AEGEE-Nijmegen and their hitchhike to Bruges: AEGEEans’ spirit on highways of Europe

Did any of you ever hitchhike? If you never did, but you would like to do it, or you did and you love it, than you will enjoy the story of AEGEE-Nijmegen. To find out how everything started and how everything finished we talked with Renée van Schaijk, organiser of the hitchhiking trip.

What we found out was that hitchhiking in AEGEE-Nijmegen is a tradition. Every year they organise few hitchhiking trips through Europe filled with competition spirit so more people are eager to participate. It’s always more exciting and fun competing for awards, as in this case – two tickets for the cinema.

The hitchhike from Nijmegen to Bruges  happened during the first weekend of November. The journey started on Friday and ended back in Nijmegen on Sunday. There were 22 participants in nine teams composed by two/three persons. The distance between Nijmegen and Bruges is around 240 km that normally take around two and half hours by car without any traffic jam. But as our AEGEEans were hitchhiking it took them more time. The fastest team there made it in about four hours. It took around eight-nine hours for the last team to to arrive.

For those who do not know, the most exciting thing about hitchhiking is to stop the cars which will take you to your destination, and that is almost impossible to achieve by one car. So you are obliged to change cars constantly. In Nijmegen-Bruges hitchhike, the least changed car number was three and the most eight, said Renée. In fact, her team changed five cars to arrive to Bruges.

You have first to imagine the situation: you are on a highway, many cars pass by, some of them stop, some not, and as every person in this world is different, you may meet with some polite or less polite people. Luckily for our AEGEEans, they did not live any bad or unpleasant experiences. On the contrary, says Renée, reactions from drivers  were very positive. People were even apologizing if they couldn’t take them and some drivers were very enthusiastic when they learned about the competition and were keen to help them to win it.

Once AEGEE-Nijmegen’s hitchhike crew finally arrived in Bruges, they felt it was different than if you would arrive in Bruges by train. Renée says: “It is really nice to finish and also to see other teams and hear what adventure they had, because every team had a different story.” During the rest of the weekend, they walked through Bruges, took a boat trip, visited the Chocolate museum and spent some quality time in a pub. On Sunday they came back home safe and happy.

Asked to share with us some anecdote from the trip. Renée said “We started the competition at the railway station in Nijmegen. I started last because I was from the organisation team. My team member and I walked to the road which goes to the highway and we didn’t see anyone. This was really strange for us. Later we saw one other team. But a car stopped for us and we went with them. And when we drove to the highway we saw the other teams at different points on the road. And we waved of course. But it was a really nice feeling!”

As said in the beginning, hitchhiking is an AEGEE-Nijmegen tradition and next destinations are Gdansk and, in March, Paris. “For those who are considering/interested in hitchhiking, you should do it” says Renee. The beauty of it is that you meet a lot of different people who will share with you their stories and you will share yours too. And sharing stories, listening to others is one of the ways to discover ourselves and discover others too, a way to enjoy and appreciate life more.

Written by Sabiha Kapetanovic, AEGEE-Izmir