After a short 3-week break for Christmas, which primarily consisted of listening to the Ricky Gervais XFM show from the early 2000s and meeting up with friends, it was time to fly back for another semester of
being at university to delay going into the real world studying hard. I am studying hard so that I can obtain a sheet of paper saying ‘Andrew Knowles, Master of Science’which I will hang in a prominent place in a future flat that I won’t be able to afford, to impress a Tinder date who won’t be sitting there (but I will make sure there’s plenty of milk in case she says she needs some (10 points for those who get the reference)).
The flight was enjoyable in a sort of adrenaline-driven way, as-per-usual. I’m always impressed at the calm façade passengers always display a flight. Personally, I don’t think they’re really calm; they might look like they’re casually browsing a gossip magazine, but underneath I reckon everyone is trying their best to hold back feelings of terror and the urge to jump out of the plane before it starts accelerating on the runway shouting “This is definitely not natural!”. Or maybe that’s just me.
Thanks a lot Merkel?
When I first arrived in Lund, it was a very straightforward journey from Copenhagen Airport across to Sweden on the Oresund bridge. There were no passport checks, there was no police presence.
But recently, due to an unprecedented influx of immigrants into Sweden, border checks have been imposed. It’s the first time in half a century that the journey between Denmark and Sweden has been impeded in this way. With this in mind, plus the fact that the border checks came into force less than a week before I arrived into Copenhagen, it felt like quite a ever so slightly momentous moment; being among the first people to experience armed police coming onto the train in Sweden asking for identification- at the now extensively fenced station in Hyllie. It is, after-all, a tangible glimpse into a European Union in full crisis-mode as the continent is unable to cope with the number of migrants coming in (or at least: unable to calm peoples’ fears about the ramifications of the large influx).
Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of the Schengen area, or indeed the EU altogether. After all, the anti-immigrant and multiculturalism Swedish Democrats are experiencing ever-greater popularity in the country, just like similar parties across Europe. I remember that just a few weeks after I arrived to Lund in the summer, there was a sizeable ‘Welcome Refugees’ rally in the town centre. Now, it appears that the generous hospitality of the Swedes has dwindled into anxiety.
For the European Union as a whole it seems that Angela Merkel’s now infamous open invitation for immigrants to come to Europe has massively backfired. Now, the future of the union looks increasingly uncertain. As the continent’s migrant processing and integration infrastructure groans under the pressure of the new inhabitants, the far-right is experiencing a surge in popularity as populist rhetoric against refugees becomes increasingly normalised.