18:15 . “The same year that Poland joined the EU, I moved to Sweden for my Erasmus*. For the first time , I was able to travel outside of Poland without passing any border control, without having to get a visa and without having someone look inside my luggage upon my arrival. For the first time, I felt truly welcome somewhere else than home.”
Karolina works as a legal officer at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
“ – I do not remember the Communist era that much, but I do remember the 90s in Poland. Until then and for a long time, we were basically not allowed to travel or exchange much with the “Western European” part. I never enjoyed this separation. We were genuinely happy to become part of the EU; the day it happened was almost like a national festival.
– The government that we now have in Poland is very difficult, and as a woman especially I feel saddened to witness the most recent developments back home. But Polish people are still very EU oriented and progressive. The mishaps of our government do not reflect what we think. We love the EU. And we love being part of it.”
“ Before getting this job, I was job-hunting for almost one year – and it got quite frustrating sometimes. Brussels is a city full of extremely qualified and ambitious people, which means there is a lot of competition for the same positions.
But I never gave up, because I really wanted it. And also because I was surrounded by wonderful people, who had left their home countries to come here and realise their ambitions. We all have this in common: we want to re-create a sense of home away from home, within the European capital. Perhaps this is what makes us a bit friendlier to each other.
People in Brussels are kind of amazing.”
*The Erasmus Programme is a European Union student exchange programme established in 1987.