ARE WE EUROPE
ARE WE EUROPE
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A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN | PARIS

by Ingri Bergo & Eléonore Voisard

Although their background and reasons for being in Paris differ, the students here all have one thing in common: they are part of a generation that is mobile in a completely different way than their parents were.

Their lifestyle is a product of globalization. With endless possibilities to study abroad, some of the students have not lived in a fixed place for years. Being able to feel like home anywhere is part of their identity; they are citizens of the world.

These students cultivate an independent lifestyle of traveling, learning new languages and settling in new cities and places. But being alone in a foreign country can make one feel lonely, and - without a home in the traditional sense - how do they avoid feeling rootless?

Some of the students combat homesickness by transforming their small space at Cité Universitaire in Paris into a safe space. In this photo series, they opened their doors to their rooms to show us how they create a room of their own.

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Aga Czarny | 24 | Poland | Engineering student at ECE

Aga Czarny | 24 | Poland | Engineering student at ECE

Aga moved to Paris after living in the UK for four years. Her Tigger onesie, which she bought in London, reminds her of her time there – and of her boyfriend, who still lives in Britain. Tigger got that UK feeling: nice and warm and homely. It makes you want to snuggle up with a glass of wine. All I need to feel home is my onesie – and a book.”

Although she grew up in Poland, it has been a long time since she lived there.“ I don’t know where I feel most at home. It’s not so much a place, I feel more like a citizen of the world.”

Snorre Jablonski | 24 | Norway | Engineering student at ECE

Snorre Jablonski | 24 | Norway | Engineering student at ECE

Snorre used to study in a town in the northern part of Norway, and he is only staying in Paris for a short amount of time.

“I didn’t want it to feel temporary.”

The first thing Snorre did when he arrived in September was covering the walls of his room with posters. “Everything is a bit random. I have no experience of designing or putting together colours, but most of the stuff has stories attached to them.”

There are huge posters of the Alps, where he went skiing this winter. “I am very into sports this year. Climbing, running and gymnastics. I keep my climbing shoes by the window so that my room won’t smell.”

Samina Ansari | 23 | Norway | Master student International Security

Samina Ansari | 23 | Norway | Master student International Security

“This is everything I have.”

Samina is originally from Afghanistan, but she grew up in a small Norwegian town. Six years ago she studied in the United States. She had a suitcase at the ready in all those countries. When she moved to Paris, she decided to take them all with her.

“Last year was about pulling the pieces together. This year, I unpacked my suitcases.”

Her room is full of memories: a kite from Kabul, forgotten jewellery she found in the corners of her house in Norway, postcards from all over the world. “I wanted to bring everything with me, to be one person.”

Samina moved here in September and is only staying until May. “I haven’t lived here long, but I feel connected to Paris. Sadly, I think it’s something to do with age. You become less jumpy.

Chris Huffaker | 23 | United States | Journalism student

Chris Huffaker | 23 | United States | Journalism student

“I really like the color of the wall”

Chris grew up in rented places where they could not paint the walls. “And that sucks. Having a bright red wall is really nice. I guess I feel home. This laundry basket is really ugly, but I use it as a bedside table.”

Chris has moved around since he was little. When he was told to write his hometown in a form for his university, he asked if he could leave it blank. “I have never lived anywhere for more than three years. I actually don’t know what I consider my home.”

Amalia Hammarlund | 23 | Belgium | Gap year student

Amalia Hammarlund | 23 | Belgium | Gap year student

Amalia’s room is filled with decorations. She collects postcards and loves reading. Books are scattered all over the room. “I usually read on the floor. I don’t want to get tired when I’m my bed.”

Since Brussels is close, her parents often visit. Amalia never really feels lonely, but likes that her room is filled with decorations that reflect her identity.

“I am half Mexican, half Swedish, but I grew up in an international bubble in Brussels. So I have a little bit of everything.”

Isabel Kemi | 19 | Norway| Business student

Isabel Kemi | 19 | Norway| Business student

“I love sports. I used to do bikini fitness. The gyms here are not great compared to Norwegian ones, so I work out in the park.”

Isabel's room has scented candles and a lot of sports equipment. There are two large cans of protein powder on her shelf. Isabel needs to exercise in order to feel home.

Isabel moved to Cité Universitaire two weeks ago. “I’m starting to feel at home, but it’s hard in the beginning. The hardest part for me is the green wall. I hate it.”

Thomas Fraise | 21 | France | Master student at Sciences Po

Thomas Fraise | 21 | France | Master student at Sciences Po

“The first thing I did was put my books on the shelf. That’s the only personal thing I need to feel at home.”

Thomas is from a small town in France. Cité is the only place he has lived since he moved out. Thomas’ room is messy, but in a homely way. His shelves are full of snacks. As he often goes for runs, he has improvised a clothes drying system over his bed.

“I think I can live wherever and make it mine. This is a great floor, we make dinner together and socialize.”

Ottavia Mazzon | 27 | Italy | PHD in Greek Literature

Ottavia Mazzon | 27 | Italy | PHD in Greek Literature

“Monet is my favorite artist. I need him on my wall to feel at home.”

Since Ottavia arrived in September, she has been to the Monet museum in the 6th District of Paris three times. She is a PHD student in ancient Greek literature. She studied in Italy for many years, but now she is loving the French capital.

“I travelled a lot for summer schools, so I’m used to moving around. I guess I am pretty adaptable.”

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