I feel both Polish and European. Pressed to choose, I’d say more Polish since I grew up in Polish culture, Polish is my first and favourite language and my whole family is Polish. European, because I have friends in Germany, Austria, UK, Macedonia, Turkey and Spain and I obviously have common language with them too. Our culture is common, to some extent, and the differences I found are fascinating to me.
There is always a question ‘what is Europe’? Is it only European Union? Definitely not, but then, where are its borders? What are borders of culture, anyway? I think cultural ones are more important than geographical, especially when we talk about Europe (taking into consideration that in school I learned about eastern border of Europe being somewhere in the middle of Russia). Is Turkey European? Is Georgia or Armenia? I like to think of Europe as a concept.
To me, Europe is only what we make it and has very wide borders, with Armenia and Georgia included. I don’t really see why not. And with Turkey too, because I don’t believe in Europe as a group of only Christian countries. There are Muslim countries in the Balkans and we should look at the history, at the Caliphate of Cordoba and stop pretending that Islam is completely foreign to us.
When there was a referendum on whether or not should Poland join the European Union, I was too young to vote. It was, obviously, a pretty big deal and everyone was talking about it, me and my friends included. I remember my way of thinking then. I wanted Poland to join the EU because I didn’t see any better alignment for Poland. Only later I came to appreciate European Union and the possibilities it brought us.
I travel because I can. I go to places because there is something there I want to see, or someone I want to meet with. In the last one and half years, I have lived in three different countries and travelled to eight in total. Two of my longest stays abroad were thanks to the European Union: I was an Erasmus student in Istanbul for nine months, and then an intern of the Leonardo da Vinci programme in Berlin. I’ve met so many amazing people in all these places, people of different social backgrounds, different beliefs, different first languages, different values.
Somehow, thanks to that, the world becomes a little bit easier to understand and at the same time I feel more and more responsibility to be better informed. Suddenly so many issues stopped being just issues for me and acquired the faces of real people.
The issues I would like to see more action on?
Well, firstly I would like to see a campaign informing EU citizens what they can do already. In Poland this is definitely not common knowledge and with better informed people there is greater possibility of change.
I’d like to see more transparency when it comes to certain issues, like international agreements that will closely affect our lives. This could be for citizens to decide, I think, not only for politicians.
And while we are at it, I believe that citizens should have the deciding vote when it comes to the decisions regarding our privacy on the Web.