Sugar & Spice in the Netherlands
Dutch culture was the focus of the Travelling Summer University “Secret AEGEEnts: Sugar, spies and everything nice”. It was organised by AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede from 1 to 15 July 2019.
GT: What was your Summer University about?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: Our Summer University was about being a true Secret AEGEEnt; an undercover member of this European association. The participants had to learn what it truly entails to become a local; truly integrating in Dutch student culture.
GT: How many participants and how many organisers did you have?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: We had 21 participants and 13 organisers: 6 from Amsterdam and 7 from Enschede. So our participants definitely had enough bodyguards to survive the dangers of The Netherlands.
GT: What were the greatest thematic programme highlights of the SU?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: All participants quite enjoyed all thematic sessions, such as the Youth Development workshop Desiree gave, but the excursions are more what comes to mind thinking about thematic highlights. The participants became true Dutchies while sniffing in the air of the countryside at the Zaanse Schans and sailing the canals of Utrecht. They have learned each other’s culture through the “Perform-your-neighbour’s-culture” session, learned how to become a true Dutch student at the Student culture session and last but not least learned how to cycle in The Netherlands. We cycled all the way to Oldenzaal, we hung out inside of a bell tower! Some participants made some enchanting chimes and Oldenzaal is now transformed into the city that can never sleep.
GT: What were the funniest or most exciting moments?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: The funniest moments were every time we opened the gossip box before dinner; all participants truly loved it! It became funnier when the jokes were repeated daily and everyone knew what was coming, making it possible to then make gossips relying on those in-jokes to go a step further. Moreover, the participants really got the hang of the “icing” tradition, where you hide a bottle of Smirnoff Ice and the lucky one who found the bottle had to chug it!
The week in Amsterdam also had the European night. All the participants prepared their traditional tables. It was all incredibly delicious! One of the most exciting moments could be the travel from Amsterdam to Enschede, as we set the participants on course to hitchhike to Enschede. We had Bart, our overly enthusiastic organiser, telling everyone that is was “soooo easy” to hitchhike in the Netherlands. This was far from the case for most participants, despite it normally actually being quite easy. They laugh and joke about it now, but at the time it was quite frustrating. BTW: did you know that Utrecht was on the way to Enschede? We did not think so… Not pointing any fingers of course.
The week in Enschede began with “quite the tame” activity: a beer cantus. All participants sang songs and performed some weird tasks; overall an amazing evening, with loads of beer and amazing songs.
We’d like to end with one of the most memorable moments. In the last night everyone gathered round for one last time for the white T-shirt party, though with orange T-shirts. They were writing goodbyes on each other’s T-shirts, icing each other one last time and watched the campfire until the fire had fully died. Our participants had become true spies in Dutch student culture, but more importantly they became friends. See you all somewhere in Europe!
GT: How was the group of participants? How did you manage to integrate them?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: We had the loveliest participant group a Dutchy could dream of! They participated within all mandatory courses with true enthusiasm and we are quite the happy bunch! The participants were all quite diverse, but that is also what made this group such a special mixture. From party animals to sleeping beauties, from booze bringers to tea sippers; we had them all!
GT: How was the cooperation in the team? Any special moment you would mention here?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: We all had a well-functioning team. Everyone had their own essential task. I think we bonded the most in the second week, which was in Enschede, when the team was finally complete: cycling tipsy participants, searching for missing items, preparing breakfast, hiding from the caterpillars… Maybe the most memorable moment was the session where we taught the participants about Sinterklaas and exchanged gifts! It was great to watch!
GT: How was the romance factor of the SU? Where there many couples and what were the highlights from the gossip box?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: We had a couple forming during this SU, as well as the occasional hook-ups, but it was not as romance filled as the sitcoms you watch on your Friday nights. We cannot classify this SU as a Summer fling romance, nor was it equal to the chaos of a night at the Jersey Shore. But maybe more happened than we actually thought: maybe our participants have become true spies and did everything in secret: we may never know…The participant’s room was called the Boom Boom Room after all…
The greatest gossip from our gossip box would have to be about the often rather explicit “gayness” of the male organisers, even as they were reading the gossips themselves; they truly loved one another! Organisers for best couple?
GT: How successful was the SU overall?
AEGEE-Amsterdam and AEGEE-Enschede: Our participants have become true spies over the past two weeks. They have become a group of close friends with a wealth of in-jokes they continued to laugh about. It has been a week since the SU ended and the Whatsapp group is still alive and kicking; I think that’s quite the sign to say that this SU was successful overall!