Thursday morning – unknown time. My headache is unbearable, the apartment looks more than chaotic and I have no idea what time it is. The smell of cold cigarette smoke and sweet alcohol is getting into my nose. Actually, me and my two flatmates only wanted to drink a beer or two last night but obviously it escalated again. Suddenly there were people in our kitchen that we barely even know ourselves. Apparently, friends of a friend of…one of our friends?! Whatever. It’s not the only thing that I can’t remember from last night. What I know is, that I have a lecture at 9:00am but I honestly don’t care about it right now. All that matters is that I somehow survive this hangover today. While scrubbing the BBQ sauce from the beer pong table I spontaneously decide to skip todays lecture and lie to myself that I will catch up on this later somehow.

Being honest, this situation sounds familiar to some of us students, right? However, we often forget what a privileged situation we actually find ourselves in. We live into the day, the tuition fees are comparatively low and despite some prejudices, the status “student” is a highly respected one in our society. But students were not always in such a privileged situation.  What many people, or even students don’t know is, that “International Students’ Day” is a day of observance which is held annually on the 17th of November. Unfortunately, the original thought wasn’t just celebrating the easy student life that we have today. It was introduced to commemorate what happened in 1939. Back than Czechoslovakia was occupied by the German Nazis when the Student Jan Opeltal was killed during a demonstration. Thousands of students turned his funeral into an anti-Nazi demonstration. This movement had drastic consequences: On the 17th of November in 1939, nine of the activists were executed and more than 1200 other students were arrested and taken to a concentration camp. In 1941 the “International Students Council” first came up with the idea of an International Students’ Day as an annual remembrance. 

In Germany, the day is being forgotten more and more each year. In the recent past, hardly any activities have been carried out on this occasion. On the local level at most there are still some actions planned that refer to the commemoration day. But the worlds student’s day shouldn’t only be a day to commemorate this terrible event in 1939 but also to point out what students are currently confronted with. Of course, a degree can offer you better opportunities on the job market or more freedom for yourself – on the other hand it can also mean pressure. Many students are suffering from high performance requirements such as examination fears or from an unstable financial situation. 

If you have problems and are looking for help, contact the university’s counselling services:

Even if the dark sides shouldn’t be forgotten, students should be reminded of the privileged situation they are. Keeping this in mind: Cheers!