by Ivana Spirovska, Cohort 9
It is one those cities that charms you straight away, it is one those Oldenburgs!
Two weeks ago, а new generation of students with different academic background and from many parts of the world embarked upon a highly anticipated journey of the European Master of Migration and Intercultural Relations, and the first stop is Oldenburg.
Oldenburg has become the closest thing to ‘home’ for the new cohort of EMMIR students, who are impatiently waiting to go through this exciting program they were chosen to experience. It is quite intriguing to consider the many reasons this peculiar city was chosen to mark the beginning of the EMMIR programme. However, living here in Oldenburg for the past two weeks, I have been impressed every single day. From cinemas where you show up without knowing which movie you’ll watch before it starts, to near-campus restaurants with great burgers and beer, and not to forget a long-standing migration history, Oldenburg does not cease to amaze!
Oldenburg is a city where the bike is your primary means of transport, where recycling is not simply a modern term, and where the weather needs to decide which season it wants to portray. It remains a particular cultural novelty, but it’s always alive and ready to surprise. The first weeks in Oldenburg will be remembered by the affectionate welcome of the city with the Stadtfest (city festival), the wonderful history and tradition of Carl von Ossietzky University, and getting to know the agenda of the wonderful EMMIR journey we are completing over the next two years. Oldenburg has been impressing us since the moment we arrived. While this city cannot brag with popularity or immense touristic attractions, its overwhelming modesty makes it a charming town where one can write their fairy tale stories while sitting on the Schloss (castle) stairs, or one can simply observe the simplicity of life over Saturday morning coffee in the labyrinth of narrow streets and small houses, or spend sunny Sundays in horse stables. The story could be nostalgic and wonderful at the same time; after all, moving miles from home could not be regarded as ‘piece of cake’.
There have already been eight generations of EMMIR students and seven concluded journeys. We have heard so many stories by previous generations before and after our arrival in Oldenburg, it seems as we already know EMMIR. The beginning of the program is marked by the Intensive Phase, lasting throughout September, which introduces the students to the academic challenges, while at the same time introducing them to their peers with whom they share this adventurous journey, as well as support and learn from each other in the process. The past two weeks have been nostalgic and amazing at the same time. Being away miles from home could be in times overwhelming. The amazing part of experience is belonging to an international group of people, with whom you are sharing the lunch table in the Mensa every day, learning in the same classroom or even in the same working group, enjoying long conversations over coffee during breaks and after classes, or simply spending the weekend visiting museums.
Life has granted us a ticket to an amazing train ride, where thirty people will travel together across Germany and Norway, sharing individual stories and group moments, to eventually leave the train on different stations and pursue different personal aspirations, chasing sunsets and dreams. Some will hurry to catch the next plane to Africa, others will continue their European adventure in Slovenia or Czech Republic. Nevertheless, no matter where we part throughout our experience, or where our paths separate, in two years time I will be waiting for you in the place where everything started: Oldenburg.
Have a wonderful journey, EMMIR Cohort 9!
- Ivana Spirovska