Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
In the name of democracy, let us all unite! ¬ Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator
Hi, my name is Christos and here are a few things that you might need to know,
I am 18 years old, graduated from the European School of Luxembourg almost half a year ago (was 17) and now I live in Oxford, UK where I am studying Architecture at Oxford Brookes University.
This article covers my transition from living in Luxembourg, a very pro-European environment, to a eurosceptic UK.
“For as long as people want to divide themselves in groups, they can do that, even if they are all of the same nationality, they ll find a football team to divide them”
There are a few things that we need to take in mind but first I will compare some attributes of Luxembourg and the UK.
Luxembourg: almost half the population of Luxembourg consists of “foreigners”, 43% of people in Luxembourg do not possess a Luxembourgish nationality! (source: luxembourg.public.lu)
It is a very international country, welcoming people from all over the world, with major European Institutions based in the European Quarter of Kirchberg, Luxembourg has offered the EU a place for a central base. It welcomes 3 official languages, provides free education for all of its citizens and funds continuing education (University studies) for anyone having graduated highschool in Luxembourg (www.gouvernement.lu/). In Luxembourg we are all foreigners and locals, we can feel at home here.
United Kingdom: Many consider Britain to be very multicultural because of the commonwealth. A population consisted of 85% of British (Whites) and 5% Other (Whites) and then some minorities like Indian and Pakistani, Britain doesn’t have a big percentage of foreigners (source Wikipedia) and yet they are more discriminating people compared to the Luxembourgish, often calling foreigners with a tagline of “foreigner”, Spanish, Indian, Greek or the considered-racist “Paki”. This doesn’t apply for all British people, but for an important percentage of them at least. Some British people don’t seem fond of immigrants, they do not appreciate their position within the EU, they feel superior to others within the EU and like to show it. But I don’t blame them completely; as I stated in my previous article they simply can’t understand the situation because they are not getting the same education as we do in Luxembourg. Personally, I just think they are more discriminating than other Europeans, they refer to us, coming from continental Europe as coming from “overseas”, I mean come on who uses this phrase in the 21st century? Other than that their University system is indeed excellent.
“I left a country where people treated me based on who I am and my abilities and I now find myself treated based on my nationality.”
When I left the European School, I was a European in mind, I considered normal(and still consider it) to hang out with people because I like them, have common interests and/or I dig them; no, the idea that I wouldn’t hang out with him or her because they were of a certain nationality never even crossed my mind. For me it was always normal to see the Dutch and the Spanish bragging about football, the Portuguese swearing in their own cool way, the Scandinavian people drink and go out before me because they were older, I don’t know, we were all just kids, attending a school. Yes we knew we were of a different nationality but that was NOT a problem. We ll make fun of each other, we ll divide each other in nationalities yes, but no one is smarter than the other because he is French or German. For as long as people want to divide themselves in groups, they can do that, even if they are all of the same nationality, they ll find a football team to divide them, but we have to find a way to stop dividing ourselves and unite together.
“I could have never imagined who was my real “enemy”, I couldn’t imagine who would be the one to fail me in the end.”
In Luxembourg, I was considered to be Greek, in Greece I was considered Luxembourgish, in New York, US I was considered European, and then it hit me, I really am European! I am not Greek, I am too different to be Greek, I am not Luxembourgish, I am too Greek to be Luxembourgish, I had to choose between being a child with no home, or being European. I realised I was European. Here I am in the UK, in Oxford a city of knowledge and I am often being denied everything I considered standard. I feel like some English people think they are doing Charity to the rest of Europe, they don’t want to be in the European Union, their British pound is praised to be so strong, they think the rest of Europe is taking advantage of them, they think of themselves as savours of the euro(as a currency) and they want OUT of the EU.
As a “foreigner” who pays to study in the UK, as an intelligent person (well I like to think of myself as one) I wonder why. How come they don’t see all the benefits that the EU is bringing to the UK? Why should I study about History or Human Rights, European Studies and Law if the people of the UK have no sence about it. Am I so wrong? Is my education so bad? Are some of the British the sons of God? Should we let them rule the world? I am not anti-British, not at all, I am European, it would be against my own nature to label people British, but for the purpose of this article I have to take it a step further, so I apologize already for my sense of writing.
“We must go back to teach Europeans to love Europe.”
Jean Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, El Pais, 6-2-2004
I just ask for you to understand how hard is leaving Luxembourg and then going to a place where the following things come and go
“Hey your English is good how come you speak English” “You listen to English(american) music? I mean how do you know it?” – Seriously do they think I live in planet Mars? we have internet in Luxembourg, and surprisingly we are also running on Version 21st century of our world.
“How do feel about your country owing so much money” – Then I get pissed off, my brain melts, And I am forced to remind them about their history, and then… its pointless. I am not to blame for my country’s decisions, I am equal to you, and that is why we were both admitted to the same university, you are not corrupted if your government is corrupted. People in Brazil are not rich because their politicians are rich, Portuguese people are not all football players because Christiano Ronaldo is and in Barcelona there is more than football, it’s a city, not a football team.
History is history, we can study it, but since we let it define our system today, the system has messed up.
I left a country where people treated me for who I am and my abilities and I now find myself treated based on my nationality, but the big hit was when I did a project on the European Union. Before you get confused, yes I am studying Architecture but every design has a concept, my concept was the expansion of the EU. I designed an expanding (upwards) tower, dedicated to the EU flag the expansion of peace, and hope anyway, I failed the Project.
3 days later, I gave in the same project, with a different name (same design, same everything) but I removed some EU stuff and added some humanitarian stuff. I passed. I tried explaining to them how without the EU, my parents would have never left Greece, I would have never lived in Luxembourg, I would have never met all these amazing people friends and teachers that made me who I am today (you re the judge), I would have never studied in the UK I would have never been able to visit the US with such ease. I failed to pass the message. (Short tower preview: http://youtu.be/6WjNoyuGzaQ)
Wait, one last thing. I could have never imagined who was my real “enemy”, I couldn’t imagine who would be the one to fail me in the end. You see, it doesn’t take much to be a eurosceptic, not all British people are Eurosceptic, but you also don’t have to be British to be Eurosceptic, the English just took most of the blame in my article because I study in England, but my head tutor was not English, Not British, not even German, he was… Greek.
How can I not be sad? I am more Greek than British (obviously) and yet, what is considered to be my own “kind”, a Greek couldn’t understand the importance of the EU, the education in Greece never told him about the EU, he hates the EU because he doesn’t understand the situation, the member states are trying to help Greece recover and yet the Greeks as people are unable to understand the situation, they are not educated in that way, they can not understand to appreciate. Euroscepticism is a mentality, and it is prevailing in Britain, not only from the British, and in any way, leaving a pro European environment like Luxembourg and facing a eurosceptic one, is a burden, it is so different.
And whose fault is it? Wouldn’t we do exactly the same if we were educated to think so? Education, Education. Education. In the words of Jean Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, We must go back to teach Europeans to love Europe
And I leave you with a quote,
As politicians we have to react to the fact that many people do not feel that they can relate to the EU.