Experience story

NWM Le Mans

NWM Le Mans

Esimene kuni neljas märts toimus Prantsusmaal, Le Mans’is Network Meeting fookusega inimressurssidel. Kuna olin (olen) AEGEE’s võrdlemisi uus ning tegu oli ka esimese rahvusvahelise üritusega, siis ootused olid kõrged, aga täpselt ei teadnud mida oodata – Network Meeting. Teadsin mida sõnad eraldiseisvalt tähendasid, aga kombinatsioonina ei suutnud millegiga seostada. Mis seal ikka, üldine arusaam oli olemas, registreerun ära, küll kohapeal detailid selguvad.

Natukese aja möödudes saabus meil – minu jaoks oli kohti jagunud ning nad arvestavad nüüd minu tulekuga. Mõtlesin, et ok, nice. Oh wait, tegevus toimub ju Prantsusmaal, peaks vist logistikaga tegelema. Long story short olin üks hetk Tallinna lennujaamas lennukil ning off I went.

Üksinda reisimine kaugemale kui Tallinn-Tartu oli minu jaoks võrdlemisi uus kogemus ning kõigile kes pole seda veel teinud, soovitan soojalt – õpetab iseennast usaldama. Teisisõnu võitsin iseseisvalt lahingu kõigepealt Pariisi ühistranspordi, mitmekorruseliste kiirrongide ning prantslastega, kes olid veendunud, et Le Mans hääldub Le Ma.

Lingvistiliste seikluste kiuste jõudsin oma sihtpunkti – Le Mansi. Tegu on Prantsusmaa mastaabis väiksema linnaga ning seetõttu on tegu fantastiliselt maalilise kohaga – sõbralikud inimesed, laiuvad maastikud ning kompaktne ja armas (vana)linn.

Peale lühikest jalutuskäiku ning korduvat Google Mapsiga konsulteerimist sain kokku ülejäänud grupiga, kes kõik särasid omamoodi. Järgnes linnatuur, majutusega tutvumine ning suht kohe väikese AEGEE põhimõtete meeldetuletusega ja juba oligi õhtu käes ning peale jää lõhkujaid sain esimest korda kahe päeva jooksul silma looja lasta. Peale tugevat mitmetunnist magamist saabuski märkamatult teine päev, mis tõi endaga kaasa AEGEE Euroopa tasandi ülesehituse meeldetuletus (ehk minu jaoks suht uute teadmiste omandamine) ja ka Network Meetingu põhiteema, kuidas muuta liikmete elukaar AEGEE’s võimalikult huvitavaks ning sujuvaks – teisisõnu HR ning värbamine. Värbamisest rääkides, kui Sa pole veel AEGEE liige ning loed neid blogisid, et liitumist prokrastineerida, then just do, you’ll love it. After official content, came dinner in the old town, spontaneous Tinder date, and a social program, which was really great. So great in fact, that me and one other participant kinda slept in and missed one discussion part. See kõrvale jättes, tõi kolmas päev kaasa arutelu ürituste korraldamise ning üleüldiste tavade kohta eri localites, kus sai nii mõnigi uus ja huvitav idee kõrva taha pandud. Selgus, et see ongi Network Meetingute peamine võlu – üksteise vahel kogemuste jagamine ning vigu tegemata vigadest õppimine. Very cool.

Kolmanda päeva õhtul toimus müstiline European Night, kus, in essence, sai kogeda tükikest eri Euroopa kultuuridest ning sain osaleda AEGEE traditsioonides. Üksikasjadesse ei lasku, kuna seda etem kogeda kui lugeda.

Neljandal päeval arutlesime õpitu üle ning asusime koduteedele. Minek oli üllatavalt keerukas, kuna mõne päeva jooksul muutusid kõik liikmed väga lähedasteks ning nagu vanadeks tuttavateks (olgugi, et neist siin pikalt ei kirjutanud, siis olen väga tänulik kõigi osalejate kui ka korraldajate üle, kes muutsid selle kogemist väärt kogemuseks).

Cue another battle with french public transport ning kaks hilinenud lendu ning olingi tagasi Eestis.

Kokkuvõtteks julgustan kõiki Euroopa tasemel üritustel osalema, kuna näed märgatavalt rohkem eri inimeste ellusuhtumist ning õpid pikemast kogemustepagasist, kui mõni local on eksisteerinud.

Kirjutanud: Ivo Allas

Grow with the Flow – an unforgettable summer experience in Estonia

Grow with the Flow - an unforgettable summer experience in Estonia

Last August our SU team at AEGEE-Tartu organised a magnificent Summer University that took participants on a unique journey focused on mental resilience, blending personal development with a deep dive into Estonian culture. From partying in the bustling cities of Tartu and Tallinn to enjoying the calm greenery of Estonian forests, participants from all around Europe got a real taste of Estonia. 

Through the eyes of our dear participants Isabel from Spain and Davide from Italy along with our lovely Dutch helper Loes, we offer you a little peek into the wonderful moments that made this Summer University truly memorable.

Why did you choose an SU organised in Estonia? 

 

Isabel: It’s a country that I didn’t know before but seemed really interesting and full of nature. Also, pictures looked amazing when I searched online and I loved the theme of the SU. 

Davide: The fact that Estonia was the northernmost SU was definitely one of my considerations. It was the second time moving to the North to run away from the heat of Italy. What made me choose Estonia the most, however, was the topic of mental health and the possibility to explore Estonian nature, something that I had never seen before. As Estonia is on the edge of Europe, I saw it as an opportunity to witness something completely different from Italy and other places in Europe. Also, people suggested that I come to Estonia because they had had a really good time here. 

Loes: I wanted to help organise an SU, and I had been to the A-Tartu SU as a participant the year before. I liked that SU and Estonia itself a lot, so I figured I’d offer my help here. :]

What surprised you the most about Estonia and its culture while attending the SU? Did it confirm or contradict the knowledge or assumptions you had before the SU?

 

Isabel: I really enjoyed learning about the history of the country like the influence of atheism and technological development while at the same time there’s a lot of nature. The heat in the summer contradicted my assumptions but I was really happy to get to know Estonia more in depth.

Davide: I would say that Estonians (or at least the people I met) are not as “cold” as people say. What really took me by surprise, however, was that the supermarket prices are much higher than in Italy. But at the same time, I felt that while I was in Tartu and Räpina life was more relaxed when compared to Italy. In Tartu, specifically, I was surprised in a positive way about the wooden buildings next to our accommodation where young families live to save money. They’ve built a tight-knit community to support each other and this was really heartwarming to see. Oh, and I made a quirky discovery – there is a street named “Meloni”, which amusingly reminded me of the Italian Prime Minister.

Loes: No real surprises. Everything I experienced was in line with what I had encountered on my previous visits to Estonia.

A peek into our adventures in Tartu: exploring the city and its surroundings, having fun at the pub crawl and European Night, and so much more

Throughout the SU, you had the chance to visit different places around Estonia. Which of these was your favourite and why?

 

Isabel: I loved Tartu. It’s a vibrant city with a student atmosphere and some interesting places apart from picturesque locations. I loved the days we spent there as I wasn’t sure what to expect and I loved what I found like the river beach and the city centre.

Davide: In Tartu, I enjoyed the quiet situation, not like Tallinn with a lot of traffic. There’s also a lot of greenery that you can enjoy, you can lie down on the grass and make a connection with nature. But if I had to choose my favourite place it would be Räpina because it was like staying in a private happy bubble. It felt like nature was protecting us from modernity and artificiality – just caring and taking time for ourselves, trying to love each other more. I loved the house of Saskia’s grandmother in particular. 

Loes: Probably Hundisaare/Räpina since I love being in nature, and campfire evenings.

The theme of our SU was mental resilience. What was the greatest lesson you learnt about this topic that you would like to apply in your everyday life?

 

Isabel: To stop and think about what is the best way to solve things and not to be so hard on myself.

Davide: I would say the meditation workshop – taking 5-15 minutes for myself, using chill music, sitting down in a proper way, breathing deeply, thinking about the memories of a person that I miss, finding inner happiness, helping me to have trust and hope in the future, to be more positive and move away the negative energy. 

Loes: I still use what I learned in the workshops by Maret about introspection from time to time. 

What did you learn about yourself during the SU? Do you feel the experience changed you somehow?

 

Isabel: That I’m more resilient than what I thought and this has given me more strength and optimism. 

Davide: Like in other European events, learning a new part of yourself is one of the reasons I tell people why they should join AEGEE. It’s important to listen to others since they have a different point of view. In this way, you can understand and learn more about the others and their culture but also about yourself at the same time, so you could resolve problems and face difficult situations in a better way. Those are the kind of things that could help you become a richer person. 

Loes: That I still like organising these things :’)

In the deepest depths of the Estonian countryside in Räpina: foraging in emerald forests, dressing up for countless costume parties followed by bonfire nights, and of course – savouring a true Estonian sauna experience

What was the brightest or most memorable moment of the SU?

 

Isabel: I really liked spontaneously going to the river to fresh up after the dance workshops and playing with the mud and swimming.

Davide: The circle of memories in one of the last days where everyone was sharing what they loved the most during the event, talking about their feelings and happiness, seeing them crying. 

Loes: The mushroom/bog walk

What was the most unexpected moment of the SU?

 

Isabel: I didn’t expect the karaoke that was improvised in the accommodation and it was great.

Davide: The chemistry that was in the group, especially towards the end of the SU. 

Loes: The Italians with their carbonara hahaha

How would you describe our SU in five words?

 

Isabel: Self-knowledge, Resilience, Happiness, Friends, Culture

Davide: Relaxing, Adventurous, Different, In the nature, Inner peace

Loes: Slow, Warm, Adventurous, Magical, Personal

If you could compare our SU to any fictional world, which do you think would resemble it the most?

 

Isabel: Maybe Narnia. We went into lovely places which were an adventure to many of us and there we discovered how to be more resilient and kind of grew up personally apart from making great friendship bonds. 

Davide: I would say “Scrubs”. We spent a lot of time laughing and having fun, making jokes. Compared to other SUs, this one was more reflective, making you think more about our lives and how to improve ourselves, sharing moral messages and values. When I think of a story that makes me laugh but at the same time cry, I would say “Scrubs” all the time. 

Loes: The Shrek cinematic universe 🙂 I don’t just say that for the meme, so here’s why. Shrek is first and foremost a story about learning to accept yourself (and others) for who you really are, for both your strengths and your weaknesses. To love even the “ugly” parts of yourself and come to realise they were never ugly in the first place. But it’s also about finding strength and solace in the people around you, growing from your past, and deeply enjoying the small or simpler things in life. These are all lessons we either explicitly went into during workshops or people discussed of their own accord, or both! And I mean do I even have to explain the hut in the forest/swamp parallel??

Tallinn with all its delights: exploring the Old Town, having a mediaeval lunch, singing our hearts out at the karaoke, and ending the event with an emotional circle of memories

Why should everyone participate in an SU and what advice would you give them?

 

Isabel: Because it’s not an experience you can have in any other way and you treasure the moments you live in your heart and remember them with fondness, thinking about the laughs, the connections made, the emotional moments, the friendship and the amazing places you visited.

Davide: Meeting new people and friends, making awesome memories, visiting new places, exploring a new culture, living an adventure, leaving your comfort zone, trying to improve yourself, enjoying food, interacting with different people, learning how to manage other people.

Advice for Italians – be prepared to make carbonara. But in general – have no expectations, just go there and have no idea about what could happen. Try to speak with everyone, not all the time but say a few words like how are you. Try to be as active as you can and interact not only with the participants but also the organisers. Try to sleep at times such as train or bus rides. Read carefully the booklet the organisers send about the activities and preparation for the event.

Loes: It’s a great way to really get to know all kinds of people you might otherwise never meet, while also doing fun and educational activities. My advice would be to go in with an open attitude and not be afraid to try new things, and keep in mind that AEGEEans are very accepting people so don’t worry about being yourself. <3

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

Kümme augustipäeva Euroopa kõige tundmatumas riigis

Möödunud suve lõpus käisid AEGEE-Tartu liikmed Hanna Marrandi ja Ellen Leib Moldovas suveülikoolis. Miks suveülikoolis üldse osaleda ja milliseid meeldejäävaid kogemusi see pakub, kirjutab Hanna allolevas blogipostituses. Hannat küsitlesid Liisa Õunpuu ja Renata Kiilberg.

 

Mitmel AEGEE välisüritusel oled varem käinud? Miks otsustasid suveülikooli minna?

Olen käinud päris mitmel AEGEE välisüritusel (sain kokku lugedes 9-10, sõltub, kuidas välisüritust täpselt defineerida). Olen olnud liige 3,5 aastat ja selle aja jooksul külastanud tänu AEGEE-le Itaaliat, Türgit, Belgiat, Hollandit, Ungarit, Soomet, Lätit, Hispaaniat, Moldovat, Ukrainat, Saksamaad, Tšehhit ja Austriat ning mõnda neist riikidest ka mitu korda.

Moldovasse suveülikooli kandideerisin eelkõige sellepärast, et see tundus riik, millest keegi eriti midagi ei tea ja mu tutvusringkonnast polnud ka peaaegu keegi seal käinud. Suveülikoolis osalemine on turvaline viis uut sihtkohta näha, sest kohalikud hoolitsevad programmi eest, annavad näpunäiteid ja nii saab n-ö eksootilist riiki kogeda peaaegu kohalike silmade kaudu. Mind kõnetas ka kunstiteema, millele suveülikool keskenduma pidi, kuigi sellega me lõpuks eriti ei tegelenudki. Riiki nägime see-eest väga palju, sõitsime väikebussi ehk maršrutkaga peaaegu iga päev ringi ja jõudsime kohtadesse, kuhu lihtsalt turistina reisile minnes ilmselt ei satuks.

Ühe õhtu veetsime looduskaunis kohas jõe ääres telkides. Samal õhtul leidis aset ka European Night – tavaliselt iga AEGEE ürituse suurim pidu.

Kuidas selgitaksid suveülikooli 3 lausega inimesele, kes sellest veel palju ei tea?

Kõige lihtsamalt saab suveülikooli olemuse kokku võtta öeldes, et see on nagu suvelaager noortele täiskasvanutele. Ainult et korraldajad on ka meievanused noored ja tegevused on sageli mitmekesisemad (et mitte öelda ekstreemsemad). Suveülikooli minnes ole valmis unetuteks öödeks, lugematul hulgal kogemusteks ja üleüldiseks toimivaks kaoseks.

Milline on eredaim mälestus, mis sul esimesena suveülikoolist meenub? Miks just see?

Kümnepäevases kogemustevirvarris oli muidugi palju meeldejäävaid hetki. Üks suveülikooli erilisemaid mälestusi on kindlasti päev, mil meile korraldati traditsiooniline Moldova pulm. Sõitsime pealinnast umbes tunnise maršrutkasõidu kaugusele Lozova külla, kus meie kolmekümnepealist seltskonda võõrustas kohalik inglise keele õpetaja. Tema koduses väliköögis läks lahti tohutu pirukaküpsetamine. Saime kõik käed jahuseks ja üllatuslikult tulid lõpuks ahjust välja täiesti söödavad plăcinted! Seejärel võtsime enda seast loosiga pruutpaari, nende vanemad ja ristivanemad. Loosiga valitud inimesed said endale selga kohalikele kommetele vastavad pidurõivad. Tuppa oli kogu seltskonnale kaetud pikk laud. Kõik oleks olnud suurepärane, kui mõned tunnid enne Lozovasse jõudmist poleks meid viidud teeäärsesse Armeenia restorani lõunat sööma. Pulmapeo alguseks oli selge, et oleksime pidanud lõunased grillitud köögiviljad vahele jätma, kuna saime neist toidumürgituse. Seetõttu oligi nii, et kui osa seltskonnast tõstis laua ääres toosti või keerutas hiljem hoovis lõbusasti pulmatantse, jooksid teised tualeti vahet või istusid hapu näoga diivanil reas. Meeldejääv pulmapidu oli see igaljuhul, pooltele meist küll mitte väga lõbusatel põhjustel! Õnneks haigestusime suveülikooli paaril viimasel päeval, nii et midagi tegemata ega nägemata sellepärast eriti ei jäänud.

Meie jaoks korraldatud pulmapidu Lozova külakeses.

Kas ja kuidas suveülikoolis osalemine sind muutis? Või mida ägedat enda kohta õppisid?

Iga reis õpetab inimesele kõige rohkem tema enda kohta, aga ma ei oska öelda, kas suveülikool mind inimesena muutis. Pigem vormis mind veel rohkem iseendaks. Õppisin oma põhimõtetele kindlaks jääma ja materiaalselt vähesega toime tulema. Sain kinnitust, et olen vastupidav ning saan igas olukorras hakkama, kui vaja!

Kunstiteemalise suveülikooli tegelikult ainus kunstiline tegevus oli pikale valgele seinale Euroopa riikide sümbolite maalimine. Siin võite näha, mille me Eestit esindama valisime.

Millist nõu annaksid inimestele, kellel on tulevikus soov mõnes suveülikoolis kaasa lüüa?

Mõtle hoolega läbi, mida suveülikoolilt ootad: kas selleks on läbimõeldud programm ja kasulikud töötoad või tahad eelkõige teises riigis pidutseda ja uusi tutvuseid sõlmida. Mõnes riigis on rõhk esimesel (nt Saksamaa, Holland), teises riigis aga eelistatakse vabamat õhkkonda (tavaliselt Lõuna-Euroopas). Seega leiab suveülikoolide pikast nimekirjas midagi igale maitsele, tuleb lihtsalt teada, kuhu ja milleks sa minemas oled. Tee eeltööd: loe enne kandideerimist läbi suveülikooli kirjeldus ja vajadusel pea nõu mõne vanema AEGEE liikmega, kel on suveülikoolides käimise või nende korraldamise kogemust rohkem.

Kas on midagi, mida kahetsed?

Kahetsen, et mõnda eriti toredat suveülikoolis osalenud inimest tihedamini ei näe! Kahjuks on see AEGEE-elu paratamatus, et üritustel sõlmitud sõprussidemed on sageli pausil kuni järgmise välisürituseni, kus jälle kokku satutakse. Seda suurem on siis aga jällenägemisrõõm!

Stiilinäide kohalikust arhitektuurist.

Midagi, mida tahaksid lisada?

Kuigi Moldovat on nimetatud nii Euroopa kõige vähemkülastatud riigiks kui Euroopa kõige igavamaks riigiks, soovitan ma suveülikooli kogemuse põhjal eelarvamusi mitte tõena võtta ja koht ikka ise üle vaadata. See kehtib nii Moldovasse mineku kohta kui reisimise kohta üleüldiselt. Ja lisaks veel: inimesed kahetsevad enamasti neid asju, mida nad ei teinud, mitte neid, mida nad tegid. Kui on võimalus reisida, siis tuleb seda ära kasutada! AEGEE liikmetel neid võimalusi jagub.

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! 

Tarthoven’s fabulous trip to Malta

AEGEE-Tartu and Eindhoven are back from their joint trip to Malta, happy and relaxed. Kertu, member of A-Tartu since October, wrote an overview of her first AEGEE trip and Tarthoven event!

It was a cold and snowy Wednesday evening in Estonia when seven people from AEGEE-Tartu + Diederik from Tallinn and an unexpected Valter met at Tallinn Airport to fly to Malta for a trip with our twin antenna AEGEE-Eindhoven. The flight went by quickly and after 4 hours we arrived in Malta where everyone was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the air even at night. A transfer took us to our hostel in Sliema that also did not disappoint ‒ it used to be a 4-star hotel so everything was very fancy for hostel standards + we got and extra room + balconies with sea view.

After inspecting the wonders of our accommodation, we went to a bar to meet up with Eindhoven people, where the introducing and small talk began. A somewhat interesting observation was that AEGEE-Tartu crew consisted of mostly girls while AEGEE-Eindhoven group had a lot of guys with just one girl. After a few hours and drinks the bar closed and it was time to get a short but well-needed rest.

Thursday morning came very quickly and we had to get ready for a full day of exploring Valletta, the capital of Malta. We had a supermarket breakfast and then it was time to get on a boat to Valletta. Sliema, the town where we stayed, and Valletta are separated by a small bay and the boat ride only took a few minutes. In Valletta we walked around the city and saw some of the sights. There were narrow streets, sandstone buildings with colourful closed balconies and great sea views. The views are actually the thing I’ll remember Malta by ‒ it’s a small island with a hilly landscape so pretty much everywhere you look, there are stunning sea views. In Valletta we went to the Barrakka Gardens that offered great scenery and also heard a loud bang which apparently happens twice a day as a salute is fired from the Saluting Battery.

After this we had lunch in the city centre, I had a Maltese club sandwich that marked the beginning of my mostly bread consisting diet in Malta. Traditional Maltese cuisine for example consists of different pastries, fish, sausages, rabbit meat, sheep’s cheeses. However, the restaurants we went to were more touristy where pizza and pasta were the most affordable options. Still, I’m not complaining as bread is my favorite food group anyway and I also didn’t miss the rabbit meat. After lunch in Valletta we kind of separated into groups and eventually found our way back to Sliema. In the hostel we had a nice hang on the balcony and in the evening went out to dinner in St. Julians, a town a 15-minute bus ride away from the hostel that is known for its nightlife. After dinner, a few who were more tired went back to the hostel while the others had a wild night partying in St. Julians.

On Friday we took a bus and drove about an hour south to visit the caves called Blue Grotto, a popular tourist attraction and rightfully so. I mean the VIEWS. The whole scenery with the perfect blue water and caves and nothing else than sea on the horizon was pretty great. Then we walked a while to visit Ħaġar Qim, a megalithic temple complex that is among the most ancient religious sites on Earth, dating from 3600-3200 BC. After lunch me and some of the Tartu crew decided to climb/walk down a cliff to touch the sea. Even though it took a while and seemed a bit dangerous at times, it was all worth it in the end because well – views and it also turned out to be a great instagram photo location. After we got all our pics and realised that we had 20 minutes until the bus leaves, it wasn’t that fun anymore. We had to walk up twice as fast and in the end run to make it to the bus.

The bus took us to another town, Mdina which was the capital until the medieval times. More fun facts are that it’s surrounded by city walls and called the Silent City partly because no cars are allowed, also some of Game of Thrones was filmed there. We had dinner in Mdina and after took a bus back that makes so many stops that it takes an hour to drive 15 km. The day finished and another started with a hostel room hang and we had to say goodbye to Eindhoven people as they were leaving in the morning.

On the last day we didn’t have anything planned so some of us decided to go hiking on the north coast of Malta. Being on the coast, there were obviously ‒ you guessed it ‒ great views and walking a total of 20000 steps up several hills felt like a pretty good workout. You could also see the 2 other islands of Malta – Comino and Gozo from there. In the evening we met up with the whole Tartu crew, had a nice dinner and finished off the trip with a karaoke bar. Got a full hour of sleep before going to the airport and so the journey back home began.

The thing I realised during this trip was that for someone like me, who doesn’t speak English often, it can be quite difficult to hold a fluent discussion and on the spot come up with the right terms in English. At times I quite literally felt lost for words and youtube-famous phrases like “You like to cook a food?” weren’t that far from slipping into my conversations. So obviously that is something I need to work on and hopefully life (or AEGEE) will give me some opportunities to practice and develop my language skills.

All in all, it was an awesome trip with great weather and company. Malta was beautiful, 10/10 would recommend. Special thanks to Karin, who organised it for the Tartu group and all the Eindhoven people who put together the itinerary and always seemed to know where we were going.

A message from our twin in Eindhoven!

We have mail! The board of our twin-antenna in Eindhoven has something to tell you.

Dear members of AEGEE-Tartu,

Some of you may not be aware that AEGEE-Eindhoven is your twin-antenna since the Agora in Krakow. We, your board and our board, feel that that should change and we should provide a little glimpse into each others antenna. To start with some history, AEGEE-Eindhoven was founded on November 22nd 1989.

We have around 160 members, but it changes a lot. We have people who only go on Summer Universities, those who only go on exchanges during the year and those who we can find at every drink. It doesn’t matter if they are old or new members, all of them bring something special to AEGEE-Eindhoven. Even though we are situated at the campus of the Technical University in Eindhoven, we have members that go to different schools or they find us before we have found them.

We feel the AEGEE spirit should always be kept high and members should be aware of everything that goes on in Eindhoven but also the other cities where an AEGEE antenna can be found, that is why we have our mascot on Facebook. Our mascot is called Willem de Plant and no he was not fictional. Unfortunately, he died during our rehousing two years ago when we had to move from our beloved place (that the current board has only had the pleasure of seeing twice). But we are currently in the process of getting a baby Willem because we were successful in stealing an essential part at the constitution drink of one of the associations in Eindhoven. Why a baby Willem you may ask. Well, the current boards consist of people who have been a member of AEGEE since September 2017, so babies in some aspects of AEGEE.

Eindhoven is known for its design hub and technology, Philips originates from here. That is why every year during November the light art festival GLOW is organized. This year there are 35 light installations by national and international artists connected via a walking route. GLOW is well known in the Netherlands, people from all places come to see it with their friends, family or children. We as AEGEE-Eindhoven want to share that experience with other AEGEEans. That is why we organize a GLOW exchange each year. This year we decided to invite the Nedertop to join us when walking the route.

Last year was the boards (minus Wouter) first year of being a part of AEGEE. We had many events including a couple of exchanges. Our trip to Gdansk was probably one of our most memorable events. The group we went with consisted of old and new members but was also bigger than it had been before on exchanges.

This year our plans range a bit in nature. We want to clean up some mistakes and the two most important things for us are our members and our connection to other AEGEE locals. We want to acquire new members and make them active by listening to what they want. So there is more participation and a good basis of events that form the core of our association and broaden out from there with introducing different things AEGEE has to offer. Furthermore, we want to do events with other AEGEE locals, some close by such as AEGEE-Tilburg but also with AEGEE-Tartu of course.

AEGEE is not just an association, it is life.

Love,

The XXX-board of Association des États Généraux des Étudients de l’Europe Eindhoven

Agoralt tagasi, agaralt edasi

AEGEE üldkoosolekust Istanbulis on möödunud mõni nädal, ent muljed organisatsiooni suurimalt ürituselt on veel värsked. Meie liige Hanna Marrandi annab oma Türgi-kogemusest põgusa, ent põneva ülevaate.

Kas tahaksid pidutseda laeval keset Bosporuse väina, jõuda ühe päeva jooksul nii Aasiasse kui Euroopasse ja magada mitu ööd maa-aluses betoonist autoparklas? Pigem mitte? Või siiski? Olgu kuidas on, Istanbulis 2.-7. oktoobril toimunud Agoral oli see kõik igatahes võimalik.

Selgituseks neile, kes AEGEE mitmekesise terminoloogiaga tuttavad ei ole Agora nime kannab üldkoosolek, mida peetakse kaks korda aastas ja kuhu tuleb üle Euroopa kokku 600-800 AEGEE liiget, et võtta koos vastu organisatsiooni puudutavaid otsuseid, viibida heas seltskonnas ja tunda rõõmu eurooplaseks olemisest. 2018. aasta sügisene Agora toimus Istanbulis, Türgis ning kandis alapealkirjaKaks kontinenti, üks Agora.”

Mida me seal üldse tegime?

AEGEE-Tartu saatis üldkoosolekule kokku kuus osalejat, kellest kolm (Mari, Karin ja Sonja) olid delegaadid. Seega oli neil kolmel ka suurem vastutus, tuli osaleda pritanniumites ning hääletada istungitel. Minul ja teistel külastajatel oli vaba aega veidi rohkem. Seda võis kasutada 20 miljoni elanikuga metropoliga tutvumiseks (eeldusel, et viitsisid iga päev poolteist tundi metrooga kesklinna sõita) või töötubades osalemiseks. Muidugi oli ka külastajaid, kes kogu ametlikul osal kohal olid. Töötubades sai arendada erinevaid sotsiaalseid oskusi, näiteks võis saada rohkem teada emotsionaalsest intelligentsusest, debateerida, õppida kriise lahendama või olema parem juht. Igal õhtul toimusid temaatilised peod, mis olid mõeldud kõigile osalejatele ning mis garanteerisid lõbusa tuju ja kroonilise magamatuse. Hommikul kell seitse pandi parklas äratusmuusika mängima nii kõvasti kui vähegi võimalik ja nii said ülesse ka need, kes alles paar tundi tagasi uinunud olid.

Kestliku arengu eesmärgid

Üks Agora päev oli pühendatud kestliku arengu eesmärkidele. Hommikul kandsid inspireerivad inimesed ette TED-konverentsi stiilis lühikesi kõnesid. Kõnepidajate seas oli näiteks ka AEGEE-Tartu auliige ja koolitaja Kadri Kalle, kes rääkis maailmakoristuspäevast World Cleanup Day”. Tundus, et prügikoristuspäev läks aegeelastele korda, sest Kadri Kalle pälvis üllatavalt entusiastliku aplausi. Samal pärastlõunal jagati osalejad gruppidesse ja viidi erinevate Istanbuli vaatamisväärsuste juurde. Algselt pidid ka tuurid olema kuidagi kestliku arenguga seotud, aga lõpuks juhtus nii, et kesklinna jõudes olid kõigil kõhud tühjad ja läksime hoopis kebabi sööma ja airani jooma. Kohalikke hõrgutisi tarbides kulus aeg ruttu ja nii ei jäänudki ekskursiooniks eriti aega, jooksime kähku Galata torni juurest läbi ja pikka juttu keegi ei rääkinud.

Istanbul on linn kahe maailma vahel ja kultuurilist mitmekesisust oli ka linnapildis tunda. Ühest küljest oli pea igas kvartalis oma mošee ning kindlatel kellaaegadel kõlas üle kogu linna palvekutsung, teisalt oli kogu õhkkond tervikuna pigem kosmopoliitne. Heledapäised naisterahvad said linnas liikudes küll ehk soovitust rohkem uudishimulikke pilke, aga tõsistest probleemidest kuulda ei olnud.

Uued ja vanad tutvused

Agoral võetakse AEGEE täieõiguslikeks antennadeks vastu ka seniseid kontaktantennasid ning esimest korda pika aja jooksul AEGEE võrgustik kasvas, mitte ei kahanenud. Näiteks astusid sammu AEGEE antenna-redelil edasi Kopenhaagen ja Angers, Antalya staatus muutus aga kontaktantennast täisantennaks. Alati on ju tore, kui tekib juurde potentsiaalseid uusi tuttavaid. Saime Agoral suhteid luua ja soojendada ka Tartu kaksikantenna Eindhoveni liikmetega. Suhtlesime muidugi ka tallinlastega, näiteks pakkusime Euroopa õhtul koos Eesti laua taga soovijatele Vana Tallinna ja kartulivahvleid ning seitsmekohalise taksoga sõites juhtus isegi nii, et enamik reisijatest olid eestlased tekkis väike Eesti maffia, mida AEGEE välisüritustel just tihti ei juhtu.

Mis jääb meelde

Usun, et paljude osalejate jaoks oli üks Agora kõrghetki viimasel õhtul toimunud paadipidu. Sõitsime renditud linnaliinibussidega kai äärde (itaallased laulsid/röökisid kogu bussisõiduks kulunud kolmveerandtunni), möödusime kalameestest ning sisenesime lõbusõidulaeva, mis oli selleks õhtuks meie päralt. Tantsisime tuledesäras laeval keset lahte kahe kontinendi vahel kuni kella kolmeni öösel. Ülemiselt tekilt kallati alumisele otse soovijate suhu kihisevat. Lõpuks naksus kogu põrand mitmesaja inimese higist või maha tilgutatud alkoholist. Muidugi sõitis meie järel politseipaat, nii igaks juhuks. Kui tagasi kaldale jõudsime, polnud kalamehed oma kohalt liikunudki. Magama saime vastu hommikut.

Tänuväärt algatusena paluti Agoral osalejatel kaasa võtta oma tass, et vähendada ühekordsete topside kasutamist. Enamik osalejaid oli seda ka teinud, kuid samas sai kohapeal ikkagi ka plastiktopse osta ning samuti jagati igaks lõuna- ja õhtusöögiks vahtplastist toidualused. Vähemalt oli mõte hea ning suund on kätte näidatud, loodetavasti järgmisel Agoral suudab AEGEE oma ökoloogilist jalajälge veelgi vähendada. Hoiame pöialt!

Igatahes on rõõm näha, et niivõrd suur organisatsioon nagu AEGEE peab keskkonnahoidu ja jätkusuutlikku arengut tähtsaks ning nende teemade üle arutleti ka Agoral. Tulevik tundub ilus!