Aline Sierp’s nomad life

Aline Sierp, Assistant Professor in European Studies, seems very grounded in Maastricht. She has been living here with her partner for 9 years and has welcomed two sons in the meantime.

But living in one place for so long is something out of the ordinary for Aline: “I am a bit of a nomad and it is almost a miracle that I am still in Maastricht.”

Aline moved places 13 times in the 13 years before she landed in Maastricht. “The first time I went abroad was when I was 16. I wanted to do a high school year in Canada and my mom had a friend who lived in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Her family took me in for the year. A year in which I was living next to the ocean on a farm and I got to go to high school there. That year abroad really steered my life in a certain direction. I had to return to Germany to finish my Abitur, because the Canadian high school degree is not equivalent to the German one, but I had really mixed feelings about going back. Of course I had missed my friends and family back home, but at the same time I loved my adventure abroad.”

That’s why after finishing high school in Germany, Aline started her international nomad life. “After getting my Abitur, I did one year of European Voluntary Service in Padova, Italy. After that, I went for my bachelor’s and master’s degree to the UK. During my studies, I also lived in Strasbourg, Turin, Rome, Bath, Paris and Siena. And I stayed in Siena to do my PhD.”

When Aline had finished her PhD, she moved to Munich to start a job at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. At the memorial site, she was tasked with building an international office. “Amongst other things, I trained the guides and made sure there was a standardisation of the stories told, so I could prevent the guides from going rogue. It happened at times that guides would let visitors go into the gas chambers and close the doors, so they could experience what it was like. Such things are baffling and an absolute no-go.”

While living in Munich, Aline went through some sort of identity crisis. “I felt like a foreigner, but wasn’t perceived as one of course, considering I am German. I missed the international environment and I wanted to return to academia, and that’s how I ended up in Maastricht. It’s the longest I have ever lived anywhere in my adult life, and I don’t mind it at all.”

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