Experience story

Visiting the Agora aka stepping into a wonderland full of infinite knowledge, cultural exchange, sleepless nights, excellent company, and buoyant parties

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of lands remote,

To travel is to live.”

― Hans Christian Andersen

In a single poem, the legendary fairytale master Andersen has managed to embody the spirit of a true AEGEEan for whom travelling is as important as breathing. For this purpose, dozens of international events are held every year, one of the most important and anticipated of which is the Agora. Bringing together more than 500 young people all over Europe, the aim of this general assembly is to discuss important topics regarding the future of AEGEE. But not only – it is also an excellent breeding ground for socialising, learning and partying. 

As such, entering the enchanting world of the Agora truly feels like stepping into Hans Christian Andersen’s famous cartoon carriage where simple candle-lighting magically transports you to a land of adventures. If you wish to know what such an experience is like in more detail through the eyes of a first-time attender, hop on the carriage and find out in the following paragraphs!

From Tallinn to Berlin to Enschede 

Our journey to the Agora taking place in Enschede started in mid-May, the perfect time of the year when your heart is full of hope and joy, longing for adventures to find you. The latter didn’t let them wait for long. Due to the initial train strike plan in Germany, we needed to reschedule our route, so that instead of taking a train from Berlin to Enschede, we decided to opt for a night bus, all of which was quite last minute. It allowed us, however, to familiarise ourselves with the wonders of Berlin. In the glimmering afternoon air spreading over the metropolis, we got to see Alexanderplatz, Brandenburger Tor and so many other sights, through which marathon runners rushed to the finish line, just like we were making our way to the bus stop to take a ride to the Netherlands.

Berlin welcoming us with lovely cafes, pretzels, marathon runners and, of course, the famous Brandenburger Tor

Upon reaching our destination, we were welcomed by a nighttime Enschede, a tranquil university city renowned for being one of the greenest in the country. At night, however, it was mysteriously enshrouded in darkness as if Maleficent herself tried to hide the city’s famous colour from our sight. Even then, we could instantly sense a marvellously serene and invigorating atmosphere that wrapped us in its soothing nocturnal robe. Its unique presence followed us as we approached the university’s campus, our dwelling place for the upcoming week. Having entered the gym full of hundreds of other participants to take the much needed rest, the excitement of what the week in this fascinating place would have in store for us permeated our minds. 

Absorbing knowledge and making decisions in the charming Dutch university atmosphere

The next morning, we were promptly introduced to the wonders of the Agora, starting with incredibly loud music which served as an extremely effective alarm clock. After a practically sleepless night, hearing Käärijä in full volume didn’t exactly make us cha cha cha instantly, but it definitely was an excellent source of energy which prepared us for the upcoming day full of plenaries, prytania and workshops. 

All of the latter took place in the University of Twente’s lecture halls. The building itself was surrounded by a campus which hosted all the university facilities, dorms and even a number of cafes and shops. This was in quite a great contrast to Tartu where, despite its irresistible beauty and unique university atmosphere quite similar to that of Enschede, the buildings of different departments are scattered all around the city, so that a humanitarian and chemist might never even meet. In Enschede, however, the campus provides extensive opportunities for socialisation with students from a variety of backgrounds, contributing to forming truly diverse friend groups. Students could be seen talking and studying together at every corner: inside buildings, on lawns by the lake and under many of the luscious trees which inhabited the campus. What made the walk to the lecture halls especially exceptional was exactly this nature aspect – we felt almost as if we were outside of the city, surrounded by trees, bushes and flowers on every side. 


The charmingly green campus which surrounded us during our Agora adventure

Having arrived at the university lecture hall and seeing hundreds of other Europeans seated in semi-circle rows, wearing suits and discussing the future of the organisation, it almost felt like stepping into a European Parliament meeting – such appeared to be the level of importance and formality. This inspirational context created a perfect atmosphere for holding most compelling debates between the members of different locals as well as deciding on the future of the organisation. 


Despite that, the long days full of discussions and decision-making were rather tiring, which made it necessary to revitalise people with some energy breaks, such as humorous dance intervals or some tasks. It must be said that watching the whole 500-people audience attempting to dance like the green alien on the screen with its peculiar moves was really quite entertaining and definitely served its purpose as an energiser. Equally amusing was the observation of tasks which some locals whose flag or mascot had been stolen needed to perform in order to get their emblems back. For example, there was an instance where one of the Italian locals was obligated to eat pizza with pineapple on it, an action which is a true sacrilege in the eyes of the Italians. Their reactions were truly priceless! 


While these greatly populated sessions were held in large lecture halls, workshops provided a more personal atmosphere with fewer people and smaller rooms. This allowed for more opportunities to get to know new people better through in-depth discussions on a variety of topics, such as intersectionality and sustainability, which contributed greatly to our existing knowledge. 

Our crew enjoying the Agora experience in Dutch lecture halls

Angry geese, party buses, and other stories

While delegates as the decision-makers were required to be present at plenaries and prytania, visitors had more liberty which paved the way to other interesting events. Having sneaked out of the lecture hall, we decided to explore Enschede. As true Estonians, we were of course most enamoured by the lustrous nature which covered every nook and cranny of this former textile town. So naturally we couldn’t help hugging gigantic trees or napping at the edge of the forest every time an opportunity presented itself. 

Our special admiration was drawn by Volkspark which enchanted us with its glimmering river covered in thousands of water lily leaves, and trees whose deeply-bowing branches almost touched the evergreen ground. Despite its people-centred name, the park was definitely ruled by a different species: a self-important pair of geese. As the two birds dressed in pearl white robes stepped on the pavement with greatest confidence, dark eyes shooting threatening glares at everyone, people respectfully (and fearfully) gave them way, letting the two royals pass through. It became evident that Dutch geese are definitely not to be messed with!

Glimpses of the wonderful Volkspark with its magnificent nature and threatening geese

Fortunately, the same could not be said of the Dutch people we met on our way, all of whom were really friendly and open-minded. This made it such a joy to walk around the city with all its cosy cafes, swarming markets, sumptuous houses, rainbow-coloured crosswalks, and streets filled with an impressive number of buoyant bikers. 

A view of the adorable Enschede market and aesthetic streets

Although these were more small-group discoveries, we had an array of opportunities to have fun together with our whole Tartu delegation as well as people from other locals. For this purpose, every day ended with a party focusing on a specific theme, such as Hollywood glamour, four elements, or the rainbow. In the evenings the gym was bustling with excited people helping each other pick out their costumes and doing colourful makeup full of cute little hearts and rainbow elements. 


While the parties themselves abounded with the greatest merriment, perhaps even more exciting was this preparation process together with advancing the party place side by side with hundreds of other international people. One of the most memorable of such pre-party episodes was the party bus. Tightly packed with tens and tens of exuberant AEGEEans, people went wild with showing off their dance moves while singing some of the most legendary songs at the top of their lungs. In this unity, we were carried to our party place in a true AEGEE way.

A peek into the social scenery of the Agora: preparation for a party, a concert and a network area meeting

For those not too keen on such partying or simply looking for a more quiet night in, the organisers had prepared an alternative programme. This could be, for example, a movie or quiz night. The latter was especially captivating and thought-provoking. First we had to form mixed groups of people who needed to activate all their brain power in a quest to win the quiz battle against other teams. After such a high-spirited competition, the air was filled with greatest joviality, which was a perfect prelude for a more calming activity. Sitting in a circle, all participants shared stories from their past and discussed various topics of great depth. Such an understanding and no-judgement atmosphere united people from an array of different backgrounds and cultures, making it one of the most memorable nights of the whole event.  


Equally as interesting was acquainting ourselves with the cuisine around all parts of Europe. The prime means for this was the legendary European Night which is present at most AEGEE events. This one was particularly special, however, in terms of how wide the selection was. From a sip of Dracula’s mysterious drink to a bite of the syrupy stroopwafel, it was a true union of European food and beverage wonders. Apart from the things presented to us during the European Night, we were also fortunate enough to try traditional Dutch street food called kibbeling, a local version of fish and chips. Together with garlic sauce, it’s certainly a treat you need to try while visiting the Netherlands!

European Night with its wide array of snacks and drinks from all around Europe, and Dutch street food

On a turbulent path from Enschede to Berlin


We left Enschede on an early morning when most others were either still sleeping or, alternatively, engaged in a conversation after a sleepless night. Our plan was to take a taxi to reach the bus station from which we could start our journey back to Berlin. Fate had other plans for us, however…


As time passed up to a critical point and taxis were still not available, we decided to change our plans and take bikes instead. This turned out to be an adventure of a lifetime. As we rode on the speed of light through the picturesque Enschede nature, it felt almost like travelling back in time to our childhood memories of the countryside grandma’s cottage where we could tread on solitary village roads surrounded by gentle-eyed cows looking at us curiously. The only difference was that we had to pass this lovely nostalgic sight as if we had unknowingly been cast as the lead actors in the bike version of a Fast and Furious movie. 


Even then, we reached the station two minutes late because we couldn’t instantly find the right place. Having circled the facility and finally found the bus station area, we were out of breath and almost hopeless. But then, suddenly, the bus rode before us as a heavenly gift. At that moment, it truly felt like the miraculous discovery of the Holy Grail which would lead us to our destination with its magical powers. 


Having finally reached Berlin, we were determined to explore it on a greater scale than we had the chance to do previously. As a result of our wanderings in their legendary yellow trains, we came to the conclusion that Berlin’s urban landscape is so diverse that having seen one part of it doesn’t predict at all what you may discover around the next corner. On one side of the city, you have exquisite buildings like the elegantly columned Reichstag, and on the other, soviet-inspired block buildings which, around the next corner, are followed by unique modern architecture and wild parks in which birds are rocking voluminous 80s hairstyles. 


Among so many other interesting things we saw, one of our great favourites were the amusing traffic lights. As the cheerfully upright hand on the pedestrian beg button sign indicates, you need to give it a high five to please the snug straw-hatted Ampelmännchen and coax him into transforming his red crucified form into a cheerfully green walking sign. Being there to constantly accompany us on our way, this little man became so dear to us that we were really sad to part with him. 

Exploring Berlin with its wild parks, adorable pedestrian walk signs, railways, and sumptuous buildings

Back at home

Thinking back to the Agora adventure, glimpses of all the wonderful happenings fill our minds with most splendid memories, be they either the long exciting days spent in lecture halls and around Enschede or sleepless nights filled with vibrant parties and spirited discussions. Such are the recollections that we will always remember most fondly and carry in our hearts. Having previously only heard of the splendours of the Agora, I can now confirm with utmost certainty that it is indeed one of the most unique and enriching experiences that you ever gain, something that everyone should participate in at least once in their lifetime.


Article composed by: Carmen Treu

Certi momenti regalano un’emozione per sempre – a week of unforgettable memories from Italy

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 

(Walt Whitman)

The great American poet Walt Whitman must have surely been inspired by AEGEE when writing these timeless words. For our light-hearted members, the world is really before them, leading them wherever they choose. This time the open road took us to Florence for a cultural exchange with our fellow antenna, AEGEE-Firenze. 

Getting lost in Venice

Our first destination was Venice where we decided to stay for two days prior to reaching our main destination, Florence. After a slight moment of anxiety we had experienced because of certain confusion with train tickets, we finally greeted the city of hauntingly beautiful canals and floating gondolas with a ciao (by the way, did you know that this greeting comes from the Venetian dialect with the literal meaning of I am your slave?).

A glimpse into our adventures in Venice, the city which bewitched us with its narrow streets, vibrant markets and glimmering canals

The time spent in this gorgeous corner of the earth went by almost with the blink of an eye, yet was full of so much discovery and excitement. In those two days, we assiduously explored many of the hidden corners of Venice, encountering its innumerable bridges, canals and narrow streets with persistent dead ends. At times, it all felt like being in a royal labyrinth, in which the exit always seems to be just around the next corner but it never is – instead you meet with another dead end, the latter being either a wall or a canal. At moments such as these, we felt like true Gothic heroines surrounded by the dark, the windows of the buildings looking at us with their ominous hollow eyes just as narrow as the streets themselves. But fortunately ours is not a tale of terror but of joy, so such explorations were always full of fun moments and laughter, each dead end igniting a more adventurous spirit inside of us that left no room for frustration. Having additionally caught a glimpse of the famous Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, gondoliers, Venetian masks, bright-coloured vegetable markets, and so much more, it was time to move on to our next destination – Florence. 

Discovering the secrets of Florence

On the morning of 18 November, we embarked on a journey to Florence, taking an almost four-hour bus ride from Venice to Florence. Having reached our destination, we were welcomed by a warm gust of wind unimaginable on the Estonian soil in November. The atmosphere around us was truly magical, the light enchantingly playing with colour contrasts and the air almost dancing with glorious joy – an aura very unique to Italy. In this charming autumnal evening atmosphere, we had our first meal in Florence – curiously huge richly-filled sandwiches that would do for several meals. Later on, after exploring the city and settling at the place of our welcoming Italian hosts, we had an European Night (an AEGEE international event where the typical food of each country is served). We had the opportunity to try various Italian specialties such as pizza, different types of meat, limoncello, and more;  the Italians could taste, among other things, the Estonian black bread, Kalev chocolate and Vana Tallinn liqueur. If you ever have to introduce Estonian treats to foreigners, we definitely recommend our potato waffles and white chocolate with blueberries – these were real hits! Throughout the night, we also had the chance to discuss various matters, one of the most interesting of which was the difference between nations. To give you an example, it turned out that Estonians and Italians sense colours rather differently. There was a little experiment concerning the amount of blonde people among AEGEE-Tartu members. The results were the following: for the Estonians, there were barely two blonde people while for some Italians the number could be as much as five out of six!


Huge Florentine sandwiches that would merit the title of a giant

The next morning, we were welcomed by a fusion of Italian-Estonian breakfast, including the true Estonian black bread as well as Italian sweets. It was a perfect prelude to the city tour of Florence that was to follow. Our guide, a fellow member of AEGEE-Firenze, led us through the city with admirable diligence, showing us different notable places accompanied by really interesting facts that enabled us to discover the secrets of Florence.

For instance, did you know…

  • … the decorations of the Duomo are unfinished? Baccio d’Agnolo started a project back in the 1500s, according to which there should have been a balcony surrounding the dome in its entirety. However, after one panel was finished, Michelangelo was not too pleased with it, stating that “it looks like a cricket cage”. After such outright criticism, the initial design was abandoned.
  • … there are little wine windows (buchette del vino) spread around the city of Florence? They date back to the 16th century when people could simply knock on the little wooden shutters and ask their bottles to be filled with wine through this window.
  • On the square in front of the church named Santa Croce, four teams from different parts of the city come together to play a rather brutal form of football (a combination of soccer, rugby and wrestling)? It originates from the 16th century and is still played today. In order to recreate the historical air of the game, nowadays the square is specifically covered in dirt, and the players wear historical costumes.
  • … the river Arno has risen dangerously high a number of times, covering everything in mud?

Fortunately, during our stay the Arno could keep itself calm and collected without turning ferocious. We were affected, however, by the rain that kept pouring down incessantly. While it would have been a tremendous drawback at any other time, the day was full of so much excitement that we defied it without problems. In addition to a most interesting tour, we got to treat ourselves with various Italian specialties – pizza, cannoli, cassata, gelato, etc. A small recommendation: the pistachio flavour in an Italian gelateria is to die for. 

Our crew enjoying Florence in all its glory – its lovely people, exceptional food, magnificent architecture and art made it an experience of a lifetime

The following day was yet another one packed with exciting events. The first half of the day was spent in the Uffizi Gallery, a place of some of the most marvellous masterpieces ever created: Caravaggio’s “Medusa”, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Annunciation” and, perhaps most importantly, Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”. After that, there was a really thrilling event organised by AEGEE-Firenze: City Quest. For that, we had to create mixed groups that included both the Italians and Estonians – this was a great opportunity to get to know more amazing people. Together we had to find different sights in Florence, with which we had to take a selfie. Finding as well as capturing them, however, required quite some creativity. The head of Berta, for example, was built in the highest parts of a building. Imagine fitting four people and a figure hidden somewhere in a high wall into one selfie! But this is precisely what made this event so entertaining. Right after that there was a presentation on Italy and its characteristics. Among other intriguing facts, we were taught typical linguistic expressions in Italian, different hand gestures (a whole sign language, especially when presented by a Sicilian) and which sauce goes with which pasta (a real science on its own!). One of the most important lessons that we learned was that if, as a foreigner, for some food-related mistakes you might be forgiven, then for putting pineapple on pizza you would be banished for life – it is a true crime in the eyes of the Italians! 


Now that the official part of the cultural exchange was over, we had free time to explore Florence and its surroundings on our own. One of our definite goals was to hike in the mountains. Although for us, the Estonians, the Big Egg Mountain is a source of national pride as the highest peak in all the Baltic states, in Italy 318 metres simply does not count as a mountain, whatever way you look at it. Even the Fiesole region which was recommended to us is not so greatly mountainous for Italians who take the Alps as their standard. For us, however, if you can already discern the shape of a mountain (which you can’t do in Estonia), then it is a mountain indeed, or at least a great hill. This was most certainly possible in Fiesole where the view was breathtaking: the clouds hung low, scudding across the sky in a seeming rivalry with the sun, both trying to pierce the souls of the evergreen hills that reached up to meet them halfway in restless anticipation. We, too, were pierced by the beauty of it all, the little cobblestone streets and mysterious narrow stairs between pastel-coloured houses taking us further higher to admire the awe-inspiring scenery of Renaissance-styled villas and ancient hilltops. Later on, when we took one of the recommended hiking roads leading directly into the soul of the hills covered in beautiful harmless greenery, we found ourselves in the middle of a fairytale-like forest, an enchanted place where you would expect to find magical creatures such as fairies and giants – very similar to the Estonian forest atmosphere. What was certainly different from Estonia, however, was the incessant rise and fall of the hilly landscape that is not even comparable to the ups and downs of the Southern Estonia region. After such a hike, going to a university building up the Lossi street certainly doesn’t seem so challenging any longer! However, the effort was well worth it since hiking and having a little picnic in such magical surroundings is something that can never be forgotten.

Such were the breathtaking surroundings of Fiesole that charmed us completely with its scenery

On our way back to the wintry Estonia

On our way back home, our hearts are filled with sadness but also undeniable gratefulness and warmth for all the lovely memories and experiences gained during this trip. Wandering on the narrow streets of Venice, exploring the secrets of Florence with locals, admiring the breathtaking view of the mountains, discussions and laughs with the loveliest people – all of these memories flood back to our mind like a hurricane, one which destructs your earlier sense of self and replaces it with a flood of new memories that form the foundation of a reformed self. Looking back at everything I feel safe to say that the members of AEGEE are one of the best people you’ll ever meet and travel with – their ever-present positivity and adventurousness is not easily rivalled by anyone else. The same can be said about the international events – the experiences you gain there are truly special.

Article composed by: Carmen Treu

Cultural exchange: 4 winter days in Copenhagen

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.


Mattias ja Saskia Kopenhaagenis

Saskia and Mattias enjoying the candlelight of a Copenhagen café.


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.


European Night, where we had snacks and drinks from Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Germany.

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. /


København and Tartu are having a friendly evening.

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. 

Christmas market with our crew.


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!

City tour next to the canal of Copenhagen.

Edited by: Pilletriin Peterson

March 2022

Summer Smiles, Lifelong Memories: Throwback to Tarthoven SU

Marysia from AEGEE-Warszawa wrote down some of her best memories from the Tarthoven travelling SU. She was a participant in the Timetravel Through The Flatlands SU, which was organised by AEGEE-Tartu and AEGEE-Eindhoven. Enjoy!

Three weeks after coming back from Eindhoven, I am still amazed by my first Summer University. Memories and feelings are still very vivid, and new recollections pop into my head quite often. Taking into consideration all the sleepless nights we experienced, and the places we visited, it is incredibly difficult to decide about the form and the vibe of this short blog article. To prepare myself for this task, I came back to our shared pictures, played the song “Kergotamine”, and closed my eyes to recall all the essential details. Now, let me tell you a few words about being a part of the incredible Tarthoven team and how it was to visit Estonia, Latvia, Belgium, and the Netherlands… 

The whole adventure began in a small town, Jõhvi, where most of us met for the first time and from where we started exploring the wonders and the history of Estonia. Starting with Roberto’s introduction to the historical background of Estonia, we then proceeded with the visit to Sillamäe and Viivikonna. The towns, located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, populated mainly by Russian inhabitants, once used to store an oil shale processing plant, which was rebuilt by the Soviet Union to extract uranium oxide. After Estonia regained independence in 1991, their industrial activity declined. In Viivikonna, the former mining town, Ida Maria took us on a mind-blowing tour in the ghost town, where we had an unusual opportunity to see almost completely abandoned town and enter the buildings that were a reminder of previous times. Another historically significant place was Narva, the city on the border with Russia, where we got to know our great guide in disguise of a medieval monk, who shared with us some stories and enthusiastically presented his portable car-arsenal-museum. 

Surreal nature, street art and biking

A few days later we found ourselves in the woods – camping at the Lake Peipsi was a surreal and phantasmagoric experience for me. Surrounded by the lake of the size of a sea, beautiful trees, and calming effects of the forest, we had a rare opportunity to detach ourselves from the regular world. We enjoyed Diederik’s and Roberto’s workshops and some of us had enough courage to immerse in the freezing water of the lake and take part in the wife-carrying competition. From the camping site, we moved to the lovely city of Tartu and enjoyed its street-art. At the gym, we were welcomed by the Rafael Nadal cardboard cutout, and got very excited about hot water in the showers! Pub-crawl, geo-caching, sauna-party, night walks, and a short bath in the Kissing Students’ fountain were other highlights of our stay in Tartu. 

Deprived of sleep, we said goodbye to Tartu, and got in the bus to Riga, where we did not even spend 24 hours! Following our detailed program, the next day we were already in Brussels to visit CD house and the European Parliament. As far as I remember that was also the time when the phrase “tiki tiki – miau miau” came into being. The phrase that was going to accompany our group and the gossip box until the end of the SU and even longer! 

In Eindhoven, we suddenly had to switch from walking to biking everywhere. It took some time until we mastered locking our bikes, but eventually, the whole biking idea surprisingly turned out to be quite fun and convenient to the point when we had to return the keys to the bikes, I felt a bit heartbroken. 

Back to reality

Sitting late and working on this article in one of the cafes in Warsaw, I am experiencing an odd and uncomfortable feeling of emptiness, which would have been completely unusual during our Summer University. In this way, I am now realizing that our trip was unforgettable and that I will cherish every conversation and laughs we shared with the whole team. The colors were brighter, the life was more intense, and the cold showers were not that cold with you guys! The program and the organization of this Summer University exceeded my expectations and let me realize how time-consuming it must have been for the organizers and helpers to arrange all the necessary details about our stay in so many different locations! 

Dear Reader, I hope that after going through the whole text, you have a feeling that this Summer University was truly a very special experience for me. Taking this opportunity, I would like to say that I feel grateful and blessed to have spent those two weeks with all of the participants, helpers, and organizers! So, now please find a moment to relax and indulge again in the sweet memories and gezellig vibes! 

Searching for the secret of an amazing Summer University

Between July 24 and August 5 AEGEE-Tartu & AEGEE-Tallinn hosted the Summer University “Strive to be a leader, thrive to be a Succeeder”, a Summer Course+ on Human Resources. We asked Lucas, one of our members and a helper during the event, to write about the Summer University.

When I decided that I would travel back to Estonia to assist the organization team of this year’s Summer University, I thought I knew what to expect. After all, I was a participant the Estonian SU of 2015, and I have also organized two SU’s in my home local of Eindhoven. Yet here I am, one month after the end of the event, still day dreaming about it and trying to figure out what was it exactly that made it surpass all of my expectations. Because it did surpass them by a really long shot. Even if I was a helper and not a participant, I had more fun than I did in any of my previous SU’s experience, and I also feel that our participants were even more satisfied than the ones from the previous times I’ve been an organizer.

Maybe it was because this was a Summer Course+ instead of your typical Travel Summer University?
This meant that we had several workshops every day about this year’s topic (human resources/team management), which allowed us to work closer together with everyone involved. We learned about group dynamics which I think improved the way we interacted with each other in our own group! The workshops were not only really useful but also surprisingly entertaining and engaging. Who knew you could include Escape Rooms and so many other games into instructive workshops! The trainers did an incredible job with them!

Maybe it was because of all of the opportunities we had to relax and have fun together?
Even with all of the tuition hours we had, we had time for a lot of other fun and relaxing activities. Spending a day barbecuing, swimming and relaxing on the island of Aegna; dancing with strangers under the hot sun at the Folk Music Festival in Viljandi like there’s no tomorrow; and relaxing at a Lake in Elva with a picnic and the nicest music after doing some crazy monkey business at the adventure park; are just some of the highlights!


Maybe it was because of the great job the organizers did?
I am impressed by all the work the organizers put into preparing everything before the event. Everything was well thought out, and we had great locations and great food all around. And whenever something unexpected happened during the event, it didn’t take long for it to be resolved by our quick Estonian organizers!

Maybe it was because of all of the great people that we had in our group?
Both organizers and participants. We had a perfect group. With these events one is always worried that you’re going to get small cliques or “ghettos”, but (and I know it sounds cheesy to say this) we were one big loving family full of crazy/fun people!

Maybe it was all of that and many other reasons that I am missing. I know that no blog post that I write could ever do justice to this event, or at least the way I perceived it. If you, dear reader, have not experienced anything like this, and it sounds even remotely interesting, I recommend you to not rely just on my story, and go ahead and go on Summer University yourself! Only then you will really understand all the feelings I’m trying to transmit here!

HRTC – Unleash Unknown Talents! in AEGEE-Passau

By: Maria Olmann


From 12th to 15th January I was lucky enough to be a participant of a regional training course on human resources delivered by two trainers, Andrea Schmelz and Svenja van der Tol, from AEGEE Human Resources Commitee (HRC).

This was my first european event in AEGEE and also my first time travelling all alone, so naturally I was really nervous and excited about the whole thing. It took two planes, a bus and a train to get to Passau, which is a lovely city in Germany that shares a boarder with Austria. I made the mistake of thinking „Oh, my plane leaves at 5 in the morning, so I’ll just save on cab money and take the last bus to the airport and hang out there for .. 5 hours.“ I came to quickly regret that decision as pulling all-nighters and feeling completely ok the next day is clearly a thing in the past for me. My „hangout time“ and whole journey was full of barely 20-minute nap-teases which only made me even sleepier.

When I arrived as one of the first people, I strongly considered skipping the city tour for early birds for a good 3-hour nap, which thankfully I didn’t, because the tour was amazing (and holy god how slippery, after the rain froze!) I got plenty of beautiful pictures of the city and saw the famous place where the three rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz become one.


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The organizers greeted us with colorful muffins and really cute welcome bags full of useful stuff. We had Bavarian themed dinner which was delicious even for a vegetarian-ish person like me and the amazing cooking continued throughout the event. We then played some get-to-know games and visited a student pub.

The next day started off with intense and really inspiring HR trainings, we had a lot of discussions in a big group but were also divided into working groups for case studies. Each working group was given a fictional AEGEE antenna with some HR trouble and we tried to help them with our new HR knowledge after each session. My AEGEE-Kartoffelpuffer team was really thorough with great teamwork and many different ideas, I really enjoyed working on the case studies with my group.

Second night we had European Night and read the gossip box which was already kinda full, as one participant pretty much adopted it and was encouraging everyone to contribute to it. So my first European Night rocked, we had impromptu snow fights in the middle of it and everyone was awesome.

After a long day of trainings by the best trainers and an interesting guest speaker from a successful start-up, we had a 2000’s themed party together with Erasmus students. Needless to say it was amazing dancing with these lovely participants and organizers, many of who took the time to look stunning in their themed outfits. The next day I had to leave earlier than the programme ended, but I received so many nice letters, goodbyes and plans to meet again, I was ecstatic, motivated and deeply sad to leave at the same time. Passau, you were truly so much more than expected ❤.


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