Last December our brand-new members of AEGEE-Tartu Saskia Kolberg and Karl Mattias Laiuste took part in a cultural exchange with AEGEE-København. In the blog post below, Saskia and Mattias will share how their first international project went and which valuable experiences were gained during the event.
Why did you decide to take part in the cultural exchange with AEGEE-København?
Saskia: I took part in the cultural exchange because I just recently joined the organisation and I hadn’t attended this kind of an event before. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet new people and travel.
Mattias: I took part in the cultural exchange because I hadn’t had the opportunity to travel for a long time now and it has aroused great interest in travelling. As a brand-new member of AEGEE-Tartu I thought that this cultural exchange would be a brilliant way to meet new people from Tartu and Copenhagen.
Based on your experience, how would you explain cultural exchange to someone who has never heard of it before?
Saskia: Cultural exchange is an opportunity to make acquaintance with another country’s culture through local people. They show you the most exciting sites and talk about their experience in the fields that are not usually encountered when travelling, like the job market or politics of the country. Local people were very helpful and supported us in our search for accommodation or in buying tickets – there was much less confusion than when travelling alone.
Mattias: Cultural exchange is a project in which completely foreign people, who are all united by AEGEE, get together and that is already enough reason to meet each other in the evenings and party together.
What was the brightest moment of your cultural exchange?
Saskia: The brightest moment of this cultural exchange was the European Night – everybody had bought food and drinks that are characteristic to their country. Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Great Britain and many more were presented. Of course, there was also AEGEE’s traditional dance Tunak-Tunak! Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the flag of AEGEE-København into our hands during the night…
Mattias: For me, the brightest moment of the exchange was the point when we arrived in Copenhagen and came out of the subway tunnel in the city centre. The town was beautiful and warm, there was no snow – I like Scandinavian cities!
/ Editor’s note: In AEGEE, it is a tradition to take your branch’s flag with you when visiting other locals and both try to steal the other flag. If it succeeds, the right holders of the flag will have to do some challenge or task, after which they will get their flag back. /
What was the most unexpected moment of the exchange?
Saskia: There wasn’t really anything unexpected during the cultural exchange. Still, we didn’t know everything beforehand. We arrived in Copenhagen on the last day before the corona-restrictions so since the second day we had to mess around with the face masks a little more.
Mattias: I was prepared for almost everything during the cultural exchange so there weren’t any surprises. We barely got to sleep, but that wasn’t really a problem.
What surprised you the most about Danish culture? Are Danish and Estonian cultures somehow different from each other?
Saskia: I was most surprised by the awesome biking culture, Copenhagen is a super biking town – this had the biggest wow-effect for me. Generally, Denmark is pretty similar to Estonia, it has flat land and rainy weather, although people are friendlier and speak better English.
Mattias: I was surprised that most locals, with whom we communicated, had a very good level of English language – it was jaw dropping, Estonia could never.
Was there anything that you learned about yourselves due to the cultural exchange? Did you learn something new?
Saskia: I hadn’t travelled with a plane before so it was a new and fun experience. In addition, I got to speak English more than usual in which I didn’t feel very confident before – however I managed it quite well. They also organised a workshop called “How to be a Viking?” for us in which we got to learn Danish culture and language. From that workshop I remember how similar the writing is in the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages.
Mattias: During the cultural exchange I learned about myself that I can be really open with foreigners because I love communicating in English. I could do that all day!
Edited by: Pilletriin Peterson