A 6-month journey across 26 borders in Europe

To discover how borders evolve, what they mean and how they impact people’s lives

1 passport
6 months
8 trips
9 countries
17 flights
26 borders

Introduction

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        If you’re the bearer of a burgundy EU passport, were born since 1989, and have lived most of your life inside Europe, then you probably don’t spend too many sleepless nights awake pondering borders. Wondering how they came about, questioning what they mean, how they evolve and are negotiated between different parties, or how they impact people who come into contact with them. If you fit that description above, then it’s probably safe to say that borders don’t get your emotions running high or set your imagination on fire – if they are visible at all, then they are generally sterile-looking, harshly-lit, predictable and transient places that you don’t particularly remember or hold close to your heart.

        Neither did I. Growing up in the 1990s inside the Europe Union, the only thing borders ever represented to me (when I could actually see them that is) was a queue. Waiting in a queue, either on foot or in a car, with a passport poised, ready to whizz through a border control and on towards much more exciting destinations. On towards real places, where there were people and life and surprises and a sense of purpose and belonging. In comparison to “real places”, borders seemed like a sort of No Man’s Land and the only emotions these borders ever elicited in me were impatience and boredom, but never anxiety. Both inside Europe and outside, I never had the slightest sense of doubt or worry about my upcoming encounters at borders, for I held a burgundy passport from one of the world’s richest and most developed countries – an EU country – therefore borders for me were a non-issue.

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The Journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Trips

Trip no.3: Eurotrip: Sweden → the Netherlands → Italy → Sweden (via Germany)

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Trip no.5: A Scandi road trip to visit the Vikings in Norway

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Trip no.6: Attempting to summit Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the EU

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Trip no.7: Life of an Erasmus Mundus student: a week in Krakow

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Conclusions

You can also listen to this as a podcast, either by pressing play above, or listening through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Anchor.

         Over the course of my 6-month journey through the UK, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Norway, France and Poland, I crossed a total of 26 borders, each one giving me a new insight into the way borders work and impact people’s lives. Never have borders been quite so important in my life as they are now, as my home country makes plans to leave the European Union.

          And it’s not only me kept awake at night: it’s worrisome for the 4.7 million people in the Republic of Ireland and the 1.8 million in Northern Ireland, as well the 3.2 million EU citizens in Britain and the 1.2 million Brits living elsewhere in the EU. That’s nearly 11 million people who are directly affected by the border decisions being negotiated in Brussels right now, quite apart from the many millions who will be indirectly (and perhaps unwittingly) affected.

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