“UNIC gave me the chance to connect with people all over Europe” – UNIC Student Representative’s trip to Cork

UNIC Student representative Jarno Slendebroek visited University Collage Cork in Ireland and got perspective to student culture and decision-making of European Union. In this post, Jarno describes what he learnt during the visit, and what kind of differences there are between European Universities.
Kuvassa UNIC-opiskelijaedustaja Jarno irlantilaisten opiskelijoiden ja EU:n lipun kanssa.
UNIC Student representative of the University of Oulu Jarno Slendebroek (second from the left) attended Model EU event in Cork, Ireland.

At the end of February, I travelled from Oulu to Cork to participate in the Model EU hosted by the debating society of University College Cork (UCC). All debating and political societies from all universities in Ireland were invited to participate, and so were all UNIC student representatives. This resulted in a group from several parts of Ireland and a number of international students that are connected to UNIC. For me this was a great opportunity to learn about the importance of societies in Irish higher education and in general how UCC differs or is similar to the University of Oulu. In addition, it was great that I could learn about the structures of the EU, especially with the European elections coming up this June.

As a Dutch person studying in Oulu, the student facilities always seem to amaze me. In most Dutch universities there are for example not enough study places, only expensive coffee and most facilities that are for students are outdated. In Oulu and from what I saw, at UCC this is different. Facilities in both universities are quite new and both universities have parts, like Tellus or the cafe’s that are completely focused on the needs of students and their guilds. The opportunity I get through UNIC the opportunity to visit the campus in Cork but also meet students from other universities from all over Europe makes appreciate what Oulu offers more but also shows me the need for change in my former universities in The Netherlands.

Learning by the interaction with the Irish students

In addition, for me it was very valuable that multiple Irish students were attending the Model EU. Through their stories and opinions, I gained new insights and perspectives on Irish politics and how it is to be a student in Ireland. For example, it was very interesting for to hear that Ireland does not extreme right winged parties nor a big shift to right winged parties like other European countries like Finland and The Netherlands. In addition, I learned how hard and expensive it is to find housing in Ireland, as a student but also in general. Also, we talked a lot about the prestige of universities in Ireland. Whereas in Finland and The Netherlands, I feel like all universities are kind of the same, but in Ireland there was a bigger hierarchy. UNIC gave me the chance to connect with people all over Europe and made me learn many new insights of the countries where the UNIC partner universities are located.

With the EU elections coming up, I am also delighted that I now have a bigger knowledge on how the EU parliament works. I learned this through the Model EU where we simulated the EU parliament and the EU council and discussed Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) regulations. I learned how complex the structures of the EU are, but it also made me understand how problems are solved and how decisions are made. UNIC shows the interconnectedness of European institutions by all going through the same transition and working together in solving the problems that arise in this process. This feeling of interconnectedness and learning from each other was there the whole event and has become one of the highlights of the Model EU in my view. I believe if we want to change for the better, then we would rather do it together than do it yourself.

Would you also like to go on exchange, or you want to know more about UNIC? Check the UNIC website of Oulu University or contact me through email: jslendeb22@student.oulu.fi.

UNIC-opiskelija Jarno Slendebroek Model EU -tapahtumassa Corkissa, Irlannissa.

Jarno Slendebroek
UNIC Student representative
Student in Education and Globalization

Last updated: 20.3.2024