''Yes, Go Europe!'' Or ''No, Bugger Off!''

A while back I talked to a friend who didn't feel comfortable when I referred to her as British. I generally refer to everyone who lives in Great Britain as British until I am corrected. Then I use their preferred thing. In case of my friend this was "Londoner" and if I had to then "English." But no more!

Meanwhile I call myself Austrian, but also European. Within the European Union I prefer the country I come from, and outside I'd be perfectly happy just being called European. As long as it isn't Australian – which is very far off  - I am happy. When I get called German I sigh, and while my heart may be bleeding, I can take it. 
In the end I come from Schnitzel Hell which is part of Europe. Some part of me is even longing to put European in front of the Austrian.


Strangely I never quite managed to call myself Lower Austrian, nor did I manage to call myself Viennese even though I studied there, and worked in this big crazy and slightly unfriendly town. Far and few between I wondered why I was never able to do such. Of course with Viennese you may argue that it's because I don't live there - but even if I did I'd rather not be labelled as such - but with Lower Austrian it doesn't work either. 

The reason for this is surprisingly simple: those simple labels are too narrow for me. 
It feels like I'd be saying, yeah Vienna, and only Vienna. It's also that I never felt at home in either of those places - or rather at home at too many places. 
I can enjoy the country side because it's quiet, I know what a tree looks like and when I go jogging I can do so in the woods. But what's stopping me from enjoying Vienna where you don't need a car to get around - which, if done properly, is a good thing - and there is more than one restaurant to eat in. Then again I felt quite at home in Eisenstadt as well, which is some strange place between Country Trash and City Child. That means you don't know the person who is also shopping at the super market but you should establish eye-contact you smile at them. 

A simple label which would only apply to one city or district isn't good for me. It doesn't work. It doesn't fit. Hence I go with Austrian and also find myself caring quite a lot about this weirdly penis-shaped country. I care how our elections work out. How much we flirt with Germany this time. If what we're doing at the moment is right in my mind. If maybe we shouldn't step back there, or just shut up here. I got deeply ashamed by the number of people who voted FPÖ. I feel a tingle of pride knowing that student fees are just 18,50€ per semester.
I feel deep shame when we fuck something up. I recognize our history and will accept the damage we have caused. I – as an individual – will never talk myself out of that responsibility by saying eeeh, you know my grandmother was Sudeten German. No, I am Austrian and hence have to carry that as well.

The same goes with European. I like the idea of Europe, I like its principles. I look forward to a Europe – and maybe when I'm old, grey and almost falling apart – where I can call myself European in other European countries as well. But that takes time, and is hard.


However, Europe is a diverse continent. It is full of different cultures. I do not want those to disappear. Difference is nice, I like it. It makes the world interesting and an exciting place. 
Keep them coming, bring the new culture in, learn to live next to each other. It won't hurt. They won't take your culture away. They may peak their head into the door frame and wonder what's that all about. Then you can show them and teach them. In return they may do the same. I'm not going to say something cheesy like maybe then you'll figure out you're all the same.

What is wrong with not being the same? As long as you can appreciate that not everyone is like you, and that difference is nice and keeps the world going everything would be perfect.
Imagine if you were to meet an exact copy of yourself right now. I know myself pretty much inside out. So if I were to meet myself and be locked up with her in a room, there are three possible outcomes:
  • Murder - the question is just who gets to the idea two seconds earlier 
  • Awkward silence 
  • Trying to figure out if sleeping with my alter-ego would be sex or masturbation.
    Afterwards this would lead to one of the prior mentioned points

Being the same is boring. Being different in a healthy environment is exciting! 
That's why I like the European Union. It brings so many different things together. Sadly this has also lead to problems. Because there are so many views it is often hard to come to a conclusion. Of course, nobody would want to step down. This is frustrating to watch.

During the refugee crisis and even while Greece was heading for bankruptcy (again) I was disappointed. I just didn't want to stand behind an European Union which preaches love, peace and harmony (not exactly in those words) but only as long as nobody is actually in trouble …

Things go faulty from time to time, and with so many difference that is only natural. Just like with Austria I did not only sign up for the good sides but all of them. Politics are dirty, we all know that. And yes, the EU gets obsessed with shaping a banana, and you get the feelings that little Merkel shouts a command and everyone follows (that is untrue, but explaining it is also deeply boring) but at the same time it had made sure that all your chargers are the same. I quite liked that one.

Personally, I stand behind the European Union. I think alone we'd just be talking at cross purposes. At least this way we're shouting at each other, and establish some dialogue. This is just my opinion.
But don't get me wrong, I don't mind that Britain is questioning parts of the EU. Being critical isn't wrong, how else would you be able to change something for the better if someone wouldn't wonder in the first place. 
I'll accept any day that the EU has starter problems but remember as it is today it is barely one years older than I am. There is great potential in it.

I won't tell anyone in Britain if they should vote Yes, go Europe or No, bugger off! because it's not my country. Hence I only have a superficial idea on what's going on and it's simply not my choice. But to say the least, if you, Britain, should vote Out - or for the Brexit as the papers "creativity" called it - I'd be very sad to see such a beautiful country go.

Especially since I also felt strangely at home in London, and that would be a great way to explain why I like the label "European." 

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