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”

Dr. Lars Klein “Discussing Europeanness? European Citizenship rather than European Identity!”

The Euroculturer has invited Dr. Lars Klein, Senior Lecturer of Euroculture Goettingen, to ask about what distinguishes Euroculture Goettingen from other Euroculture universities, how his various research areas are closely related, when he felt it was a disadvantage to be German in other European countries, and which career advice he could give to MA Euroculture students. 

Topic 1. Euroculture Goettingen

Lars1
Dr. Lars Klein, Senior Lecturer at Euroculture Goettingen

1) Hello, Lars. Could you briefly introduce yourself and your job as Senior Lecturer at Euroculture Goettingen? Please tell us about your first encounter with MA Euroculture. What was the hook?

Well, to start with the last question: The Euroculture Program and the Research Training Group (Graduiertenkolleg)
“Generations in Modern History”, in which I was doing my PhD, were sharing the same building prior to 2008 – and the same photocopier. My first encounter with Euroculture was thus through the Coordinator and Assistant who spent hours at that photocopier, which was right next to my office door. It also turned out that a few of my colleagues had actually studied the Program, and quite a few staff members I met were involved in Euroculture.

So in a way, Euroculture was a very familiar programme for me already when I applied for the lecturer-position at the end of my term at the Research Training Group. I got the job and followed the Program to the Oeconomicum, the building it still is in now. Arwed, our Program Coordinator, and I started together in Spring 2008.

As a member of the Euroculture staff I teach research seminars, the introductory module, methodology and a bit of Eurocompetence III. I supervise the Intensive Program (IP) topics and Master theses. My job also is to coordinate the curriculum with the partners at the three Faculties that are involved in Euroculture in Göttingen (of Social Sciences, Humanities and Theology) and at our partner universities. And, of course, to do research. Continue reading “Dr. Lars Klein “Discussing Europeanness? European Citizenship rather than European Identity!””

For now, the future can wait

When we submit the thesis and when the last Eurocompetence class ends, we will say “Have a nice summer” and “Good luck with that interview”. And after that, many of us will not see each other again. We will not say it, of course, but we will be thinking it as we hug, cry and laugh. The future will be bright and sunny (hopefully) and everyone will have to walk their own paths and live their own lives. Each of us will run for that prize we get after we cross the finish line. All that will happen in a few months…

penelope2 Penelope Vaxevanes │prosiliomani@hotmail.com

As students of MA Euroculture 2011-2013, we have  78 classmates scattered all over Europe, currently sitting in libraries or cafés, reading and taking notes, scribbling or doodling, trying to make sense of their Master Thesis. Most of us read and read and read, trying to form an idea of what it will be like; some of us even have a plan, while a few of us have done the preliminary work and are already writing and anticipating the outcome of our results, hoping that it will not be just another academic paper. In any case, the majority will take tonight off because it’s Friday: we will go have a drink with our classmates or our partner and we will tell ourselves that we deserve it because we have done so much work and because there is so much more still to come.

The days will pass one by one; and we will become progressively more stressedas time becomes a constraint (June will not always be two months away). And, as we start getting emails from our supervisors asking about our progress while our coordinators invite us to upload documents from our research on STUD-IP (that’s for you Gottingers), we will slowly realise that we are reaching the finish line. This is not the kind that only one can reach. Everyone that crosses it is a winner. Because the real prize, the one that is in everyone’s mind, is not at the finish line: it is far beyond it; so far that most of us don’t know yet where it is.

And here is the awkward part of this last semester of ours. As we spend every day thinking about the work we have put into writing the thesis and regretting all the work we haven’t done, we fail to see the one and only truth: the thesis will give us a degree, but it will not give us a future. The degree may become the key to our future, only if we learn to use and promote it. We are after all, in a MA “of excellence”, meaning that we are, by association, excellent ourselves, are we not?

We are also forgetting something else. For some of us, these will be the last few months of our university lives. Soon, we will be university graduates for the second time. But what does that exactly mean? By the end of July we will not be students anymore, yet more likely we will not be employees either. What will we be? Who are we without our student identity? Are we unemployed? Are we in between places? Will we become a mere number in a statistic that shows how university graduates are absorbed by the market? No one knows.

And then there is another thing: we cannot avoid being adults anymore. For some now is the last chance to stay out late thanks to the excuse that “class is boring anyways, so I might as well skip it”. It will also be the last time we can take a class about something that sounds cool (Philosophy of Math, anyone?) but which will not give us credits or make our degree stronger. In other words, this could be our last chance to delve into things that we always wanted to try: Portuguese, Quantum Physics, Comparative Theology and everything else our universities can offer.

Moreover and most importantly, when we submit the thesis and the rest of our papers, and when that last ‘Eurocompetence’ class, which no one ever understood the point of, ends we will say “Have a nice summer” and “Good luck with that interview”. And after that, many of us will not see each other again. We will not say it, of course, but we will be thinking it as we hug, cry and laugh. The future will be bright and sunny (hopefully) and everyone will have to walk their own paths and live their own lives. Each of us will run for that prize we get after we cross the finish line.

All that will happen in a few months; but for now, without further ado, put your pens down, save all your documents, log out of Facebook and call your classmates to go out for a drink (or a cupcake, a movie, a tea). Do it, even if you did not do as much work as you wanted, or even if you have to wake up early tomorrow to go to that Portuguese class. Don’t be lazy; you can watch The Big Bang Theory tomorrow! Do it as if your life depends on it. For no one will ever remember that Master Thesis you wrote, but we will all remember that party we had that night, which ended in the dodgiest place, at 9am, on a Tuesday; that night when everyone was lazy and didn’t want to have that drink.

One more night off because, for now, the future can wait.

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Penelope Vaxevanes, News Editor

penelopePenelope is from Greece and has studied French Language and Literature in the Philosophic School of the University of Athens. She spent the first two Euroculture semesters in Goettingen and Krakow. After her internship in Hamburg she is now back in Goettingen to finish her MA thesis. She wants to make a career in Cultural diplomacy but so far, she enjoys going out with friends in Goettingen.