Generation Schengen

Generation Schengen

by Michela Tur­rina

To us, tra­vel­ling around Europe, boo­king a train ticket for a city close by or for a city at the other side of Europe is equally easy: just a cou­ple of clicks. Howe­ver, it has not always been like that. Nowa­days, we can enjoy this easy way of tra­vel­ling thanks to the Schen­gen agree­ment. This agree­ment was signed in 1985 by 5 mem­bers of the Euro­pean Eco­no­mic Com­mu­nity. Their mee­ting point was rather pecu­liar, the Princess-Marie-Astrid boat, on the river Moselle in the little town of Schen­gen. Such agree­ment draw the bases of the free­dom of move­ment agree­ment. The agree­ment is focus on the free­dom of move­ment, which ent­ails the right to live, study, work and retire any­where in Europe. Such agree­ment is con­si­de­red one of the hugest suc­ces­ses of Euro­pean inte­gra­tion, second only to the long las­ting peace that the con­ti­nent is wit­nessing since 1945.

To bet­ter under­stand the impact of the agree­ment on ever­y­day life, I want to share with you Marta and Frans experiences.


Marta is a Por­tu­guese girl pas­sio­nate about Italy and Ita­lian lan­guage and cul­ture. She set up her lan­guage school in Porto to teach Ita­lian to local people. She deci­ded to give it a try and move to Italy for a sum­mer to expe­ri­ence working abroad, tra­vel­ling, living in ano­t­her coun­try and impro­ving her Ita­lian. She agreed on sharing her expe­ri­ence with us.

- ‘I had an ama­zing time in Italy. I loved the food, the wea­ther, the people. I got the oppor­tu­nity of expe­ri­en­cing ano­t­her way of living and working. I impro­ved my Ita­lian skills and I found love.’
-‘Marta, did this abroad expe­ri­ence affec­ted your life­style somehow?’
— ‘Totally! It hel­ped me thin­king about the type of life I was lea­ding back home and I rea­li­zed it was too stress­ful. Tea­ching was absor­bing all my time and ener­gies. Being abroad hel­ped me see­ing my life from ano­t­her perspective.’
-‘What about now? You live in Greece!’
-‘Yeah! After I finis­hed my sea­so­nal job in Italy, I went back to Por­tu­gal, but I unders­tood that my time there was over. The­re­fore, I moved to Greece, where I am working in a hotel with my part­ner, the same Greek guy I met in Italy in sum­mer 2015.’

The other per­son that deci­ded to share his expe­ri­ence with us is Frans. Frans is from Swe­den and in 2014 was a stu­dent of psy­cho­logy. He deci­ded to write his the­sis on human beha­viour, focu­sing on what makes people who live in Europe Euro­peans. To do so, com­ing from the very north of the con­ti­nent, he nee­ded to go deep down to the south to find out how Medi­ter­ra­nean people live and behave. He chose to tra­vel with the Eras­mus pro­gram to Madrid. He had the time of his life there, he could expe­ri­ence the advan­tage of living and stu­dy­ing in a coun­try far away from his home­land, but still enjoy­ing the same rights he had in Sweden.

-‘How was moving from the very north to the very south of Europe?’
-‘To be com­ple­tely honest with you, I had a bit of a cul­tu­ral shock at the begin­ning. Ever­y­body was very cheer­ful and inter­ac­ting with me, even though they did not know me at all. I found it fasci­na­ting how Spa­nish people con­nect among each other and their way of get­ting along tog­e­ther. They are always there to help and friendship feels like bro­ther­hood. I appre­ciate this fee­ling. I also really like the fact that Spa­nish people shine, they have the sun inside. I had a nice time also tra­vel­ling around the coun­try, with my bad Spa­nish, which was impro­ving day by day, though. I could see the land­s­cape and the archi­tec­ture that the beau­ti­ful Spain has to offer. It over­whel­med me see­ing how Chris­tian and Isla­mic cul­ture blen­ded each other over the centuries.’
-‘From your enthu­si­asm I under­stand that you had an ama­zing time in Spain. Would you recom­mend the Era­s­ums adven­ture to future generations?’
-‘I defi­ni­tely would. To all of those that will read the post, I stron­gly recom­mend to go for an expe­ri­ence abroad. Would it be Eras­mus, Euro­pean Vol­un­tary Ser­vice, Euro­pean Soli­da­rity Corps or wha­te­ver other pro­ject pro­mo­ted by the Euro­pean Union, go for it. Going abroad, espe­cially when you are young and you are still figu­ring out what to do next, is of great help. Tra­vel­ling will help to grow and under­stand yourself bet­ter. And who knows, you can end up like me, 3 years later enjoy­ing cer­ve­zas y tapas con mis cole­gas en Madrid!’

We are extre­mely gra­te­ful to Marta and Frans for having shared with us their expe­ri­en­ces. They are just two of the many people that faci­li­ta­ted by the Schen­gen agree­ment deci­ded to tra­vel and dis­co­ver what Europe has to offer.

And you, is your back­pack ready to set off for the next adventure?

Feel free to share your #Euro­pe­an­ex­pe­ri­ence with us!

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