Skip to navigation Skip to main content
All stories

Faces of our CommUNAty: “Every university has its strengths and flaws. We can learn how to be better from each other.”

Features -

From summer schools to student congresses, Local Task Force to Student Board, Fleur-Nicole Riskin – a master’s student in literature at Freie Universität Berlin – has experienced several of the myriad opportunities Una Europa offers our students.

With the next Una Europa Student Congress fast approaching, this year hosted by Helsingin yliopisto/Helsingfors universitet, Fleur-Nicole reflects on her Una Europa journey so far and how the alliance is empowering students to shape their own educational journey and make their voice heard as we build a University of the Future, together.

This interview is part of Faces of our CommUNAty – a series shining a spotlight on the individuals behind Una Europa.

How did your journey with Una Europa begin?

The Una Europa Student Congress last year in Kraków was the first connection I had to the alliance. I became a Student Board member for Freie Universität Berlin shortly after because I really enjoyed the Congress and I like what the alliance stands for and what it’s doing, especially with bringing different European countries and cultures together for bigger causes.

It was a very quick journey – I don’t want to say scary, but rather surprising! But it really opened my perspective, not only into university politics but also to multiple views from different European countries and universities.

You’ve also made the most of opportunities from our partner universities. Can you tell us about the summer schools you attended?

I love learning foreign languages. I speak German and Russian, as these are my parents’ native languages, and I’ve been learning English and Italian for a long time, as well as some other languages. So, both summer schools I attended this year had a language component.

The first summer school took place in Bologna at the beginning of June and explored modern Italian literature with the aim of raising awareness of this more recent literature, instead of only reading the classics. The summer school was hosted by Università di Bologna in cooperation with Una Europa, so many speakers came from other partner universities too.

The second was hosted by University College Dublin at the end of June and focused on learning the Irish language and Irish culture and customs, such as an introduction to Irish dancing. I found it really interesting to have a direct look into the Irish language and into the culture and traditions.

" [In Una Europa] you have the freedom to help with the projects you are really interested in, and you want to see happen, where you want to see a change. "

Fleur-Nicole Riskin on why students should get involved in Una Europa

Can you think of a time when you’ve really felt the energy of the Una Europa community?

The most memorable moment for me, maybe because it was when I was first getting in touch with the alliance, was during the Student Congress last year. We were split into groups and tasked with discussing a key aspect of the alliance’s work. I was part of the values group, and we discussed what things are done well at our university and where there’s a possibility for improvement. For every difficulty someone would always say, “well in my university we do it like this and it works”, sharing a great new idea. It showed me that every university has its own strengths and flaws, and we complement each other really well so we can learn how to be better from each other.

That’s also why I’m very much looking forward to the Student Congress in Helsinki this year. I hope to have a similar experience, or maybe an even stronger one because this year the theme is storytelling. What better theme for a literature student?

What advice would you give to a student at one of our partner universities who is thinking of getting involved in the alliance?

I would say that if the person is really interested they should of course try it out, especially if there is a Student Congress coming up! The Student Congress is a great opportunity to see all the work, and the people who do this work, come together in a very wholesome moment.

I would also advise them not to be afraid of the work that might come with it, just to let yourself have this great experience. You have the freedom to just help with the projects you are really interested in, and you want to see happen, where you want to see a change. The closeness of bringing together different people, countries, universities that you find in Una Europa offers a really great experience that I would recommend to anyone.

The Una Europa Student Congress 2023 will take place from 14 to 17 November at Helsingin yliopisto/Helsingfors universitet.