Sunday, 11 March 2012 10:10

Who was E&M's first fan ever?

Written by Lucy Duggan

You’ve probably already circled the 1st of April 2012 on your calendar: after all, it’s the publication date of E&M’s 16th issue. But it’s also the deadline for applications to the Studienkolleg zu Berlin, the international programme where E&M was born.

If you happen to be planning to found a new transnational project, you’ll need a lot of different ingredients. A group of motivated people, plenty of unrealistic ideas, a lot of patience... plus, somebody who believes in you, who supports you with resources and with encouragement. For E&M, the Studienkolleg zu Berlin was that “somebody.”

In September 2007, five students met at the Studienkolleg induction week. They came from Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Latvia, and they had at least two things in common: they all wanted to create a medium which would make Europe personal, and they all felt that now was the moment that they could really do it. The Studienkolleg invites 30 young Europeans each year to take part in its programme of talks about Europe and work together in groups on Europe-related projects, while studying at a Berlin university. For a year, they receive a monthly stipend which supports them through their studies. It gives them a bit of space and time to think about what Europe is, and what Europe needs.

In June 2008, E&M was ready to go online. It had five unusually named sections, an awesome design, a great team of writers, and five exhausted and excited editors. The other members of the Studienkolleg all danced manically at the launch party to celebrate the very first issue, which - among many other things - explored the complex voting dynamics of the Eurovision Song Contest, told the Erasmus Love story of Susu and Fede, and - my personal favourite - featured a Baby article called Sexy Bum.

At that time, I wasn’t yet involved in E&M, except as a proofreader. I had been working on a different Studienkolleg project - a study of the way in which authoritarian regimes are remembered in different European cities, which taught me a great deal about the weirdness of European memory and about the difficulties of European teamwork. I had had a wonderful year, travelling with my project group to Lisbon and Bucharest, struggling through intellectual conversations in German and riding around Berlin on the back of a bicycle which belonged to a Dutch friend from the Studienkolleg. Now the year was drawing to an end, and I asked myself: how can I keep hold of this feeling, and carry on exploring Europe even from the darkest reaches of the United Kingdom?

The answer was: join the editorial team of E&M.

If you speak German, are fascinated by Europe and want to study in Berlin, think about applying for the Studienkolleg. And if you have friends who fit those criteria, send them the link and encourage them to apply. It’s a great place to ask questions about Europe, learn the German for “let’s agree to disagree!” and come up with your own European project.

Last modified on Monday, 12 March 2012 16:58

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