What is an Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree?

This week The Euroculturer is delighted to share this post from travel blogger and Euroculture student Virginia Stuart-Taylor. Virginia’s blog, The Well-Travelled Postcard, is a popular travel blog, aimed at inspiring people to get out and see the world.

Recently I moved to Groningen in the Netherlands to begin the Erasmus programme, Euroculture: Society, Politics and Culture in a Global Context. This degree programme has a slightly unusual structure where students move to 3 or more different countries in 2 years and I’ve had a lot of questions asked about the programme by others who are tempted by that idea! My Master’s degree follows a relatively unknown structure that not many people have heard about, but it’s such a great idea that I thought I’d explain it in a bit more detail. First off the name: it’s called an Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree.

Is it like Erasmus?

You’ve hopefully already heard of Erasmus… If not, then you’re missing out! Erasmus is an incredible student exchange programme run by the European Commission (an EU institution) that allows Bachelor’s students across Europe to spend a semester or a full year of their degree studying at another university in Europe. It encourages and allows students to live abroad, meet other people from all over Europe, understand another culture and broaden their horizons. Not only that, but the EU gives students an Erasmus grant to help them afford it, which varies from uni to uni, but when I did my Erasmus semester in Córdoba back in 2010-11 it was roughly €350 per month. It usually also includes a free course in the language of that country. You can also do Erasmus work placements, such as the 6-month internship I did at Armani in Italy as part of my Third Year Abroad, and you still receive the Erasmus grant. I adored my whole Bachelor’s degree, but I have to admit that my Erasmus year was by far the best year! You can do an Erasmus both at Bachelor’s and Master’s level, although only if your Master’s course is long enough and allows it (which is normally not the case in the UK as they’re only 9-12 months long). Continue reading “What is an Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree?”

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Second-semester Experiences, 2015

Bilbao: Aupa!

Félicie Villeronce
Edited by Michelle Perry

On boring things:

Finding a place to live is probably going to be one of your biggest worries over the two years you will spend as a Euroculture student. You will soon be living out of one big fat suitcase, and you will master the art of bookings, security checking and visa applications.

What I recommend:

Use the university student accommodation system. It’s easy to use (Google Docs) and reliable.

Plus: avoid all the troubles of finding private accommodations while living and studying abroad and make new international friends. (Or not. No one forces you to.)

Minus: you most probably won’t get to live with locals, which could be a shame if you’re trying to learn or improve your Spanish! If this is the case, Facebook might be your best friend. Check out local groups for flatshare, or browse through some local websites. The process will take you longer, but it is worth it. (A friend of mine – an outsider to the Euroculture progamme – was living with three lovely Spanish guys, and it made his Erasmus experience unforgettable.)

Oh the weather! If you thought moving to Spain meant sea, sex and sun, well, it’s not exactly what you’re gonna get in Bilbao. The climate being oceanic on the Atlantic coast, I suggest you pack a pair of wellies. On the other hand, you should also get yourself a bathing suit and a pair of sunnies, because it does get better. (I started going for a swim around April in Bilbao. Not even lying!)

University life. I know that’s also one of the big question marks here. At the University of Deusto, typically, bachelor students have classes in the morning, and masters students in the afternoon. My schedule (you might not get the exact same one but something close to that) was roughly three hours of classes per day from Monday to Thursday, almost always in the afternoon (starting at 3pm). You might occasionally get a class on Friday morning, but you’ll get over it. Continue reading “Second-semester Experiences, 2015”

2015: Another Round of Carousel

Bilbao

Ander Barón

Photos taken by Eva-Maria Bergdolt and Amina Kussainova

Edited by Ann Keefer

October has definitely been a mad month. Abruptly ending the summer-holiday sleaziness, returning to classes, being besieged by impending presentations in all fronts… Take your pick, but it feels good strangely enough. Probably it’s just a hardwired inability to really enjoy myself unless when under severe stress. 4 years of studying Modern Languages at Deusto will do that to you.

Anyway, today we had the chance to have a class at the San Sebastian campus of the University of Deusto. Plus the customary exploration of the old quarter, the walk in the promenade by the Concha beach (of which I had hazy memories from 12 years ago at best), having a drink and pintxos, and so on. Which, I must say, has been more enjoyable than a proud, born and bred “Bilbaino” such as myself should ordinarily concede (given the legendary rivalry between both provinces and cities). Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always have Bilbao as the ultimate paragon, and no place in the world is dearer, but this has been a special day, spending time with classmates, fooling around, laughing, explaining all the strange Basque stuff around… bonding, in short. That, I believe, is the idea behind this journey we’ve all embarked upon, and certainly the sensation I want to remember this month for. Life as a Euroculturer is good, so far, and I have the feeling it will get even better.

Continue reading “2015: Another Round of Carousel”

Doing a research track in India: Fast Track Pune Part I

fast track pune Viktória Pál viktoria.pal@hotmail.com

The gigantic country of India truly lives up to its ‘incredible’ reputation. Pune, India has an overwhelming effect on one’s each and every sense, and through this montage-like article, I intend to present some fun facts we came across as well as give an inside look into our everyday life far from our MA Euroculture homelands. I will also try to portray our third semester research track spirits. I hope these fragmented stories might answer some questions for those who are thinking about applying to Pune next year, or those who are just curious..

WHITE TIGER VS WHITE PEOPLE 0-1

Visiting the Pune Rajiv Gandhi Zoo was a great experience for many reasons. Firstly, the zoo has an extreme national-park-sized extension compared to the quite packed European ones; halfway through we decided to skip what we judged to be the “less interesting” animals in order to finish on time. Secondly, the zoo has several extraordinary animals we’ve never seen before, like the white tiger who kept flicking fleas off his head so he could finish his afternoon nap. Thirdly, we gained first-hand experience how it feels to be constantly photographed in a zoo, as some visitors actually preferred to take pictures of us rather than of the grouchy white tiger. We felt for the animals behind the fences — although we could actually escape the zoo, we still could not escape the curious looks we received from people outside the zoo. If we move around the city a bit more than usual, we can be sure that many people want to take photos with us, stare at us, and chat with us. At one point in our flat-hunt, we noted that the house across the street would never get built if we moved there, as the workers abandoned their tasks just so they could stare at us for up to half an hour. I have no idea how celebrities deal with the excessive, 24/7 attention they get, but hey, who am I to talk, I’m happy to be here.

I KNOW A GUY

Looking for a flat? Need a rickshaw? Searching for a good dentist or want to buy a golden yacht with built-in singing robot-swans? No matter what you ask for, or as a matter of fact whom you ask, the response will always be the same: “Yes, yes, I know a guy”. It is fascinating to witness how the rickshaw driver or the caretaker of our guest-house transforms in no time into a real-estate agent with, of course, a smoothly elaborated commission-system. Just tonight, before coming up to my room to work on this article, a shopkeeper told us that he “knows the guy” who rents flats to foreigners in the area. The guy next to him told us he knows a guy giving great yoga lessons near our future home, and a third guy knows a guy who has a travel agency where we can book really cheap domestic flights. How lucky, you might say, although these undoubtedly kind and fast flying offers are presumably related to our foreignness.

IT’S THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT DIFFERENT

Studying in Pune means studying a lot, both on and off the university campus. As for the academic experience, the Sociology Department that is hosting us has made us feel very welcome and is helping us a great deal. We have a variety of classes to choose from: Rural Development, Urban Sociology, classes dealing with women’s studies or gender issues, and classes with many local students that make us push ourselves to break down language barriers that the Marathi language puts up. We also have time to work on our research project, which is not hard to figure out when living in such a stimulating environment, and when we already have a supervisor.

The level of studies varies, given that we can attend both 1st and 3rd semester classes, but we have met many bright students and our academic experience is very much complemented by our everyday adventures. Naturally, the university doesn’t look like some other universities that I have attended, such as the University of Deusto with its gorgeous library and freshly renovated corridors. Unlike the University of Duesto, there is no Guggenheim museum across the river. In fact, girls need to ask for a key if they want to use the bathroom, and the campus is a proper jungle. However, the University of Pune is one of the best universities in Maharashtra and is top-ranked in the country.  Therefore, there is no need to think of it as a rural college without proper facilities and professional academic staff. Fun fact: the big auditorium of the sociology department has some of the comfiest chairs ever, with a bag-rack, footrest, and a wide-enough table part to write on. So, as they would say: ‘It’s the same, but different different’.

HE’S A VERY GOOD COOK

The flat-hunting craziness of the first two weeks led to many interesting situations. Some landlords refused to rent a flat to us because we were foreigners or because we were not related to each other, meaning we weren’t brothers or sisters. Even so,one of our top experiences was definitely when we met the owner of a house we intended to rent. We took a rickshaw to the outskirts of Pune to an average-looking block of flats to meet our landlord, but little did we know that once we entered his flat we would be sipping masala chai in one of the fanciest living rooms we had ever been to. Apart from the numerous religious paintings, the sculptures, the amazing view with gigantic bats flying about, and the astonishing cleanliness, we gained an insight into the everyday life of a high-class Indian couple with personal servants. To illustrate their lifestyle, here are two snippets of the conversation without any commentary:

#1.

Husband: So you would all be living in the house, all six of you?

Us: Yes.

Husband: Do you need a cook then? We can send him over sometimes (points at his personal servant). He’s a really good cook, and he can do the cleaning too.

 #2. 

Agent: Where is the Ma’am? (inquiring after the wife).

Husband: She’s making chai. (Meaning: the personal servant of the wife was the one preparing our tea in the kitchen, and the Ma’am just gave the orders).

CHENNAI EXPRESS 

It is impossible to leave out the Bollywood experience in this article. Chennai Express is a hit movie currently running in cinemas all over the country, starring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. (For those of you who have never seen a Bollywood movie before, well, you have some serious homework to do, but until then here is a glimpse of the magic that happens on the big screen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNZNgyCd6zc). Once you get a dose of Bollywood there is no escape,  you must go with the extremely colorful and musical flow. Fun fact: we got complimentary Pepsis in a restaurant because we recognized and sang along to the movie’s soundtrack. Watching some white guys trying to sing a hit Hindi song must have been entertaining enough for the staff to want to ‘reward’ us in some way. Now we are working on some Hindi songs for karaoke as well, just in case.

ANSWERS TO SOME FAQs AND COMMON FEARS

Q1. Is it safe to live in Pune?

Despite the fact that we are usually moving around in the very safe environment of the university, we are aware of the different role of women in the society. For example, we know about the recent rape case that occurred in Mumbai. We do not provoke any trouble, and we try to respect traditions and general Indian ethics especially in the way we dress, behave, and speak. So far, we have not had any kind of unpleasant experiences, and local people have been extremely friendly and helpful to us.

Q2. I’ve heard some horror stories about different ways in seeing hygiene and cleanliness between Europe and India. Is it that bad?

Hygiene and cleanliness are notions to be redefined once in India.  Reservations dissolve quite quickly as one gets used to the chaotic lifestyle and just dives into it. Pollution is another big problem in cities like Pune. There are lots of old trucks, buses, scooters, and vans that make the rickshaw passenger like us ‘smoke’ every day. The constant honking doesn’t make the traffic more enjoyable, but these issues can be solved with a pair of earplugs and a scarf.

Q3. Are there any health-related issues to which one can be vulnerable when living in India? Also, can you find western goods in Pune?

Apart from some minor stomach issues, which is absolutely normal amongst this masala and chili overdosed cuisine, we have had no other health-related issues so far. From the very first day, we’ve been eating with our hands, occasionally on the street, and drinking through straws, with some of us even drinking tap-water (all this, of course in a reasonable manner). We have seen a boar browsing through the trash, hundreds of stray dogs and cows wandering around peacefully, and joint families living under a bridge right next to a dump, but still, there is no need to imagine Pune as a middle-of-nowhere city or as the hotbed of malaria. One can easily find what we might consider to be ‘western goods’, such as liquid hand sanitizer, hair dye, or just a good cup of coffee.

Pictures from Pune (click to see bigger versions)

For more stories from Pune, visit http://punediaries.blogspot.in/

viktoria profile

Viktória Pal, Creative Editor 

Viktória is from Hungary and studied International Relations, French Philology and Film Theory. She is very much interested in antidiscrimnation and human rights and also is specialized in those issues. She studied MA Euroculture in Bilbao and Udine and is currently doing a research track in Pune, India. She’s being obsessed with travelling and loves to get lost.

“Make the most of it” Experienced Euroculturers share their advices with the new MA Euroculture Students

peter
“Be sure to secure library access on the first day!”
(Peter Zwart, Euroculture 11-13)

Helen Hoffmann│helenhoffmann@outlook.com

Depending on the university you attend, you either have just started your Euroculture journey, or you are about to embark on it. Surely the coordinators of the programme have sent you some explanations and instructions already (and they will send you many, many more, so brace yourself for the next two years). But don’t you wish you had that older brother, that friend from the previous year who could tell you what it is really like to cram European Law at night at the library, to understand the culinary culture of your new host country, and to find a place that does not rip you off for printing your thesis? Here comes the good news. Your older siblings exist – if not biologically, then at least euroculturally – and we have asked them for their best pieces of advice.

Learn to pack light

When I spoke to Rumen (Euroculture 11-13), a Bulgarian who studied in Sweden and France, the first thing that came to his mind is the skill of packing light. (for more tips, go to https://euroculturer.eu/2012/10/14/miss-help-packing/) “It could happen that you spend three or even four semesters in different countries. Putting your whole life together in a 20-kg suitcase is an art,” he says. Radostina (Euroculture 11-13), who studied at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, recommends bringing formal attire. “Go to at least one gasque,” she advises future Uppsala students on the traditional dinners in the Swedish university town.

Get ready for the intercultural ride of your lives

With packing comes moving, and Rumen emphasizes that he regards this as the most enriching part of the MA Euroculture programme. Learning to adapt quickly and making the most of the new environment is vital, he believes: “Brace yourselves for the intercultural ride of your lives!” Rumen urges new students to make the most of the opportunities they are presented with, even though moving between countries is scary. Getting out and seizing every day of the short time you spend in your host countries is the thing to do. Alexandra (Euroculture 12-14), an American euroculturer in Germany and the Netherlands, agrees. “It is key to make sure you don’t spend all of your time on Skype with friends and family back home,” she remembers.

Large parts of your life will be spent in the library – acquaint yourself with it

With a programme as stressful and demanding as MA Euroculture, you will sooner or later need a social net to fall back on. Befriending the people around you is her advice. Having a coffee in one of the cozy cafés of Uppsala, Udine, or Göttingen might also spark good ideas for class projects and later lead to a relationship that lasts longer than your study time. Peter (Euroculture 11-13), a Dutch student who has been from Holland to Spain, and then to Costa Rica and back, even suggests securing a friend on the first day – a friend with library access: “Be sure to have all library services accessible to you, you are going to need them a lot!” As long as your administration with the university and library is not taken care of yet, you are bound to fall behind. Do not miss out on the library introductions, and learn how to use their resources, which probably are handled in different systems at all of the different MA Euroculture universities.

Make friends – also with professors

Alexandra has felt that professors are approachable and therefore emphasises the importance of keeping in touch with them. “It will also help alleviate a lot of the stress,” she adds. Networking is also important during your two years as an MA Euroculture student. “Taking every opportunity to meet with alumni, professors, fellow students, and anyone else expressing interest in the programme is beneficial to one’s success as a Euroculture graduate,” she suggests.

Learn your host country’s language

Try to learn the language of your host country. You might not become a fluent speaker in the short time you are there, but it is an excellent opportunity not to wander around in complete oblivion and accidentally get on the wrong bus because you cannot read the signs. Multilingualism is common among MA Euroculture students, and most of your classmates will speak three languages. Be part of the linguistic environment, and make sure you have that other language your future employer might be looking for. “Don’t tell yourself: ‘I’ll only be here for one semester.’ You never know where you’ll end up,” Rumen says. Once you establish a basis in Swedish, Basque, or Dutch, you can easily learn more of the language later on.

Go online

Radostina points to modern technology as a means of making your life easier. Get involved on Facebook and join the relevant groups for your university. You might be amazed what you can get from there: furniture and bikes, mentors and parties, study groups and job hunts. Join the student unions, and turn to them when in doubt. Often you can get things cheaper there, like print outs for those many theses that you will submit.

Take care of yourself

Noodles and toasts were fine when you were an undergraduate, but not so much now that most of us have passed the age of 21. Olga (Euroculture 11-13), a Russian Euroculturer, stresses the importance of living healthy to survive the programme. “Work out and eat healthy!” she says. Getting sick is not an option, Peter adds. “As long as you are not in a casket, drag yourself to university,” he says. Let go of your illusions, and try to prepare the social contacts you have had so far about how busy you will be, Peter warns with a twinkle in his eye: “You are a Euroculture student now. This means you will have very little time. Many relationships will not survive this test.” You will meet your friends at airports and feel like you are constantly speed-dating your partner.

Make the most of it

As frightening as this sounds, all Euroculturers unanimously declare that while you should work hard to stay on top of things, you should also make time to play: go out for drinks with your classmates, take part in university events, and enjoy the unique experiences your cities offer. You might never be able to come back – max out the opportunities.

alexandra
“Take every opportunity to make new friends!”
(Alexandra Mebane, Euroculture 12-14)

If you liked Helen’s article, also read https://euroculturer.eu/2013/03/27/where-is-home/

Helen new profile

Helen HoffmannCreative Editor

Helen is from Germany and studied BA History and Gender Studies. She studied Euroculture in the University of Göttingen and Uppsala University, and did an internship in the PR department of the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce. Her passion is to dive deep into the Swedish-German relationship and deconstruct the German über-idyllic image of Sweden. This summer, she works with visitors coming to Stockholm. Her interests are film, literature, Liechtenstein, the Eurovision Song Contest (and not ashamed to admit it), and everything printed – even TV magazines. She’s also fascinated with communication, marketing and commercials, socio-cultural trends and psychological phenomena. And of course, her interests include the Swedish Royal Family (she will never forgive Jonas Bergström for what he did).

“She works hard for the money”: Euroculturers’ most random summer jobs

Helen Hoffmann │helenhoffmann@outlook.com

My first summer job was shit, and I mean this literally. When I was still in school, I worked in a local hospital as an underpaid cleaner and helper to the nurses. Not born an early riser, this meant dragging myself out of bed every morning at 3 a.m. to start my shift at 4.30 a.m. One day, my boss asked me to clean a bathroom that was “quite contaminated”. After that experience, which as mentioned was literally crap, I could clean anything I ever encountered in my many student homes. That summer I learned that with gloves, I can face most anything.

“That summer I learned that with gloves, I can face most anything.”

Summer is already here but you might still hope to be spending your Euroculture-free summer working at a nice place. Maybe that place, too, will turn out to be a little out of the ordinary. And possibly you will get some useful lessons for life there – with or without gloves.

I wanted to know where other people have worked to make a part-time living so I spoke to three former summer workers in the MA Euroculture network. Testing alcohol levels, teaching history to ignorant tourists, interviewing celebrities – Euroculturers have had some peculiar jobs.

Rieke: Hunting drunkards

RiekeWhen Rieke applied for her summer job, she could already sense that it was a job out of the ordinary. A bunch of weird people, a lot of strange interview questions. “When my friend and I got out of there, we burst out laughing!”

“A summer job with handcuffs”

Still, she and her friend decided to take the job and the next thing they knew they were standing in big fairs in the German countryside with handcuffs. She was sent out as a “Promille-Girl”, an alcohol tester dressed in a fake police uniform and equipped with a measuring instrument to check people’s breath. What is feared on roads, proved to be popular among party people.

“Some people even handcuffed themselves to me

and stole my police hat.”

“You didn’t have to know much,” Rieke remembers. During daytime the job was easy, but when night fell and alcohol levels rose, fair visitors would crowd around her. During working hours she had to be completely sober of course – but everyone else was heavily drunk. “A terrible situation!” she recalls. “Some people even handcuffed themselves to me and stole my police hat”, Rieke laughs. It was mostly men who wanted to test their alcohol levels and sometimes even deliberately drank a shot before. Not everyone trusted the measuring device though. “Some doubted the results and sometimes we got an “Error!” message when people had way too much alcohol in their breath.”

The “Promille-Girls” charged 2,50 euro for testing, but only got 20 cents of that themselves. On a good day, they would earn 90 euro each. Rieke only worked as a “Promille-Girl” for one summer. “Getting to the fairs often took a very long time,” she says. Before and after this alcohol experience, she worked in other promotion services – with less of an alcoholic element.

Rieke studies MA Euroculture in Groningen and Bilbao.

Giota: Giving history lessons to tourists

As a sales person for tourists in Athens, Giota did not have ideal working conditions: a normal day meant 11 hours of work with a rude boss that liked yelling at employees. But the salary was okay and the co-workers were great. “I was working six days a week and I never knew when my day off would be. But I needed the money so that I could stay in Athens.”

“You sold me a broken Parthenon!”

Giota’s favourite customers were from the USA and India. Working with tourists was at times even amusing. “Once a guy came and wanted a miniature of the Parthenon. I gave him a replica of how it is today and he replied that he wanted another one because the one I gave him was broken!” The customer was not joking and Giota had a hard time educating him about the state of the ruins. In the end, she told him that he could buy the other half in London where half of the real temple is today!

“I learned that I can do anything if I want to.”

Even if the job was not always enjoyable, Giota feels that she gained some useful insights. “First of all, I learned that I can do anything if I want to. If I want, I can go past limits and work many hours.” Her interest in working with people from abroad was also fostered through her job as a tourist helper. It helped her to realise the differences in culture and mentality.

She quit her job after a while and is now looking for a Master’s programme. MA Euroculture would be an interesting choice to her.

Giota is from Greece and likes The Euroculturer magazine. She heard about it through her friend Penelope, our News Editor.

Murat: Interviewing KGB agents

Murat Tutar had a television intermezzo in his most random summer job. For three weeks last summer, he worked at a TV channel inMurat Tutar @ Haber Türk TV his home country of Turkey. “It was everything”, he remembers, “Fun, passion, pain, gossip, lies, discipline!”

 “You discover what is happening behind the screen.”

Working conditions were, however, precarious. No contract, no payment, no insurance, but he wanted to gain experience in the media world. Like so many other students working in summer jobs or unpaid internships, he recounts feeling “like a slave” at times. Murat describes the TV station as the CNN of Turkey: to get the opportunity to work at Habertürk TV was in itself a success. “You actually learn a lot in a short time”, he sums up, “because you discover what is happening behind the screen”. How to prepare a broadcast, talk to people on the streets, search for news, as well as familiarising himself with the rules and regulations of media work was part of his job. Knowing everything was the dictum.

His position was very informal: he was an intern, correspondent, interview, advertiser, and reporter – all at the same time. “You just go and work there, you learn, show what you can do”, Murat remembers. The employers wanted to see if he would be suited for a job at the TV channel. Getting hired was an option, but the Euroculture office called and offered him a spot in Krakow instead.

“Anna Chapman is in Istanbul now. Go find her and do an interview!”

The most exciting incident happened one afternoon when Murat’s boss walked in and asked if he spoke English. “Here is your mission”, his superior instructed him. “Anna Chapman is in Istanbul now. Go find her and do an interview!” A lot of questions popped into Murat’s head. Questions that he had to answer in the five minutes before the cameraman and the taxi were ready. “Who exactly is Anna Chapman, where is she, and how can I find her?” In the streets of Istanbul, with a population of 14 million, Murat set out to find the Russian ex-spy and now TV host, Anna Chapman. He did manage to find her, in a café, and convinced her to accept his interview request. “It happened entirely spontaneously. That was what I liked so much about my job: you go into the office in the early morning and it seems like nothing is happening, but then suddenly everything is turned upside down because of a particular piece of news,” Murat explains.

After this job, he does not watch the news like he did before. Working at the TV channel changed his perspective: “I know how much they cut and skip now. I don’t believe everything so easily any more”. To see the whole process of research and broadcasting was an enriching experience for him. Murat had taken media classes before, but real-life TV was a whole new world. Still, he is glad today that he exchanged the TV camera for the student’s desk again. “Euroculture is so many amazing topics to discuss. It’s new and exciting”.

Murat is a current MA Euroculture student at Jagiellonian University, Krakow and Palacky University, Olomouc.

What was your weirdest or best summer job? What do you think about working conditions for part-time workers? Let us know in our commentary field!

Helen new profileHelen HoffmannCreative Editor

Helen is from Germany and studied BA History and Gender Studies. She studied Euroculture in the University of Göttingen and Uppsala University, and did an internship in the PR department of the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce. Her passion is to dive deep into the Swedish-German relationship and deconstruct the German über-idyllic image of Sweden. This summer, she works with visitors coming to Stockholm. Her interests are film, literature, Liechtenstein, the Eurovision Song Contest (and not ashamed to admit it), and everything printed – even TV magazines. She’s also fascinated with communication, marketing and commercials, socio-cultural trends and psychological phenomena. And of course, her interests include the Swedish Royal Family (she will never forgive Jonas Bergström for what he did).

My life as an IP intern?

The Euroculturer has invited Florian Fritsch, IP 2013 Krakow intern to ask what it’s like to be an IP intern.

florian profile smaller Florian Fritsch│ florian_fritsch@hotmail.fr

Q1. Hello, Florian. How did you become an intern with the IP 2013 Krakow team? How long did the internship last?

Hello! Well, last summer I found an interesting internship in a different field but they eventually turned the offer down, mentioning financial difficulties. A few days later Juan (from the IP team in Krakow) called me wondering if I was still available for the job, as I had applied for it a few months before. Project management is a professional area in which I would love to work after I graduate from MA Euroculture so I said yes! Let’s say the team was quite lucky to get me in the end!!!

Q2. What kind of work did you do as an IP intern?

Everything was focused around project management. My main responsibility was the Career Day of the IP 2013: organising the day, contacting and inviting people and professionals to the event, logistics, brainstorming, etc. I was also in contact with students, answering questions or queries they had, and I contributed most of the information on the ‘practical info’ section of the blog or the vignettes (the IP newsletter). I was able to bring my own experiences of last year’s IP in Bilbao, Spain, looking at what was successful and enjoyed and what could have been improved. I was in charge of finding the volunteers to assist the students during their stay in Krakow, looking for ways to reduce cost in food, and a lot of other things (including going out in the evenings and other surprises that I won’t reveal now – it’s top secret!).

Q3. Can you describe your day as an IP intern?

My day started very early in the morning, around 9am, with a cup of coffee with Juan. Then we went up the hill to Przegorzały where ‘the castle’ (as it is commonly known in Krakow) and the Institute of European Studies is situated (students will understand what I mean when they are in Krakow). Mornings usually began with a meeting with the team about the IP. This was sometimes followed by a ‘brainstorm session’ in order to bring in new ideas to make this IP the best one ever! Afterward I completed administrative work such as looking for information on the internet, calling people, meeting with people, and exchanging ideas with other members of the team. We sometimes had fun with a little office basketball game (but, to be honest, we were all quite bad at it).

“Mornings usually began with a meeting with the team about the IP. This was sometimes followed by a ‘brainstorm session’ in order to bring in new ideas to make this IP the best one ever!”

Q4. How was working with other members of the IP team?

Great! Amazing! Splendid! It really feels good when you work with people like Karo, Juan and Luc. They are really helpful and it was a lot of fun to be around them.

Q5. What skills/qualities do you think an IP intern needs?

I think self-management is the main thing. You have a lot of responsibilities and the team is not always going to be looking over your shoulder at what you’re doing. You need to set your own goals and agenda. Communication wise, well, you need to have easy contact with people, trust yourself and your English language skills, and you must to be motivated about your work and be willing to do work for students you don’t know.

“You have a lot of responsibilities and the team is not always going to be looking over your shoulder at what you’re doing. You need to set your own goals and agenda.”

Q6. What skills/qualities do you think you have acquired during your time as an IP intern?

I have two. Firstly, I learned how to manage myself, set my own goals and deadlines. I’m much more organised now. Secondly, I feel more comfortable contacting new people, and I really enjoy meeting potential partners or sponsors.

Q7. What’s your best memory from the internship?

Probably my visit to the French Consulate. At first I went there just to get some contacts for the Career Day, I didn’t expect to participate in a meeting at all. I was on my way back from the gym, not really dressed in a formal way. The interesting thing was that, despite my embarrassment, I learned a lot about diplomacy and partnership during this 45 minute meeting. To add another one, maybe the incident when Juan broke the back window of his car while trying to park, I don’t know!

“Despite my embarrassment, I learned a lot about diplomacy and partnership…”

Q8. What’s your worst memory from the internship?

I don’t think there are any bad memories.

Q9. Would you recommend the IP internship to other MA Euroculture students?

Oh yes. I learnt a lot and really felt like a member of the team, not just a trainee who gets asked to bring coffee and make photocopies. You also learn a lot about project management in a practical setting, working on a serious conference of which you already have some experience. Finally, I think you also learn a lot about Euroculture.

Q10. You lived in Krakow for two semesters. How was it living there? Tell us what you liked most about Krakow.

Yes, I spent a year in Krakow. Krakow is a lovely city, probably the second most beautiful city in the world after my hometown of Strasbourg (who said I was being super subjective?!). It has some really beautiful architecture. It is also a dynamic student city. It can be really cold and snowy during the winter, but the weather is very nice in June when you can enjoy the sun on the Main Square with a beer or do some tanning on the shore of the river near Wawel. There are also a lot of bars, pubs and clubs with €1 beers and vodka shots – but be careful or you might have trouble following all the interesting activities we prepared for you during the IP!

“The weather is very nice in June when you can enjoy the sun on the Main Square with a beer or do some tanning on the shore of the river near Wawel.”

Thank you very much for answering our questions. We heard that you will be in Krakow for the IP to help the team. Good luck and have lots of Euroculture fun!

Thank you very much for having me, I’m looking forward to seeing the students at the IP in June!

Have you met the IP 2013 Krakow organisers? If you haven’t, it’s never too late! Resistance, Resilience & Adaptation: Getting Ready for the IP

Florian Fritsch, Contributing Writer

Florian is from France and started the MA Euroculture programme in 2011. He graduated from the University of Strasbourg with a BA in Applied Modern Languages in English and Japanese. He spent his first Euroculture semester in Strasbourg, second and third semesters in Krakow, and is now back in Strasbourg to write his Master Thesis to win the ALBA thesis prize. His main focus of studies is the role of sport in European identity and the influence of American culture on the changing sporting habits of young Europeans.

Resistance, Resilience & Adaptation: Getting Ready for the IP

Meet the IP 2013 Krakow Team

everything will be ok...1

Floor Boele van Hensbroek│floorbvh@gmail.com

On a sunny day in Krakow I met with IP organisers Juan, Luc and Karolina at cozy café Karma, one of the favourite hangouts of some of the team members. Here, I had the chance to ask them all about the upcoming Intensive Programme. Because, as we all know, IP 2013 is getting closer. In June, MA Euroculture students will travel to Krakow from every corner of Europe to experience a mind-blowing week full of lectures, discussions, presentations and urban challenges. A week’s worth of memories for every Euroculturer and an excellent opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. The IP team is working very hard to make this week a great success. Now it’s time to ask them about their experiences with organising IP 2013!

Who is in the IP team?

three all together smaller
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

Karolina (middle), the feminine side and head of the crew, steers and manages all activities related to MA Euroculture and the IP. A Polish-Canadian with a weakness for cinnamon-oatmeal muffins and peanut butter, she brings enthusiasm and comradeship to the team.

Juan (right), one of the few Mexicans dwelling in Krakow, runs the programme’s PR, visual ‘identity’ and acts as a student advisor. He will take good care of you and if you’re lucky (and have a gusto for spicy food) he might allow you to taste some his famous tacos.

Luc (left), Kung-Fu apprentice and an expert on transport and geopolitics of the North, comes to us from Quebec and assists the programme as an internal advisor. His fine sense of humour will guarantee an all-but-boring stay in Krakow.

 Hey guys… Uhm, everything under control?

(Whispers amongst each other: “don’t mention the… you know what”)

J: No, all jokes aside, it’s going great!

(All three nod in agreement)

Could you describe IP 2013 in one sentence?

K: A fun opportunity for students to meet, exchange and engage with each other and produce something within their environment, at the local level, and as much as possible in an eco-friendly, gender-balanced, budget-conscious and stimulating way. Oh, and in a fun and welcoming atmosphere!

(But that was two sentences?!)

How did you decide on the theme and subthemes of the upcoming IP?

J: Last summer, we had a few sessions with other people from the institute in which we asked ourselves ‘what are the issues concerning Europe nowadays?’ Those were really nice sessions.

K: One important issue we knew that had to be addressed is of course the crisis, which is hanging over Europe like a dark cloud. However the idea was to reframe it by asking the question: how can we move forward?

L: Yes, we wanted to approach the crisis not as a crisis, but as a period of change and adaptation.

we are the best
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

If you had to write a paper yourself for the IP, what would it be about?

J: I would definitely choose the subtheme ‘Change and the City’. What I’m interested in is the link between cities and literature: how the city is imagined and created within literature.

K: I would definitely focus on the subtheme ‘the Shifting Borders of Inclusion/Exclusion’. My own research interest is in integration policies and how such policies construct ‘the other’.

L: I would write something on mobility and transport. In Europe transport is very expensive and there is much discrepancy between people who have access to it and people who don’t have access; between people who control their mobility and who don’t control their mobility. It’s a social and geopolitical issue.

While planning the upcoming IP, what was some important feedback from previous years that you had to take into account?

J: Student engagement and student participation. Students wanted to be more involved and not only listen the whole time; so not only input but also output. Therefore we focused a lot on student engagement and participation. We are quite confident that this indeed will happen.

What distinguishes IP Krakow from the previous IPs so far?

L: We draw on what has already been done before and try to innovate. Every IP has brought something new. I think the key thing this year is the urban challenge. Also, we are working in a different setting and staging, we are trying to make it more cool and fun.

let us think..
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

Could you describe the group dynamics within the IP team?

L: Well, we are friends before co-workers. We know each other very well and communication always goes easy. Sometimes we don’t even need words to understand each other. I also think that we have complementary skills and assets.

K: If you find a document that’s color-coded: Luc made it. You see a funky blurry postmodern design? Definitely Juan.

(And Karolina?)

J: Karo brings all the skills together and makes it work. The fact that we are all friends is definitely an extra motivation. By the way, Karo plays basketball at the office; it relaxes her when she’s stressed. Oh…and she has a whip.

What is the biggest challenge in organising this IP?

L+K+J: Money…(rubbing thumb and fingers together).

K: There were also some smaller challenges, but the fact that this year we had a smaller budget definitely caused the biggest challenge.

J: However, because the budget got smaller we were forced to adapt to it and actually became very creative. We have a different mindset now and are adapting very well.

L: In the end, it is OK to have less money. We’ve become quite inventive and discovered that there are still a lot of possibilities with a smaller budget.

Could you tell me why the budget got smaller?

© Floor Boele van Hensbroek
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

K: (seems a bit reluctant to talk about it) Let’s say for reasons beyond our control. We don’t have any external funding that we usually get.

Students now have to invest more in the IP themselves (like costs for transport and meals). Could you tell me why students should still be excited about the IP despite the financial burden for them? What do you expect students to gain from IP Krakow this year?

J: It’s going to be an unforgettable experience!

K: Well, I would like to rephrase that. The IP has always been the most central event of the MA Euroculture programme. If you miss out on the IP, it’s as if you’re taking the heart out of Euroculture. It’s a way to really experience the mobility aspect of the programme. Also, one should take into account that a few years ago, students relatively paid much more for their IP.

L: The costs should be taken in context. For a ‘real’ conference one would have to pay much more. Also, people have to pay for their meals wherever they are. Besides, Krakow is a cheap city compared to other places in Europe and we have made arrangements with several places wherefore it will be even more affordable.

Could you tell us something about the place we are going to stay?

J: It’s a comfortable place within walking distance from the city centre. During the previous IP in Krakow the residence was up the hill, outside the centre. However, taking into account the themes of this IP, we decided that staying in the centre was more suitable.

What about the lecture rooms?

K: Most lectures will be held in ‘Auditorium Maximum’, close to the city centre. However, there will also be a sneaky special… Namely, in a certain castle up the hill!

(The students who have studied in Krakow will be familiar with this castle)

© Floor Boele van Hensbroek
© Floor Boele van Hensbroek

Could you tell us something about the speakers?

(Luc points at the speakers in the café hanging from the ceiling: “those speakers?!”)

haha..

K: Follow the website! A lot of information is already there, also about which speakers will come. We will make one last vignette that contains all the important information.

L: One thing about the speakers though: we’ve made an effort to engage as much as possible with young researchers and also practitioners. So we didn’t only focus on scientists. Also, there will be Euroculture alumni coming to speak, who will also be there during the career day. Don’t be shy to grab them by the elbow and ask them questions! They are resources. Oh, and one more thing: don’t be afraid to challenge the speakers and be critical of what they have to say!

What can we expect from an urban challenge?

L: It’s creative urban planning, done by students. Together students will improvise and generate ideas to creatively solve urban challenges.

What will the gala dinner be like? Do we have to dress fancy?

(Luc imitates a scavenger and jokes about a Flintstones theme)

L: The gala is always a very special occasion; and it has a special place within this IP. It’s an opportunity to meet, talk and share. It won’t be like the Cannes Film Festival, but people are going to dress nice.

If someone wants to travel after the IP to other places in Poland, where would you recommend?

K: Wroclaw!

J: Warsaw!

L: The Tatra Mountains!

L: If you have 3 days, I’d say, go to the mountains (Zakopane). One week? Go to Warsaw. Two weeks? Go to Mazury in the North-East of Poland.

K: If you want to undertake some sociological research while on holiday, you should go to the Eastern borderlands of Poland. These places are something entirely different and definitely interesting. Also very interesting is Białowieża forest. It is one of the last remaining primaeval forests of Europe.

One last question… What’s up with the penguins?!

L: They are symbols of change and adaptation, they are… unexpected!

ip2013krakow.wordpress.com/
ip2013krakow.wordpress.com/

Last special message from Luc for all the upcoming IP participants: The IP is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience a conference, while still being a student. You might find it stressful to present your paper and to participate in the discussions, but remember that everybody has something to say, whatever they work on. Just go and don’t forget that you will have something interesting to say and that people are going to listen, that they are interested. You are a community.

question penguine

Floor profileFloor Boele van Hensbroek, Junior Editor

I am Floor, Dutch, and 25 years young/old. I studied interdisciplinary social sciences at Utrecht University before starting with Euroculture. I love travelling, dancing, art, theatre, documentaries, tasty food, classy wine and.. actually a lot of other things. I was born in the bush of Zambia with a bush of black curly hair, although now I’m blond as blond can be. I’m a cynical optimist, that looks for truth even though I believe that all truth is constructed.

The Girl Who Went on Erasmus Twice

Cuts threaten Erasmus

“The EU’s university exchange scheme Erasmus could be threatened by budget cuts in member states across the union. The much-loved scheme allows university undergraduates to spend up to a year studying for their degrees in foreign countries all over the world.”

(25/10/2012, euronews)

Penelope Erasmus1

Penelope Vaxevanes │prosiliomani@hotmail.com

The first Erasmus

I remember vividly the day my Erasmus in Lyon, France ended. It was six in the morning as I boarded the shuttle to the airport, to catch my flight to Greece. I was with my friend Paul. We were both tired as we had crashed a party the night before with some other friends and had left at 4am .We walked in the warm night for the last time, slipped into the quiet residence, I took my luggage and we left for the bus stop, silent. A couple of minutes later the bus came, we hugged, I boarded the bus and as it took off I waved, not only to Paul but also to that part of my life that I could never go back to. I cried all the way to the airport. It was the first of the countless times I would cry in the following months, as I suffered post-Erasmus depression. Don’t laugh. It’s actually a thing.

Eventually, I got over it. I put the whole experience in that part of my mind where everything seems glorious and happy. The experience shaped me like no other before it. It opened my horizons and made me appreciate the life I had been accustomed too. I got to meet so many different people, that came from all these different countries and whose lives were so similar to mine and yet so different. I got to emerge myself in another culture. I had to forget all that was normal in Greece and simply follow the French normal. The experience was educating. It transformed me, as it has transformed millions of other students before and after me.

Imagine my shock, then, when I read one morning in late October that the European Union (EU) is planning to cut the Erasmus budget. Not only does the EU make budget cuts in education, but it does so by cutting the funds of one of the best features of the European university life: the Erasmus exchange program. What a ludicrous idea, indeed. On the one hand, I think that maybe the EU funds are in such a state that they have become desperate. On the other, though, I think that they just view the Erasmus programme as a luxury they offer students which they do not appreciate. Indeed, students hardly see the benefits when they are on Erasmus, but rather realize later, when the whole thing is over.

Largely, Erasmus is considered a good excuse to go abroad, meet people, travel, party 24/7 and occasionally appear in class and write a paper or two. Mostly it is like that. Or rather, it seems like that. Yes, of course, all the Erasmus clichés are more or less true. The Spanish people who always hung out alone, only speaking Spanish.  The people, who never go to campus during Erasmus, let alone to class. Those people that always compare the country they’re in with the one they came from, always finding the first one lacking. There will always be people that the Erasmus experience will not affect at all. They are the excuse the EU is using to label the program a ’failure’ of sorts, when, in reality, it is so much more. Continue reading “The Girl Who Went on Erasmus Twice”