Author’s remark: to my great shame, out of my three years of AEGEE experience, I had never made it to the Summer University. But “the final chapter has not been written”, the best gift is the long-awaited one, here we go!
The summer of every single AEGEEan ought to special. Some decide to take a plunge into culture of a host country, travel around or wander about the city, learn something new and feed their inner culture-vulture or the other way round – immerse in a whirlpool of activities and parties to escape the world-weary mood. And those who like to have it all, fifty “birds of a feather” from numerous European counties flocked this summer to Torino Summer University Use your TOngue 2.0.
This intriguing name was indeed very promising and, yes, it meant a great journey into Italian culture and language (for what else do you need your tongue). The venue of the event was chosen to tailor the needs of this marvelous cultural plunge and the event took place in the walls of the dance school.
The rainy weather in Turin (Torino) didn’t have any compassion for our festive and lively moods but organizers knew the way to lift it up. So on the first day, the participants were taken the a somber room where they were surprised with a sudden gala concert with an actual piano player and a professional singer with a deep and beautiful voice. And the music touched our ears…
We should pay tribute to the maestro because starting from this point –“live Italy” became the creed for the two coming weeks. Early morning classes of Italian brushed up participants’ knowledge from wobbly phrases like “Non parlo Italiano” to more refined expressions which later became handy while presenting a drama on stage.
The Roman deity of dance and music haunted the event few times and provided the participants with the dance lessons of traditional Piedmontese dances and more laid-back American boogie-woogie. And once under the cover of night, a group of aces-to-be gathered in a park to unleash their dance talents and practice the earlier acquired skills.
Great and playful city tours full of helpful tips gave a great overview of the city and its history, moreover, during it participants were able to encounter locals and exchange a couple of words with them and even boil eggs in coffee cups. The sex(y) city rally provided closer ties and tighter contact with Turin’s residents which was quite easy and exciting for both sides…
As a part of the program all group members were taken to one of the oldest Egyptian museums in the world to discover the history of mummies, the former graveyards, bygone gods, divine and eerie creatures. Pursuing this path, we also found ourselves in an utterly entertaining and vibrant environment of the National Cinema museum, where we were able go through the landmarks of cinema and cinematography from time immemorial to the recent years. The atmosphere was really terrific and everyone could chill on cozy sofas or rummage in old posters or ails chock-a-block with stage props of the American and European movies and even garments and gowns from Oscar ceremonies! Then the participants hopped inside a see-through elevator to be taken to the breath-taking heights of Mole Antonelliana. The view from this tower was the perfect opportunity to see the city and feel Turin’s vibes.
The young travelers hadn’t quenched their thirst for adventures and ascended the Italian Alps during one of the outside-the-city excursions. The road to the pinnacle was steep and bumpy (and the abrupt turns in front of the cliff felt like the last one, God gracious!) but they were bent on taking this height. And it was definitely worth it: picture-perfect views of the mountainous slopes, deep lakes, green lawns and brownish cows. The ten bravest participants got separated from the group and proudly followed one of the organizers, Francesco the king of hiking, to conquer the top of the small but still quite high mountain. The trip was at the same time arduous and enriching as it boosted and bolstered up the participants’ feeling of togetherness and made the group a really tight-knit team overflowing with AEGEE spirit.
Then the group hit the road for the second time. This time the adventurers were taken to Genova to embark on a steamboat. Flowing on the waves of a foamy sea, the vessel anchored in the sea where the participants had plenty of time to relax and take a sunbathe on the San Fruttoso’ s beach and take multiple swims in a beautiful bay encircled by mountains with bushy woods. After some hours the group proceeded to Portofino renowned for its bewildering beauty and colourful buildings.
On one of last days we were divided into multiple groups of four or five people in each to perform on stage (mostly in Italian). The performances’ styles varied from drama, musical, humorous and truly explicit sketches to the Freudian talks and the gathering of anonymous sex and porn addicts.
Apart from extended daytime program, we were able to enjoy the wonderful nightlife and dress-up parties. The group traveled through various times: roaring twenties with its gangsters and posh style, turned into boisterous and resentful hippie times. The venues were different all the time ranging from a local city hall, pub, club to a jazz club, nevertheless the place is less important than the unique and fantastic people surrounding you.
The group had it all, parties until dawn, nice chit-chats, good relationship and eternal summer warmth of the sweet memories…We were the ones in bad and good times and we stood by each others side offering a helping hand (and a bitter-sweet video to the victims of pickpockets, thank you our small Oscar-to-be-given-to group of actors).
As for me, I was again convinced that what differentiates us from each other and blinds us in understanding other nations can be always bridged by whatever tool you choose: language, kind and positive attitude or fun shared together.
Keep your inner summer glowing!
Written by Alexandra Belanova, AEGEE-Moskva