SU Story of the Week: Out of the box! Can you handle it? – AEGEE-Brno’s Summer University

My story will begin slightly differently than other Summer University stories. I have been an AEGEE member for over 2.5 years and despite being very active in the association and participating and organizing different events, I had never attended any Summer University. Up until now. I have just returned from the most amazing event I have ever been to, both in AEGEE and out – AEGEE-Brno’s SU “Out of the box! Can you handle it?”.

After having spent three weeks on the Croatian coast, I returned to Zagreb and immediately had to start re-packing and washing my clothes. One sleepless night later, I got on the 6am bus for Vienna. In Vienna, I switched buses and got on a Student Agency Yellow Bus that took me to Brno. Traveling with that bus seemed like traveling by plane – you get free coffee/tea/hot chocolate, the seats are comfy and you have your own TV where you can watch movies, TV shows and listen to music. For me, the journey started almost perfectly. I say almost because I almost missed my bus to Brno, but luckily, I arrived one minute before the departure. I arrived in Brno around 6pm and joined others in the Mamut Pub for a beer (some beers?); typical Czech way of relaxing and spending the free time (and I like it!).

I will mostly remember the first day for the “balloon game”. We were divided into smaller teams and each person had to smash a balloon against one chosen team-mate’s body (e.g. jumping on someone’s lap or pressing it onto another person’s chest). It was both challenging and funny to do it with still unknown people, but it was a great ice-breaking game.

The next morning we left Brno and went to the Moravian Karst for a team-building weekend. After some relaxing time by a pond and some lunch, the fun began. Each team had to exchange a toilet paper for something of a bigger value and find its way to Vilémovice where the gym was located. The organizers took care that it didn’t become too easy for us – each member had an obstacle; we were walking blindfolded, with our hands and legs tight and were not allowed to talk or use our phones or maps. Although my (Pink) team was the fastest, for all of us the winners were the Green team, who exchanged the toilet paper for a bottle of Martini. Tired, sweaty and hungry, we looked forward to the dinner and showers, but there were still some surprises left. We got a task to compete in preparing the best traditional Czech goulash. It was a great team-building activity and it made our dinner even better and tastier since we had prepared it with love. We ended the day with midnight forest orientation games.

The next day, we went hiking and we visited the amazing cave complex Punkevní jeskyně and the Macocha Abyss. In the afternoon we had the AEGEE introduction held by Ivan Bielik, from the Comité Directeur. Even though I had already heard it hundreds of times and held it myself, this was the best and the most inspiring I have heard so far and would like to thank him for inspiring us and spreading the AEGEE spirit.

We returned to Brno on Monday, and after the city tour we had a great workshop about intercultural dialogue. One of the parts was a game where our partner had to guess the given sentence in our language which we were trying to explain by a pantomime. It was a hard task to understand Estonian, but with a small help, in the end I guessed every sentence correctly. Later that night we had a pub crawl and despite the rain we managed to fulfill all the tasks. I’d like to thank my team-mates who helped me with the beer drinking. Without you, I would have probably never finished the pub crawl!

Another day arrived. After visiting the Technical Museum and spending most of the time playing at the interactive part, we had a workshop on time management. There I had learned that I can understand Slovak language pretty well. There is always one thing that triggers the best inside jokes and I believe we used what we learned there pretty well!

Anyone who ever participated in any AEGEE event knows how it feels like after the European Night. Especially when the first thing you have in the morning is a workshop. Organizers made it very interactive and interesting, and after a huge cup of black coffee, I had no problem with following and improving my critical thinking. Later that day we went to the rope center. Even though I was not able to participate, due to my injury, I’m very proud of everyone who was able to pass the heavy elements and finished the climb despite the heavy rain. I soothed my sorrow later that evening during the wine tasting.

Slowly the SU started coming to an end. On Thursday morning there was a city rally. For those who don’t know what it is, it is an interactive game to gain a better insight of the city. Each team gets their tasks that consist of finding some places and taking a photo there, finding some stories about the city or names of important things there and many more. Few hours later, after a lot of walking, many crazy photos and selfies we were ready for the lunch in one of the best pubs in Brno – The Immigrant. Later that day, although tired from the party, we went to a public speaking workshop. I think I am saying in the name of all of us that four hours past in what seemed like a second. Everyone got the chance to perform and practice their public speaking skills and we all wanted to speak and learn more. In the evening we had a movie night and a discussion about a documentary film “Český sen“(Eng. Czech Dream) that documents the largest consumer hoax the Czech Republic has ever seen.

The Sun rose again and it was time for the picnic at the Brno Dam Lake. Even though the weather was changing rapidly from sunny and warm to cloudy and rainy, we had a great and relaxing day which was followed by the trip to Veveří Castle. A perfect day that ended with a great party.

The last day before the departure – Saturday. The last workshop of the SU – critical thinking and implementation of everything learned. The last lunch with new friends. I would say the last beer, but it wasn’t the last one. After discovering different types of beer, it was a time to try them. Many thanks to Petra Védlová who taught us everything that needs to be known about the beer and especially, how to pour a tap beer properly. And then, slowly and without realizing, the time for the Farewell party came. Last laughs. Last talks. Last drinks. Last dances. Last time with the amazing people I met in Brno. We didn’t want to end the night and fun so we waited until the first rays of the Sun appeared. It was time to leave. To go back home and to say goodbye to the people who became my family.

Goodbyes are never easy. You never know if it means forever or until the next time we see each other. I do hope it’s the latter. To the outstanding people I met in Brno, both participants and organizers, I’d like to thank for making this event so amazing and making me think out of the box. We became a small, but happy family and I hope this text, all pictures and selfies we made together and your memories will remind you of the marvelous time we had. Goodbye! Or should I say: “Until we see each other next time!”

Written by  Silvija Perić, AEGEE-Zagreb

Photos courtesy of Silvija Perić, AEGEE-Zagreb; Matej Ducár, AEGEE-Brno; Sandra Dvořanová, AEGEE-Brno; and Martina Tuhá, AEGEE-Brno