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MY EUROPE

I do not feel much like a European. I have few things in my life that make me feel connected to the continent; I am first and foremost Finnish. Europe seems –or at least it has seemed- like a distant land behind the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea.

Before my inter-rail trip to Europe last summer, the word “Europe” brought to my mind mostly notions about red tape and politicians shaking hands inside their headquarters. I could imagine big cities but I couldn’t see any forests in my vision of Europe, only parks with trees planted in tidy rows. I have strongly associated Europe with history, ancient civilisation and philosophers, medieval kings in their castles, wars, triumphs, slumps, western art, science…To me, more than anything else, more than any other continent, Europe is a network of people, formed by its eventful history.

My vision of Europe might have become a bit clearer and wider nowadays, but my image of the EU is a bit vague. I think that is the case of most with my peers as well. I have heard gossip about some directives considering the curviness of cucumbers. I have also heard that according to the EU, sausage is not a meat product but a wheat product by definition (due to its minor percentage of actual meat). We seldom talk about the EU in our spare time, and when we do, it is all about those tenuous rumours of some ridiculous regulations. It seems that many have forgotten the original meaning of European Union: removing tariffs inside the EU, creating a monetary union, helping Europe’s poorest regions financially, and integrating the continent.

I think that the EU has done quite well, at some areas at least. I experienced the influence of the EU when I was inter-railing with my boyfriend. The trip was brilliant. We were very relieved to have the same currency almost everywhere. Also our passports were almost useless; we were able to travel pretty far without any controlling at the borders. The greatest thing about the trip was, of course, seeing life outside Finland. Like I had imagined, the countries in Europe seemed to be more international than Finland and the cities we visited had sort of a metropolitan pulse, unlike anything I had experienced before. But there were also opportunities to breathe freely in the countryside without seeing a glimpse of some civil servant running to a meeting. And the Europeans -one of the most important ingredients in Europe - they weren’t so different from us Finns after all. Now that I’ve seen a part of Europe myself, on the ground level, I have realised that it’s not so far away from me. I am a European myself, and I feel fine about it.

Tikli Loivaranta
Luostarivuoren lukio

Paneurooppa 10 vuotta Suomessa

Luigi de Anna: 10 Years of Paneurope in Finland

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