1. What forces work towards the construction of a “European” identity?
At the end of World War II, the democratic European countries started to aim at unity and construct a common European identity (the promotion of European consciousness in terms of supranational European policy). Such policy developed during the hard times of extreme nationalism that has exacerbated the social and economic conditions of the continent’s population. In the middle of the 20th century, European countries attempted to create a supranational European university and, after almost thirty years, the Erasmus program of student mobility and exchange had been developed. The European Higher Education Area provided a very comfortable infrastructure for young people from all over the world to join its educational programs (nowadays it is almost a must-have for a talented young person) (Corbet). The main point of European identification is cultural diversity that gives birth to a feeling of integration in the EU. The list of priorities of a modern European citizen includes high quality of life, rejection of military ways to achieve political goals, environmental concerns, self-actualization as a citizen, consciousness of his/her rights, and the ability to be protected by the government. Europe’s common identity comprises common respect, human freedom, shared values of democracy, global cooperation, and quality of life over accumulation of wealth. The notion of “identity” implicates on the presence of a historical background, something solid in its basis that provides a person with a feeling of stability and confidence in the future.
2. What forces are working against the construction of a “European” identity?
Over-the-top percentage of immigration is one of the forces that may work against the construction of a European identity. This controversial issue might lead to cultural
fragmentation. One of such cases provokes political tension – Muslim communities strongly resist to cultural assimilation and now live in separate urban neighborhoods, subjected to work on low-paid jobs and suffer poverty and estrangement. Citizens of some countries demonstrate xenophobia – fear or hate of strangers from other countries (France and Germany more than all other countries manifest such qualities as nationalism towards immigrants) (Marston, Knox, Liverman, Del Casino & Robbins).
3. Outline the ways, if any, your personal identity might change (or perhaps not?) if you lived in l'Auberge Espagnole (the Spanish apartment) for 6-12 months during an intense study abroad session in Spain/Europe.
I guess my personal identity would co-opt a couple other identities if I lived in l'Auberge Espagnole, because the multiculturalism of such an apartment and tangency with multilingualism would certainly have an impact on me. In my opinion, several identities can be merged in one character via the fast-expanding globalization we experience currently (Klapisch), and each of the gained identities penetrates through the prism of personal perception of reality, thus becoming yet another reflection of an individual. We can learn many new things about ourselves, especially when the time to return to one’s native country comes. Then I may start looking at familiar things from a fresh perspective – much of that used to be habitual to me earlier may seem ridiculous or strange. The session would broaden my area of thought and would help me to socialize with various people. I believe that I would learn more about European mentality and throw off the shackles of prejudice against Spain and representatives of other nationalities (Dempsey). I would go beyond my national identity, and reach a spiritual fulfillment that would be multi-faceted and more nimble than the one acquired in the consuetudinary environment.