Following the example of Fernando, here you find the experience of Belén García, also a member of AEGEE-León, in her Summer University. This time, it is written in English, if you are thinking about going to SU you must start practicing this language. Continue reading and enjoy with her words.
–Did you know AEGEE before going to Summer University?: I first knew of AEGEE at the SU advertising meeting. I read that email: “travel around Europe, 2 weeks, 200€, with other young people from European countries”. My first thought was: ‘this is impossible, where’s the trick?’. In fact, when I finally decided to try it, I chose The Netherlands as I thought it was a safe country just in case I had to run away hahaha.
-What summer did you chose?: I went to AEGEE-Groningen’s SU: Paint the sky with a spark of Dutch creativity. Creativity was the main theme.
-Why do you joined AEGEE?: I joined AEGEE to go on a SU but I have to say now I was so ignorant about AEGEE back then. Summer Universities are not even the beginning of what AEGEE means and does. This is something you learn with time. It’s very difficult to explain all what AEGEE has to offer in a 30-minutes-meeting, even with more time. It’s too much information to understand so quickly. I say this from the perspective of the impatient person I am. There are so many fields to work with in AEGEE that you just need time to learn about them and to see how they work.
–Why did you choose this destination? What was its topic?: I chose Groningen for many reasons. I’ve already said one, safety. But the most important ones were that I love the Netherlands and I felt this was a great way to get into the real society of the country and not just travel as a tourist. This SU is different to the others as you stay in AEGEE members’ house, which, to me, was a nice way to get into Dutch lifestyle and gave me the opportunity to meet people out of AEGEE as well. I also chose it because of the main theme: Creativity. It was a Summer Course, what means a lot of workshops, so it was important to me to find those interesting.
-Was the selection process difficult?: To be honest, I didn’t find it very difficult. At first I was sure they will never choose me. I heard other people talking about the funny videos they were doing, other organizers they knew from many antennas who would surely choose them and so on. I didn’t know where to start or what to do to get chosen so I just did a letter expressing my real feelings, how I love to travel and why would I be a good participant. The key is finding a way to show you are different and funny but that’s not easy at all. I just wrote a letter trying to be funny, original and telling my truth. The day after the deadline to send the letters, I got my confirmation email. I couldn’t believe it!
– Can you make a summary of your 15 days of SU?: There’s no way I can resume all the adventures lived every day I was there. I met fabulous people, getting to know them more and more every day with their different cultures, points of view and ways of life which always make you learn. After a few days we stop being embarrassed and so we start doing the most stupid things and the craziest parties. We learned a lot about Europe as well. Discussing themes from every country’s point of view and we also learned we are very similar as well as so different what makes us part of this “Europe project”. I especially liked the weekend in Schiermonnikoog, a little island which seemed taken out of a dream. Every place you looked at was just perfect, but maybe with the eyes of the excitement everywhere in the summer looked like that.
-Tell us an anecdote about what can happen in a SU: What I loved of my SU is that I lived in a house with Dutch people and had my own bike, so I felt totally Dutch there. Maybe this is not the best story to tell, but is one that shows how kind and understanding can be the organizers as they are people like you. Some people of the group went to a friend’s house to drink before going out. As it was in the other side of the city I took my bike to go and when coming back to the city-centre I thought it wasn’t a good idea to ride so my friend borrowed the bike. At some point I turned around and I saw the wheel out of the bike! I freaked out, but a very nice lady in the street fixed it easily and we get normally to the city centre and that seemed to be all, but when I got back home at the end of the night the bike wasn’t working as usual so I crashed with a traffic signal and I flew over the bike. I was immediately worried about having broken the bike as it wasn’t mine so I checked carefully everything was in its place and luckily it was. Or that I thought in the confusion of the night. The next morning when I saw the bike again I really freaked out this time. It was completely trashed, the wheel was an 8, cables broken everywhere. What would I do? How would I explain it? Luckily, the bike didn’t have an owner. It had been found in the street and had been fixed to the SU but I learned the lesson: Don’t drive if you are drunk, don’t let drunken people ride your bike.
-What is what makes this experience different?: The perfect word to define this experience is different. It’s different because you do everything you expect from a travel without having to look for it. You get to know the country from the inside while you discover other cultures as well. You do new activities and share them with people you would never forget. You surely see them again as you are now part of the AEGEE family which always holds your back and gives you a bed everywhere you go. Once you travel this way, the other experiences feel just boring. It’s also good for you the fact that you go alone, as you learn how to manage this situation, getting to know people is suddenly easy to you and you practice your language skills.
I will never forget those days. How this people treated me. How I felt and feel part of something big. Because AEGEE is not just about party, but also about learning and sharing opinions and strategies which may change our countries in the future. This was my first trip with AEGEE and my trips from now on will never be the same.
Belén García Álvarez