This is what I currently know about Ireland: … Not too much, right? OK, of course it’s just half the truth, but it’s true enough to have at least 1000 reasons to fill this obvious gap. I’ve never been to Ireland in my life and I haven’t read a lot about it, either. Hence, without too much exaggeration, one can say that my knowledge of Ireland definitely has room for improvement. Besides the well-known clichés of all Irish being redheaded, loving Guinness, Whiskey and Gaelic Football and baring their soul in Irish Folk – irrespective of these stereotype’s doubtful truthfulness – I know little about this country.
Today I had a short chat about this and that with a German of Turkish origin. During the conversation I was joking about choosing Turkey as another country if it were a member state of the EU and Erdoğan would not act that strange politically. ‘I’m not interested in Europe at all’, she commented dryly and added immediately: ‘The world consists of so much more than Europe’. Ups. There it was again. A feeling of unanswered questions and doubts about what I am trying to do. Is the European integration really that important or do we Europeans take ourselves too seriously?
A couple of days ago my girlfriend and I passed the border between France and Spain near the French village of Cerbère. How did we know that? And which ‘border’ if any? Instantly I was thrown back to my childhood in a metaphorical sense. There was nothing else to see than the word ‘STOP’ painted in large white letters on the road as well as a few almost ruinous buildings covered with graffiti. Nothing more. But it was enough for my déjà vu and my memories of a time in Europe with passport controls and traffic jams at real borders while travelling from one European country to another. Not to mention the incessantly changing of money into other currencies. That was the Europe of my childhood.
In 2010 German chancellor Merkel named the Euro as without any alternative. ‘If the Euro falls, Europe falls’ she pointed out in addition. Is that right? I don’t know and apart from this I’m not really interested in that question here. Since I have started reflecting the world and have become interested in politics and social issues, I have been enthusiastic about the idea of the European integration. I don’t feel particularly and primarily as a German and never did. OK, leave soccer aside 🙂 . I was born in Poland and grew up in Germany. I feel as a European – and maybe for many years now as a Rhinelander, too. I call Europe my homeland and I am highly interested in all the different facets of this continent – from the geographical, social and cultural point of view.