Life In Italy And The EU
WORDS: Federica Dallan /
My name is Federica. I'm 26-years-old and I live with my family (parents and one sister) in the north-east of Italy. People I meet consider me to be a friendly girl because I like having conversations with new people. But sometimes I prefer staying at home (I don't like crowded places such as bars, pubs and discos). When I'm alone at home I have enough time to read books, watch movies, listen to my favourite music and reflect. Books and films are good elements to rouse my reflection. When I read, I need to dream through adventurous stories; among my favourite Italian authors are Calvino and Baricco for their creative style and their ability in using their imagination.
Music represents one of my priorities, and I deepen this important aspect of my life through dance. Two years ago I attended a music school where I had private lessons in music theory and an instrument (harmonica). It was a total disaster! It was too difficult for me, so I decided to stop my lessons and address myself to dance. It was a good choice, and I've been dancing for three years. I’m a part of a folk dance group that is involved in the discovering and development of Balkan and Jewish traditional music and dances. During the year we organise several dance performances, especially during carnival time, when we wear masks and celebrate through live music played by young Italian groups with particular instruments (accordion, violin etc). One of my future plans is for theatre; I would like to join a local group composed of professional dancers and actors involved in the study of movement and dance improvisation.
Another thing I do in my spare time connected with movement is swimming. I belonged to a team for 12 years and when I gave up I started working with children as trainer. The water and the dance have the same meaning for me: they relax me and they allow me to express myself through my body. Unfortunately I had to give up my work with children because I graduated some months ago in Policies Of The European Union, and now I'm working as an intern at the Chamber Of Commerce Of Venice ? Department Of European Programmes. I think, like the EU, I'm in a period of transition. I have finished my studies and I'm looking for a job or, more in general, I'm reflecting about my future. What do I want to do with my life? How do I imagine myself in ten years?
Europe is also wondering how it will be in the next decade and, especially after its enlargement, European leaders and institutions are trying to find a solution to new problems related to external boundaries and the definition of a common cultural identity. These difficulties are well underlined, on one hand, by the decision of some European countries to reject the new Treaty and, on the other, by the EU incapacity of speaking with one voice in some key policies such as the foreign policy. But if we consider the fact that European people are discussing their future within the EU, we can see that even if Europe has some difficulties in defining its political and cultural identity, at the same time the discussion has a positive effect because gradually the citizenship is becoming aware that a supranational structure exists and it needs to have a more democratic status.
Young people are aware of living in a European context because the EU, in order to facilitate the mobility within its borders, offers a lot of opportunities. But sometimes, if the multilevel governance system, which characterises the European Union doesn't work (which means that the different territorial actors involved in the coordination of the Programmes don't cooperate and don't interact in the right way), this great opportunity could have negative results on the final beneficiaries. I made this preliminary statement because I would like to speak about my European experience, in order to give you the message: the EU is a great source in terms of cultural and professional enrichment but it has to redefine some strategies in order to avoid its programmes' failure.
After my graduation I moved to FYR Macedonia in order to work as a volunteer in a local association. It was the first time I lived abroad for a long period (nine months!) and I was so excited and full of enthusiasm. I chose to live within a European Programme (EVS) because I considered it better than other national or international projects. Unfortunately, my Macedonian experience lasted only three weeks: the local association practically didn't exist, the European Agency didn't inform me, before my departure, that the previous volunteers had abandoned the project because of the lack of moral and logistic support and my National Agency didn't help me.
Even if my experience was not long, I had the opportunity to talk with local young people and through these conversations I discovered some positive aspects related to my condition as an EU citizen. The so called Four Freedoms (freedom of movement for four special categories: goods, capital, services and people) are not guaranteed outside EU borders; for Macedonian youngsters, for instance, travelling across Europe and working and studying within its territory is not easy. Before going to Macedonia I had never wondered about the restriction of some fundamentals such as the freedom of movement. For me, as citizen of a member state, it was normal to move to another EU country in order to study or work. In countries which are not involved in the process of European integration, students and workers have to face more obstacles: expensive travels to their embassy, interviews with civil servants and, often, after this process, they don't get a visa. This difficulty depends on the fact that some Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) have no lawful means in the EU law system to move temporary or for longer term in the member states.
I won’t go too much in details as this topic needs more time but the only thing I can say, after my brief travel in one part of Europe, which doesn't belong to the European Union, is that the process of European integration is not completely fulfilled if some European countries are not involved. My staying in Macedonia and the contact and conversations with local people enriched my personality, opened new spaces of reflection in me and made me aware that rights which I consider part of my daily life thanks to my European citizenship are not always guaranteed outside EU borders.
Federica Dallan 26, Italy
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