or if I’m interested in painting I can go and join my local painting association, you know? That’s how they establish a lot of small associations that are part of the democratic tradition in Sweden. 

So Studieförbundet is basically here for this small associations to give them structure and to help them with administrative processes, also we organize all kinds of activities together with them, we can give them access to free education… It’s like a consultant, but not for business but for organizations in order to help them to get the work better and to get more organized. We also help them to get more members, with branding for example, also they can use our space and get money from us for materials.

My position is called Organizational developer and it’s about having contact with a certain amount of associations and helping them with all kinds of stuff, like finding ways for them to get funding for new projects. We also provide courses to the general public, like languages, painting, astronomics, anything that’s not university education. So it’s a really broad job.

EM: What do you see as your role or contribution as a non-Swede in this very Swedish organization?

FR: Well, actually we are discussing right now that I’ll have more focus on integration in general, because that’s my focus. Not being a Swede, I have been working a lot with people like me that need to get into the Swedish job market, and I’ve been trying to provide educational programs for them, to help them also to get better Swedish for example, to finding funds… So it’s a very creative and outgoing job, I have to talk to people all the time. I’m teaching some courses and I actually held a seminar in Swedish Work Culture for the Uppsala International Hub.

EM: Is this Studieförbundet an organization funded by the State?

FR: Yes, and that’s super interesting, you know? You could say that the Studieförbundet is the Swedish biggest cultural organization. And there are different goals with this Folkbildning concept, that’s actually to secure democracy so that people can meet, discuss and get more ideas and knowledge. The goal is also to integrate people that don’t have a voice into the society, for instance we focus a lot on handicapped people, or I work a lot with women that don’t have a job nor speak Swedish, or that are analphabetic. We want to give them a chance to get into the Swedish job market, so to give these groups a voice.

EM: That’s awesome

FR: Yes! And it’s something very, very Swedish. I don’t know anything like that in any other country. It’s like the education system in the university here which is about this concept of having your own power, seeking knowledge on your own, and that’s not only for the elite but is part of this idea that everybody should have access, even if you are handicapped, or if you come from a very distant country, you still should be able to take part in the society. So being State funded…it’s basically a way to enhance democratic processes, supporting the people and actually helping them to get power.  

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From a Friendly Gesture to a Dependable Platform: Bart Swinkels’ Dutch Covid-19 News

By Bart Swinkels

Starting as a friendly gesture to fellow students, when Bart Swinkels (Dutch, Groningen/Uppsala, cohort 2021/2023) started translating and sharing news about Covid-19 restrictions in the Netherlands, he never imagined the societal need that this initiative appears to fulfil. In this article, Swinkels reflects on the year 2021 and the journey of establishing his platform: Dutch Covid-19 News!

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City Lifestyle: Student Nations

By Leonie Glaser

Besides having a high-ranking university, beautiful old buildings, and being surrounded by nature, Uppsala has a vibrant student life, unlike any other Euroculture City. The reason? Student Nations! This article will tell you everything you need to know about these Swedish traditional clubs – from the stairs in front of Värmlands to the fancy Gasques – a membership at a nation will define your Uppsala student life!

So, what are these nations? Student Nations are old student associations with their own bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, which are entirely run by students. They organise activities and have clubs ranging from choirs to sports, and from theatre to orchestra. The nations in Uppsala date back to 1630 and the names of the nations (for example, Stockholms Nation, Göteborgs Nation, and Värmlands Nation) give away their origin. The clubs were for students from certain areas of Sweden to meet people from their own region and feel a bit like home again. Nowadays, coming from a certain district is not necessary for membership anymore and even international students can join whichever nation they like!

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