Struggling for recognition: esports in the EU

By Anna Oliwia Wierzbicka. Anna Oliwia Wierzbicka comes from Poland. In 2020, she graduated with honours from the Beijing Language and Culture University with a BA in Chinese Language. Currently she is interning at the Centre for International Relations in Warsaw (Poland) as a part of her Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Euroculture at University of Strasbourg (France) and University of Groningen (the Netherlands). LinkedIn.

What are esports? Are they a sport at all? It is just for fun, right? As video games become increasingly popular, a new profession has appeared: esports player. Nevertheless, they, like us, are ceaselessly confronted with these and many other questions. However, there is no doubt that esports are getting more and more visible. 11% of Europeans watch esports at least once per week. 50% of the European population between 6 and 64 years old play video games. Women constitute 47% of all players. The size of the European video game market increased by 22% in 2020 and reached €23.3bn. The numbers speak for themselves. And these figures translate into good moments to make our world a little better. Did you know that girls who play video games are 3x more likely to choose a STEM-related profession compared to girls that do not? The video games sector is constantly growing, creating new opportunities for Europeans. Esports could be the future of international sports competitions in Europe and beyond. So what is the stance towards esports in the European Union (EU)?

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Why the EU should pay more attention to video games

By Bryan T. Bayne

One hundred young men rent an old Neogothic castle in southern Poland for a weekend to dress like medieval noblemen and play games. It sounds like the plot of some B-list horror movie, but it was part of a video game competition in 2019. It is one among many examples of the growing influence of video games on European culture and youth.

Video games have become a huge industry in Europe. The EU market is estimated to be worth over €21 billion in 2020, having grown 55% since 2014. The EU is home to some of the biggest companies in the world. In 2020, CD Projekt Red briefly became the most valuable company in Poland and released a game that—despite much controversy—sold 13 million copies at a €60 price tag each. The continent’s second video games giant, the French Ubisoft, is worth some €8.6 billion, four times as much as AirFrance-KLM.

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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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City Guide – Olomouc

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Hui-Yu (Joyce) Weng (Taiwanese), who recently finished her second semester at the University of Göttingen, will tell you all about her experiences while living in Olomouc, Czech Republic, where she attended Palacký University 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?

Hui-Yu Weng (HW): Olomouc seemed like a perfect choice for me. The cost of living is low, and although it is a small student city, it has everything one needs and is particularly rich in history and culture. In 2019, The New York Times described Olomouc as a great alternative to Prague because of its similar abundance of historical sites, vibrant student life, and yet, relatively few tourists! As someone on a budget but still wanting to make the most of studying abroad, I knew I would certainly enjoy living and studying in Olomouc. 

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

HW: I like the ubiquity of Gothic and Baroque architecture in the city of Olomouc. As an ecclesiastical metropolis and former capital city of Moravia (one of the three historical Czech lands), a chapel, church, or cathedral can be found almost everywhere in the city. Besides numerous historical sites, Olomouc also offers artistic vibes with its wide variety of street art. From large murals overlooking pedestrians to small graffiti drawings filling up a mini-tunnel called Lomená Gallery, the city’s creative arts never fail to bring a smile to my face. It is also important to mention that Olomouc is very well connected to other major cities. It only takes about 1 hour by bus to Brno, 2 hours by train to Prague, 3.5 hours by train to Vienna or Bratislava, and 4.5 hours by train to Kraków.

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City Guide – Indianapolis

In this edition of the Euroculture City Guides, Hannah Vos (American), who recently finished her second semester at the university of Olomouc, will give you an insight into life in the American city of Indianapolis – state capital of Indiana – where she studied her undergraduate degree before Euroculture.

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?

Hannah Vos (HV): Although I did not study in Indianapolis (also called “Indy”) for the Euroculture Master’s programme, I spent two years working on my undergraduate degree there. I chose Indy because, although it is the capital of Indiana, it has a great blend of small-town vs city life.

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

HV: One of my favorite things was hanging out in Broad Ripple, a small village north of downtown, on nice fall days. There are plenty of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants down there which are great. Possibly my least favorite part is the lack of public transportation, but right at the beginning of the coronavirus a new bus line opened, and I believe they are planning on building more in the future. So, although you have to be a little creative if you don’t have a car, all-in-all it’s a great place to be.

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Europe’s response to Belarus after a year of protest and repression

By Bryan T. Bayne. Special thanks to Euroculture alumna Ala Sivets, from Politzek.me, who provided valuable commentary and insight.

Ever since Alexander Lukashenka rigged the results of the Belarusian elections on August 9, 2020, his country has been mired in turmoil. The state has doggedly persecuted activists and protestors and increasingly committed grotesque Human Rights abuses, culminating in the hijacking of a Ryanair plane bound to Lithuania to arrest an exiled journalist last May. Predictably, these actions have led to harsh condemnation from Western powers and some action, chiefly imposing sanctions against leading figures in Minsk. But to what degree have powers such as the European Union (EU) confronted Lukashenka’s regime? 

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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 – Groningen

In this edition of the Euroculturer City Guides, Luca Gentile (Luxembourgish) shares his experiences of Groningen, where he did both his BA and his first semester of the Euroculture MA at the University of Groningen. After this, he moved to Bilbao to study at the University of Deusto.

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? 

Luca Gentile (LG): Having initially completed my bachelor’s in Groningen I was already used to living in the Netherlands, but the choice of staying in ‘Grunn’ for another semester was made easy by the city itself. It is one of the biggest student cities in the Netherlands and you will most certainly feel welcome here. It is quite small and boasts an even smaller city centre but I assure you it has everything you need! From bars to clubs, the RUG library to Forum, music venues and theatre places, and parks such as Noorderplantsoen which gets filled with Dutch students as soon as a ray of sun comes out. Generally, Groningen has a lot to offer, and the student vibe is definitely worth experiencing. 

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

LG: The fact that it is a small city is quite a great aspect, as everyone uses their bikes as their main means of transport. Therefore, you are most likely to be only a short bike ride away from your friend’s place. Biking in general is quite a Dutch thing, but in Groningen they take it to another level as the city quite literally belongs to cyclists. Another great aspect is ACLO, a huge student sports organisation that offers access to a variety of sports for a relatively low price! Bars, clubs, and nightlife in general are an obvious positive aspect of the city.

On the other hand, if you are looking for sunny weather, this city might not offer that much of it over the year, but as soon as there is sun the city really bustles with life! Also, the city is quite isolated from the rest of the Netherlands so a trip to Amsterdam will still take 2h by train for example. 

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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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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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