Franco-German voluntary service 2020/2021
3. Consequences of a singular situation
The mood at the university these days could be more dynamic… This is a difficult period for everyone, and unfortunately, we are not forecasting a near positive outcome out of it. The situation in Regensburg is nevertheless less difficult than it is in France. A complete lockdown for the whole country has been announced. Though, schools, high schools and most of the workplaces still remain open. These new restrictions have brought some objections. If the situation here moves toward to the same stage as France’s, we have to learn from the first world lockdown from last spring. Lockdown is an occasion for some to study in an environment they are more comfortable in and familiar with, but also an occasion to develop our creativity by trying to get new skills. We can also learn a new language or new other abilities we’ve always been intrigued about.
In my concern, I’ve decided to end my community service given the actual circumstances: I’d rather go back to university in Paris starting in January. We can unfortunately not forecast an improvement of the situation, and this has major consequences on the collective projects’ evolution that we would love to set up. The two months I’ve spent here have nevertheless taught me a lot: I was given the chance to partway discover a new culture and a different living environment. This has also helped to my personal growth and allowed me to become more independent and gave me more autonomy.
I’m encouraging you all to follow the rules and to be vigilant. We must help each other out during this difficult time, and more particularly, look out on the people confined alone and older people. Taking care of your mental health is important. Lockdown can be a really tough period for psychologically weak people or people in a difficult family situation. Think about the fact that checking up on your friends and your family is also a way to be careful.
Following the rules and the instructions will have a positive impact in the long term if we apply them all: it will allow us to find a more dynamic life at the university again. The international and cultural exchanges at the university will be able to be set up next year. The cultural exchange with the campus from Clermont Ferrand in France will be possible to be organized and will follow last year’s project which was about representing culture through photography. This will also be possible thanks to your project suggestions. You can get inspired by checking out last year’s project on our website: https://www.stwno.de/en/international-en/partnership/partnerschaft-2019-en
When the situation will be back to normal, I support you all to take every opportunity that may come to you: moving to a new town or a new country is one of the best ways to grow personally, to meet new people and to learn from our disparities in order to become more open minded and tolerant.
2. A prelude to new discoveries
I am here today to update you about my experience as a French student: I now have been living in Regensburg for one month. I am slowly starting to set a new routine. As I mentioned in my previous article, integration isn’t always something easy for everyone and natural to deal with. Relying on my own experience, I believe that the best way to get integrated is to be curious and to be interested in everything that surrounds us. This way, we can get used to all the new foreign traditions and habits. Moreover, I believe that communication is one of the main keys to integration: this is the principal reason I’ve decided to join a Facebook group for foreigners living in Regensburg: https://www.facebook.com/groups/886652904694396/?multi_permalinks=5265717636787879.
This is actually a good way to feel integrated but it’s also an occasion to speak another language! In my situation, integration hasn’t been something hard so far, given the fact that there are no major cultural differences with France. The most striking thing and to which I haven’t been totally used yet is probably the aesthetic of the city. I am starting nevertheless to know my way around it and to recognize the different neighborhoods in the center of the city, as well as around home.
My main goal this month was obviously to introduce myself and to share my culture by different means, as well as my motivations: this way, I wrote an article as soon as I arrived: https://stwno.de/en/international-en/international-blog-en/franco-german-voluntary-service-2020-2021. Right after that, I had the opportunity to compose different traditional French recipes as Crepes, Quiche Lorraine, that you can find all here: https://stwno.de/en/gastro-en/recipes.
|Galettes bretonnes: -Jérôme- on Visualhunt.com / CC BY||Kouign Amann: Groume on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA|
|Quiche lorraine: by onnoth on Visualhunt.com / CC BY||Tartiflette: marie_astier on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA|
I’ve also taken part of the DFJW/OFAJ’s project “Prend ta planète en main!” (Take charge of your planet) which will take place from February until December 2021. This project has as its goal to support the politic and social involvement of the new generation along with the diverse ecologic movements they’ve set up. Convinced by their positive impact, the OFAJ organization has the will to awaken a somewhat non-aware public to ecofriendly themes as to the dangers threatening the environment. I have sought to set a warning project about animal exploitations and its disastrous effects on the planet. This project is reaching to inform people about the alternative solutions to animal products, which most of us use every day without even noticing it anymore. Thereafter, a recipe cooking book in favor of these causes will be elaborated. This one will be vegan or vegetarian and available in both French and German. It will gather typical French and German dishes but also other recipes from various cultures. The goal of this recipe book is to prove that a vegan alimentation is easy and available to all.
In the course of this year, I’d like to share, by all these different means, various information on major themes I am passionate about in order to influence and motivate people to change their habits and their state of mind. My projects deal with personal motivations (that nevertheless concern everyone) as much as more global and cultural subjects.
This month is the starting point of a year full of discoveries and cultural growth. The upcoming projects will focus on different themes and subjects and will also have as goal to share the French culture as much as the culture of every single one of us.
1. Cultural melting pot at the university
Like a lot of students here at the university, I come from a foreign country. We surely all know that integration in a new country can be difficult. It brings a lot of challenges, as much in the everyday life as in the student life. This is the main reason I’ve decided to share my personal experience and give you a couple of tips.
I’m Eleonore and I’m 19 years old. I’m French and I’ve always lived in Paris, until now. I’ve arrived in Regensburg September 16th to achieve my voluntary service, until June 2021. The Franco-German voluntary service is a European exchange program set up by the government for people aged 18 to 25 years old. Working as a volunteer means having a cultural role by working in the public sector. It can take place either in a university, a school or a town hall, etc.
After studying one year at the university in Paris, I’ve decided to take a gap year in order to get new perspectives and discover new places. I’ve chosen Germany as my destination, due to the main fact that German was one of my favorite subjects in school. I’ve obviously wanted to get to know this country and its culture better.
Advantages of living in a foreign country
Not many people know about the community service, when it’s an interesting way to travel and learn about different subjects. Indeed, my main goals during this year are to discover a new culture and way of life, as well as to improve my German. It also includes finding my professional path and choosing a career. The voluntary service is one further way to evolve personally and to strengthen your confidence. Travelling is one of the greatest possibilities is to overcome your fears.
First moments in Regensburg
Moving to a new country is indeed an amazing opportunity, but we must always put safety first, and even more during the corona pandemic. Therefore, I got tested two days after my arrival. I also had to register to the town hall as a citizen of the city. After receiving a negative result from my test, I visited the city. I find Regensburg really exotic! By exotic, I mean that here stand a lot of different cultures and nationalities. The city is multicultural thanks to the history that have had a great influence through time. It has in fact a strong historical background since it has been affected by the Roman Empire. The architecture and the cobbled streets remind us of the city’s historical past. We can also notice a great Italian influence with the Cafes, the fountains and also the colored houses all around here. Every season must be bringing a different atmosphere to the city.
An invitation to travel
Whether you are a foreigner in this country or not, travelling is always a positive and fulfilling experience, even when travelling in your own country. A new living environment always confronts us to challenges we have to rise up to and brings us knowledge. At the same time it makes our settled values progress. Either way, the university is a place where we can all grow up and is also an occasion to learn from one another.