The Back Office: New Students

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Albert Meijer

If someone asks me what my favourite part of working for Euroculture is, I get an emotional, teary look in my eyes and tell them: “the students”! Fresh faces every semester, eager beavers waiting to be filled with information. Students coming from all corners of the world, all sharing that Euroculture-gene of being triggered by intercultural affairs, with mouths that start foaming by hearing words like ‘Brexit’, ‘transnational’ or ‘identity discourse’. Being in charge of the general euroculture@rug.nl e-mail account, I’m often the first person an interested student talks to. It’s my duty to talk them into entering that great programme of ours.
                But with great power comes great responsibility, mostly in the form of a never-ending cascade of e-mails from students who just write ‘I want scholarship please I need it can I start tomorrow?’ and then expect us to transfer huge sums of money into their accounts. No joke. This happens. A lot.
                Even worse are those students who have enough brains and punctuation skills to trick us into believing they are genuinely interested in a position in our programme, who ask us to guide them through the application procedure, upload reference letters for them, prepare invoices and insurance certificates, and spend valuable time into ensuring a smooth transition into Euroculture studenthood, but who back out at the last moment by saying ‘sorry I’m not coming anymore, I’m going to Laos instead on a spiritual journey to find myself’.
                It’s time-consuming and annoying, but my bitterness never lingers – partly due to the great coffee bar in the vicinity of the consortium headquarters, but mostly because of that sweet sweet sound of a fresh new student knocking on my door, asking where they can find accommodation or how to open up a bank account. “Try the mobility office”, I tell them smilingly.

Albert Meijer works with the Erasmus Mundus Master of Excellence in Euroculture: Society, Politics and Culture in a Global Context, one of the most successful Erasmus Mundus programs. To read more of Albert’s work, click here. 

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(Europe needs all its voices to weather the challenges faces it today. Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to stand up for your Europe. Join the FREE online course, European Culture and Politics’ starting September 26.)

To find out more about the Euroculture program, visit their website here

Why I Cry of Happiness Over Delicious Food

Edith Salminen | edithsalminen@gmail.com

When I was asked whether I would like to be involved in The Euroculturer magazine as the Food Section Editor, I didn’t hesitate for a second in saying “yes”. I couldn’t believe that I, out of all people, had been contacted for this purpose. One of many reasons why I was so thrilled about this opportunity was because my dream, which I have been realizing through my culinary blog, Taste This!, for two years now and still going strong, is to one day be able to call myself a real food writer. Not only is being Food Editor for The Euroculturer going to take me one step closer to that dream, it will also make me work even harder so as to provide a multicultural European audience with information about food, food culture, gastronomy and beyond through my food philosophy and culinary lens.

As a former student of MA Euroculture at the University of Strasbourg, France, I feel that knowing Europe and, above all, knowing who you are and where you come from, is much about food. As a matter of fact, various scholars argue that food habits are the last to change when people move from country to country, from culture to culture. Discovering foreign countries through their distinctive food cultures and food landscape is among my favourite things to do. Eight months ago, when I started working on my Master’s thesis, I decided that I needed to unravel my own native country’s culinary culture and, thus, my own identity. After diving deep into Finnish food culture and taste, I am more convinced than ever that people should know what they eat and, hence, what they are made of.

My name is Edith Salminen, I am twenty-six years old, I come from Finland and, for as long as I can remember, I have had a huge appetite for delicious food. Because there are no limits to my love for food and because I want to learn all there is to learn about food, I applied and got accepted to the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy. My courses start in November 2012. I have a magnificent year ahead of me.

My love affair with flavours never ceases to amaze me. I dazzle myself sometimes when a tiny bite of a perfect dish excites my palate to the extent that tears of joy blind my vision for a brief instant. People often ask me how it is possible to be so emotional about food. I guess there is no direct explanation. I simply have to be very thankful to have been raised to always try and appreciate the food served to me.

The biggest credit, however, goes to my beloved older brother, a chef turned fire fighter. Ten years older than me, he was, and still is, my biggest hero and role model. My most vivid culinary memories go back to the mid 1990s; to the kitchen in my childhood home where my brother would test the recipes he had learned in cooking school on me. I have always loved to eat, so I had nothing against being his little guinea pig.

Somewhere between me being a little girl, starting to taste my way into the amazing world of culinary pleasures, and the present day, I have become a full-on and full-time foodie. Cooking, eating, writing, debating about food; you name it, I am doing it. I hope that I can inspire you, dear reader, to eat and cook more and better but, most of all, I hope to sensitize you to the enjoyment of tasting delicious food.

Amazing goodness is right there, even if you might not know it. Contrary to what some might think, good food and culinary know-how are not only for sophisticated elites. Good food ought to be an everyday demand for all. I sincerely hope that I will manage to make you think, talk and reflect over food, food culture, gastronomy and your culinary identities. Most of all, I hope I will make you very hungry. Taste this, Europeans! Read and enjoy friends!

http://tastethiseetu.blogspot.se/2012_08_01_archive.html

Edith Salminen, Food Editor

Edith was born in Finland and has been travelling around the world since a young age. Edith obtained her BA in French Philology from Helsinki University and studied Euroculture at the University of Strasbourg. After completing the Euroculture programme she did another Master’s programme, this time in European Studies at Lund University, Sweden. Currently, she is pursuing a career as a food writer and is enrolled at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy. She’s a passionate food lover who fully agrees with Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”.

How The Euroculturer Began: Eureka Over Pasta, Dancing in the Dark, and Our Magazine Here

Eunjin Jeong | eunjin.lynn@gmail.com

Very late at night, I suddenly started dancing in the street. It was an ordinary day in May and I was on my way back home after studying with an Italian friend of mine, Bianca Rubino, for our final exams. Me dancing in public is extremely rare and I would rather appear doing yoga on French national TV than be seen dancing by a stranger. Still, I was dancing, in the presence of random passersby staring, walking in the direction of Robertsau, my residence in Strasbourg, undoubtedly happy.

Three hours ago I was asking Bianca, over pasta that we cooked together, why I should be happy. I had been secretly going through a very hard time for months because of an irrevocably damaged friendship with my best friend. Helpless and hurt, I felt like running away from everybody, especially those who really cared about me. Not knowing what I was going through and how desperate I was, Bianca cheerfully answered, without even stopping to think for one second, “You should be happy because you’ve had a chance to meet a wonderful person like me through Euroculture. Why wouldn’t you be happy?”. The answer shocked me to the point that my world turned upside down. Her not very serious response to my very serious question didn’t bother me at all because it was so right. I had had the privilege of getting to know so many wonderful people during my two semesters of Euroculture, except I hadn’t realised it until then. I believe that that very Eureka moment, later followed by a highly unusual dance performance in celebration, helped to heal my wounds and gave me the strength to kick off The Euroculturer.

Having enjoyed working as a writer for a university English-language newspaper during my undergraduate years, establishing a platform for students to write freely was actually on my dream list since the first day I started the MA Euroculture programme. It was only a matter of inspiration, courage, and willingness to sacrifice some free time. I have been fortunate enough to find all three thanks to the Eureka moment that I experienced in May 2012. The magazine, however, only became possible with the help of many other Euroculturers. The Board of Editors including copy editors, correspondents from each university, and contributing writers, from both Euroculture current students and alumni, are true pioneers fully equipped with the love of their own community. The Euroculture Consortium trusted me with the project and now supports the magazine with funding, which symbolizes the close connection between the Consortium and its students. Dr. Lars Klein of the University of Göttingen helped me greatly throughout all the crucial moments of getting official approvals and funding from the Consortium, not to mention his sincere encouragements from the very beginning of the preparation. Juan M. Sarabia, a Euroculture programme coordinator from Jagiellonian University, Krakow, without whom The Euroculturer would have been homeless, built us a home, i.e. a fabulous website to accommodate all of our articles. He also helped out with all the technical and designing concerns, including the logo. Nora Trench Bowles, a Euroculture classmate from the University of Strasbourg and a Drew Barrymore replica with an excellent work ethic, volunteered to take the responsibility of Copy Chief. She is, therefore, fully in charge of the copy editing process which, with the collaboration of other copy editors, takes care of the quality part of the magazine. This has helped me greatly in concentrating on the content and pulling the overall edition together. Helen Hoffmann, whom I always rely on for important decisions, is a true Miss Help for the magazine. Heartfelt thanks go to all those mentioned.

The only hope we have for this magazine is that no matter how many editions come out in the future, after the first generation leaves, it will remain as a place where all Euroculturers feel truly welcomed to share their stories of Euroculture, regardless of their backgrounds or peculiarities. Every Euroculture student, including alumni, is welcomed to contribute and I want to spare the finale of this acknowledgment especially for the future contributors to The Euroculturer.

eunjinEunjin Jeong, Editor-in-chief

Eunjin is from South Korea and studied Education for her BA. She began Euroculture in October 2011 in the University of Göttingen, later studied in the
University of Strasbourg, and is currently doing a research track in Uppsala University. Her research interests lie in finding ways for diaspora groups to feel ‘citizens at heart’ in host countries. Eunjin is a part-time realist and a full-time idealist.