European youth

January 2016
Przemyśl is a sleepy bordertown in the east of Poland, just a few kilometers away from the Ukrainian border. The river that splits the town in two halves was once the border between the Sovjet Union (which is not Russia) and Germany. This town has changed hands many times during the last two centuries. Read more about this in Bloodlands (author Timothy Snyder). This is in the middle of the area where it all happened.

Related reading:

On my way back in winter from Lviv I pick up my hire car here again as it was not allowed to take it into Ukraine where I intended to go. I drive through the smog caused by heating on brown coal to the perfect modern motorway direction Krakow. EU does a lot of good to a country. It is miserable weather but in summer this must be a very enjoyable area.

Travel, then look for work

They hitchhike on the side of the road: Weronika and Mikal are also on their way back from tree days Lviv (Lwow) and travel on the cheap. Young Europeans, forward looking, enterprising, interested in all the world has to offer. Irrispecive of EU nationality they all radiate a spirit of EU citizenship.

Both study civil engineering in Wroclaw (once Breslau). They are unaware that after the second work war all the Polish citizens from Lviv (Ukraine) were forcibly expelled and that most of them landed in Wroclaw. The resident Germans shared the same fate as the borders shifted westward. Many of both nationalities died.The Polish library of Lviv resides in Wroclaw now. History leaves its marks but also is forgotten quickly. Polish citizens in Silesia (where Wroclaw is located) still hold a German passport too.

Getting a job in Poland will be difficult they think but for now they want to travel. Mikal was all over Europe already. Their English is not perfect but in EU it all works. They would like to make it to Wroclaw today but all depends on the lifts they can grab.

Work migration

They know The Netherlands, they worked there last summer for three months, picking strawberries near Venlo. Hard work but the pay was good. Holland is a free country they say:

you can do anything you like and say anything you want

A hidden reference to the present situation in Poland? These things are not spoken about lightly to strangers.

I drop them on a highway petrol station. A perfect hitchhiking place, later on FB they tell me they made it.

Weronika and Mikal

8 months later I receive a desperate text message: they are in The Netherlands again after graduation and try to find better work. They are underpaid where they are now and look for something else. I give them some references but later they text again, they have left my country and are back in Poland. It did not work out.


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