“Do you feel European? Why, why not?”
Written by Sara-May Leeflang (Team Ace Ventura)
With these kind of questions, we started our interview with Steven, a 23 year old Dutch psychology student that gave us a ride from IJsselstein to Oirschot (indeed, not the best place to end up). He did not feel European at all. From an economic perspective, however, he could see the point that Europe should reunite. On a global level he also thought it is important for Europe to unite. Well, important is a big word. He could see the point of it.
The east of Europe was strange to him. “They are pretty weird over there”, he mentions. Having visited Poland, according to Steven all they seem to do there is drink. He felt more connected with the south of Europe, maybe because his mother is from Suriname.
Our second hitch hike was the best. We got stuck in a place near Venlo and we (or least, I myself) really wanted to go to the direction of Belgium and Luxembourg, because it would get us more points in the hitching competition. But however I hard tried, we did not get a hitch. Everybody went to Poland or Germany. A lot of people didn’t even know were they were going to. “My Tom Tom knows!”, was a very frequent answer. Then Joost spotted a Volkswagen hippie bus, and the two girls Steffie (34) and Ramona (30) were happy to take us to Berlin. They just had a holiday in Bretagne. This was a chance we could not miss, and we took a seat on the flower power couch.
This is what they had to say about European Identity. Steffie felt European, but did not like the EU. She was confident that the EU will eventually destroy the diversity in Europe, while that is exactly what she likes about the continent. She liked all the different coins and bank notes, for example. From an economic perspective she also thought it could maybe be convenient for Europe to unite. But the costs are much higher, and she is afraid that this process end in the fading away of national cultures. We would all become alike.
Ramona was more positive. She felt like a Berliner, because she lived there all here life. The city Berlin is not Germany, according to her. “What is Germany?”, she asked, and she couldn’t answer her own question. She felt European, as she celebrates the freedom of movement. “Now you can work and study everywhere you want, that is great!”, she says. Also she thinks it is the duty of rich countries like Germany to support poorer countries in the region. She does not know what to think of the future of the EU. She hopes things will get better, but she is not sure if she will still think similarly in ten years.
Entering Berlin, a song in the car attracted my attention. It had one sentence that went on and on: Ich bin ein kind des Universums. Ich bin geboren um frei zu sein. I asked our Steffie and Ramona if this is the theme song for Berlin. “No, it is the theme song of our trip”, one of them answers with a big smile.