This is the real one

Dorothée Moutiez, born in Lille, Erasmus student in Rome and master of European journalism in Brussels, finally came to Berlin as a European volunteer at Citizens of Europe in May 2009. Upon completion of her EVS she continues to live and work in Berlin as a freelance journalist. Besides that she is still involved in Citizens of Europe by creating a network for the organisation’s young members by moderating a Facebook group for EVS volunteers. The future EVS volunteer and short-term office intern Rasmus Randig (Wolfenbüttel) interviewed her about Citizens of Europe, European exchange programmes, similarities between European cities and the colour of Berlin.

Now that your EVS is finished, how are you still connected to or involved in Citizens of Europe? I decided to have a look on how young people are involved in Citizens of Europe, what they are doing, what they are like and what they are expecting. But I don’t know if it faces the expectations. I have the feeling it’s okay, it’s a good idea. But does it really make sense in Citizens? I’m not sure. 

It’s good to know that you are, let’s say, ten people who are living exactly the same experiences as you do and who can exchange something.

So could you tell me a bit about the EVS network project you have started through the Facebook group for the EVS volunteers? For me it’s a very nice project because I love to know more about people and what we are changing. I have the feeling that a network really can help you with a lot of questions. Especially referring to the EVS in general, because you don’t have a hundred of friends who are doing a EVS. So it’s good to know that you are, let’s say, ten people who are living exactly the same experiences as you do and who can exchange something. For me it’s a nice idea but after all it maybe just was theory, too. And as a matter of fact, I don’t know if people need it. 

You did Erasmus as well as an EVS. Could you compare both programs? Very interesting question. Yes, it’s totally opposite. Many people said, ah, you are doing something like an Erasmus. But I said, absolutely not! When I did Erasmus I was a kid, I was 21. I didn’t know yet what I was studying or working for. I was in Rome and it was nice. I met a lot of cool people and so it was more a social pleasure but without any professional expectations. I personally developed a lot between the age of 21 and now, there is no comparison. And the EVS was more different. I mean, you are really working (laughs). So it has nothing to do with Erasmus. However, I think I did the EVS because of my Erasmus. 

Because you had the experience abroad? Yes, exactly. I thought it would be nice and that is how you start wanting to go abroad. Before the Erasmus I was was not so much interested in European issues. Especially in France, because there people are just focused on France. 

You have this kind of cultural foundations on which everybody is growing up. 

Like you said, you lived in France, Italy, Belgium and Germany. I am sure there a a lot of differences in living abroad in a European country; are there any similarities? These are all occidental countries. So can they really be different? Not really, I think! It’s more a question of social and economic level. To really feel a difference you have to go in more exotic countries. For me, Rome is the perfect place for museums, for history of art; Brussels is a strong place for European jobs; Lille is my city of friends; and Berlin, well, it is alternative but finally I don’t feel a big difference. When I was in Romania lately, there it finally felt totally new for me. I said, “oh my God, this is such a different part of the world with which I have not been in contact yet!” So there is some difference of course, but since in the countries in question you are in the rich European countries, there is not really. The cultural background might differ a bit, but after all people act more or less in the same way, share the same values and have the same way of growing up. I think we all, or at least our generation, have the common Anglo-Saxon cultural background in music, in cinema. We are connected by US-American movies and TV series, English music and so on. Through the internet we are all consuming the same. From my point of view we are unified by English culture. You can do whatever you want, if you talk with a Spanish boy, a German or a Swedish girl or whomever: after five minutes you will be talking about taste and you will arrive at “oh, me too, I am listening to Radiohead.” So, you have this kind of cultural foundations on which everybody is growing up. 

The Berlin singer Peter Fox describes his home town in his song “Schwarz zu Blau” with the colours “black and blue”. Now that you have lived in Berlin for more than a year, with which colours would you describe it? Red (laughs). That comes from the first feeling I had in Berlin. I was very impressed being here the first time. It was two years ago. I came here in February, so we had very harsh weather. Berlin was very “hard”, not trying to be cute, not trying to be nice. At the same time it was very easy-going and people were so naturally and so easy and so crazy and I loved it so much. It was like “wow” and you were in another world. My ideal Berlin should be a city very “hard”, like someone who doesn’t want to make any effort to look beautiful. For me it is somehow related to music and all these things, because for me if I think of Berlin, I am thinking about the 80’s and 90’s. There are so many people, so many musicians, who started there. Berlin was not so trendy and not so cool but a place where you are totally random but where you try to do something good. I would say it is very like this aspect of „I don’t care“. I am really in love with that, it is wonderful. I still think that Berlin looks like the freedom of being dirty, of being without, you know, this „I don’t care, I do what I want“. This is the real one.