Summer University back in 1994

Imagine going to a Summer University (SU) 18 years ago… How would that have been? Which part of Europe would be less discovered then? And how would you find out about SU’s, if back then internet didn’t really exist?

Together with Summer University 25 Booklet Team we asked one of AEGEE-Europe’s Honorary Members, Michiel van Hees (AEGEE-Eindhoven and AEGEE-Arnhem), about his first Summer University and the life since then. And yes, he is also one of Les Anciens members.

The AEGEEan: How did you find out about AEGEE and join the SU back then?
Michiel: I joined AEGEE in the summer of 1994. I was supposed to go on holiday with a friend of mine but for some reason he went elsewhere so instead I went with Stephan van Uijtregt – another friend who ‘knew’ someone in Zagreb.
I arranged my mother’s car and the two of us drove to Zagreb.  There Stephan arranged lodging and the next day we could even follow Croatian lessons with other European students. I enjoyed that very much and later that evening at one of the many parties of that SU someone explained to me that I actually was at an SU and this was AEGEE. Afterwards two other guys convinced me to go to Dubrovnik. Great place to visit, they just forgot to mention the war which was going on. Apparently I was a bit naive in those days… Nothing happened and we got home with great stories.

What a story! And what are you doing nowadays, 18 years later?
I have a consulting firm in healthcare for the past 13 years. I married a beautiful woman from AEGEE-Osnabrück (Janina Victor) and have two (Dutch-German) kids. The SU, and AEGEE, have influenced my life drastically not only on the personal level but also professional. Not only did I have much more experience when I graduated, but I also got three collegues at my work out of my AEGEE Network.

What have you learnt about AEGEE and Europe after joining the SU?
What I have learned is that anything your mind can make up is possible, especially if you have such a group of enthousiastic, energetic young people driving with you. I have also seen that our differences are very small and our similarities – big, we all strive for the same things, we just have different approaches.
The most important thing is that you can really work on European integration in the most relaxed way possible. By bringing in students from all over Europe and give them the combined task of learning something (be it language, cycling, sailing or whatever) you create understanding and bonds which last a very long time. I still have very fond memories of that very first AEGEE event and of those 200 which followed.

If you would need to sell SU Project to a new student within 30sec, what would your pitchline be?
I had a great student life. When I was a student, I could go abroad for 100 euros and learn Greek, Spanish or Croatian for 2 weeks. Lodging, teachers, food all included. Even better, I had 30 students from all over Europe to spend that two weeks with. I’ve made friends for life. And the cool thing? It is still possible.

Written by Anita Kalmane, AEGEE-Ogre

Photos from Michiel and AEGEE-Eindhoven archives