I’m proud to be European – my own European story

SONY DSCIt has been a long road from ‘world’s end’ to the ‘heart of Europe’ and I enjoyed each and every step of it because it clearly shows the growth and development of both Europe and myself.

I was born in Germany quite a few years ago, in a very small village among the lovely hills of the Bavarian woods. Beautiful surroundings, very quiet. In those days, the focus was in general more internally, instead of paying attention to what is going on in the world. Once a grown-up I really got the feeling that I lived at ‘the end of the world’, and oh, the horror of ‘this is it’!. The ‘Iron Curtain’, for me the Czech border, was only 6 km away. Six kilometres of deep, dark wilderness separating me from the world on the other side.  A place I really didn’t know much about other than that folk’s said it was dangerous over there. It felt like  ‘Big Brother is watching you’, the moment you crossed the border.

At the age of 18, I emigrated from Germany to the Netherlands. It’s hard to believe but you needed a work- and residence permit back then to enter the country.

With my partner I moved abroad several times and I enjoyed the life of an ‘expat’. Italy, France and the US made me feel increasingly ‘global-minded. I discovered that there are many cultural differences, but I also found out that we, locals and expats, have lots in common. At the end of the day, we are all just human beings, with the same fears, expectations and emotions.

In each country I lived in, I attempted to learn the local language. A very exciting, but tough experience. I was never made to feel like a fool, not speaking the local language but you can’t easily express, what you actually want to say if you don’t at least try to learn it. Meanwhile I master my own ‘European’ language on a native level…. A mixture of English, German, Dutch, French and Italian…

I was in Italy, in 1989, at the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the Berlin Wall. I watch on TV with the rest of the world as many Eastern Europeans headed west. A huge movement of people and cultures, and each culture’s varying expectations. I felt the ‘winds of change’ blowing towards an open and more mobile Europe. I couldn’t wait!

Another change was the new currency, the EURO. Finally no inconvenient monetary exchange, every time I wanted to travel abroad or indeed make a visit home.

Now, years down the line, I’m back to my roots in Bavaria. I now know just how important it is to feel ‘at home’, wherever you are. I also realised that I don’t live here at ‘the end of the world’ any more, but right in the heart of Europe. The journey is ongoing. But I’m grateful that even right from the heart of Europe I’m connected to Europe and the world, with the use of new technologies and all the many ways to travel the world nowadays in an open Europe.

 


 

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‘I can’t believe THAT!’ said Alice

‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast’.

Chapter 5 – Wool & Water, Alice in Wonderland

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