Alexander, the European heart

Alexander, 25, is a German. He has Slovak roots, a strong love for Sweden, lived in Spain and is currently doing an internship in France, in Strasbourg.


For this first “narrative of life”, we were looking for a young European who would have had a university exchange, an internship abroad or would have gone on a voluntary basis. With Alexander, no need to choose, he did it all! At the end of high school, this young Berliner wanted to test life elsewhere, and left for six months in Slovakia for a European Voluntary Service (EVS) in an association helping the deaf and hard of hearing. He went on with a six-month civic service in Paris. Two years later, Alexander left for a university exchange, in Spain this time. He is now doing a six-month internship in Strasbourg, at the European House of Architecture.

Europe, a playground that makes you grow

Alexander is passionate about languages and wants to work in translation. The linguistic practice of his experiences abroad is therefore an invaluable resource for him: in addition to the German, he is fluent in English, Spanish and French, and practices in Swedish.

His passion for translation is precisely thanks to his exchange in Spain that he discovered it. While in Berlin he had not had the opportunity to take courses in this field, the Spanish university offered him courses in interpretation. To leave is to open up to new discoveries and new opportunities. Especially when you’re young and you’ve got to learn to manage on your own, said Alexander: “When I was in high school, if there was a concern, I would go to my parents. But here in Slovakia it was really me who was the only one responsible for everything […] I defended myself, defended my own interests and I could see that it has an effect if I fight for my own rights. It was a great personal progress. ” He repeats several times during the interview how hard he has become in his experiments. Today, he feels much more capable and serene to go even further – his next project is to go to work in Canada next fall.

“In my internship in Strasbourg I know I’m active, I create something. It is not only for the exchange, to have an experience abroad, it is really a professional project in which I will leave perhaps a trace “

Change, the unknown, the loneliness: prices to pay

Going abroad is not easy for anyone. Loneliness, lack, feeling lost in the face of the unknown and having the impression of being useless, of not having a real role to play, are feelings that accompanied most of Alexander’s experiences in the ” foreign. “That’s scary. If one decides to settle somewhere, one also agrees to let a duration of one’s own life escape elsewhere. If we leave our origins, we are a bit cut off from everything that happens there. “

The same goes for Alexander when he came back, Alexander felt the displacement known by most travelers, the famous “post-trip depression”: “The first year in Germany after having been abroad for a year was very hard, because that I had the feeling that it was no longer my place in Berlin. It is no longer my home, I have lived so many things, I lived in different places, I also traveled with Interrail in Europe. And after returning to Berlin, to find people who have not experienced these experiences … we feel alone. I felt like a great solitude, to have no one with whom I could share my experiences. ” Alexander imagines himself living more and more abroad in the long term, and even definitely. After enjoying the taste of the journey, the desire to go back always comes back to the charge.

Written by Anais Bertron

19 May 2017