Writing about Europe

My name is Niklas, but usually I introduce myself as Nik. I like the original name my parents gave me, but every time I introduce myself to non-German-speaking people, I always get the same remark: “Oh, that’s like Nicolas, right?!” No, it is not, in fact, “Nicolas” is a poor derivation of my name and it even sound worse in French without the final “s”. Maybe the bisection of my name is just one of the side effects of living abroad.
I am 26 years old and over the last seven years I have mostly lived outside my home country, Germany. I started a bachelor’s program in cultural studies in Madrid, but although I’ve always been fascinated by languages and sociology, I recognized that my real interests rather lay in the field of politics. Hence, I started a master’s degree at the Institute for European Studies in Brussels – an interdisciplinary course with a special focus on politics in the European Union.
Gradually, I realized to which degree member states have become intertwined and how little people are aware of this, mostly because European issues are barely discussed at national level. The EU is comparable to parents for an adolescent in puberty: No matter how much they care for the youngster, the only time they are mentioned, is when they are blamed for something. It is a pity that something as important as the EU framework is avoided both by the media and the bigger parties.
So, I decided to write about the EU and I became an editor at a student’s association called Eyes on Europe. We publish a print magazine twice a year, we post our articles on our homepage, and we also organize events and conferences for young people. Our position is “eurocritic but not euroskeptic” and we are all young people from all across the continent trying to gain some professional experience outside the university.
Personally, I believe that intercultural exchange is essential in a political union I am committed to foster a cross-country debate. European citizenship is also about addressing and discussing the same issues in different countries. Sure, it is challenging to bring together so many different points of view – not even a name is strong enough to resist alteration from one country to another – but we must argue in a democracy. Tähdistö contributes to this cross-country debate and I am more than honoured to have been granted some lines in your magazine.  
TEXT Niklas Franke
Editor-in-chief at Eyes on Europe
Part of JEF Belgium
Read the whole Tähdistö-magazine 2/18 from Issuu.