What is it that you expect from an AEGEE Summer University (SU)? Lots of fun? New people? Party till sunrise? If it includes traveling, then in addition to all before mentioned there also come crazy bus rides and amazing railroad crossings. This, however, was not your typical Summer University. It is true, we had it all, but not quite as you would imagine. The “I BIKE” SU by AEGEE -Koln and AEGEE-Düsseldorf had a German biking twist to it.
For me AEGEE is about trying new things, trying to be someone new and falling in love with things you would never have tried otherwise. When planning this event, the organisers just had a simple idea – “Let’s do a bike tour!”. Even though none of them had ever done a biking tour themselves, they surely were brave enough to not only do it themselves, but to inspire 19 other people to join them and hopefully survive.
Amazingly enough, we all made it back home alive and well with memories and emotions overflowing while dancing on our bikes to the music of the passing boat. Let’s keep in mind that we all did travel through Germany, so one should not be surprised that we did our best to be as eco-friendly as possible. Sustainability! That’s what we were aiming at. This meant crossing fields and fields of solar panels, seeing the human size of the wind turbines, visiting a water plant and helping out in the community garden. Special thanks to the workshop from the Environmental Working Group.
Apart from all of that, we biked, biked, biked and biked some more. At times we did have to arrive already way past sundown, but at least our rumbling tummies were always extremely well fed. After going over 90 km by bike you are ready to eat everything, but it comes as such a nice surprise when you are offered a delicious meal. The delicious dinners were the perfect icing on the exhausting climbs uphill and the dream-like and seemingly short rides downhill.
After dinner there were two options: either fall down, pass out and sleep or be one of the ones ready for extreme sports of biking all day after partying all night. Yes, we did have some mad men among us. Of course there was also an option of showering sooner rather than later and many (especially girls) were surprised at their ability to take a shower in only 4 minutes. Oh, the things AEGEE makes you do… However, regardless of how you decided to spend the night, the first 30 minutes on bike were always the same – “How in the world will I survive the day if I can barely move now?!?!”
Three countries (Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium) and countless small and big towns did we pass on our bikes. Every new boarder was a victory, but you can imagine just how many victories we had when we ended up crossing from one country to the other up to 20 times within a single day!
After a week of biking and more than 530 km behind us we were ready to enjoy partying, sightseeing and even swimming. However, nobody had expected crazy Russian dances to Balkan music in Germany. Nevertheless, we all got to improve ourselves together with Fabian Brüggemann, who obviously just enjoyed having us as his puppets for a couple of hours.
As warned beforehand we all did come back with buffed legs and aching bottoms. Surprisingly enough none had imagined that after a week of biking, hitting a rock while walking in the city would leave a bigger scar and leave a person limping than crashing into the bushes while going downhill on a bike. We will all have something to remember from this SU. Some will have their scars, but most will have memories, friendships and emotions that one just can’t brush away.
A big thank you to the photographers: Christian Bussar from AEGEE-Aachen, David Martin-Gonzalez from AEGEE-Las Palmas and Danilo Pesenti Barili from AEGEE-Bergamo.
Written by Olga Volovyk, AEGEE-Kyiv