cafebabel.com: Apart from satisfying your desire for adventure, what was the main goal of the ‘Europalive’ project?
Arno Jullien: The aim was to discover what it is to be European. As a member of the erasmus generation, I wanted to know the way in which it exists for a 27-year-old beyond the current news stories through which the media represents Europe. Having felt somewhat ill-advised on the subject, I found that there was an obvious lack of communication. In planning questions about the daily life of European citizens, I wanted to bring to people’s attention their points of view, particularly through their culture and their history. Ultimately, people aren’t all that different.
cafebabel.com: Through the series of questions, many of which carry a clear political weight, did the project have a an element of social engagement?
Arno Jullien: It has indeed been a socially aware project. All the same, I tried to travel without preconceptions. Europalive isn’t based on any scientific foundation. Its only objective is to simply question Europe’s citizens just as much as its institutions. During the preparation for the project, I really struggled to find a source of information that was adapted to target young people. Today's under-25s doesn’t really have an opinion on Europe. In truth, I think they don’t really give a damn. Which is why, coming back from this trip, I also want to communicate my story of a fabulous experience to which everyone can relate.
cafebabel.com: Travelling as you did from a neutral standpoint, has your perception of Europe changed following the trip?
Arno Jullien: I did set off with a certain amount of experience because I have lived in several European capitals. It's an experience which has led me to consider myself more as a European than a Frenchman. That said, I didn’t want to look up any information on the countries that I was going to visit, to try and retain the maximum element of surprise. With this approach, I have been able to considerably change my view of Europe by beginning to consider the stories of the homeless for example. These people are amazing: they have lived everywhere, speak five languages and are capable of firing quotes at you from Verlaine and Beaumarchais! I was most surprised perhaps by the culture and the openness of the homeless. In experiencing magical moments such as these, the project has largely exceeded the boundaries of my curiosity.
Today I can assure you that there is a lesson to be taken from all types of experiences, whatever the subject might be. Personally, I think it should be obligatory to complete an erasmus year in order to be able to compare the simple things in life: your eyes are opened wide to the surrounding world. Europalive is also a message: go, do it! The only thing you risk is being pleasantly surprised.
Catch Arno Jullien'sEuropalive blog on cafebabel.comand get a chance to watch the videos