In 1894 Nicholas II became Tsar of the Russian empire that contained more than 120 million people. It was a country in which workers and peasants lived in poverty and under bad conditions while Russia’s elite lived a luxurious life. There was a long history of conflicts in Russia against the injustices of the system and in 1905, the first uprising forced
the Tsar to allow the creation of a state duma or national assembly , but its power was limited.

Tsar Nicholas II and his family

In 1914 this divided empire entered a fresh crisis of World War One. World War One was a disaster for Russia. At the front, the country suffered many devastating defeats, meanwhile, at home, there

Russian soldies in a trench

were food shortages and an economic decline. The people viewed the Tsar as responsible for standing in the way of government reform.


On February 23 in 1917, thousands of women went to the streets of the Russian capital, which was Petrograd, for International Women’s Day and to protest bread shortages. The  next day, workers and students joined the street protest with placards illustrating “Down with the Tsar!” Troops who should have tried to put down the disorder

February 1917: Protests in Petrograd

joined the protesters instead. As a result, supporters of the Tsar were arrested, police stations were attacked, symbols of the Tsar’s power destroyed. The government had lost control of the capital.
The Tsar abdicated on 2nd March hoping to bring back order and to protect the cou
ntry from a military defeat. The February Revolution was particularly bloodless to this point and hopes were high for the creation of a more democratic state.


Members of the State Duma, the national assembly, had formed a provisional government under the pretext to bridge the time until a Constituent Assembly was elected, to give Russia a new constitution. The reality was different: the Provisional Government had internal conflicts from groups with different political radicalizations. Parts of the Provisional Government did not believe that Russia was ready for socialism. Additionally, the Provisional Government had control over the troops and their organization and agreed to continue the World War One and fulfill the commitments that Russia had made for the allies. It was a bad decision because it strengthened one of the smaller parties called the Bolsheviks.
The Bolsheviks leader was Vladimir Lenin. He excoriated the “Imperialistic War” and also demanded Russia’s transformation, like the redistribution of land from rich landowners

Bolsheviks leader V. Lenin (center) and L. Trotsky (right)

to peasants and the transfer of power to the people’s councils. With an ongoing economic military and economic decline these ideas appealed to the people more and more. A military offensive in June resulted in 400,000 Russian casualties and a moral collapse of the army.
In July, soldier
s and sailors in Petrograd mutinied. They were joined in the streets by workers, with Bolshevik support. But troops loyal to the Provisional Government still supporting the war, opened fire on the protestors. After that police arrested several Bolshevik leaders, including Leon Trotsky, Lenin, with the help of Josef Stalin, fled to Finland.
The socialist, Alexander Kerensky, became Russia’s new Prime Minister and was seen as the remaining option to save Russia from anarchy. At the same time, General Kornilov blamed the internal chaos for the military defeats so he ordered his men to march on Petrograd in August, to “restore order.” The Bolsheviks played a leading role in the city’s defense against this attempted military coup. Their organizer, Leon Trotsky, was released from prison, and sent armed Bolshevik militias, called “Red Guards,” to defend strategic points. Strikes by railway workers, many of them Bolshevik supporters, prevented Kornilov from an efficient supply and his soldiers began to switch sides or stopped fighting at all. This event pushed the Bolsheviks to the role as saviors of the revolution and by the end of September; they had gained a majority in the city council.
In October, Lenin decided the time had come. He returned from Finland to Petrograd, and began preparing to gather power. On 25th October, the Bolshevik’s Red Guards and loyal

Red Guard unit consisting of factory workers

troops conquered key points around the capital, and that night they stormed the Provisional Government’s headquarters at the Winter Palace. The next day, at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, Lenin announced the overthrow of the Prov
isional Government. The following months, the Bolsheviks consolidated their authority while fighting a civil war against counter-revolutionary forces, which had foreign support. Some of them even hoped to put Tsar Nicholas back on the throne.
Nicholas and his family had been held under guard outside Petrograd. In the summer 1917 the family was sent to Siberia under house arrest in the Governor’s Mansion. The following spring, the Bolsheviks had the family moved to Yekaterinburg. In July 1918,

Foreign counter-revolutionary troops  in Russia

as counter-revolutionary forces attacked the city, Bolshevik soldiers executed the whole family – the Tsar, his wife, their son, their four daughters and four servants.
Russia’s civil war was one of the 20th century’s most devastating events. An estimated 2 million soldiers lost their lives, while an additional epidemic and famine led to further 9 million dead civilians. By the end of 1921, the Bolsheviks had emerged victorious and under Lenin’s leadership they set a new socialist order. The Soviet Union, created in 1922, emerged as a world superpower following the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two, but it would always remain a single party state, where all opposition was suppressed. Those hopes for Russian democracy in early phases of the revolution were put beyond reach for decades by the Bolshevik October Revolution.

Jan Lubes, Germay


What Happen in the “Jungle” of Calais





Calais is a town in the north of France. Since 2009 migrants from Syria, horn of Africa, Sudan have been living in a big encampment. Because of the many wars, now this population searches for a better life in the UK. Many living in this camp attempt to illegally enter into the United Kingdom via the Port of Calais or the Eurotunnel by stowing away on lorries, ferries, cars, or trains traveling to the UK.

The Calais “Jungle” is the name according to the local activist NGO, Calais Migrant Solidarity. The name “jungle” is a translation of a Pashto language word “dzhangal” which means forest.



The encampment in Calais was growing year after year and now 6400 migrants live in the Jungle of Calais. It became the biggest shantytown in France, and the life became the worst and unhealthy for themselves. Now the questions arise, how to manage the growing population?  How to set up a safe infrastructure and for everybody?



The French government promised to find a solution and since the 26 October 2016 the Jungle of Calais was destroyed and the migrants were moved  to a different part of France in home centers (CAD), except the Corsica and the department France island (Paris) because there are already many migrants. Each is different. These are often local associations that are mandated to manage the center. The state, for each incoming migrant CAD gives 25 euros per day approximately. This allows the host to feed and help her asylum application. This is the case for 80% of incoming CAD.

Further they can benefit from the allowance for asylum seekers (ADA), a premium of 6-7 euros per day, which will allows them to cover their needs that are not supported by the center where they will be welcomed.

But is it enough? A lot of migrants want to go to the UK and don’t stay in the CAD. How will the French government be held accountable?

Louis LAURENT – France




‘I study. I learn. I like discussing with people. In all countries where I go, I meet new people.’ This Prince quotation is like me. Thanks to EF, I have met new people. First, I have met my host family. They are adorable with me, interesting and they behave like a family, like I’m part of their family. Then I have met new students, new friends from different countries all around the world. I have learned about many cultures and I have a more open mind.


Do you know this quotation: ‘Staying where you are, is existing, traveling is living’? I love traveling around the world, discovering new countries, new cultures, learning new languages… I have the feeling that is important to change our habits, to live to discover the world and explore what we are interested in. I enjoy seeing new landscapes. I want to make more memories to remind me when I am old, and then I could tell stories to my grandchildren.

Old vintage compass on ancient map


  Laurie RUYET, France


by Sonja Kappler, Germany

The Golden City is a place everyone has to visit once.

I went to San Francisco at the beginning of my US trip. I am very thankful that a friend of mine, which I knew 10 minutes at that time, asked me if I want to travel with her and 3 other girls to San Francisco. I was really impressed by the beautiful, diverse and alive city. That weekend also showed me that it was the right thing to escape from my life at home and to try out something new. It was a great experience to see all the popular places and to meet such great people.



“Family is the most important thing in the world.” – Princess Diana

I am thankful for my family. Without my parents I couldn’t do things like spending 4 month abroad in another country. They support me in everything and since I am away from them I realise how important family is and that we should not take our parents and siblings for granted. I am already looking forward to eat a healthy meal cooked by my mother, to listen to stupid jokes made by my das and to fight about something stupid with my sister. To have a family and people that love you in your life is the greatest gift you can get.

Happy Family Standing On The Beach

The benefits of taking a gap year.

Eva Selderbeek, the Netherlands.

It seems to be an increasing trend; taking a year off after high school and before starting University or other higher education. Students nowadays want to explore their options before making any life changing decisions, and because of rising wealth and globalization, this is now possible. But is this a good development? Should students indeed wait longer before starting their higher education?

The main reason why most people think it is beneficial to take a gap year, is that youngsters are given the opportunity to develop themselves on a personal level, before making any life changing decisions. Because let’s be honest, who knew exactly who they were and what they wanted at the age of 18? By taking a gap year, someone may discover they have certain skills and interests they never experienced before. Traveling alone means you have to rely on yourself completely. Going into a new environment, with people you have never met before means you have to be resourceful to adjust to the situation and make contact with others. For example, 98% of students who responded to a 2015 survey from the American Gap Association reported that the time off school helped them develop as a person, and 97% said taking a gap year, “increased their maturity.”

If you decide to go to school in a different country during your gap year, this can be very beneficial to your job perspectives. This shows that you are willing to develop yourself in different ways that the usual ones, which might be appeal to future employers. It also means you have experienced multiple types of education and different cultures. Additionally, 84% of respondents of the survey from the American Gap Association said that taking a gap year helped them acquire useful career skills, and 77% said that a gap year helped them find their purpose in life.

It is also shown that youngsters who have taken a gap year, tend to perform better in their higher education. Because these people have taken some time to sort out what they really want in life, they have proven to be more motivated to do well in their chosen education. Researchers from the American Gap Association found that 90% of students were likely to return to school within a year, and 73% of survey respondents said a gap year increased their “readiness” for college.

From my own experience, I know how beneficial my gap year is to me. I’ve been in the United States for about 2 months now, and I couldn’t have imagined how much this would my personal growth and development. My self-confidence got an enormous boost, and I feel much more independent than I did back home. Being out of my safe environment made me overcome some challenges, but has already empowered me so much as a person.

As shown, taking a gap year has many benefits. due to an increase of income in Western countries, the need for youngsters to start working at an early age has decreased. Because of this, they are given the chance to take their time, explore their options and indeed maybe take a gap year. The opportunity is there, they just hve to seize it.




Thanksgiving assignment

Eva Selderbeek, the Netherlands

We are to describe two things we are grateful for in this life. I would like to start off with saying that I am grateful for getting the opportunity to come here, take this gap year in one of the most interesting but nevertheless one of the weirdest countries on our planet. I am grateful that my parents provided me with this opportunity, and that they gave me the freedom to discover myself, and what I want in this life. I am grateful that I can now experience how independent I can be. I know now that I can make it on my own in this world, even if I might experience some setbacks.

I am also grateful for my friends and family in the Netherlands, with whom I am still so close, even though we are thousands of miles apart. I always feel supported by them. I am so grateful to know that I always have a safe haven to return to, after my travels. They are my base, and no matter how far I wander, I know that they will always be there when I come back. If this is not something to be grateful for, then nothing is.


Aircraft crashes

By Willemijn Vos, The Netherlands

As you can see in this graphic the amount of accidents are decreasing. 1972 was the record year of most aircraft crashes. According to the National Safety Council, the odds of dying in an aircraft accident in the U.S. are about 1 in 7,178, while the odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 98.p1

Cause of an air crash

There are 5 most common reasons for an air crash. The first one is the pilot error. 50% of all plane crashes are caused by pilot errors. That may seem like a very high percentage, but it makes perfect sense when a person thinks about everything that a pilot must do. Pilots have to navigate through dangerous weather, respond to mechanical issues and execute a safe takeoff and landing. Some plane accidents are caused when pilots misread equipment, misjudge weather conditions or fail to recognize mechanical errors until it’s too late.

Secondly another cause is the mechanical error. The second most common cause of plane crashes is mechanical error, which accounts for about 22% of all aviation accidents. Mechanical error differs from pilot error, because, when a critical system fails, the pilot may be at the mercy of the plane. Some mechanical errors occur because of a flaw in the plane’s design amd other failures occur when outside circumstances damage the plane. The causes of these failures can be pretty bizarre.

The third one is the weather. Around 12% of all plane crashes are caused by weather conditions. Although flights are often grounded when weather conditions are deemed hazardous, storms, heavy winds and even fog can sneak up on pilots and air traffic controllers. Lightning strikes can be especially dangerous. When lightning hits a plane, it can disable it in many ways, but even milder weather conditions can cause plane crashes

Fourthly is sabotage. Plane crashes that are caused by sabotage draw the most media attention, but they only account for about 9% of total plane crashes. Some sabotaged flights crash because of hijackers, but, despite increasingly strict TSA regulations, some passengers still manage to smuggle bombs or firearms onto planes. When they’re successful, a single passenger can bring down a jet, killing hundreds of people. Although terrorists, extremists or militia groups are usually responsible for attacks like these, this is not always the case. Mentally ill passengers have been known to attack both pilots and passengers, and some have even detonated bombs in an attempt to commit suicide while in flight.

The fifth one is other human error. The bulk of the remaining plane crashes, about 7%, are caused by other kinds of human errors. Some plane crashes are inadvertently caused by air traffic controllers. Air traffic control mistakes have caused planes to crash into mountains, to land on occupied runways and even to collide in midair. When a plane is loaded, fueled or maintained incorrectly, that’s human error, too. One of the more common fatal mistakes caused by humans is something called “fuel starvation” – but this isn’t always the result of an improperly filled fuel tank.


Aircraft crash examples

In 2009 there was an air crash on the Hudson River with 155 people on board. During takeoff there was a bird strike. The pilot had to land the plane on the Hudson River. Everybody survived and only 15 people needed treatment in the hospital.


On 24 June 1982, a Boeing 747 from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia crashed. The reason for the crash was that the smoke of the volcano caused all four engines to stop working. The first sign of trouble came as the plane, which had hit cruising height, headed past Java over the south-eastern Indian Ocean.

Captain Moody, who had left the cockpit for a stroll, was summoned back to the flight deck. As he climbed the stairs of the jumbo jet, he noticed puffs of “smoke” billowing from the vents in the floor and detected an acrid smell.p4


I think through all these years the security and planes have improved, and there are still new ideas about how we can do it better. I think it will change over the years in a positive way. I am happy to see that the amount of aircraft accidents is decreasing. It is almost impossible to have no aircraft accidents, because everything is controlled by human, and humans can make mistakes. There are factors like the weather that are uncontrollable, but engineers are searching for solutions, for example the solution of flying without a pilot, everything will be done by automatic pilot. We will see what will happen in a couple of years.




The Power of Media

by Sonja Kappler, Germany

We come in contact with all sorts of media every day in our lives. Watching TV is still the most favorite leisure activity and especially young people spend several hours a day on the Internet. When we travel to work by car we usually listen to the radio, which is also a form of media, and with our smartphones we can be connected to the Internet whenever we want to be. So we can quickly see that we are in contact with the media nearly the whole day. It is very important that we take a closer look at how the media affects ,and especially influences, us.



Media can also be seen as the fourth estate in a democratic state. Media in this case should inform the people, should criticize the politicians, should cause people to think more and to form an opinion. The media can also influence political actions. The quotation of Bob Woodward (American investigative journalist and non-fiction author), “The central dilemma in journalism is that you don’t know what you don’t know.”, shows that the journalists decide what is seen as important and about what the people get informed and what about not. As a result we can say that people only know what the media wants them to know.

With the way a journalist also writes about something or someone can influence us, for example if they just talk about the negative aspects of a person or a topic, the public will usually also have a negative connection about the person or the topic. It is possible for the media to ruin a person or to promote them to be represented as the greatest person. The quotation from Malcom X  “The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” also supports that.

Sometimes the media also focusses on information about celebrities, especially tabloids report about what is new and in in Hollywood. Because of that the really important news doesn’t get enough attention.


If we talk about media we should also include Social Media. With platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people can be online the whole day. With Social Media we can easily stay connected with people all around the world and people can also share and discuss topics online. Another positive aspect is that people can find other people who have the same interests as each other. On the other hand a lot of wrong information is spread on the Internet and people don’t interact face to face anymore. Chat messages are often misinterpreted. Also people forget their real lives or take on other personalities. The media has also the power to find out everything about a person because what was once shared on the Internet is never gone.