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Maastricht in state of emergency: what we missed

As in every proper university town, the daily routine in Maastricht’s streets, pubs and seminar rooms is occasionally interrupted by an ancient rite of the extraordinary: exam week. Thousands of followers of this cult voluntarily impose Lent upon them, sacrificing their usual habits from alcohol or Netflix to putting on pants and leaving the house. Those that don’t choose hermitage in their study chambers, go on an early-morning pilgrimage to engage in silent prayer at science’s sacred site. Why all these endeavours? We, the worshippers of wisdom, are conjoint in striving for ultimate enlightenment–a Bachelor of Arts or so.

Indeed, achieving this degree is, for the time being, our raison d’être, the excuse for spending our parents’ money and one or another excess. We must therefore be pardoned for sometimes mistaking our course books for the world and our workload for its misery (of course, students in serious distress should nonetheless seek support).

But certainly, the world didn’t stop turning just because we were immersed in our studies. In fact, Brexit is closer than ever to reaching its showdown, but yet again nobody knows nothing. A week ago, a sigh of relief seemed audible across Europe when the British government announced a new last-minute Brexit agreement. If the House of Commons would approve the draft, a no-deal Brexit could finally be prevented, the UK could tragically, yet at least orderly, leave the EU, and the insecurities that already pose a burden on many businesses wouldn’t be further continued.

What could possibly go wrong in a parliament that previously this year rejected all eight proposals of possible Brexit scenarios, that were presented to it? The acclaim for the latest draft agreement is again more than ambiguous. The vote in parliament is postponed as well as the Brexit date itself, although it is unclear to when exactly. Instead, Boris Johnson now scheduled new general elections in December and until then, the spectacle continues.

At the same time, a disturbing discovery not far from London reminded us of an ongoing tragedy. 39 bodies were found in a lorry container; bodies of people who presumably wanted to reach the UK on the promise of a better life. People are dying on Europe’s borders and even within Europe, this is no secret. Some claim that the pending Brexit has even worsened human trafficking from central Europe to Great Britain since the migrants are desperate to reach the island by all means before it is too late.

However, in 2015 dead bodies have been discovered in a lorry in Austria. The dangerous ways that migrants need to take on their way to Europe have led to a humanitarian catastrophe that has lately been shifting away from public attention–not at least in favour of the more entertaining Brexit mess–but has not seen any real solution. Even upon confrontation with every course period’s final enemy, the exam, we must not forget that our problems are not the only ones in the world, and by far not the worst.

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